Here are five research findings that could cause financial marketers to reassess their strategy, along with some tips for how you should pivot.
Things are always changing. Smartphones are getting smarter, TV viewership keeps dropping, and new internet-connected products are popping up everywhere. The same goes for marketing, too — it’s always changing. As new technologies emerge and consumer habits evolve, your perspective and approach to marketing must also shift.
It can easy for marketers — especially those with years of experience — to become complacent. But if you don’t adjust to changes in consumer behavior, your campaigns will flounder and your ROI will suffer as people gravitate to competitors who seem better tuned to their lifestyle. Keep this in mind as you read through the following list.
1. You can get by with fewer impressions.
For many years, advertisers believed that their target audience needed to see an ad dozens of times before the message would stick. That’s not necessarily the case. Research conducted by Gerard Tellis at the University of Southern California shows that the “wearing in” process for ad messages is usually faster. Consumers will typically form an opinion about an ad the first or second time they see it, which directly impacts how deeply they engage with the ad on subsequent exposures. There are exceptions to the rule. “Wearing in” will be slower for messages that are complicated, contains an emotional appeal or consumers are unmotivated.
Implication: Test ads early. Tellis says if they aren’t immediately effective and/or fail to resonate with the target audience, pull them, retool your approach and move on.
2. Online reviews can make or break your brand.
Consumers are relying heavily on online reviews from sites like Yelp — the modern tool for “word of mouth” referrals. Research from Google found that online reviews have a massive impact on purchases; 67% of consumers said online reviews are a critical component in their decision-making process. Brands risk losing up to 22% of potential customers when just one negative review can be found. If people can find four or more negative articles, their likelihood of not buying jumps to 70%.
Implication: It’s nearly impossible to counteract a few negative reviews with advertising. You must nurture and cultivate your online reviews. Leverage them in advertising.
3. The ‘path to purchase’ isn’t a straight line.
Back in the old days (i.e., the 1990s), the consumer buying journey was thought to follow a straight line — from awareness through engagement, to sampling and purchase. The vast streams of data generated in digital channels reveal that the “path to purchase” now tends to be nonlinear. It’s multichannel, and unique for each customer. In tracking consumer behavior from search engines to websites to social media and telephone inquiries, prospects may have nine separate interactions with a banking provider before making a purchase.
Implication: Don’t build your media strategy based on the old AIDA model or outdated assumptions about how consumers choose a financial institution.
4. ‘What you do’ trumps ‘what you say.’
In their book, The Activation Imperative, authors Bill Rosen and Laurence Minsky demonstrate that brand-building is best achieved by engaging the consumer. Action changes attitude more assuredly than attitude changes action. In other words, when you engage prospects in your mission, they realign their thoughts and feelings to make sense of the action.
Implication: You aren’t going to build your brand with advertising. Better than telling customers yours is a friendly, locally-focused bank, show it. Get out in the community, interact with area residents, sponsor financial seminars. Use touch-and-feel events that show off your products and prompt employee interactions.
5. Believe it or not, billboards are still relevant.
Billboards may seem passé in today’s digital world, but they actually complement mobile behaviors. The out-of-home advertising industry has enjoyed 23 quarters of continuous growth reaching an all-time sales high of more than $7 billion in 2016. Why the growth? We spend 70% of our time outside the home. Nearly three-quarters of billboard viewers shop on their way home from work, and more than two-thirds make buying decisions while in the car. Think about it: In the 30 minutes before consumers on-the-go reach their destination and get back online, out-of-home advertising media reaches 42% of mobile shoppers and 32% of mobile search users.
Implication: Use outdoor advertising to reinforce your digital messages, and/or use out-of-home media to direct them to your digital channels the next time they get online.