Leaders in the financial industry identify the critical online, digital, mobile and social media trends that are redefining marketers’ strategies and budgets.
By Christopher Rinaldi, Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive
According to a recent informal survey, financial institutions will be seeking to improve their customer experience, reduce overall costs and stand out from the competition by integrating unique delivery channels, offering mobile solutions and learning from big data in 2014. The recurring theme in 2014’s marketing trends is information – how it is curated, viewed and analyzed.
Let’s dig into some of the major online marketing trends to understand how financial institutions will be responding in 2014.
Content Marketing Builds Visibility, Trust and Loyalty
Content marketing — also commonly referred to as “inbound marketing” — is the strategic creation and targeted distribution of media to acquire and retain customers. For financial institutions, content marketing is key to attracting and maintaining consumers by integrating multi-channel approaches such as affiliate marketing, direct mail, display advertising, email marketing, search engine optimization and marketing (SEO/SEM), blogging, social media marketing and more. Typically, these strategies are intended to drive individuals to a specific landing page, blog or corporate site. Whether generating new content or leveraging existing content, financial marketers must plan, create, place, audit, measure and adjust content accordingly.
In 2014, financial marketers will bolster their content marketing efforts by investing in a range of emerging digital techniques:
- Affiliate marketing
- Attribution modeling
- Branding and positioning
- Customer feedback
- Email marketing
- Landing pages
- Mobile marketing
- Retargeting consumers
- Personalized experiences
- Social media marketing
- Traditional marketing
Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in 2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or clicked. By looking at the historical big picture of a sales funnel, financial marketers can make better recommendations on the proper mix of tactics in subsequent content marketing plans.
Behavioral retargeting — where existing and potential customers are served online advertising based on their previous interactions with online content — will also become more prominent. Retargeting can serve up display or search ads to consumers who have not been converted yet on the financial institution’s site — or even those searching for a new bank or credit union.
In 2014, bank and credit union marketers must increase and improve their content marketing efforts by developing compelling, branded campaigns that tap into the frequently elusive Gen-Y segment. This means reinvesting in social media and email marketing to engage millennials in the manner they prefer to be reached: online.
Banks and credit unions will be integrating more branded videos into their 2014 digital strategies, serving up this interactive content along all online channels. The idea is to engage and entertain, rather than sell and bombard consumers in their 20s and 30s. Presenting more digital touch points to Gen-Y should help build credibility and increase awareness, eventually drawing the younger demographic into your institution, where this valued segment actually prefers to discuss services face-to-face.
Mobile Optimization Enhances the User Experience
Mobile optimization will continue to be at the forefront of digital strategy for banks and credit unions. With tablets on track to outsell desktop computers and laptops in 2013, mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage in 2014. Furthermore, 99% of smartphone owners use their mobile browser at least once a day.
While most Internet users in the United States still prefer online banking for managing personal finances, mobile banking is catching on with consumers. About 94% of users in all age groups use online banking and approximately 71% of respondents ages 18-60+ have signed up for mobile banking, according to Celent’s research. The European Financial Marketing Association says that 91% of banks envision online/mobile as the primary channel for transactions in five years. The widespread adoption of mobile devices means that financial institutions need to deliver an optimal user experience.
To deliver a more immersive experience on handheld devices, financial marketers will need to focus on the following mobile methodologies:
- Adaptive mobile experiences
- Mobile Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- Mobile email marketing
- Mobile online ads
- Responsive web design
Leading the way for mobile optimization, responsive web design utilizes a single source of HTML code that is built to adapt or respond to the display environment and screen size. Media queries interpret the resolution of the device used to display the site and correctly fits the screen through flexible images and fluid grids. Planning on linking to a landing page or a site from a display ad, social media post or email? There’s a good chance consumers will view it on a smartphone or tablet. Not only will the layout shift to accommodate the device, but the site’s behavior can adapt, as well. Adaptive design allows for swiping on touch devices. Responsive web design enables banks and credit unions to offer a “one size fits all” site for consumers to enjoy a friendly, seamless user experience.
Financial institutions need to understand that an optimal web experience means more than just making it mobile-friendly. With a 68% annual growth rate, mobile payments are projected to amount to $214 billion by 2015, according to CUNA. As consumers continue to pay for items through their smartphones and tablets, banks and credit unions will need to integrate with mobile payments. The proliferation of mobile banking also brings the threat of mobile malware. As mobile sites become the order of the day, financial institutions will need to offer user-friendly and completely secure mobile banking experiences while investing in mobile malware education, detection and prevention for the coming year.
Mobile content consumption gives financial marketers another avenue in mobile advertising. Mobile ad spending in the United States is projected to hit $11.8 billion in 2014. Heading into next year, mobile ads will account for 50% of Facebook’s revenue and $4 billion of Google’s projected ad revenue. Banks and credit unions seeking brand impressions and click-throughs to products and services will need to implement display ads, Facebook advertising, Google AdWords and other mobile pay-per-click advertising in 2014.
Big Data Realizes Value by Analysis
As financial marketers work to deliver mobile-friendly, integrated content marketing experiences, information about consumers engaging with the brand will become more and more abundant. Commonly called “big data,” it is the collection and analysis of large, complex quantities of marketing information. Financial marketers will need to figure out how to use big data marketing tools to capture, curate, store, search, share, transfer, analyze and visualize these massive data sets into usable information to better engage consumers.
To be effectual, big data requires managing, distilling and curating information for syndication and optimization. Realizing value from big data requires collection and refinement via automated systems, as well as a human touch to interpret and disseminate the information to others who can use this intelligence to more effectively market to consumers.
Financial marketers can create new connections for banks and credit unions by understanding big data applications based on the following consumer information:
- Account transactions
- Behavioral trends
- Credit reports
- Customer profitability
- Life stages
- Stock market and trade references
- Mobile usage
- Social media engagements
- Spending patterns
- Risk and finance trends
Big data and analytics can generate new revenue streams for banks and credit unions, counterbalancing the many challenges these financial institutions face in 2014, including interest rate reduction, financial market instability, regulatory constraints and low asset performance. Big data will provide better insight into people’s wants and needs to give banks and credit unions an edge in target marketing.
For example, a bank or credit union can crunch big data to discover that a particular consumer might be nearing his or her credit limit. As a result, the consumer is offered to extend his or her credit line with the financial institution. Tracking purchases made with this extended credit, the financial institution then serves up contextual ads and offers for products, services and promotions that appeal to the consumer’s specific interests via email, text message, display and search ads.
As consumers continue to spend and take advantage of offers through various online channels and devices, the financial institution can continually cross-sell other products, programs and services. Big data affords financial marketers the ability to enhance customer service and loyalty, while simultaneously creating more revenue.
( Read More: Digital Marketing: The Difference Between Death and Success? )
Convergence: Content, Mobile and Data
Bank and credit union marketers will use these evolving digital strategies to benefit banks and credit unions — content, mobile, and data. Interestingly, these three points of emphasis all intersect. Content marketing is most effective when all integrated marketing channels are accessible in a mobile-friendly format. Mobile optimization is necessary for content viewing and engagement on consumers’ preferred devices. Mobile advertising, such as display and search ads, as well as email and landing pages, is integral to a sound content marketing strategy. Big data analyzes how and when customers/members interact with content along various channels and mobile devices. This valuable information is then leveraged to inform subsequent tailored content — special offers, contextual ads, personalized alerts — to members most often via a mobile device.
For banks and credit unions to attract and retain new customers/members and build brand loyalty, marketers must successfully serve up content on mobile devices while analyzing and leveraging the data for improved brand engagement. The year 2014 will see financial marketers combine content marketing, mobile optimization and big data in an actionable, cohesive digital strategy for banks and credit unions.
Chris Rinaldi is a Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. To discuss your digital strategy needs with ZAG, call 860.633.4818 or send an email.