9 Digital Marketing Trends Banks and Credit Unions Can’t Ignore In 2019

The marketing function at financial institutions is being disrupted by new technologies and tools that didn't exist five years ago. Banks and credit unions must now use data and advanced analytics to build more personalized communication and improve the customer experience.

Subscribe TodayWhile changes in the banking industry are happening virtually every day, there may be no area of financial services where change is happening faster than in the marketing function. From new technologies to new channels and strategies, bank and credit union marketers must be both agile and willing to embrace change.

As a result, it is important to review what will likely occur over the next year. Even this brief overview provides ideas for building strategies and sets the stage for topics that The Financial Brand will cover extensively in 2019.

Improving the marketing communications process — from the consumer’s perspective — drives growth, loyalty and profitability. Managing the marketing process without taking advantage of the technology tools available is a recipe for failure.

Last year, we reviewed the most important marketing industry trends that can’t be ignored by financial marketers. Unfortunately, according to research from the Digital Banking Report, many financial services marketers were not embracing or effectively prioritizing these trends.

Hopefully, 2019 will be different. Here is what we believe will be the most important financial marketing trends for the next 12 months and beyond.

1. Personalization

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have driven increasingly more efficient data analysis, making it easier for financial marketers to deliver hyper-personalization to consumers. This personalization goes far beyond using a customer’s name, to personalizing content and creating unique customer journeys.

According to Selligent research, “Today’s consumers expect companies to know their preferences on a very intimate level, especially when they have explicitly provided their data. In fact, 74% of global consumers expect brands to treat them as an individual, not as a member of some segment.”

Financial marketers will increasingly use predictive lead scoring, deploying real-time trigger campaigns to deliver dynamic content at every phase of the user journey. By focusing your brand on individual customer needs, engaging with useful and personalized communication, you will move from next most likely product to next most likely action.

Consumers will turn towards brands who listen and learn from their behaviors and who create genuine relationships with them. In 2019, the consumer will control not only the journey, but also the conversation. Personalization will help banks and credit unions engage to enable true, authentic, customer-centric marketing.

( Read More: 94% of Banking Firms Can’t Deliver on ‘Personalization Promise’ )

2. AI and Machine Learning

AI is becoming increasingly important to financial institutions. As they move beyond use in risk, fraud and compliance, artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming mainstream technologies, and marketers must understand their benefits and uses. Every financial marketing organization should have an AI strategy in 2019.

In the past, keywords and search histories were used to determine consumer intent. With AI and machine learning, banks and credit unions can identify intent automatically, using sources such as social media, transactions and behaviors to automatically match intent to offerings.

According to Forbes, “AI will be better able to track what type of content consumers are most interested in, allowing a website to be ‘curated’ for each individual user. In the digital world, this will increase conversions by offering customers the experience that they will enjoy and get the most benefit from.”

Over time, we’ll see an increasing use of AI assistants in financial services to optimize media spend plans and even analyze creative components. AI systems will also identify market opportunities and create e-commerce solutions to satisfy them. This will be a component of the hyper-personalization movement.

With the benefit of increasing amounts of data and the use of AI and machine learning, financial marketers will be in a better position to make predictions about the types of marketing strategies that will work for certain customers and automate the process. For those concerned about privacy issues — and all financial institutions should be — better collection and use of data for more personalized customer-centric recommendations will actually be welcomed by the majority of consumers.

( Read More: 15 Applications of AI and Machine Learning in Financial Marketing )

3. Restaffing Marketing Departments

It is a great time to be a financial institution marketer. Skilled financial marketers are in high demand, marketing technology is advancing to help marketers make smarter decisions, and the prestige of marketing is increasing in most banks and credit unions.

Unfortunately for financial institutions the demand for talent that understands new technologies far outstrips supply. This creates multiple challenges as we enter 2019, including increasing wages, difficulty for smaller organizations to keep the most qualified people and increasing competition for talent outside of financial services.

As financial marketing continues to change, with greater emphasis on digital channels than mass media and other offline marketing tactics, the demand for traditional marketers will fall. The leading skill sets that financial marketers hire for today are a team mentality, tech ability, and social media expertise. Graphic design skills rank below these, as does compliance knowledge.

An applicant’s previous experience in financial services ranks lowest of all among the points Codigo queried respondents about — not unimportant, but no longer essential. This suggests that financial institutions are savvy enough to realize and accept that the level of expertise they need in new areas like data analytics won’t come from inside the industry.

( Read More: Help Wanted: Trends Reshaping Financial Marketing Departments Today )

4. Chatbots

It’s safe to say that chatbot usage has now outgrown the hype phase in banking. The use of this technology is beginning to mature as a key component of online customer care and marketing. And, as with many of the trends taking hold in marketing, the use of chatbots shows no sign of slowing down.

Initially, chatbots were used to replace human customer service representatives who managed predictable inquiries, routine tasks or frequently asked questions. They were also programmed to provide a bit more involved solutions as the algorithms learned from past results.

Chatbots can be integrated with a website, an application, and even with a social media platform. They also gather user information that can later be used to better tailor financial marketing strategies. As banks and credit unions have become more comfortable using chatbots, more have used chatbots for personalizing advisory messages and increasing engagements with customers and members.

In the next five years, approximately 80% of B2C communication will be performed through bot messengers. It is therefore imperative that financial institutions integrate chatbots into marketing strategies.

( Read More: How Chatbots and Voice Are Shaping The Future of Banking )

5. Influencer Marketing

By partnering with social influencers, financial marketers can reach built-in audiences of loyal followers with authentic and original content. According to research from #paid and Nielsen Consumer Insights, influencer marketing has a significant positive impact on brand affinity and purchase intent. Influencer marketing also allows brands to work around ad blockers, which are now used on more than 600 million devices.

This is the underlying reason why influencer marketing has become increasingly popular. An influencer can support branded content, assist with financial education efforts, discuss benefits of new or existing products and help with search engine optimization.

Done effectively, the integration of influencers as part of a bank or credit union’s marketing plan can have a positive impact on acquisition, cross-sell and loyalty efforts. Most importantly, having customers with a social media following “like” your brand and offerings can impact trust in your organization.

Some potential influencers that could be helpful for financial institutions include:

  • Financial advisors
  • Third-party influencers (lenders, lawyers, accountants, etc.)
  • Social media evaluators (bankrate.com, etc.)
  • Journalists (business page contributors)
  • Micro-influencers (social media active friends, family members, social influencers)

Financial brands should test ways to engage with some or all of the influencers above to improve brand advocacy and loyalty with the Millennials and other social media active customers and prospects.

( Read More: Why Banking Executives Should Follow Social Media Influencers )

6. Mobile Marketing

With more and more consumers performing search inquiries and accessing their financial accounts via mobile devices, banks and credit unions must rethink mobile strategies away from being simply providing account information, to being a way to inform, engage and advise on-the-go users. With more than half of consumers using their mobile devices first for anything that they require to do online, the mobile channel must be given a high priority in 2019.

This goes far beyond making sure your site has been developed with mobile users in mind from a design perspective, but also impacts the content you provide. Think about the intent of people who are likely to search your website on a mobile device as well as those who will transact on digital devices.

Make sure it is easy for the consumer to get the information that may be needed and to engage using real-time insights developed through advanced analytics.

( Read More: Don’t Ignore the Power of In-App Mobile Marketing )

7. Content Marketing

Content marketing can be one of the best tools financial services organizations can use for earning trust, building brand, generating website traffic and finding qualified leads. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. This usually begins with a content marketing assessment that identifies primary goals and strategies to meet these goals.

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Done well, content marketing from a financial institution should discuss optimal uses for a bank’s or credit union’s products and services and why this can lead to financial success. With a content strategy focused on a consumer reaching financial stability (or more), trust and loyalty can be gained.

According to John Hall, Co-founder of Calendar.com, “Companies need to get creative and enthusiastic about getting their content in front of the right people. Passive distribution — or, worse, distribution done as an afterthought once you realize no one is engaging with your content — won’t cut it. Don’t let your investment in content go to waste by sitting on some of your most valuable marketing assets.”

Combined with AI, machine learning and hyper-personalization, content marketing can serve as an additional strategy to build engagement.

( Read More: Make No Mistake: 5 Tips to Get Your Content Marketing Strategy Right )

8. Geolocation Targeting

Geolocation is the feature of the devices that enable you to know the location of a customer or prospect. The location of the mobile device can be accessed via various mediums like Bluetooth, Wifi, IP address, and GPS.

Under this approach, a financial institution can push a message designed especially for a group of users within a particular geographic region in real time. The technology also allows a financial institution to push a personalized message to consumers of a particular demographic or financial profile within a geographic area.

In addition to using a consumer’s current location, a bank or credit union can track consumer behavior on the basis of a series of previous locations. With insight collected over time, a financial institution can predict locations where the user frequently visits and extend personalized offers using that criteria.

( Read More: The Power of Location-Based Offers )

9. Voice Search

The advances made in recent years in the fields of natural language processing, conversation interfaces, automation, machine learning and deep learning processes have enabled virtual assistants to become increasingly intelligent and useful.

ComScore estimates that by 2020, half of all search queries will be voice-based. Almost one-third of the 3.5 billion searches performed on Google every day are voice searches now, with personal assistant devices leading the way. Even if a financial institution is not building a voice-first strategy, it is important to understand the nuances of voice search.

Voice search differs from the typical desktop or mobile search. When a consumer opens Google on a browser and types in their search query, they’ll see hundreds of pages of search results. Your organization will probably be one of them.

But, when a consumer uses a digital assistant, it will give them only a few results. Sometimes, it will give the consumer only one result. Therefore, tailoring your SEO strategy for voice search is more complicated and more essential.

As a result, financial institutions will need to pay attention to how customers speak to optimize their websites for voice search. SEO for voice search digs deeper into the user’s intent and explores the answers to how, when, where, and why.

Voice search and SEO are not the next big thing – they are today’s big thing.

( Read More: The Future of Voice: What Financial Marketers Need to Know )

Financial marketers are under pressure to generate a strong return on investment. Marketers will rely on advanced technology more than ever to handle the increasing complexities of financial marketing with a minimum of staff, hoping to satisfy consumers’ need for convenience and to abide by increasingly complex regulatory rules.

Understanding and leveraging the changing trends and advanced tools will be central to the bottom lines of banks and credit unions going forward. Relying on the tools and tactics of the past will no longer be sufficient.

Jim MarousJim Marous is co-publisher of The Financial Brand and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, a subscription-based publication that provides deep insights into the digitization of banking, with over 150 reports in the digital archive available to subscribers. You can follow Jim on Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit his professional website.

This article was originally published on November 26, 2018. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

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