Retail financial institutions don’t just offer checking accounts and mortgage loans, they provide consumers with solutions that support their goals and lifestyles through every stage of life — from opening their first account to getting ready for retirement. But rather than focusing solely on the traditional “product push,” financial institutions should think about marketing in terms of life stages and solutions. This approach resonates better with audiences, as it allows them to understand how a particular product or service will benefit them in their lives.
Marketing a solution emphasizes the value of a banking product, as opposed to pushing its features. You are linking the consumer’s goals and how a specific banking product or service can help them achieve it. For instance, instead of promoting the rate on an interest-bearing checking account, solution-centric marketing focuses on the fact that consumers will save more money by earning dividends on their deposits and help them reach their goal(s) more quickly.
Marketing built around consumers’ life stages uses a similar psychological appeal. For example, a younger consumer who is leaving the nest and trying to buy their first home is likely to find value in the additional assistance and flexible lending options a first-time home buyer program might offer them. Similarly, a couple thinking about starting a family might find savings solutions valuable.
Here are five ways banks and credit unions can build their marketing strategy around life stages and the value/benefits their products deliver.
1. Interactive Product Finders
These tools are distinctly designed to help consumers find the right banking solutions, services and other resources based on specific criteria, goals and life stages. For example, many financial institutions offer multiple kinds of checking accounts, which can confuse some consumers — Which option is best for their needs?
With an interactive tool, you can ask a series of questions about their need, requirements, preferences and expectations. With a checking account tool for example, the questions you pose will help determine whether they need a debit/credit card, paper checks, direct deposit and their minimum balance. Some additional inquiries about age and other relevant demographic information can help you recommend the right account based on their answers. This is essentially an online, automated approach to the consultative selling experience that’s been historically offered in branches. And providing such a service can help position your bank or credit union as an innovative technologically-savvy leader.
2. Personalizing the Website Experience
Your website content should be tailored based on the characteristics and behaviors of each individual user. According to Monetate and Econsultancy, marketers who create personalized web experiences are generating an average increase in sales of 19%. Site activity, browser behavior, other obtainable user data can provide insight into consumers’ goals and life stages, allowing financial institutions to display messages, ads, articles and more with targeted and specific relevancy.
For example, if a user was looking at different credit card options, you might want to present them with a prompt — perhaps a fly-in or pop-up offering an infographic or similar information — that will help them compare and evaluate their options. Similarly, if someone was looking at IRA options or had a demographic profile suggesting they were approaching retirement, you could present them with an article (or list of articles) relevant to their situation.
This also makes the user experience more relevant to their lifestyle. Three out of every four online consumers say they get annoyed with websites when the content is irrelevant to their interests. Creating a more custom site experience can better guide visitors through the consumer journey, helping to grow your customer and member base.
3. Content Marketing
Publishing good blog content on your website has both SEO and inbound marketing value that can attract qualified individuals who are in certain life stages or with specific goals. In fact, according to HubSpot, 82% of marketers who have a corporate blog say they generate positive ROI as part of their inbound marketing initiative.
Content should provide advice and tips for attaining certain goals and navigating through life’s major milestones. Instead of writing about the benefits of having a savings account, write about easy ways that consumers can save on their everyday expenses. By offering valuable and informative content, you’re attracting consumers who wish to save more money – increasing awareness of your financial institution, gaining their trust and exposing them to your savings solutions.
4. Visual Marketing
Visual marketing is telling your brand’s story and engaging consumers through pictures, videos and other visual media. According to a report from HubSpot, 46% of marketers believe photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies. Why? Because of the important part imagery plays in humanizing financial products and services. It’s the subtle difference between promoting mobile banking with a plain picture of a smartphone versus using a photo of a person at dinner checking their account balance on their mobile device, or using a tablet to check on their account while in bed watching TV.
You should always be looking for evocative images that tell a story. Be sure to highlight the solution and benefit — that you can bank on the go or get your dream car. Use photography to create an emotional connection and engage consumers visually. While this isn’t easy, particularly in the financial industry, don’t compromise or talk yourself into settling for “good enough.” All the best brands — in every industry around the world — are built by relying heavily on the power of visual imagery.
5. Leveraging Social Media
Social platforms offer valuable user data that allow for tactical targeting, from age and relationship status to major milestones and life events. That’s why it should come as no surprise that almost two-thirds of marketers are increasing advertising budgets for social channels in 2016. The insights and information available in these platforms is incredibly powerful, allowing you to target consumers based on their goals and life stages.
For instance, recently engaged couples who will have many major expenses for their upcoming wedding might be interested in a personal loan. Someone that just graduated high school might need a student loan. Targeting ads to the appropriate audience increases their relevance to the consumer’s goals and life stage, as well as their effectiveness in generating leads.
There are many ways that your institution can get started with solution and life stage marketing. As you begin to integrate this approach into your marketing strategy, be sure to consider how it aligns with your overall brand values and promise, as well as your overall content strategy. Successfully establishing a solution and life stage approach requires a careful balance of creativity and clear direction to capture consumer interest and drive action that supports business goals.
Brenna Keough is a Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, Connecticut that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites.