If you’ve ever walked backwards, you know how unnatural (and scary) it feels. But when it comes to financial marketing, working backwards toward your goals is the best way to ensure that you are approaching each objective intelligently, methodically and measurably.
As a financial marketer, you should always have a goal in mind, whether it’s reaching those coveted Millennials, attaining a growth goal, or even something less quantifiable like supporting brand awareness and preference. Rather than focusing on the end goal, the key to success is to map out every single point along the path to accurately define all the components you need, and then develop your attack plan and budget accordingly. If you don’t get your campaign planning right, you’ll will inevitably be faced with last-minute emergencies, scope creep, and missing elements in your campaign that you need to be successful.
Beginning… at the End
Back in 1997, Steve Jobs imparted this nugget of wisdom at a developer conference: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology — not the other way around.” This seems to work quite well for Apple, so let’s see how it could work for your institution, using home loans as a campaign example.
1. Wow Consumers
So you’ve achieved your goals — some more loan applications — congratulations! But do you have the right products and systems in place to make sure your new mortgage borrowers are deliriously happy? This may seem like an unusual place for a financial marketer to start their campaign planning journey, but one that’s not to be underestimated because a new relationship typically has far more value for your institution than just the initial campaign goals/metrics. Make sure your sales and support teams know your cross-selling and onboarding plans, and determine how they can help make the experience with your institution amazing so that those new relationships turn into brand loyalists and ultimately — hopefully! — brand ambassadors.
2. Eyes on the Prize
It is critical to define exactly what you want. In this case, an increase in booked home loans. How will you know whether you’ve been successful if you haven’t specified what will define success? You also need to know what other factors may be in play that could amplify or detract from your campaign’s success.
3. Analyze the Data
Understand what systems you have in place to measure loan volume. Do all of your systems talk to each other so you can retrieve this information through your analytics program? Or will there be some manual stitching together of data so you can understand the impact of your efforts and, likewise, what other efforts might be in place?
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4. Put Analytics in Place
Because institutions are heavily reliant on third parties for applications, it’s important to understand what analytics tracking can be extended across your website as well as any third-party sites. If you want to track the impact of your campaign to loan application submissions, then you need to be able to integrate tracking code into the application confirmation page. Often this is easier in theory than in practice, so don’t overlook the importance of this step.
5. Know Your Audience
Saying that you are trying to reach flourishing families isn’t defining your target audience. Instead, you need to be as granular as possible —pinpointing key zip codes, neighborhoods, cultures or other differentiating factors so that you can better understand what tactics may be necessary to reach these audiences where they live, play or work.
6. Use Campaign Landing Pages
A unique destination for your campaign is imperative. Driving people to your home page or a product page won’t optimize conversions like a dedicated landing page will. So invest in a landing page that is consistent with your campaign branding, simple in layout, includes clear product benefit statements, a prominent call to action and incorporates robust analytics tracking.
7. Surround Sound Campaigns
Modern financial marketing is all about having an integrated, multichannel media distribution model. In fact, 65% of respondents in the 2015 Direct Marketing Association Response Rate report use two or more media types in their marketing campaigns, and 44% use three or more. Maybe your target audience is commuting to work and hears a great radio ad promoting your competitive rates and easy application process. A few days later when they see their dream home, they might search for “home loan rates” and see a pay-per-click ad you placed. Then they get to work and see the same advertising theme as retargeted banners in their local news website and their Facebook feed. They finally take the bait and click through to see your beautiful landing page and complete the pre-qualification form. And so it goes — a conversion which you can hopefully track through loan closing.
8. Campaign Theme
This is the fun part of the process and where most marketers like to start their thinking. But notice that this is the last step in this process. Of course it’s the foundation of the entire campaign, but great creative ideas don’t always yield the most effective campaigns. Now that you know your campaign’s components and how you will measure success, you can focus on generating ideas that will help you find success.
Set Yourself Up for Success
The first time you start your campaign “backwards,” it will surely feel unnatural. You will be tempted to think about the creative first, because that is what gravitated many of us to the jobs we’re in — but resist the urge. Reverse-engineering campaigns allows you to plan methodically, helping you to understand what worked and what didn’t, so you can show how vital marketing is to the growth of your institution.