The Rodney Dangerfield Of Financial Services Marketing

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Do Gen Yers know of Rodney Dangerfield? Boomers think him as a great stand-up comedian, and Gen Xers revere him for his part in the movie that so many of them consider to be the greatest movie of all-time: Caddyshack.

For many of us, we’ll always remember by his tag line: “I don’t get no respect.”

Which leads us, naturally, to email marketing. Talk about getting no respect.

If you listen to the social media gurus, email is dead, and any firm still doing email marketing is a dinosaur that should be put out to pasture.

Thankfully, there a lot of financial services marketers ignoring that advice.

For the past few years, StrongMail, one of the leaders in online marketing, has been conducting a survey of business leaders to understand their firms’ marketing budgets, directions, and priorities. The firm was very kind to share with me the subset of respondents from the overall survey that come from the financial services industry.

Highlights from the financial services respondents include:

  • Roughly four in ten marketing budgets will increase in 2011. Just 10% said their marketing budget would decline this year, while about half expect to remain at last year’s level.
  • Spending on email marketing will increase in nearly seven in ten FIs. Considering the hype around social media, some may find it surprising that social media spending will increase in only about half of the FIs surveyed. And although about one in five FIs plan to increase their direct mail spending, four in ten will cut their DM spending in 2011.
  • Integrating email is a top priority. On one hand, nearly half of the FIs surveyed said their biggest email challenge was integrating customer data. On another hand, integrating email and social media marketing is a top priority for about 40% of FIs. One in five said they plan to integrate email and social media marketing but “don’t know where to start.”

My take: Good to see the focus on email, and the emphasis on integration. The percentage of FIs listing social media/email integration as a top priority should be higher than 40%.  For the 20% who don’t know where to start, the answer is easy: Start with “other.” 🙂 According to eMarketer, when asked which social media site/tool worked best when integrated with email, 33% of respondents said “other”, compared to 28% who cited Facebook.

(Note: if you check out the chart on the eMarketer site that I’m referring to, you’ll see that it’s potentially misleading. How could a higher percentage of respondents say a site worked best than the percentage of respondents who used that site? Unless, of course, the percentage referring to “worked best” is a percentage of those used the site. If that’s the case, then we’re talking 33% of 5%, or less than 2% of all respondents. But then again, the real percentage saying that Facebook worked best is 28% of 80%, or 22%. And the percentage citing Twitter as best is really 10% of 71%, or just 10% of all respondents).

Thanks to phishing and overzealous marketers who bombard customers with daily messages, email has gotten a bad rap, especially in financial services. Not sure why anybody thinks social media tools/sites like Facebook or Twitter will be any different, though. Compared to Twitter, email is whole lot more accountable — you can track deliverability, open rates, click through rates, and ultimately, conversion rates. With Twitter, you have no clue whether or not somebody actually saw your tweet (unless of course, they reply to it, retweet it, or click through to a link).

Check out the entire Strongmail study.

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