Financial Marketing on Facebook in a Mobile-First World

A big part of marketing's future rests in the mobile channel. And you can't think about anything "mobile" without also thinking about Facebook. The Financial Brand caught up with our friend Neil Hiltz, Head of Financial Services/Global Vertical Strategy at Facebook, to chat about mobile marketing opportunities for banks and credit unions.

Why should financial marketers be concerned about social media platforms like Facebook — specifically in the mobile channel?

Neil Hiltz, Facebook (NH): It’s no secret — we live in a mobile-first world, and financial services institutions need to capitalize on this in a big way. While depositing a check without going to a branch, getting insurance quotes online, or even paying for your coffee with a mobile app were once considered “hi-tech”, these now represent the norm. And they require financial services institutions to quickly adapt to keep pace with consumer demand and expectations. This shift to mobile enables financial services institutions to harness the power of digital and data to reach and engage with people ways in that drive growth and value—at scale and in a personalized way. Importantly, as these capabilities continue to improve, so does the opportunity for financial services institutions to increase their efficiency, scale, and profitability.

Earlier this year, we reported that 1.19 billion people use Facebook exclusively on mobile every month. Additionally, 745 million people use Facebook on mobile devices every day. Combined with the fact that 79% of smartphone users keep their phones with them for all but two hours of their waking day (IDC Always Connected Report, 2013) confirms that the shift to mobile is both dramatic and can be highly beneficial to this industry and people.

For brand campaigns on the advertising side, we’ve seen an average of 6% lift in brand favorability. With performance-based campaigns, Facebook ads have resulted in an average increase of 14% for banking products and credit cards. Because Facebook is a platform built around personal profiles, we can look at the lift in these metrics in terms of real people — on desktop, mobile devices — as well as the sales impact that Facebook drives online and offline.

One area where I expect you’ll see more growth is on Instagram, which has over 300 million users every month. Instagram is becoming an increasingly important Facebook tool, and an avenue through which financial institutions can increase their brand equity and connect with their audience by telling a visual stories.

Whether you’re relatively advanced in your use of Facebook and Instagram, or just starting out, mobile will be critical to delivering results, and this will increasingly become the case as people continue to spend time on their smartphones and tablets.

How should financial marketers leverage Facebook to get their message in front of mobile users?

NH: I unequivocally recommend that financial services institutions pivot to mobile as quickly as possible. This means reaching people through Facebook’s News Feed on mobile. If you think about it, when people are on their phone, they are on Facebook, scrolling through News Feed, discovering what matters to them. In fact, one out of every five minutes spent on mobile devices in the US is spent on a Facebook property. This, combined with Facebook’s large ad format, creative canvas, video capabilities and the ability to measure results make it prime digital real estate for financial marketers to achieve their key marketing objectives..

We have an entire suite of customizable tools to help financial services institutions bring in strong results and meet customer expectations. The Facebook for Business blog includes a wealth of information on product offerings and success stories, so I encourage bank and credit union marketers to take a look.

What kind of targeting and retargeting options are available to financial marketers on Facebook?

NH: In an era of “big data”, targeting and retargeting capabilities continue to improve. Big data can fuel accuracy, so when you couple it with a large, people-based platform like Facebook, reaching the right people becomes a profoundly efficient and effective exercise.

One thing I emphasize when talking with clients is using data in new ways. Beyond Facebook’s data, it’s important to note that businesses also have a lot of their own data that can be used to maximize results. The same data that’s used for building direct mail models, or profitability, or retention models can be implemented in a secure, privacy-safe way on Facebook. For example, using Facebook’s Custom Audiences or Lookalike Audiences, a bank can segment their existing customer database and match that segment against Facebook’s data to find similar audiences.

This opens up entirely new networks of potential customers, which MetLife sought to do. Using advanced Facebook targeting capabilities, it yielded a 2x improvement in lead-to-sale compared to their next best channel, while reducing their cost per lead by 49%. (You can check out the full case study at the Facebook website.) These products also create a highly adaptable system for connecting with people throughout the customer lifecycle, which serves as a huge driver of long-term profitability.

What’s the difference in how Facebook displays paid content on smart phones vs. tablets?

NH: The form factor is different, so Facebook’s News Feed shows up differently on a tablet compared to a smartphone. But setting up ads to run on mobile, tablet, or desktop is fundamentally the same—the images scale to the size of the device. And the truth is that if you have compelling visual content or a great video, people will find it compelling regardless of device.

As a mobile-first company, improving the mobile experience is definitely our top priority, so Facebook’s designers and engineers are working continuously to improve the experience on each device, including the way paid content is presented.

Can you talk to us about the costs and ROI of marketing on Facebook?

NH: I want to be clear: Facebook is a company focused on data. We value data and measurement as much as our clients. And those in financial services understand the value of data better than anyone. When it comes to planning a campaign, my advice is to define your goals and objectives from the outset.

Just as with other channels, when you start with and focus on your budget rather than your objectives, you risk getting results that aren’t statistically meaningful. That’s true for every media channel, and Facebook is no exception. For example, if you have a brand campaign, we focus on improving and measuring awareness, and increasing sentiment towards your brand. If you’re running a performance campaign, we focus on the outcome – the binded quote for insurers, the net response for credit cards, the day of closing for your mortgage. We work closely with financial services institutions around the world to help them achieve goals that matter most to them and we recommend investing what is needed to get the results that they care about most.

As far as execution, most campaigns run through a bidded-auction model, so you can change any lever of your campaign to optimize results. We also work closely with Facebook Marketing Partners who specialize in doing just this, and they’ve built additional capabilities through our APIs.

The bottom line is that we want to ensure every partnership bears meaningful results for both clients and customers. The best way to do this is to help clients advertise and put structures in place that allow them to keep up with and stay ahead of consumer demand and behavior. In this case, that means helping bring clients into the era of mobile-first financial services.

Can smaller institutions make mobile advertising work on Facebook?

NH:Given that people spend more time online than watching television and more time on mobile than on desktop, mobile ads make sense for every financial services client. In a now mobile-first world, reaching people on their mobile devices and making your services available on mobile is not an option, but a necessity. And our teams work with clients of all sizes to help achieve results that matter most to their organization.

Our product and engineering teams do incredible work to ensure that Facebook is easy to use. From a practical standpoint, I’ve set up advertising campaigns in less than 15 minutes using some of the most sophisticated products we have on the platform. Our engineers are working relentlessly to continue improving the efficiency and effectiveness of setting up campaigns, executing them, and driving real results for the bottom line.

Neil Hiltz, Head of Financial Services/Global Vertical Strategy at Facebook, will be presenting a session, “Banking on Facebook in a Mobile-First World,” in person at The Financial Brand Forum 2015 on Friday, May 1.

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