Financial services companies have traditionally relied on customer referrals to win new clients. Whether they are wealth managers or business advisors, many still depend on word-of-mouth over proactive and strategic marketing efforts.
However, these referral-reliant businesses are being left behind when it comes to attracting younger, savvier audiences. These prospects don’t consult their family for financial advice; they consult the web.
Inbound marketing (as opposed to traditional ‘outbound’ methods like cold calling) is the key to attracting today’s online audience. Financial services companies are well-suited to grow through inbound marketing, yet the sector has gained a reputation as a digital straggler.
In this article, we look into the digital marketing maturity of the financial sector, common digital challenges these companies face, and ask the question; are they doing enough to overcome them?
Digital Marketing Maturity of the Financial Sector
Econsultancy and Adobe's annual Digital Trends in Financial Services and Insurance report paints an interesting picture of the digital marketing maturity of the sector. Financial services and insurance (FSI) companies, they say, have traditionally lagged behind other industries regarding their digital capabilities, and this remains the case.
More than a quarter of finance companies surveyed in the report say they feel threatened by disruptive forces in their industry and are under pressure to seek ways to meet these challenges. Furthermore, 40% of respondents worry about appealing to their new generation of consumers.
Most concerning, 26% of FSI marketing leaders surveyed reported that their digital organisation is best described as a decentralised system, where digital skills are hired ad hoc by different teams, with minimal overarching strategic approach to digital maturity.
According to Christopher Young, Director of Industry Strategy for Financial Services at Adobe, "There are two kinds of businesses in this industry. Those that are treading water in this downpour of data, channels, and expectations. And those that quickly read the waters, and paddle hard, and catch the next wave of innovation before their competition does.”
This observation rings true in all industries, with those that are positioned to react quickly to change taking advantage of opportunities as they are presented.
Digital Challenges for Financial Services Companies
Financial services providers face several challenges online. Working with a number of these companies of varying sizes, we’ve seen common digital hurdles, including;
- Dated, unresponsive websites that fail to gain organic visibility
- Ad hoc and disjointed approach to lead generation
- Little thought given to converting website visitors into clients
- Difficulty reaching younger prospects
These clients have traditionally relied on referrals to generate new business, and need support in attracting online prospects, converting them into leads and closing them into valuable clients. Typically, these online prospects are younger, more tech-savvy and more likely to look online to solve their problems.
Marketing Strategies for Finance Companies
How can finance companies take greater advantage of their digital opportunities? According to the FSI Digital Trends report, the answer is simple:
“Get in on the content creation game and use it to improve the journey for your customers."
“Provide consistent messaging based on customer journey analytics; find out what information your customers are looking for, and provide the answer through the fewest possible clicks. Continually track and test these journeys to optimise the content and messaging.”
Content creation is a worthy tactic in any marketing mix, so long as it serves a defined strategic purpose. For example, you might begin to create content that solves the problems of your audience to generate leads. However, content creation activity can fall flat without the right digital fundamentals in place. If you're interested in learning how you can grow your financial services business with strategic inbound marketing, view our inbound marketing pricing today.
First Steps to Online Success
As a base, all companies should have the following items if they hope to succeed online:
- A website that can be easily crawled by search engines
- A website that is responsive across devices
- A website that is built with conversion in mind
- The technology to gather audience insights and analytics
- The technology to easily change and update the front and back end of the website
- The technology to manage and execute marketing activities (like HubSpot)
- A defined and documented marketing strategy based on real audience insights
Next Steps to Online Success
With these fundamental items in place, companies can move forward with tactics like content creation with the confidence that it can actually be discovered by their audience. Next steps to online success can include activities like;
- Creating content that will appear high in search engine results pages (SERPs) when your audience searches for a relevant query
- Creating gated content (that is accessible only after completing a website form)
- Using marketing automation technology to nurture leads throughout the sales process
- Iterating all marketing activities based on constant data collection and analysis
Financial services companies may be falling behind other sectors regarding marketing maturity, but the online opportunity remains the same. As Adobe Director Chris Young says, it will be the finance companies that react to their changing audience that will grow into the future.
If you'd like more information on how financial services companies can use digital lead generation to grow their business, you're in luck, we offer 30-Min no-fluff complementary marketing consultations. No pressure, just help, guidance and ideas on how you can use inbound marketing to drive growth. If you're interested, you can book a 30 min marketing consultation with our founder here.