As the digital age continues apace, the need for brands to develop strong connections with consumers is more important than ever. One of the most effective ways that businesses can achieve this is through nurturing trust between themselves and their customers. Whether it is purchasing a product or paying for a service from a business, all consumer decisions contain an emotional component which revolves around a crucial question that must be asked of brands: “Can I trust you?”
Now consider the financial sector, specifically banks and credit unions. In an industry where the relationship between financial institutions and the general public has been damaged by the 2008 global economic crash, banks and credit unions are striving to restore public trust in their ability to manage personal and business finances.
This is no easy feat, particularly in the digital realm. Money is a sensitive and stressful subject that underpins many aspects of people’s personal and professional lives. Gaining the trust of customers to manage their livelihoods is a difficult proposition, especially when public confidence in banks and credit unions has declined. Therefore, financial businesses need to focus on understanding how to approach customers and address their individual needs to help create and nurture promising leads.
Fortunately, there is a solution.
Marketing automation has the ability to simplify and seamlessly incorporate layered channels of digital marketing to help financial institutions guide their customers on a personalised path toward brighter futures. For these types of businesses, this attribute is invaluable towards satisfying the demands of the modern customer.
Within the consumer banking space, prospective clients are no longer simply searching for another loan or credit card provider. Instead, they entrust financial institutions to provide effective advice and counsel tailored to their financial situation and help set them on the path to a bigger and better future. By offering this tailored capability for the benefit of the customer, marketing automation holds huge potential to positively change public perceptions of financial institutions.
However, despite the obvious benefits, businesses are still slow on the uptake when it comes to marketing automation. According to the State of Digital Growth Report, 69% of financial institutions do not use this software. In other words, there is an excellent opportunity for financial marketers to distinguish themselves from the competition. By harnessing the personalisation capabilities of marketing automation tools, financial marketers can significantly enhance their ability to build trust between their business and consumers by providing a more personalised, value-packed service.
- Understand and embrace the new era of the customer journey
The digital age has undoubtedly transformed customers’ expectations of how businesses should market them, as well as the process of navigating them through that journey. With consumer preferences and behaviour constantly shifting, businesses need to implement software that is adaptive to real-time changes and can guide customers along a bespoke digital-led marketing journey to the end destination.
Studies have revealed that 81% of bank shopping journeys begin online. Additionally, it is estimated that consumers use an average of nine different information sources over a 60-to-90-day period when shopping for a financial product. During this process, a breakdown of the key components of a typical customer journey can be outlined:
- The first stop on the journey is the process of gathering information about the business and awareness of the services they offer. In today’s consumer landscape, this is primarily achieved through the means of digital advertising and content marketing.
- The next stage involves consideration. Content marketing plays a pivotal role here in its provision of information resources that are relevant to the customer. This information is also supplemented with additional research on the company via its website and third-party outlets, such as peer review sites or digital magazines. Consumers need an answer to why they should trust your business among others before they’ll move past the consideration phase.
- Following the successful completion of the previous two steps, the final stage is the act of purchase – when the leads are converted to loans and deposits. Consumers largely make buying decisions largely based on feeling and emotion (the right brain), while financial institutions lean heavily on logic, analytics, and reason (left brain) – as they should, considering they are responsible for others’ money. The two mindsets complement each other in the decision-making process, though trusting the logic and reason is found in adhering to the emotional senses.
Factoring in the above, it is clear that the traditional “offline” customer journey is no longer applicable in the modern consumer landscape. With many more moving parts and complexities to juggle, there are also infinite opportunities to capitalise on. Marketing automation tools can provide the means to do so.
2. Personalise your content and deliver it to the right people
Each generation has different needs, and therefore they have varying interests to look out for, such as content that they find valuable and connections that are relevant to them. For this reason, mass mailing emails is a redundant strategy because it does not provide businesses with the capability to effectively engage with customers on an individual level and address their specific concerns. This ability to build trust is crucial for an industry that needs to reinvigorate its relationship with its customers.
Contrary to the belief of many financial businesses, a sharp, aesthetic website is no longer enough to keep your customers enticed. Posting to your social media accounts also does not guarantee an audience anymore (even if you have a large number of followers). Digital advertising is only a small cog in the digital marketing machine and it can’t be solely relied on to generate leads.
There is a fundamental difference between having an online presence and engaging through digital channels. Businesses need to clearly understand this distinction if they want to effectively build trust with customers. Although the aforementioned are essential components to digital marketing and play their important role in the buyer’s journey, they still collectively lack the personalisation and subsequent trust that credit unions and banks need to substantially bring in customers and gain their loyalty.
Once again, marketing automation addresses this issue. This software can help direct content that focuses on the varying needs of a wide range of demographics (retirement savings, college funds, credit card debt, buying a home, celebrating a wedding, etc). Marketing automation software equips businesses with the insight they need to cut through the digital noise and reach customers on a personalised level. Simply put, the tailored communication which marketing automation allows can help drive exponential growth in a business’ customer base by prompting more effective communication with a far wider audience. This characteristic epitomises the potency of marketing automation software in the financial services industry and the competitive advantage it can give to businesses operating in this space.
3. Connect your prospects with sales – when they’re ready
Regardless of the industry, no customer wants to deal with an aggressive salesperson. In an area as sensitive and important as personal and business finances, this is particularly true. The outdated salesperson approach of pitching a business case on some information gained from the prospective client’s business website, is never going to be an effective strategy.
In contrast, marketing automation that promotes a more measured and data-led approach is far more suitable. As the customer journey evolves and the research phases are more independent and purposeful, marketing automation can provide real-time alerts and lead nurturing that makes the connection feel personalised and less intrusive. The real-time alerts provide instant notification for contacts, leads, and user activities, which then allows your team to begin nurturing leads with relevant content at the right time.
Additionally, marketing automation capabilities are not exclusive to the generation of converted lead. Customers will sometimes drop out of the application process (notably an important part of the customer journey before lead conversion) for reasons as trivial as forgetting to press “Submit” or they were lured by a competitor at the last minute. Simply having targeted campaigns that address this abandonment, even as simple as a friendly reminder that they have a pending application, will make a financial institute stand out from its competition–considering 83% of banks and credit unions do not have a defined digital application abandonment process.
Marketing automation efficiently connects the link between marketing and sales as it helps to plan, implement, and optimise the buyer’s journey. It keeps cross-functional teams in the loop about potential leads and how much resource they should divert towards that prospect. It ensures that the precious time and money invested in generating the lead hasn’t been wasted, and you as a financial professional are able to hone in on the most qualified leads.
Katie Jameson is the Head of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software, a leading provider of marketing automation and one of the fastest growing tech companies in North America. Working on a global scale, Act-On Software specialises in adaptive marketing solutions that enable marketers to create Adaptive Journeys using customer behaviours, preferences and data to intelligently guide the engagement strategy. The company operates in a number of industries including automotive, construction, manufacturing, technology and the fastener industry.