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Four digital marketing questions for financial institutions

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Imagine yourself as the head of marketing at a financial institution located in Anywhere, USA. You are in search of the ultimate marketing strategy and tactics to grow your share of the market. How will you proceed?

 

Too often it would appear that the more traditional service industries like banking and finance approach marketing and advertising in the traditional way. What does that mean? Some examples would be “we have always done it this way so let’s keep doing it this way” or “my competitors are doing it, so it must be working.”

Heck, people are people, right? Money doesn’t change, does it? Every generation has the same financial needs. Or do they?

Well, it may be time to challenge your thinking because someone else is likely ahead of you. In order to get yourself headed in the right direction, here are four questions you need to answer.

 

1. Do you know your audience(s)? That’s a bold question, right? Of course you know your audience. You are targeting a younger demographic to supplement the inevitably aging customer base within your institution (i.e. bring on the millennials). If this is your plan (and it absolutely should be part of your plan), then you need to consider the diversification required to reach a very particular target demographic. No one is saying that billboards and newspaper advertising cannot be effective, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re enough. As technology has evolved with each generation, the expectations for one-to-one content marketing have grown as well. You need to speak to people where they are, not where you want to be. This leads right to the next question you must consider.

 

2. Who is deciding that your strategy and tactics are correct? Too often the marketing plans made by companies are formulated in a conference-room echo chamber where people inside agree with one another about how best to reach their audiences. Don’t fall into this trap. Just because you and/or your marketing team see your creative ideas as the perfect solution does not mean that others will. It is too easy to fall into a state of bliss where you are speaking to your favorite audience – you. You do not necessarily have the most objective opinion about what messaging will work. Be humble enough to get a second and third opinion. Pull together a focus group of your current customers. However you do it, get some outside input to gut-check your plan.

3. Can you measure it? If you can’t, then don’t do it. We live in a digital world. Everything can be measured and a return on investment (ROI) from your marketing spend is a reasonable expectation. In fact, one could argue that we live in an age that will legitimize marketing spend as an investment instead of a simple cost that can be eliminated quickly. The only trick is that you need to engage with data analytics, not just website analytics. Doing this properly means having a clear end-to-end strategy, understanding the user journey you are creating, and determining how you will track every movement. Once you have this in place, the data will begin to tell the story – do more of this or ease up on that. Proper use of data analytics is the big game changer, but you need to find a team of people who can do it correctly. And remember, when proper data analytics is married to expertly created marketing you can measure not only what is digital-first, but your traditional marketing as well. Just make sure you plan accordingly.

 

4. Are you being social? Baby-boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z – they are all social, as in social media friendly. You need to engage in social media … yesterday. “Engage” doesn’t mean just throwing random social posts at people. Participating in social media requires a social media strategy – an investment in understanding your audiences from a social perspective. A social media strategy includes not just market segmentation and targeting, but a content creation plan, content calendar and a serious commitment to consistency. Achieving actual engagement with your audience takes time, and once you get there, you need to keep delivering. If you lose them, it is twice as hard to win them back. Social media is about gaining trust by providing honest and valuable content. Oh, and don’t expect immediate payback on your social investment. This is a process that involves giving to the audience freely until they determine that what you are providing makes a difference to them. So, be patient. Lastly, refer back to point No. 3 above. Social media efforts, when done correctly, are trackable and ultimately measurable.

Challenge yourself to change the game. Get out of your own way. We are in an age of extremely powerful messaging thanks to the world of digital marketing. Your traditional audiences are evolving with the younger generations. Baby boomers are getting more technology friendly.

Don’t miss the opportunity. You can be part of the next wave or you can be left behind. The choice is yours to make.

Kurt Cannon is vice president of client engagement at Liquid Interactive, a marketing consulting services firm in Upper Macungie Township. He can be reached at kurt.cannon@liquidint.com.

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