The word “marketing” still carries a lot of baggage with it in financial services. In many circles, it still mainly brings to mind images of TV advertisements, radio, print and billboard advertising.
Whilst these marketing approaches still have their place, there is no denying that the world of marketing has changed dramatically in the last 3 decades. Notably with the rise of the internet and social media.
Today, financial marketers have access to a range of promotional tools they could only have dreamed of before. Digital marketing has not only allowed more financial firms to deploy their message to audiences in a more focused manner; it gives them the tools to measure the results too, often in real-time.
Digital marketing is a difficult concept to define, due to the ever-changing nature of the technologies involved. Even in financial services, digital marketing has evolved considerably in a short space of time; away from narrow definitions tied closely to “email”, for instance, to now encompass platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook Ads and display advertising.
Perhaps you are a financial firm seeking to grow your understanding of digital marketing, and how you can leverage it to achieve your marketing goals. If so, read on.
However, please note that whilst the tools and strategies available to financial marketing might have changed, the fundamental principles have remained fairly constant over time (e.g. the importance of electing a viable target market).
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing can broadly be defined as any kind of marketing which uses the internet, in some form, to communicate and engage an audience with a financial services brand.
Naturally, this encompasses marketing tactics such as email and social media. It tends to exclude the likes of print advertising (e.g. delivering leaflets via direct mail), but it’s worth noting that distinctions are not clear-cut anymore. In some sense, all financial marketing can probably be described as “digital now”.
Consider TV advertising as an example. Traditionally, financial marketing agencies have lumped this approach into the “non-digital” marketing category, perhaps placing it in “broadcast media” alongside other forms out “outbound marketing” (e.g. radio commercials). Of course, with the rise of video platforms such as iPlayer, All4 and YouTube, TV marketing also now occurs on a large scale via the internet.
It’s important to mention this, as many financial advisers and similar firms can sometimes conceive digital marketing quite narrowly, merely thinking of Facebook Ads or email marketing.
The possibilities are so much more!
Why Digital Marketing for Financial Services?
As mentioned, to some degree most of modern marketing has been digitised; so financial services are, in a sense, inevitably faced with it. It makes sense, therefore, to learn how to play in this particular ballpark if it’s increasingly becoming the main (or only) game in town.
However, there are also strong positive reasons to engage in financial digital marketing:
- Digital marketing is measurable. With a leaflet or billboard ad, you’re always going to be left somewhat in the dark regarding how these marketing campaigns performed. How do you know how many leads or sales to attribute to that ad, for instance? With digital marketing, however, everything leaves an online footprint which you can trace. With email marketing, for example, you can monitor how many messages delivered to your email list, how many people opened the email and the number of people who clicked on your links (as well as what they clicked on). Once the results are in, you can start drawing some conclusions and refine for the next campaign.
- Digital marketing is integrative. One of the other beautiful things about online marketing is that it opens up a whole new world, where you can connect different campaigns into a coherent whole. Consider the following example. You set up a Facebook Ads campaign to promote your landing page, which features a downloadable guide (e.g. on pension planning). The visitor clicks on your ad and fills out the form to claim the free resource. That’s your social media marketing. From there, the recipient can be nurtured through your sales pipeline using an automated email drip campaign, offering them more value and content to built trust and interest. That’s your email marketing. Throughout this process, the visitor is exposed to your Google remarketing ads across the internet (i.e. the display network), which also offer interesting content and resources; drawing the user back to your website and nudging them further towards picking up the phone to you. That’s your PPC marketing.
Does Digital Marketing Really Work for Financial Services?
Of course, as a financial marketing agency, we’re going to say yes. Yet it’s important to qualify and justify that assertion. First of all, digital marketing will look different depending on the needs, structure, goals, resources and target audience of the financial firm in question. Not all financial firms will find it helpful to focus on SEO, for instance. Others might require a strategy which hinges heavily on SEO, with a small PPC or Facebook Ads component. For various other firms, the marketing mix might vary again.
Sometimes financial firms can claim that digital marketing is not relevant for the target market; perhaps because their clients are “too old”, and prefer brand touchpoints in the form of direct mail or other print advertising. One financial planner told us: “It’s hard to imagine 92-year-old Mildred reading our financial planning blogs on her iPad.” We couldn’t help but laugh!
Typically, however, these same firms are surprised when they actually drill down into the online behaviour of their target market. Mildred might not be an avid Facebook user, for instance, but she might well be reading your email newsletter on the smartphone which her granddaughter set her up with. She might also be reading your blog on her old desktop computer!
The important thing to say here is this: be careful not to make any assumptions about your target audience regarding digital marketing, either positive or negative. Take the time to research how they use the internet, where they find their information and how they look to solve problems which you could potentially fix.