Digital acceleration has rocked the financial services ecosystem, and organizations have quickly transformed how they support the customer journey. According to a recent report by Deloitte, financial institutions have rapidly transformed themselves to support more online business processes, including marketing automation.
Meeting customer experience demands requires financial institutions to rethink the customer journey and how they build trust with customers. Marketing automation is a critical tool that helps bridge gaps along the customer journey and create more meaningful and authentic connections. Financial institutions that do this successfully stand out against competitors and build greater trust and loyalty.
Understand and Embrace the New Era of the Customer Journey
The digital era has transformed how customers expect to interact with your financial institution. As expectations change, so too must the strategies responsible for guiding customers along their journey. Meeting people where they’re at is powerful since the experience plays a direct role in the decision to open or close a financial account, add products, or sign on and stay on as a client.
Consider the following:
- The customer experience was recently named the top challenge for financial institutions, overtaking the previous leader, deposit growth.
- One-third of companies do not use a customer journey map. At the same time, almost all of those that do report that it provides positive benefits.
- Roughly half of Generation Z, Millennial and Generation X customers report they are willing to switch financial providers for an improved digital experience.
If you can spot gaps in the customer journey, then you can fix them. Make improvements by focusing on three key areas: awareness, consideration and purchase.
The journey begins with awareness about the business, which may include digital advertising and content marketing.
Consideration follows, continuing with content marketing that is specifically valuable to the customer, as well as research on the company on its website and third-party outlets such as peer-review sites or digital magazines.
And, of course, the purchase is when leads are converted to contracts, policies, loans and deposits.
Financial services customers make purchase decisions largely based on feelings and emotions (right brain), while financial institutions’ clients lean toward logic, analytics and reason (left brain), and rightfully so since they are managing financial resources.
The two mindsets complement one another nicely during the decision-making process if you can emotionally connect with the customers and help them along their journey.
People need to understand why they should trust your financial institution compared to the other options available to successfully break through the consideration phase and into the purchase phase — and this is where financial institutions marketing and automation play a key role.
The Difference Between a Digital Presence and Engaging Through Digital Channels
A sleek, good-looking website is no longer enough to keep customers engaged. Posting on your social media account won’t guarantee an audience anymore, even if you have an engaged following. Digital advertising is one small piece of the financial services marketing puzzle and can’t be solely relied upon to generate leads. Even populating your blog and including solid SEO practices isn’t enough.
The above strategies are critical components of a digital marketing strategy and are important to a buyer’s journey, but together, they still lack a critical element: personalization, which is the powerful ingredient that financial institutions need in order to draw in customers and gain trust and loyalty.
Personalize Your Content and Deliver It to the Right People With Financial Services Marketing Automation
Customers are no longer happy with a one-size-fits-all experience, and they don’t just want personalization — they expect it. “The desire for customers to personalize their banking relationship is the strongest message emerging” among respondents to a recent industry survey. In fact, 72% of respondents rated personalization as “highly important,” while only 8% said that it wasn’t important at all. What’s more is that Millennials placed the highest value on personalization (79%), followed by Generation Z (75%), Generation X (74%) and Baby Boomers (58%).
With the “great wealth transfer” on the horizon, which involves $68 trillion changing hands over the next 25 years to younger generations, delivering on expectations is a critical component to success.
In the past, marketers spoke to groups of customers, but today’s customers expect you to speak to them as an audience of one. Each person has varying needs and interests, so the content and communications he or she receives should be tailored to those needs. Trust is established when you speak to your audience in a way that makes them feel acknowledged, heard and addressed.
Marketing automation enables you to deliver content that addresses a person’s specific needs, whether it’s about retirement savings, managing investments, credit card debt or purchasing a home. The result is reaching customers on a personalized level that cuts through the digital noise. Financial services companies use marketing automation to stand out against the competition while amplifying growth.
For example, TruStone Financial leveraged marketing automation to deliver timely and relevant messages about financial solutions. The credit union increased email open rates by 83% on highly segmented messages and boosted open rates to 68% on automated nurture emails.
Centra Credit Union used marketing automation to improve member engagement and drive over $10 million in new deposits in just seven weeks with a single automated program.
Connect Your Prospects With Sales When They’re Ready
A persistent salesperson isn’t the most effective tool for building trust and fostering a relationship that keeps your customer coming back for more, especially if the customer isn’t ready for such a push. In fact, a pushy sales experience often repels them backward in the customer journey. If you want to create authentic experiences and naturally move people through the sales cycle, you need a pull rather than a push.
Financial services marketing automation provides lead nurturing that creates a personalized and welcoming connection where the end user feels in control. 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.
This approach to marketing bridges a divide between marketing and sales teams, so that they can more effectively plan, implement and optimize the buyer’s journey. 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 zero in on the most qualified leads.
For example, perhaps an individual was interested in applying for a credit card and was moving through the research phase, exploring your website, looking up reviews and reading your white papers or blog posts. Trust starts to build, which moves the prospect to fill out an application. However, something happens, and it isn’t completed. Maybe it’s because he or she got distracted and forgot or was uncertain of how to answer a specific question. Whatever the reason, it’s important to acknowledge that the prospect got this far in the buying process and most likely still has interest in completing the application.
It makes sense for the financial institution to have a re-engagement strategy in place. This strategy may include a follow-up email from a financial adviser inviting the prospect to connect and ask questions, or even a simple reminder that there is a pending application. However, very few financial services organizations have a defined digital application abandonment process. Marketing automation is critical to help you capitalize on those initial leads.
Data is the most important element in the equation, because the more you know about your prospect’s characteristics, needs and behaviors, the better you can time marketing’s handoff to sales. And, the combination of sending the right message to the right person at the right time leads to business growth.
Build Trust With Campaigns That Actually Connect
The needs of customers are constantly evolving, and financial institutions that evolve alongside their customers will have a distinct competitive advantage. Now is the time to ensure that your marketing is up to the task by building out a marketing automation strategy that will provide a new way for you to engage with your customers. When done right, marketing automation allows you to build trust by meeting your customers’ expectations for personalized engagement.