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Best practices for successfully marketing your financial services firm
Marketing strategies are dependent on the type of industry. The way you’d market a consulting service will differ from how you’d market an eCommerce store. That’s for sure. And if there’s any sector that above all needs a unique marketing approach, it’s the financial services industry.
Because it’s harder to sell these services, especially where most people don’t even really know what it is that finance professionals do. The industry is quite broad too and so full of jargon and technical stuff that it’s hard to catch someone’s attention, let alone maintain it long enough for them to consume your marketing message.
Successful financial services marketing might be a tad complicated, but it’s certainly achievable. In this article, we walk you through the various best practices for marketing your financial services firm and achieving set goals. Let’s dive in!
The uniqueness of financial services marketing
In the broad sense, financial services marketing follows the basic tenets of digital marketing for service-based businesses. The goals are somewhat similar, too — generate brand awareness, create a loyal online following, drive conversions, improve retention, scale your services, gain a competitive edge, etc.
However, in recent years, it has become clear that traditional marketing efforts are no longer as effective. It’s no longer about trying to show people that your financial services company or its various offerings are so awesome. You’re asking people to trust you with their money here, so you have to be able to be genuine and customer-obsessed in your approach.
And that’s why every successful financial service marketing strategy must start from the customer experience.
Top marketing challenges in the financial services industry
Creating an effective marketing strategy means overcoming the unique challenges faced by financial institutions when marketing their services. These are:
1. Hard-to-reach target audiences
Retail banking and insurance coverage are the main financial services that most people know about. So it’s a bit challenging to talk to them about your exciting new Fintech startup that does not involve these two financial institutions.
And here’s the thing, you’ll need to reach these audiences long before they’re ready to make a purchase. When you successfully take them through every touchpoint of the customer journey, then they become more open to buying what you’re offering.
2. Increased competition for brand awareness
The financial services industry gets more competitive with each passing day. Statista reports that in 2018, there were over 6,500 Fintech startups in the United States. As of February 2021, that number has risen to over 10,600. And that’s just for the fintech companies. There are many other types of new financial services companies springing up, like lending services, mobile apps, and even cryptocurrency exchanges.
Increasing competition in the industry means it’s harder for your brand awareness to shine through. Consumers have less incentive to choose your brand when they know they can get the exact same services from someone else. As you can imagine, this is especially true in today’s digital age, where the average consumer is distrustful of brand marketing campaigns.
One popular piece of advice for properly marketing a service-based business is to commoditize those services and sell them like a product. While this is indeed sound advice, it’s not so easy for financial service companies to do.
This is because they’re mainly selling intangible offerings. When marketing your financial firm, you’re selling your customers more of an idea — wealth growth, portfolio diversification, insurance, etc. — than a tangible product. The problem here is that with intangible products, there’s always the possibility that things would not work out. In the absence of absolute guarantees, how do you commoditize something like that?
4. Lack of consumer trust
There are thousands of legit companies out there today offering genuine and trustworthy financial products. But let’s be honest, the industry has seen its fair share of horror stories about people losing their hard-earned money through shady investments and financial dealings. It’s like for every reputable financial services firm, there’s another one that is just plain fraudulent.
This has injected a sense of distrust among consumers. It’s harder for genuine companies and professionals to overturn this inherent lack of trust and truly connect with their target audience.
5. Finding the right moment
Timing is everything in financial services marketing. It can determine what marketing strategy to use, what digital channels to utilize, and even how big your marketing team should be. Call it sheer luck or preparedness, reaching your target audience at just the right time is the key to successful marketing, especially among sellers of financial products.
According to Amazon Advertising, more than 30% of banking, insurance, and brokerage customers purchased new financial products — insurance policies, credit cards, loans, new brokerage accounts, etc. — following a life-event change.
Look at what happened when the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the globe in 2020. This was a significant life-event change, especially since the government has distributed well over $391 billion in the form of stimulus checks in just one year. As a result, there were over 10 million new brokerage accounts set up in 2020 alone. Cryptocurrency exchanges also witnessed an explosion in new customers.
The financial services industry is one of the most regulated all over the world. There are some very strict rules about what financial services marketers can and cannot promote. Even marketing that is targeted at financial aid and donations for charity work must adhere to certain regulations.
Needless to say, these guidelines have stifled the financial services marketing process and, in a way, suppressed creativity when creating marketing campaigns. Most of the time, financial marketers have to stick to established marketing methods that are in line with regulatory rules. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave much room to adapt to evolving marketing trends and customer expectations.
How to overcome these challenges for a successful financial services marketing strategy
Historically, the most reliable way to gain new customers in the financial services industry is through referrals. There’s hardly a better driver of new leads for financial advisors and professionals than good old-fashioned referrals. That’s why regardless of your digital marketing strategy, you must pay attention to referral and testimonial generation. But at the same time, don’t let it be your only strategy.
The landscape is changing, and these new generations of consumers (Millennials and Gen -Zs) prefer to do their own research when deciding on which financial products to purchase. They go online and search for useful information to help them make the right choices. Money is tight, after all, and they want solutions that can bring in the best possible returns.
This is exactly why, in addition to referrals, financial service companies must also fully embrace and implement the following best practices:
1. Know your target market
The people who stand to gain the most from your buying your financial products and services make up your target market. It’s important to know some basic information about these people, such as their demographics, geographic location, interests, device preferences, income range, and so on. The more data you can capture, the better and more focused your marketing campaigns will be.
Remember, with financial services marketing, you’re in it for the long haul because customers are not going to trust you overnight. So the more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to personalize your approach across all touchpoints of the consumer journey, and in so doing, gain their trust.
2. Make your website your biggest marketing asset
As mentioned earlier, today’s consumers prefer to do their own research before deciding on what to spend their money on. Your business website is the first place they will look. They want to see your credentials, what financial products you offer, and why they should get them from you. So if you don’t currently have one, you’re doing your marketing from a disadvantaged position. Luckily, it’s never been easier to get a professional website for your business.
Your financial services website should be designed to deliver the best possible customer experience. To accomplish this, it needs to be four things:
- Fast — There are several reasons for a slow-loading website. Any one of them can ruin the user experience of your website. Do all you can to ensure that your website loads as fast as possible. Aim for a loading time of three seconds or less.
- Secure — Every standard website should be secure, but for your financial services website? More so. Even if you won’t be processing or storing customer data, your website security must be top-notch. People will expect to see the secure padlock symbol in the URL line, along with HTTPS, instead of HTTP before the domain name.
Check out: How to secure a website from threats
- Frictionless — Your financial service website needs to provide an amazing user experience from the moment the visitor lands on it to the moment they step off. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate your website and find whatever information they need in just a few clicks or taps. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitor and try to see what you would expect from a well-designed financial services website.
- Mobile-first — This just means your website needs to look great and function smoothly on any mobile device. Not too long ago, we used to have mobile-friendly websites — mobile-first websites are the way to go now. These are websites that are designed to be accessed on mobile devices first, desktops second.
3. Get your website noticed locally
If you want to build a solid customer base, then you must make it easy for customers to find you. Every month, Google, Bing, and other search engines record hundreds of thousands of online searches for financial services and related terms. Obviously, you want your website to be among the results returned after the online search.
You accomplish that through search engine optimization (SEO). But it’s not just the regular SEO where you’re optimizing keywords and doing interlinking. Definitely do those, but also with a focus on local SEO. As the name implies, local SEO is all about narrowing your SEO approach to a smaller geographical area and then dominating the scene.
What makes local SEO so powerful is that it allows your company to rank higher and faster on search results within a local service area. After all, if your company can’t even rank well in its own backyard, then how can it do well nationally?
Google has also started prioritizing local listings information as results for online searches about local businesses. It does this through its Google My Business (GMB) listings platform. A listing contains relevant business information — company name, address, phone number, list of services, client reviews, images of the company building, and even a map listing.
This snapshot information is more useful and relevant to an organic searcher. And so it’s more likely that they will click on the link as opposed to some lengthy blog post link.
4. Communicate with your target audience
This pretty much sums up what content marketing is all about. You want to find the best platform to address your audience and then craft the right messaging, so they see your credibility and unique value propositions. Content marketing is an extremely broad field, so it’s important to know what specific types and digital channels to use for your financial services firm.
Here’s a quick guide:
Blogs and informative articles — These are great for SEO as well as for establishing brand credibility. In addition to educating your target audience and answering their questions about financial services, blogs fulfill a crucial ranking factor — fresh content.
Infographics — These are great for breaking down complex topics into bite-sized graphical presentations. Infographics are a must-have in any content marketing strategy in the financial services industry. Use it to convert all those financial jargon and complex processes into simpler versions that your audience can easily understand.
Email newsletters — Email marketing for financial services can be a powerful content marketing channel because it allows you to communicate with your audience in their inbox. It’s also great for maintaining relationships with existing clients.
Ebooks and Whitepapers — These are great for establishing your authority and credibility in the financial services industry. Make sure they are as detailed as possible and contain relevant case studies to reinforce the points made in the publications.
Videos — Video marketing deserves a special category on its own, but it is still under content marketing. The premise is simple — people generally prefer video content to lengthy texts. Video marketing is perfect for the financial services industry because it provides the most engaging way to communicate with your audience, especially about complex topics and processes.
Podcasts, webinars, online workshops — These gained popularity during the lockdowns. They’re great for addressing your audience directly and allowing them to interact with you in real-time. If you want to promote a new financial product or explain how a particular process works, these are great digital channels to use.
5. Leverage social media
Social media affords one of the best ways to attract new customers. But it’s not just about having a social media profile — but about cultivating relationships. If you want to build a loyal following, you need to know what platforms to utilize and then post relevant content on your page consistently.
LinkedIn is the number one social media platform for financial services marketing. Twitter and Facebook are great options too. But keep in mind that each platform has specific rules for how you would manage your social media page. The way you would market your services on Linkedin will not be the same as you would on Twitter or Reddit.
6. Put up some money for pay-per-click (PPC) ads
“You need money to make money” is a popular saying in the financial services industry. The premise holds true for advertising in the industry as well. PPC ads offer one of the fastest ways to promote brand awareness and reinforce brand recognition. You only pay the advertising platform (Google, Facebook, Youtube, etc.) when a person decides to interact with your ad. This makes it a truly cost-efficient marketing channel. However, you still need to put up enough money to fund your ad account.
Another thing to note is that the financial services industry is extremely competitive, so you might need a sizable ad budget if you want to compete favorably.
There are different types of paid ads, so it’s also important to utilize the one(s) that work best for your company. For example, display ad campaigns are great for attracting new leads since they are usually displayed in different places all over the web. On the other hand, remarketing ad campaigns are great for retargeting people who have interacted with your ads in the past but didn’t take action.
7. Invest in marketing automation tools
Automation is the smart way of doing things. Artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where we can allow these tools to take over various aspects of our financial services marketing. For example, you could integrate chatbots into your website so even when you’re offline, you’re still able to communicate with your website visitors.
The capacity for automation now exists in just about every channel in digital marketing. In email marketing, it’s the ability to send out specific emails at specific touchpoints in the customer journey. In SEO, it’s the ability to do an in-depth audit of your website and identify errors at the click of a button.
Automation also exists in business management. For instance, you could automate your invoicing and payments processes; your customer relationship management process; your online scheduling process, and much more.
Doing things the manual way only eats into your valuable time, which you could instead spend on other important aspects of your business.
The bottom line
A client-centric strategy is the key to successfully marketing your financial services firm. This is what helps you gain a substantial competitive advantage — client trust. Put this guide to proper use today and begin marketing your firm for greater success.
Are you looking to hire an expert team to create a powerful web presence and implement these marketing best practices for your financial services company? B12 is the company to call.
We offer a complete lineup of online solutions, including a business website powered by advanced artificial intelligence, copywriting, SEO, blogging, and more. The B12 team works tirelessly to deliver tangible marketing results for your business.
Sign up on B12 today to get started or to learn more about how any of our solutions can benefit your financial services firm. For more helpful guides, how-tos, and industry tips, please visit our resource center. We look forward to working with you and helping your firm grow to greater heights.
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