By PAUL KAISER
Financial services marketers face a major challenge as the number of places to get information grows and the speed information can be accessed accelerates: They must diligently monitor the effectiveness of current communication strategies, while constantly exploring and implementing rapidly developing technologies. Allocating limited resources to the right mix of new and old channels – in a seamless way – is the key to effective multi- and omni-channel marketing. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that new channels can mean exponentially increased content needs.
The difficultly of staying on top of this digital disruption is significant. According to a recent Adobe study less than 20 percent of financial services and insurance sector respondents described themselves as “advanced” in terms of digital maturity. More concerning, however, is that within this sector, 61 percent of wealth and asset management providers rated technology as “difficult to master” and are widely seen as, “having been slower to embrace digital trends”.
Disruption Or Evolution?
While recent communication technologies are often thought of as new and novel, many can be considered simply a transformation or progression from traditional channels. Consider the similar strategies of creating an effective tv or radio commercial with what would make someone click on a video or download a podcast.
Video – Keep It Beneficial And Brief
The potential power of video is indisputable, especially in financial services where visually educating clients on complex financial activity and results is key. Similarly, the use of video to engage is perfect for a business so heavily based on people and relationships. Given this, it’s disappointing that only 40 percent of firms examined in recent Forrester research included any kind of video on their website.
Many firms start with a 2-4-minute intro or welcome video used on their homepage costing $5-$25,000. However, while self-satisfying, these videos are rarely watched more than once and seldom have much impact on new business.
Perhaps the most important principle when starting with video marketing should be, “Keep it Short and Simple.” The human attention span is remarkably short. If the idea you’re trying to communicate cannot be achieved in 15-30 seconds (one minute at the absolute maximum), video may not be the best method. Some of the strongest opportunities for video include brief and but frequently repeated how-to topics (Ex: how to open an account, how to check your balance, etc.) and social media-friendly clips introducing a topic or providing an update.
Streaming Audio And Podcasts – Consistency Is Critical
While there is mixed research about listenership trends of “terrestrial” radio, there is no disagreement about the changing audio-media landscape, from new delivery methods (like satellite, smart speakers, and streaming platforms in cars and homes) to alternative programming (like podcasts and serialized audiobooks).
After AM/FM, Edison Research reports that streaming and podcasts constitute the next greatest share of time spent listening to audio sources. Critical for financial services marketers, audience on these channels are more committed, focused, and willing/able to be drawn in, than those of other digital technologies which are based on short bursts of attention.
To begin with, identify where your audience is now going for audio-based news or music. From there, consider whether you should develop your own podcast or advertise or sponsor an existing streaming program. While the cost to launch and maintains your own podcast program may be low ($5,000 down to a few hundred dollars monthly), content remains king. You must be able to consistently provide interesting and valuable information, and you must have a method to promote that delivery to your desired audience.
Advertising on an existing podcast may cost more, $15 to $30+ for a ten to sixty second ad CPM (cost per mille or cost per 1,000 listeners), but this also may be a much easier way to ease into this channel and access an existing audience.
Digital Outlets And Apps – Identify The Added Value
Whether through pay-per-click (PPC), remarketing, sponsored content, or simply banner ads, by now most marketers have explored the value some advertising on digital outlets.
Many CMOs and Marketing Directors have also faced with the question of “developing an app” by partners, principals, and executives in their firms, after all, according to TechCrunch there are now more than 20 fintech “unicorns” valued at over $1 billion. While mobile payment, customer communication, and improved brand loyalty are some of the biggest benefits, determining whether your firm should invest the time and effort to develop its own mobile app is more challenging. Consider the following three questions:
- Does your organization have a valuable service or insight it can offer customers and prospects via an app – without losing revenue through current chargeable hours?
- Will an app fit into your typical customer buyer journey and provide enough benefit to result in significant adoption and regular usage?
- Can the benefit identified be achieved in a significantly superior way through an app versus an improved user experience of your mobile website?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, marketing attention should probably be refocused on the website and digital advertising. If the answers still support the business case for developing an app, smart financial service marketers will work with a developer ($25,000-$500,000+) to deploy the simplest and cheapest version that still delivers the identified value. Only then, and only once predetermined success metrics are met, should additional investment be considered.
When To Seek Help?
It is wise to partner with an experienced digital media or marketing agency if the decision has been made to invest in any of the following channels in a large-scale or business-strategy level. However, utilizing existing marketing teams and a relatively minimal initial investment many firms can create and implement pilot programs.