By Cristy Garcia, Global VP Communications at Impact, reveals the extent to which influencer marketing can be leveraged within financial services
Financial services has a reputation of being a sector in which only the most traditional marketing approaches are appropriate, yet influencer marketing is more widespread at banks than it may first appear. In fact, we’ve seen a growing trend of influencer partnerships becoming an increasingly important aspect of our banking and financial services clients’ overall approach to marketing.
Identifying a specific influencer marketing approach in this sector, however, is not easy. There’s no single ‘right’ way for a financial services brand to partner with influencers. Rather, there are a number of different strategies which can be deployed in order to achieve a range of business goals. A recent webinar we produced with Forrester, for instance, mapped three key approaches to influencer marketing: influencer as media, as content producer, and as customer experience.
How can financial services brands use influencers?
First up, using influencers as part of a media strategy is how this marketing channel originated. This means relying on creators for their reach.
Second, deploying influencers as content producers is a complementary use case that has emerged in more recent years. Within this approach, influencers leverage their authentic voice, style, and relationships in order to create original branded content – content which enterprises can then test in a different context such as other paid channels as well as their owned properties.
Third, approaching influencers as part of the overarching customer experience means commissioning creators as part of a wider ecosystem of partners facilitating relationships with the organisation itself. These partnerships tend to be long-lasting and multichannel. They touch many different stages of the customer journey and can contribute to customer acquisition as well as brand awareness.
Picking the right partner
Influencer partnerships in the banking space, as with any other sector, are most effective when they’re built for long-term, mutual benefit. For financial institutions, in particular, this means being judicious at the point of partner discovery.
It is important to ask if this prospective partner looks like the target audience and to ask questions about their audience, too: Do they reflect the demographics, psychographics, and behaviours the brand is looking for in prospective customers? Are the creator’s posts and audiences free of fraud or low-quality engagements?
What do we do once we’ve identified a partner?
Once a strong match in a partner has been identified, it is critically important to structure partnership terms to support and incentivise ongoing success. Financial institutions need tools to match contract terms to the measurable value that partners deliver. When enterprise and influencer interests are aligned in this way, partnerships are far more likely to generate long-term growth.
Tips for partner marketing success
What’s more, when it comes to types of influencer activation, we’ve seen that the more personal an influencer makes their promotion, the more effective it is. Banking and finance can be extremely intimate and yet sometimes opaque. A critical role that influencers play is making financial products, services, and processes relatable and accessible.
By sharing their experiences, modeling their usage, and infusing a brand’s message with their own relatability, influencers can break down barriers and guide the way for their audiences in this important sector. By way of example, an investment and trading app recently partnered with a prominent personal finance Youtube influencer. In a video, the influencer modelled how he used the app to invest $1,000. The aim was to encourage app downloads, sign-ups, and account funding – and the influencer was incentivised for each of these outcomes. Similarly, a financial services client partnered with a collection of creators to generate first-hand content and human stories around budgeting and saving up for big moments such as buying a house.
Sophisticated partnership marketing drives long-term gains
In the banking space, we have seen enterprises excel when they run their influencer programmes with high operational maturity and treat influencers as part of their overall customer experience. This level of sophistication when it comes to partnership marketing generally involves financial institutions investing time and resource into each stage of the partnership lifecycle: discovery, recruitment, contracting, engagement, fraud protection, optimisation and payment processing.
The resulting partnerships position influencers as long-term brand ambassadors able to story-tell and support a brand’s message. The beauty of these relationships is that they tend to drive all kinds of outcomes, including awareness, app downloads, sign-ups, account funding, purchases, engagement, and advocacy.