The marketing challenges facing the financial services industry

By Gavin Dimmock, MD, Northern EMEA at Marketo

As an industry, the financial services sector has been slightly more delayed to adopt the latest technologies available to them. Often large institutions with narrow profit margins, finding the budget to sufficiently invest in technology can prove difficult, leaving employees with outmoded, legacy technology and antiquated ways of operating. While the industry has often been pre-occupied with one regulation or another, be it MiFID II or GDPR, that excuse no longer carries weight. In an industry that is traditionally slow with the uptake of new technology, it’s imperative that marketers push their firms to change, to address the challenges the industry faces.

Addressing the CX revolution

Gavin Dimmock
Gavin Dimmock

A recent study carried out by Walker[i] indicates that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. What this shows, is that offering the best deal or best product is no longer enough to gain and retain customers, that’s not the sole priority of the consumer. Ultimately, what’s important to savvy customers today is the experience they get when they interact with a brand.They want to feel listened to and they want to be treated personally. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach in terms of marketing and customer service will no longer cut it.

The problem for financial institutions is that they are not best-placed to offer that best-in-class customer experience. With customer experience being so important today, it’s not just a case of retail banks competing against each other to be as hospitable as possible with the resources they have – longstanding organisations now have to compete with the more agile, emerging banks – who have perhaps been set up specifically to offer the best customer service. So, rather than offering the best prices or industry expertise, these agile start-ups can take advantage of the consumer demand for a better customer experience.With fewer clients and a business model set up to address the current trend, challenger companies are in a place to offer a personalised experience that makes the older, larger institutions look impersonal.

Delivering the right message at the right time

Timing is everything. Nothing says ‘out-of-touch’ like a company sending you a promotional email or letter for a service you’re already paying for – it makes the customer feel as though they’re not valued, as if they’re just another number. This feeling is part of the reason financial institutions are losing customers to challenger companies and even companies that don’t specialise in the space, but provide an off-shoot app that is more convenient than communicating with a large financial institution.

The marketing teams in many traditional financial institutions are hamstrung by the outmoded technology they work with, as well as the large customer bases they have to contend with. Marketers need to be armed with the requisite technology to do their job properly. With the marketing approach of the financial services industry often being based in generic brand messaging or mass distribution of offers, they put themselves at risk of irritating their customer base. In order to retain customers, and especially to attract new ones, it’s increasingly important to offer personalised experiences, that let the customer know they’re valued. 

Marketing and GDPR

Ensuring compliance is one thing, but the end result for marketing teams is fewer contacts to connect with, which means marketers need to be more creative and take an omni-channel approach, to ensure they’re talking to customers on the platform that best suits them.

The industry needs to be focused and efficient in who it targets, making sure they get value by providing personalised marketing to the right channel. The ‘spray and pray’ approach isn’t viable under GDPR, a targeted approach, focussing efforts on the strongest leads is the way forward. As with marketing in any industry, marketers need to be able to justify what they go out with, who they target and what their results are. In order to so, analytics tools that can track interactions and show results are essential to proving value.

The overarching problem for financial services is doing more for less. They need to be able to offer more personalised marketing, to a potentially large number of people, at the right time, on the right channel, against fiercer competition and with legacy technology. That’s a tall order. For this to be viable, it’s essential organisations empower their marketers with end-to-end marketing solutions that automate and streamline their processes. The key to addressing these problems is investing in a single marketing platform that can offer an end-to-end solution; from identifying leads to analysing the results. In the process, financial institutions will create time efficiencies and reduce costs across the business, while improving the quality of their marketing offerings.