Let’s face it. For most people out there – financial products and services are boring.
Now don’t get me wrong, they are an absolutely essential part of planning for the future, and ensuring that you are secure in your retirement, and that your family’s needs are met.
But they are boring, and your job as an executive at a financial institution is to make your financial product marketing strategies for software products feel as vibrant and exciting as buying a brand-new Rolex.
Sadly, many of the examples we see of companies marketing financial products can seem stale and uninspired to many customers and prospective customers.
The problem is that too many financial services companies are stuck in the past, and their financial product marketing consists mainly of direct mail advertising, and radio and newspaper ads.
Unfortunately, there has been a seismic shift in how companies market new financial products and services, and that shift has everything to do with the digital revolution that is transforming how many industries reach and engage their customers.
And this shift has occurred because customers are no longer receiving their information exclusively on TV and radio.
But the financial services industry has been slow to respond to the digital revolution, and this was confirmed by the 2017 Digital Trends in Financial Services and Insurance report of 840 marketers in the financial services industry.
The report found that the FSI sector has historically lagged slightly behind other sectors in terms of digital capabilities, particularly insurance. This is still the case: 9% of Financial Services and Insurance (FSI) organizations claimed to be digital-first, in comparison to 11% across all sectors.
But the good news is that more companies are beginning to embrace digital technology. That same report found that 53 percent of financial companies are going to increase their budgets for marketing analytics this year, and 55 percent said that personalization was one of their main goals in 2017.
So why choose digital marketing if you’re in the financial services industry?
Because going digital isn’t just about technology and gadgets, it’s about changing the experience between the customer and the company, so that customers feel as if businesses are responsive to their wants and needs, and are providing products that solve their problems.
If you’re ready to go on that journey from ineffective standard marketing to financial product marketing that can yield a great ROI, then you’re ready to dive into three solid strategies that can get you started on your digital transformation.
1. Go Mobile with your Financial Product Marketing initiatives
It’s nearly impossible for financial services companies to reach their customers without shifting to mobile marketing.
If you’re a financial services company, your website (and you better have one) has to be optimized for mobile use, because a large percentage of your customers and prospects you hope will become customers are doing business on the go.
In fact, new research has found that we’re spending five hours a day on mobile devices, and the time we spend on mobile apps has skyrocketed 69 percent from 2016.
The truth is most of us are spending more time testing out and using new apps than we are watching TV, listening to music or doing any other kind of recreational activity.
That means that any marketing plan for software product in the financial industry must include a heavy focus on mobile marketing.
But how do you implement this type of marketing?
First, you have to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile users, which means it has to feature large call-to-action (CTA) buttons such as ‘Click To Buy,’ or ‘Subscribe To Our Newsletter’ that are easy for users to see.
Second, you must ensure that any forms on your mobile content are short and easy to fill. People on the go don’t have the time to stop and fill out complicated forms, and making it easy for them to complete a form can boost the number of prospects who engage with your content.
Third, you must ensure that your mobile content is responsive, which means that it provides the same ease-of-use and functionality when a customer is on the move as it would if the customer was at home browsing your site on a desktop computer.
Fourth, ensure that the text is large and easy to read, and that you use clear images. Your design layout shouldn’t be overly complicated and you should invest heavily in video content that is short, actionable and informative.
Here’s what’s really important to remember about financial product marketing on mobile devices: it’s not about the sale.
What we’re saying is that while the end result is for customers and prospects to make a purchase, your financial mobile marketing is about engaging them, and making it easy for them to become comfortable with your brand, AND then closing the deal.
2. Make Social Media Your Best Friend
Social media is a platform that cuts across all demographics, which makes it appealing for financial product marketing.
If you have properly identified your target audience, you will post the right content on the right channel to maximize the number of views and to increase your chances of audience engagement.
For financial services companies, the key is to understand where their customers and prospects like to hang out on social media.
So for example, if you’re selling a new type of long-term care insurance, which is typically targeted to older customers, you would want to choose a platform such as LinkedIn or Facebook to post content related to that new product.
That’s because your demographic is older and more likely to hang out on a professional and straightforward social media platform such as LinkedIn.
Now mind you, LinkedIn is not averse to viral content that triggers a lot of reaction, but by and large, LinkedIn has a more professional, educational reputation that would make financial services content more likely to be consumed.
And while Facebook doesn’t carry the same professional vibe as LinkedIn, its broad-based demographic of users makes it ideal for content that caters to older people.
But the key to your financial product marketing on social media is that you have to know your platform and what content plays well on that platform.
On LinkedIn, for example, blog pieces and whitepapers do well, because users on that platform are more likely to invest time in well-written, well-researched, informative pieces that provide real value.
Facebook is a bit less rigid than LinkedIn when it comes to content, so a combination of blog pieces and video content can hit that platform’s sweet spot.
And the emergence of Facebook Live as a video streaming tool for marketing adds another tool to your arsenal.
For example, you can tee up a live streaming session to your existing customers for the unveiling of new financial products and services.
And during the product launch live streaming session, you can invite viewers to ask questions, make comments and even ‘test-drive’ a product or service to see how it works.
But there is another aspect of social media that can also help financial services companies, and that is crowdsourcing.
You can solicit ideas for new financial products from your customers, which is an effective way of making them feel that your company cares about their wants and needs.
Let’s say your customers have told you through surveys and customer service inquiries that they want a financial software program that aggregates their financial data, future earnings potential and other factors to provide them with five-year, ten-year and 15-year goals to secure their retirement.
When you introduce that product, you can engage your customers on social media channels to try out the software and provide feedback that you will use to refine and improve the product.
As customers track the progress of the financial software, they begin to feel more intimately connected to the product, because you are giving them a meaningful say in what the final product will look like when it’s completed.
That was the impetus behind the development of Barclaycard Ring MasterCard, billed as the first social credit card to be designed and built through the power of community crowdsourcing.
Barclaycard U.S. reached out to its existing customers on social media platforms and announced that it wanted to create a ‘crowdsourced’ card that would have features and benefits chosen by people who would actually use the card.
The company encouraged people to send ideas about what features they wanted on the card, and the types of rewards for loyal use of the card. The company also encouraged active online discussions and debates among users that could help generate even better ideas.
Barclaycard U.S. promised that they would integrate the most popular ideas into the creation of the card, and that users could continue to send in ideas for new iterations of the card.
3. Create Valuable Content
One of the biggest barriers of entry for financial services companies into digital marketing is that the terminology can be confusing and difficult for customers and prospects to understand.
And that is a huge challenge when it comes to creating digital content that can engage people and make them feel invested in new financial products and services.
That’s especially true when you are trying to target Millennials, because make no mistake about it, this is the group that will inherit the wealth passed down by Baby Boomers and Generation X, and it is also the generation that is creating wealth through startups and other business ventures.
But the truth is most financial companies have ignored Millennials in favor of Boomers who have stable net worth as opposed to lower-net-worth individuals (aka Millennials) less desirable, at least in the short term.
That’s why it’s so important for you to create valuable content that can appeal to not only Millennials, but to a wide swath of your customers and prospects who crave information that matches their lifestyles, wants and needs.
After all, a recent study found that 45 percent of Millennials want financial products and services that help them handle their financial situation, but 37 percent said they could not find resources online to educate them on vital financial topics.
That’s where you come in, because your mission – should you accept it – is to create content that is simple, clear and understandable to anyone who doesn’t have prior knowledge about financial topics.
Valuable content answers this question: What is in it for me, and how does this [content] solve a problem, or fulfill a want or need?
Users don’t understand the standard boilerplate of complicated language that many financial companies offer as valuable content.
They want short videos that explain core concepts. For example, you could explain the difference between a certificate of deposit and a bond, so users can make intelligent decisions.
Users are more engaged with visual images, which is why educational videos, tutorial videos, live streaming Q&As, and product videos are your best bet.
Seize the Digital Day
In the financial services industry, you can’t afford to sit out the digital revolution if you want to implement effective financial product marketing.
This means that you must embrace the fact that your customers are increasingly looking for products and services on mobile devices, and they are spending a lot of time and making buying decisions on social media.
But any marketing plan for software product must begin with the understanding that many of companies in this industry simply don’t understand that content is the prime driver of whether their customers will be aware of and want to buy their new financial products and services.
Therefore the content you create has to engage your customers, and one of the most effective ways to engage people is through simple, clear and valuable content that offers people an answer to the question: How does this content solve a problem or fill a need or want?
Remember that implementing a digital strategy in financial services is all about making it easy for your customers to understand the products and services you are offering, and engaging them on the platforms where they hang out and are comfortable. Digital transformation is simply another way for you to draw closer to your customers and make them feel more connected and invested in your company.