In this 21st century, consumers’ needs, wants and tastes are changing constantly. Providing a clear solution to their ever-changing problems is essential for every single business’s success. Reaching them and communicating that solution at the right time is the next challenge.
We live in a time where your target audience can find you at a click of a button. Not even the most sales-heavy businesses need to depend on cold calling and outbound measures to make. that. sale.
The first impression starts online, so strong branding and a professional, credible website are crucial for creating a lasting impression. This, however, can only take you so far.
Today’s digital landscape is crowded and competitive.
Without a solid lead generation engine and thought-out customer nurturing journeys, you may miss an opportunity to engage your prospects in the first place, or they may lose interest over time. This is why it’s important to consider inbound marketing; a strategy that not only involves lead generation tactics but utilises all marketing avenues and channels including content marketing, public relations, social media, email marketing, SEO, and SEM.
In this article, we will go through the ins and outs of a successful digital marketing strategy for a financial services business. We will help you:
1. Get clear on your unique selling proposition (USP) and market positioning
2. Understand your target audience through buyer personas
3. Develop your marketing funnel & overarching marketing strategy
4. Define your digital marketing goals and objectives
5. Evaluate your current marketing activities, channels, resources, and tools
7. Consider your channel strategy
8. Follow best practices for customer acquisition and nurturing
9. Increase customer retention
10. Determine whether you need to Insource or outsource your marketing needs
Get clear on your unique value proposition (UVP) and market positioning
In order to break through the noise, it’s important to stand out from your competitors and explicitly communicate your unique value proposition (UVP) to your target audience.
As Simon Sinek stated in his infamous September 2010, New York conference, all good businesses will start with why, then how, and finally what. He called it the ‘Golden Circle’.
He encouraged us to ponder these questions:
- Why does your business exist?
- Why do customers buy from you in the first place?
- Why do they keep coming back?
- Who do you exist for - as in, who benefits from what you have to offer?
- How can you serve them better?
- …how do you reach more of those people?
Answering these questions will help you get clear on your unique value proposition and your market positioning. Being crystal clear on your purpose and knowing exactly what makes you different from your competitors will make it a lot easier to draft compelling marketing messages.
While some parts of your brand messaging will remain the same over time, it’s important to view your brand as a living organism.
2020 was a year of increased scrutiny for brands and key public figures as exemplified by the Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement. In 2021, we saw the Australian economy shift from survival mode back into growth mode, and the pressure for brands to have a voice in social issues is growing.
Being out of touch with community standards has ultimately been the downfall for many Australian business leaders and so it’s never been more important to have a finger on the pulse and to know if there are any gaps between how you communicate your brand values and what the community expects from your business.
At BlueChip we see social consciousness as a fundamental part of any brand or communication strategy. Overlooking this aspect of the strategy poses a massive reputational risk to a business, big enough to remove the possibility of significant growth.
Having good awareness of your competitors and their value propositions is important to keep you ahead of the game. Reviewing your own strategy, messaging, and conducting regular competitor analysis every 6-12 months will help you determine where you stand in the market and what is required to get you where you need to be.
Understand your target audience through buyer personas
Who are your business’s buyer personas? And how well do you know them?
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal clients – people you enjoy working for. Developed from your customer data and secondary or primary research, buyer personas can help you refocus your time on qualified prospects and give guidance on product development to suit their needs.
As a result, you'll be able to attract the right visitors, leads, and customers to your business who won’t just return but may become your business’ biggest advocates.
More specifically, having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow-up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.
Once you understand your buyer personas you can map out their buyer journeys. It’s important to understand what matters to them and what information they are looking for at each stage of the journey, so that you can hit them with the right messaging at the right time, using the right channels.
Your buyer persona’s buyer’s journey has 5 stages:
- Awareness – Your target client becomes aware of a problem that they need solving
- Interest – During the Interest stage, your target client is doing their research to solve their problem. This type of research includes reading product/ service reviews, blogs, and videos
- Consideration – They know your company/brand and see it as a good fit for their needs however they are also comparing your services to your competitors. At this stage, your target client is doing price comparisons, researching your brand/ company, reading customer reviews, and learning more about your products and services
- Conversion – When they are ready to make a purchase of your product/service
- Retention – This is a key stage as acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one (Harvard Business Review, acquiring). Additionally, happier clients generally are great advocates for your business and will refer your business to their peers
Use our ultimate blog template for financial services to start creating content for your business’s buyer personas.
Develop the marketing funnel & overarching marketing strategy
The marketing funnel is way of breaking down your customer or buyer journey from the awareness stage (learning about your company) to the purchase stage (when they are ready to buy your product or service).
The overarching strategy should be a clear sentence that anyone can understand. It should be based on a core insight, and this can be done by collecting information and data on your audience, channels, and products.
To cover all stages of the funnel, implementing both traditional and digital marketing play important roles in the marketing funnel, including OOH, PR, TV and radio, email marketing, paid search, organic search, website development, marketing automation, display advertising, content marketing, and social media.
Watch this video ‘Why you should invest in digital marketing during a recession’, where BlueChip’s CEO Danielle Stitt outlines 4 steps of how to plan a successful integrated digital marketing plan.
With the growth of digital marketing and the ease of access to data, expectations on proving ROI on your marketing efforts are increasing. This is important to keep in mind when pitching for marketing budget to implement your strategy. Depending on the channel and your ability to gather data and prove ROI, you might have to add some education to your plan of attack.
Digital marketing goals and objectives
A digital marketing strategy is used to achieve commercial goals and is ideally an integrated plan that operates across a multitude of digital channels to target your audience with creative formats working together to drive towards a single or set of objectives.
So, what do the objectives look like? Well, they fall under a set of common categories:
- Awareness –the awareness level of your product or service amongst your target audience
- Consideration – is there some awareness of your product or service but it’s just so crowded that you’re fighting through the noise to get heard? An important objective of marketing is to improve brand perception and get into your customers’ consideration set
- Conversion – driving sales or conversions of your brand
- Retention – keeping your audience engaged and boost repeat business
To create digital marketing goals, they will need to follow the SMART rule. Keep them:
- Specific – think clear, simple, and significant,
- Measurable – they need to be obtainable,
- Achievable – how can you accomplish this goal, do you have the skills you need?
- Relevant – they need to be in line with your business objectives, and last but not least,
- Time-bound – what's the timeframe?
BlueChip Communication helps clients define their marketing problems clearly and develop an integrated marketing blueprint to address them.
Evaluate your current activities, channels, resources, and tools
Competitor analysis is key to understand your market positioning, how your business compares to your competitors, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what makes you different. While a competitor analysis will assist you when developing or updating your brand messaging and UVP, it will also help you understand where they put their marketing dollars (and where you might want to put yours).
Often we get stuck doing what we’ve always done, even when it is not serving us or helping us reach our goals and objectives. That’s why it’s crucial to analyse your own business and marketing activities and benchmark them against your competition.
Conducting an audit on your current marketing activities, channels, resources, and tools is important to gain a better understanding of whether they’re driving results for your firm or whether it’s an extra cost to the business. It will help you to understand your company's strengths and weaknesses and highlight what can you improve on.
Things to look at include:
- Is your target audience correct?
- Is your messaging right and does it speak to your audience?
- What channels are you using to talk to your audience and are they the right channels?
- Are your resources spent wisely or are some activities done out of habit?
- Do you have underutilised internal resources, e.g. spokespeople and expert talent?
- Are there tasks that would make more sense to outsource and do you have the budget to cover them?
Developing a content strategy
Content is king - it’s an amazing way to help grow your audience, generate leads and turn them into conversions. Good, valuable content will educate your audience, earn their trust and enhance your business.
Content can come in many different forms, from videos to pictures, to blogs and white papers. Examples of content that work especially well for financial services in our experience include educational pieces that can help to build trust, webinars to talk directly to your clients, and Q&As to reveal that you are a source of knowledge.
But before you can jump into content creation, you’ll need to develop a content marketing strategy to understand what messages you're going to deliver. BlueChip's Thought Leadership Blueprint is a 7-step guide to help financial services experts articulate and communicate new perspectives effectively.
For most financial services, the people you want to talk to are time-poor, senior, and smart. Many get pitched ‘thought leadership’ daily. Here’s how to create thought leadership that cuts through the noise.
Carden Calder, BlueChip’s Communications MD has produced a ‘7 Step Profile Planner’ to help you plan and produce content that will help you become recognised and respected for your ideas in the financial services sector.
You may already have a content strategy in place but it’s not delivering the results you’ve been hoping for. Check out the ‘Top 3 mistakes financial services are making’ when it comes to content creation. Content that works well includes educational pieces that can help to build trust, webinars to talk directly to your clients, Q&As to reveal that you are a source of knowledge, educational blogs, sponsored content, and contributed articles.
Part of your content strategy is to know which channels you will use to distribute and promote your content.
Do you often find you’re producing all this great content, but the traffic figures keep disappointing you? Often, we dilute our resources and get less bang for our buck by spreading us to thin across too much content creation. A better approach would be to focus on a few key content pieces and squeeze as much value out of them as you can through distribution and by atomizing your content.
BlueChip has developed ‘A complete guide to content distribution for financial services’ to help you plan your content strategy, and how to best use the key channels for your audience. It covers the three media channels of digital marketing – Paid, Owned, Earned, what each of them are, the benefits to you, and how they can all work together.
But let’s break it down a little more by looking at some of the channels that are out there:
- Digital advertising is a great way to push your message and reach a new audience which you can do through paid advertising. Explore the 3 steps you need to do to get magical results from an integrated approach.
- Digital PR - PR is still one of the most effective tools for financial services. Here are three ways to slice and dice your integrated public relations to help grow your business.
- Social media is a very popular tool for digital marketing. To learn more about the benefits take a look at BlueChip’s ‘E-Book - Social Media for financial services’ which will help you understand why you need a social presence. BlueChip's Social Media Checklist is a quick and simple way to ensure you don't miss any important steps so you can get your ideas and expertise out in front of the right people, fast.
- Video is the No.1 content on the web now. Attention spans are shrinking and people want content they can watch on the go, so what better way to distribute your message than by video? It can be viewed anywhere at any time and can sit on multiple platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, your website, YouTube, or even using a media publisher. Here’s how you can make video content work for your financial services business.
- Website/app – this is part of your owned content, it represents your brand and is an important tool to pull your audience to you and keep them, so it’s crucial to get it right.
- Webinars/Virtual events – 2020 was a shock to everyone. Not only did we have to adapt to a work-from-home culture, but many businesses’ event plans went out the window. In this ebook, BlueChip explores ways to pivot to virtual events. Are you already doing virtual events/webinars but they’re just not working for you? Here’s how you can make your virtual events more engaging.
- Blogs are a great way to claim your position as a thought leader in your industry and will also help improve your search engine ranking. If you have writer’s block, then take a look at our blog template for financial services to help you overcome those blank pages.
- Email marketing is an important channel to communicate, update and nurture your database and services and serves as a great opportunity to keep your brand front of mind for your database. Here are email marketing hacks every financial services marketer should know.
Customer acquisition and nurturing
It’s always been said that sales and marketing go hand in hand. Marketing supports both pre and post-sales - it upholds the brand, drives awareness, and generates leads, and once prospects have become customers marketing helps with nurturing and retention. It’s a great relationship that can be extremely powerful when used to its full capability. In our E-Book, we walk you through the ‘Top 30 actionable lead generation tips for financial services’.
How do you best manage high-quality leads and keep their interest? Marketing automation helps companies achieve greater efficiencies, cost reductions, and personalised customer experiences. It allows us to do more with less by introducing smart workflows and removing redundant tasks in current processes. It helps free up more time to focus on critical business matters or focus on your business's growth projects. Simply put, learning how to best take advantage of marketing automation can allow you to live the four-hour marketing dream.
But beyond saving time and money, it can also deliver real results (if executed correctly!). With more sales-ready leads in an automated system, you'll be able to meet (or exceed) those revenue targets.
Once your customer base is growing, the next challenge becomes how to drive customer loyalty instead of customer churn. Luckily, there are some proven ways financial services can keep pace with customer expectations in order to retain them.
Like all digital marketing aspects, customer retention will need a strategy and that strategy should include a strong customer journey.
Investing in a CRM system is the easiest way to make magic happen. It keeps all your data under one roof and allows you to segment your database and build out your customer journeys - so that you can stay in touch with them, listen to them, and send personalised messages that will boost engagement.
Insource or Outsource your marketing needs?
As we all know, marketing can be time-consuming, and implementing your strategy is not always easy.
To get your marketing engine running smoothly, the first step is to get clear on where the bottlenecks are or where you don’t have the appropriate skills in-house. Once you know the gaps, you’ll be able to see if you need to look at upskilling staff members or perhaps bring in someone from the outside to help make things happen.
Whether you need help to objectively review and rethink your strategy or can’t seem to get things out the door, outsourcing can be a good option.
If outsourcing is the solution, choosing the right PR or marketing agency is important. Here’s are the things to consider in order to make the best choice for your firm.
Related: How To Use Digital PR To Generate High Quality Leads for Financial Services