Nigel Roberts

Are you a marketer in financial services and feeling the pressure to deliver more campaigns, across an increased number of channels, but with a reduced budget and challenge to keep costs down?

You’re not alone. Yell’s second annual Australian Finance Marketing Survey revealed this is the situation for the majority of the 250 senior marketers who took part in the survey. There are more responsibilities and more primary objectives, which often conflict with each other, but less time and budgets with which to achieve them.

Fortunately, the other insight from 2017’s survey provides us with an insight into where marketers should focus to have the most impact on customer decision-making – your own website.

To uncover these insights, Yell partnered with independent research agency YouGov. Yell surveyed over 1,500 consumers to understand how they use – and feel about – different financial services products.

So there is good news, but first let’s take a look at the challenges marketers are facing.

More responsibilities

The results of the 2017 survey, released at the Mumbrella Finance Marketing Summit in August, allowed Yell to better understand the challenging reality marketers are facing. We asked over 250 senior FS marketers to select, from a list of 12, the responsibilities assigned to their role or department – the same question and list of responsibilities we asked in the 2016 survey. The results showed significant increases across 11 of the 12 areas – the same marketing roles taking on more responsibilities.

Customer-focused channels saw the biggest year-on-year increases, mirroring the cross-industry trend towards customer-led models and swinging away from product or sales-led business models. Social media saw a 36% increase, from 45% in 2016 to 81% in 2017, while Customer Experience (CX) saw a similar rise from 66% in 2016, to 91% in this year’s survey.

More primary objectives

Over 50% of respondents indicated that – from a list of 10 possible options – they had nine primary objectives attached to their role. These included increasing sales revenue and the number of sales, boosting digital engagement, driving customer retention and satisfaction – as well as employee satisfaction – and campaign engagement.

One of the primary objectives, however, that saw the biggest year-on-year increase is one that is in almost direct competition with the other objectives…

Do more, but keep costs down

In what is no doubt an everyday challenge to finance marketers, but was a big surprise to us, cost reduction as a primary objective has more than doubled in 2017 compared with 2016, increasing from 28% to 58%. It seems like an impossible conflict of interest to achieve more while reducing costs, and there’s no denying that this is a big challenge. Fortunately, by looking at consumer behaviour, we can identify the best ways focus your limited resources and deliver results at the pointy end.

Focus on the moments that matter

Yell asked over 1,500 consumers – via the YouGov panel – what steps they took before making a decision to purchase a financial services product. The number one response was went directly to a company/product website or mobile app, with 35% of respondents indicating this was one of the steps they take before making a FS product or service purchase.

A close second choice to looking at a company or product website, was searching online based on a need at 33%, and searching online based on specific financial products or a company made up the top three. These latter two steps relate just as closely to your website as the number one response – because having a website with great SEO, content relevant to consumer needs will help to deliver more traffic to your website.

Websites still matter the most

More and more, businesses are focusing on engaging customers – existing and potential – through social channels, rather than their websites. Social channels are important, but social media came in last in order of the steps people take to make a financial service product – with only 8% of consumers engaging with social channels to research and ultimately make a purchase decision.

Websites still matter the most, they are the digital face of your business and they need to accurately reflect your brand, and communicate to consumers how you can help them beyond simply listing your product range. Your website needs to be more than a digital product brochure, it’s your first opportunity to engage with potential customers and start to build a relationship with them.

Consumers will judge your brand’s credibility based on the quality of their online experience and how quickly and easily they can find and access the information they want – how easily you meet their needs. If your website is non-mobile responsive and doesn’t quickly communicate how and why you are the best choice to meet their need, they’ll remain potential instead of current customers.

What you can do to meet their needs

At Yell, we’re customer advocates, so we’re obviously going to tell you to research, engage with and capture your audiences’ personas.  Once you’ve done that, aligning your site with their needs becomes much simpler.

However, we’ve spent most of the article explaining that many marketers don’t have time, or the money to invest in additional customer research or segmentation. If you’re one of those marketers, we highly recommend doing a website engagement optimisation review.

Reviewing an existing site for engagement effectiveness is a much more manageable piece of work that entails looking at key interaction points on your site and improving them. For example, you may have a product features page that talks about the features, not the benefits for customers. It may only have no CTA, or one stuck at the bottom of the page. Reviewing that page for content and from the results in your analytics should highlight how long users are on the page, where they interact and what your conversion metrics are.

By taking a page by page approach – within the context of a user journey – you can pick key interactions that disengage your users and re-engage them. You can manage your resources better by breaking down the work into smaller pieces and you can establish benchmarks that will enable you to demonstrate ROI and the effectiveness of your efforts.

It’s a win-win for you, your customers and your business.

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