Industry insiders say traditional banking will soon be a thing of the past. Find out the latest trends in our comprehensive guide.
The financial services industry is a fast-paced environment, constantly reacting to change – from markets and nations to technological advances such as algorithmic trading and AI. The marketing departments of financial institutions must be agile – responding to and embracing change when it happens – to be disruptive.
Having a strategy that includes reactivity as well as proactivity is crucial for banks to successfully compete with the increasing number of competitors in the market. Many start-ups pose a particular threat as their business models disrupt established models, methods, products and services as technology continues to evolve and proliferate.
This increased competition means marketers in the industry are focusing on approaches that both retain as well as gain new customers, through enhanced experiences, data-driven marketing and personalisation.
This article looks at the key emerging marketing trends for the financial services industry to consider when creating a 2019 strategy.
A certain level of personalisation is almost expected by modern-day consumers who favour brands that use tools to listen to and learn from their customers to create customer-centric marketing. According to The Financial Brand, 33% of customers who abandon business relationships, do so because personalisation is lacking.
As Scott Hansen, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Harland Clarke explained during the 2019 Crowdsource Panel: “High-performing institutions will be focused on ‘audience-of-one’, highly personalised relationship marketing programs to their customers. Relevant, timely and actionable pieces of multimedia content delivered via a personalized URL (PURL) will be the next big trend in digital marketing.”
For financial brands, personalisation should be more than simply addressing individuals by name over email communications, it should be incorporated throughout a customer’s brand journey. Advances in analytics allow transaction data to inform insights, which can, in turn, inform the creation of appropriate and tailored marketing messages at opportune moments. While this might be a challenge to implement across all channels, when done well brands can reap significant revenue rewards and build valuable loyalty.
Geo-location targeting will play a key role in making personalisation possible. While this is not a new feature, targeting options are becoming increasingly refined, allowing the location of devices to be used by organisations to target specific groups of consumers – be they potential or existing customers. For example, banks can use this to send personalised messages to customers as they enter their branch, or send friendly payday reminders of investment options to those working in offices. Many consumer behaviours can also be tracked in this way; through the use of previous locations, marketers can collect insights over time to better inform personalised offerings.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is another trend that’s been tipped by major industry and marketing publications as pivotal to financial marketing in 2019. AI is growing beyond its singular remit of tackling fraud – fast-becoming central to many digital financial service marketing strategies. Applications of these technologies include chatbots and voice search, both of which are set to change the way banking is done.
As far as trends in marketing go, chatbots are relatively mature. In fact, it has been predicted that in the next five years, approximately 80% of B2C communication will be performed through bot messengers.
Within finance, chatbots have progressed quickly thanks to algorithm advances and significant investment and The Financial Brand predicts that this trend “shows no sign of slowing down”. Previously used for handling routine enquiries, banks and credit unions now have the confidence to use them conversationally for sending messages of an advisory nature.
Finance brands may miss out on significant opportunities to streamline aspects of their online customer care processes and consumer engagement, should they fail to consider chatbots as a key component of their customer experience strategy.
– Voice Search
Another change to the way consumers communicate with brands is through voice search. Thanks to advances in, and increased use of, conversation interfaces, voice search is on the rise and all industries should prepare for the impact.
ComScore estimates that by 2020, half of all search queries will be voice-based. Even if a financial institution is not building a voice-first strategy, it is important to thread into current SEO activity – especially for key informational pages – and understand the nuances of conversational search queries to ensure your website content can adapt to voice search.
Search engines have moved away from keywords towards Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the hope of giving more appropriate search results. The results from a voice search are far more selective than a typed search, meaning that, in order to appear in these refined results, you must be nearer the top. A comprehensive SEO strategy is therefore more important than ever. For financial institutions to do this, they will need to learn exactly how customers speak, examining user intent in order to optimise their website.
For more on voice search in other industries, read our article on its impact within the travel industry.
3. Conversational marketing
The trends above highlight the development from basic mobile banking, towards more advanced conversational banking.
For the financial sector to take full advantage of chatbots and voice search in its marketing, and in response to user demand, it must invest in conversational banking. With modern-day consumers preferring to communicate with brands via messaging rather than calls or emails, finance institutions can use this to their advantage. For example, many individuals find discussing aspects of their finances with an AI more comfortable than with human support.
The advances in basic voice-assistant integrations mean that instead of simply answering using predetermined responses, conversational banking uses a greater depth of analysis – allowing virtual assistants to become increasingly intelligent and actually respond to conversational speech and text.
For example, consumers could ask your conversational AI questions such as “When will my next direct debit be deducted?” and the AI will process and respond with the requested data. These tasks can often be performed quicker than humans can, as AI pulls data almost instantly, with no need for customers to be kept on hold. This can also be done at scale with as many bots chatting away at once as you need.
4. Influencer marketing
To further nurture customer engagement and ensure the conversation surrounding your brand is positive, implementing an influencer strategy can not only broaden your audience but also build brand trust.
Consumers are spending more and more time on social media, and influencer marketing offers one of the best ways for financial marketers to reach them. A given industry’s influencers are often trusted more than brands – one in three individuals reportedly trust digital content from influencers more than from the brand itself. When done correctly, working with appropriate social influencers can have a positive impact on brand affinity, trust, and even acquisition.
By working with social influencers, you can reach a built-in audience that’s already engaged in the topic and the channel. It offers an alternative to display ads (useful, considering that over 600 million devices use ad-blockers) and allows banks and financial institutions to be more focused in their reach. Influencer marketing offers marketers a level of audience transparency that advertising doesn’t; you can see exactly who an influencer’s audience is by looking at their follower list.
‘Influence’ will also continue to power e-commerce growth, with social media channels fast-becoming the destination for digital consumers to search for and purchase services and products. WeChat has taken off in China, claiming to not just be the country’s largest social network, but that its 1 billion users do everything from paying their bills to booking taxis and ordering food on the platform.
5. Generation Z
With many publications believing that traditional banks have missed out on building relationships with millennials, it’s time to tap into the Gen Z audience… before it’s too late. The Financial Brand commented on the popularity of their article ‘Generation Z: The Future of Banking’ as confirmation that financial marketers are actively responding to this opportunity and targeting this generation in their marketing approach.
In 2019, Gen Z (those born between 1995-2012) should be a focus for financial institutions. This demographic will be starting to earn an income that they’ll be looking to bank or invest so there is an opportunity for organisations to build brand affinity, and it’s worth noting that Gen Z are actively seeking new or unique ways to bank from market disruptors.
6. Move to mobile
With over half of consumers using their mobile devices for daily activities online, mobile-first marketing must be given a high priority in 2019.
7. Open banking
Open banking has become a reality. Banks are now required to allow customers to share their data with third-party sites and providers through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This has created an opportunity for the expansion of FinTech start-ups who can now gain customers with ease – customers they hope to keep by offering a unique, customer-centred experience. Although this is great news for financial management apps who can use this data to inform customer trends, it is somewhat disruptive to traditional banking relationships. Banks must react to this change in the industry structure to stay relevant to consumers.
HSBC launched it’s Connected Money app in 2018, while Lloyds and RBS also hope to introduce their own financial management apps to avoid any migration of customers to a purely app-based banking approach.
– Challenger brands
Monzo Bank is a mobile-only bank operating through a mobile app, claiming to be ‘built for the way you live today’. Initially, they only offered prepaid debit cards, but now their offering extends to current accounts too. The popularity of this banking approach is reflected in their international customer-base of over 1 million.
Both brands make indirect reference to the negatives associated with traditional banking. Sterling, for example, states that their offerings are ‘everything you want from a full UK bank account – none of the stuff you don’t.’
Established banks should not be intimidated by this challenge. Indeed, some are already moving to create their own challenger brands in order to offer this new kind of banking experience.
RBS, for example, has plans to launch a mobile-only bank and hopes to move 1 million customers over to it. An RBS spokesperson commented during the announcement in 2018 that “our industry is changing rapidly and therefore we need to keep pace with this by launching new approaches to better serve our customers.” It is now known that the digital bank will be called Bo, but whether it meets the scheduled launch date of 2019 is unknown.
In 2019 we will see further innovations emerging, driving positive changes in the finance industry. It’s not just FinTech brands that are embracing advances in digital, but established high-street banks are incorporating these changes into their marketing strategies. To not do so would be detrimental to growth and miss an exciting opportunity to build brand loyalty among today’s digital consumers.
There still remain barriers to overcome, trust being one of them. The FCA reported that less than half of UK consumers trust their chosen financial institution.
By embracing the trends and predictions discussed in this article, financial marketers can work to change this perception – focusing on the customer through personalisation and improving the communications process through conversational banking. There’s been a significant shift in retail banking trends as result, with the use of data, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics ranking first in Kony DBX’s Survey of Global Financial Services Institutions 2019.
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