The TV commercials, out-of-home and even digital campaigns we tend to see from financial services brands tend to focus on the “after” story of becoming their customer — and with good reason.
You’ll see images of young people successfully buying their first home, for example, or an elderly couple enjoying a sunny retirement paid for by their savings plan. Much of the ad creative in recent years has also tried to show how the financial services sector can support entrepreneurs as they launch Canada’s next great startups.
Money is ultimately a means to an end, so it makes sense that broad, awareness-building marketing tactics from the financial service sector puts the “end” front and centre.
As we enter a new decade, however, that focus is going to have to shift towards the “means” — in other words, content that more fully describes the “before” part of the story, or the customer experience they can offer at the most critical stage of the journey.
How Consumers Do Their Homework
According to Smarter Loans’ “State of Alternative Lending in Canada” 2019 Study, for example, 48 per cent of the 2,415 Canadians surveyed said they considered three to five options before submitting an application.
And “consider,” in this case, means research. While 60 per cent of consumers said they look at providers’ own web sites and 44 per cent read reviews, the proportion reading online articles and reports rose from 23 per cent to 26 per cent over the past year.
While having a strong online presence and a robust omni-channel marketing strategy seems obvious in 2020, it’s how financial brands execute on those areas that matters. Some top priorities should include:
1. Using ‘Time To Value’ As A Quality Metric: The volume of visits, whether you rank for the right SEO keywords and the click-through rate of landing pages will remain key areas marketers use to evaluate the results of their work. One that sometimes gets overlooked, however, is how quickly consumers can find answers to their most basic questions.
Much like retailers employ “mystery shoppers” to assess the helpfulness of store associates, financial marketers will need to think like their target personas and make sure the most important data isn’t buried under a sea of branding. This should inform not only how the content is developed but what forms are used — for example, a short video that simulates an in-person consultation might be more effective, in some cases, than an encyclopedic backgrounder document.
2. Acknowledging The Competitors In The Room:Many financial brands have learned to be less promotional and more informative in their content marketing. Fewer create content that treats consumers as though they’re aware there are other financial services offerings in Canada other than their own.
This doesn’t mean creating a lot of content that talks directly about competitors or uses a lot of “Unlike the other brands . . .” rhetoric. It means demonstrating an awareness of the other value propositions consumers are being exposed to in their research, and differentiating it early, clearly and often in your own content.
3. Building Personas Based On Values, Rather Than Stereotypes: The stay-at-home Mom, the scrappy small business owner, the frugal senior citizen — the way we segment target customers no longer makes sense as demographic changes unfold.
While the Baby Boomers in the Smarter Loans study saw customer service and personal contact as vital, for example, Millennials wanted faster application processes and approvals. Gen Z, meanwhile, are scrutinizing funders’ track records and reputations.
Think of the way someone might conduct an online search based on any of these values and you can imagine three very different ways to approach content development, whether you work in financial services or any other industry.
None of this higher-level content marketing will be easy for financial services firms, of course. In doing so, however, they’ll stand a better chance of not only capturing consumers’ attention but converting them into profitable and loyal customers. The ends, in other words, will justify the means.
Author: Shane Schick - is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and continues to write about the ad industry for MarketingDive.com. He also writes about technology and is launching a publication focused on customer experience management, 360Magazine.
Study By Smarter Loans: Smarter Loans is Canada's online loan directory for any type of financing. The website helps Canadians find reputable loan providers and compare their financial products, rates, and terms in one place.