The financial services sector is extremely competitive, and has faced many challenges in recent years, the biggest of which is the fact that consumer behavior has changed dramatically.
Consumers now go online to conduct research before making a purchase decision, searching for relevant and helpful information that will help them solve their problems and meet their challenges, making decisions only after comparing the products available to them. The major point to make here though is that they don’t just base that decision on price – they base it on service and user experience.
This is why financial services technology is so important. The financial services industry has a jaded persona, considered product-centric, heavily regulated with little room to manoeuvre, and too complex, leading to poor customer experience and some distrust, particularly after the global financial crisis. People want transparency, and they want easy yet smart service provision that works. In short, they want a positive customer experience similar to that they would expect from any other industry, and this is where FinTech comes on.
A recent report from the Irish Times outlines the strength of the Irish FinTech sector, hailing its ability to provide solutions to many of the outdated systems that have hampered progress, and pointing to the fact that the war is being won on the grounds of customer experience. Citing a study by Gartner, Salesforce noted that ‘more and more consumers are looking for a more collaborative experience with their financial advisors that is ideally enabled through modern financial planning tools and technology’.
They also point to the coming of age of Millennials, who are now entering the market and demanding the financial institutions they choose provide the technologies that will enable them to easily and safely use the service in a time when the traditional method of calling into the bank, advisor, institution is rarely feasible anymore.
Despite the looming threat of the as yet unknown effects of Brexit, Ireland’s current economic environment is a big factor behind the country’s strength in this sector, with many large institutions and FinTech start-ups based here and a population leading the way in online financial transactions. This is also helped by the Government’s active efforts to find ways to strengthen the industry and the financial ecosystem here under its IFS2020 strategy.
The chips seem stacked in favour of FinTech companies here, but with a positive, healthy sector, competition is inevitable, so how can they make sure to stay on top and increase business? How can they make sure not just to attract potential customers, but prove they are the providers of choice for institutions seeking to adopt an improved system that promotes a positive customer experience, and appeal to those same customers looking for a trusted, reputable market leader they can feel comfortable working through?
As with any industry, the answer lies in your online marketing strategy, which must aim for two main objectives:
The first is to work towards differentiating what your business can offer from what the competition can offer, and relay that message in a way the consumer can not only understand, but relate to. While the head of technology is a major financial institution may like to see the inner workings, the facts and figures, and the everyman consumer will be interested in less technical information, they both want to know what the benefits of using your product or service will be.
The second is to create a fully optimised website and integrated digital marketing campaign that is focused on converting traffic into leads and driving faster decision making by providing the right content to the right people at the right time in their customer journey.
Creating an effective digital marketing strategy
The first step is to define what makes your products or services stand out, your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), and ensure it will attract the right type of customers, eg, institutions looking to upgrade or change their tech system, investors or residents of a specific country or region. This will give you a solid footing to work with, rather than throwing your business into a mass market that may increase traffic, but cost time and resources sifting out the real leads from the curious visitor.
Secondly, you need to put in place an efficient and effective marketing funnel that will attract visitors to your online content and bring them through the conversion process to turn them into customers ready to make a purchasing decision. This needs to include helpful and informative content for a potential customer at every stage of their journey, giving them a positive experience from the very start.
A visitor to your website searching for information about a particular type of financial technology might be offered a white paper, case study or educational video explaining the value of the product or service you provide.
If they show interest, a consumer might then look further into the service or product, and here they must be provided with more content that educates them further on how you can help them improve their effeciency and end-customer user experience, but doesn’t scare them off with a hard sell approach. A webinar is a good example here.
Once a lead has become intrigued and interested in what you have shown you can offer them, you must be ready to close that lead into a customer, and here you can offer a consultation.
But how do you drive traffic to your website?
You need to get your online presence noticed, and while smaller companies may be constrained by the ever-increasing costs of Pay Per Click advertising on the likes of Google AdWords, larger institutions rarely have that problem, but the average consumer looking to do research online is now starting to move away from such paid for promotional content, and it is not always the right choice.
Inbound marketing is a much more effective strategy for forming an effective and efficient content campaign that creates optimised organic content that ranks high in search without having to pay out every time someone clicks on it.
Inbound marketing works to pull customers in, rather than pushing your message out to them, as is done in traditional marketing. Creating optimised content on your website and blogs that provides helpful and relevant information surrounding not only your services and products but also the issues concerning potential customers, and promoting it on your social media platforms, will make it highly visible in search, driving traffic to your website.
Once there, visitors should be enticed to read further, with optimised landing pages that offer even more great content to view, download or watch, bringing them further along the customer journey, until they are ready to make a purchasing decision.
The content you provide shouldn’t try to push the products or services you provide until the lead is ready to make a purchasing decision. Consumers don’t actually want to buy the product, they want to buy the value and benefits it brings them in their life, and your content needs to show this value.
From there you can nurture the relationship with the customer, retaining their loyalty through the provision of further content that will make them an advocate for your business, which generates more leads through referrals, and give you the potential to sell up.
Find help with creating an effective digital marketing strategy that will generate leads by downloading our free Lead Generation Survival Kit.