Digital Marketing Trends in Financial Services in 2021

Eric Sleeth/ January 12th, 2021

Goodbye and good riddance to 2020. While we like to think of January 1st as a fresh start and we are optimistic about 2021, we are not out of the woods yet and the global pandemic has impacted every business which effects will be felt for the foreseeable future.

The digital ecosystem is primed for a bigger shakeup as Apple’s controversial tracking changes go into effect, multiple antitrust suits are taking place and Google formally starts to end third-party cookies. For consumers, marketers must contend with a politically fractured public, the challenges individuals are faced with during a health crisis and mass protests for racial justice, all that needs to be balanced with intensifying mandates around data and commerce, all on shorter timelines. 

Financial services have been rapidly digitizing, moving formerly confidential and exclusive programs from in-person to online to create convenience and in efforts to increase client touchpoints throughout the year. At the same time, marketing and sales tactics must also move towards creating personalized offerings, in line with the greater client-centricity of online sales. Both of these shifts mean that organizations and advisors must be at the forefront of digital marketing trends in financial services in order to reach new and existing audiences.

1. Increasing Competition

Today, everyone is engaging digitally. From social media to video to PPC ads across Google, every financial institution will have a digital presence. Most banks believe they have to increase their digital marketing spend and increase efforts across platforms to increase the efficiency of their advertising. Digital marketing is growing rapidly with 17% of organizations now committing more than 50% of the marketing budget to online media, compared to 14% in 2017. 

While more competition shows the importance of Digital Marketing in the financial sector, it also makes it more difficult to stand out. This means that organizations and their advisors must take unique approaches, highlighting customers and success stories, driving value through marketing offerings, and using non-traditional awareness campaigns rather than regular ads to drive the most engagement in a highly competitive digital landscape.

2. Omnichannel Financial Services Marketing

Client touchpoints are changing from a couple of high-value touchpoints (in-person visits) to a more frequent series of smaller touchpoints, where consumers interact with your brand fairly regularly and across different channels. Financial organizations are quickly capitalizing on this, understanding how omnichannel enables brands to better engage with consumers to build trust and loyalty. Financial services are moving into channels including social media, apps, and even SMS, increasing touchpoints and visibility to further build client trust.

3. Goodwill and purpose-driven missions

The 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that: “The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”

At the core of this is the need for TRANSPARENCY. It’s impossible for clients to connect with brands that they see as insincere. Why would clients want to invest in something that they can’t trust? This is why connection will be pivotal for banks and advisors to want to remain trusted sources in 2021. Now more than ever, organizations are having to search to find out how to flourish in turbulent times. A report from Deloitte stated that brands need to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they are built to serve”.

Digital Marketing will continue to grow in importance for financial organizations in 2021 and those who have personalized answers ready when prospects are engaging will prosper. 

4. Building Micro-Moments

Micro-moments occur when users think of something and immediately look it up on their smartphone or computer. Modern technology enables users to access what they’re looking for easier than ever before. Using automation and AI to generate immediate answers, providing content for search, and using predictive analytics helps financial organizations to better predict and prepare for client needs. For example, a chatbot fills gaps in helping prospects get immediate answers, even if it’s outside of traditional bank hours. Pre-approval for loans helps clients who spontaneously decide to buy a car. Successfully predicting when prospects are likely to buy a home enables banks to better predict how much mortgages should be; giving them answers immediately without ever getting the chance to consider a competitor.

5. Integrating SEO into Digital Marketing for Banks

While organic search has remained largely the same for the better part of the last few years, new types of searches are beginning to become popular. Marketing content must now be fully optimized to appear in mobile search, voice searches, local search, and any combination. Tailoring content and keywords to meet those needs, without interfering with the customer’s experience is crucial. With this, banks and financial advisors must adjust content strategies to offer short and succinct answers to be delivered for these new search methods; some of which only display the top result.

6. More Social Media Ads

Are you spending more time sitting on your phone or laptop, scrolling? So is everyone else. Social media is one of the best places to advertise and market your brand, especially as we know many people have switched to digital for everything from news, shopping, entertainment, even their banking. Leveraging ad spend allows reaching target prospects while cutting through some of the noise by capturing prime real estate on the platform in which people are spending most of their days. 

If 2020 taught us anything is that the world is unpredictable. However, what we have seen is that our inability for human interaction and lack of control over the situation has made us demand a more human engagement and control what we can. Fueled by technology, clients are seeking these human engagements on the channels, at the times, and the frequency they want. Digital Marketing will continue to grow in importance for financial organizations in 2021 and those who are able to have personalized answers ready when prospects are engaging will prosper. 

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