The customer journey has transformed in the digital age as consumers increasingly expect more personalized value and engagement to bridge the trust with interacting brands. The necessity to establish trust during the customer journey is especially essential for financial institutions such as banks and credit unions, since the trust revolves around money. Coupled with general reservations about brick and mortar financial institutions, particularly among millennials and in the lingering aftermath of last decade’s economy crash, it is not an easy feat to convince consumers to trust banks or credit unions with their personal and/or business finances and, in turn, their livelihoods.
Luckily, there is an answer to help bridge this consumer and financial business gap: marketing automation. This technology tool has the ability to simplify and effectively incorporate layered channels of digital marketing to help financial institutions guide their customers on a personalized path toward brighter financial futures.
No matter the industry, businesses attract and keep customers because of an established and nurtured trust. There is an emotional component to the buying process that provides a push in either direction for the customer. It circles around the question, “Can I trust you?”
And the truth is, people do not instinctively trust banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Money is frequently a sensitive and stressful subject that transcends to many aspects of people’s lives, which can take a toll on their emotional, mental, and physical health, as well as family, friend, and romantic relationships. It is not a trust to easily win over, and it involves understanding your customers and their individual needs to create promising leads.
Customers are no longer just looking for another loan or credit card–now they seek something more, including an institution they can trust to help them on the path to a bigger and better future. Yes, they are looking for financial assistance (obviously, the product that’s provided), though what’s more, they are looking for trusted guidance and hope to move away from the financial stress and onto a healthier, happier lifestyle.
This is your opportunity as a financial marketer to build that trust with a personalized and value-packed approach, by taking advantage of marketing automation to stand out among the competition (69% of which do not use marketing automation, by the way, according to the State of Digital Growth Report).
Understand and embrace the new era of the customer journey
It’s worth reiterating: the digital age has completely transformed the customer journey and how they expect businesses to market to them. As the world changes, so do the customers and the competition–which means it’s time to change and implement a digital marketing strategy that guides the customer along the newly developed journey to the end destination and beyond.
81% of bank shopping journeys begin online, and consumers use an average of nine different information sources over a 60-to-90-day period when shopping for a financial product. While this topic alone could be its own article, I’ll break the journey down into the three primary phases:
- The journey begins with awareness about the business, which may include digital advertising and content marketing.
- Consideration follows, continuing with content marketing that is specifically valuable to the customer, as well as research on the company on its website and third-party outlets like peer review sites or digital magazines.
- And, of course, the purchase when the leads are converted to loans and deposits.
Remember that consumers make buying decisions largely based on feeling and emotion (the right brain), while financial institutions lean heavily on logic, analytics, and reason (left brain)–as they should, considering they are responsible for others’ money. The two mindsets complement each other in the decision-making process, though trusting the logic and reason is found in adhering to the emotional senses. Consumers need an answer to why they should trust your business among others before they’ll move past the consideration phase.
Bottom line: we live in a sink or swim age. The traditional “offline” customer journey is no longer applicable, and while there are now many more moving parts and complexities to juggle, there are also infinite opportunities to seize and expand on.
Personalize your content and deliver it to the right people
A Millennial expects to be treated differently than a Baby Boomer in the digital world, just as each would expect the same if they walked into a financial institution and sat down with a professional. Each generation has different needs, and therefore they have varying interests to look out for, content that they find valuable, and connections that are relevant to them. Trust is established when you speak to your audience and their concerns feel acknowledged, listened to, and addressed.
Batch-and-blast emails aren’t going to accomplish this. Marketing automation helps direct content that addresses varying needs (retirement savings, college funds, credit card debt, buying a home, celebrating a wedding, etc.). Its ability to reach customers on a personalized level cuts through the digital noise and raises above the competition, while amplifying and providing exponential growth in the ability to communicate with a far wider audience, as opposed to the traditional 1:1 meetings.
The difference between having a digital presence and engaging through digital channels
The sleek, good-looking website is no longer enough to keep your customers enticed. Posting to your social media accounts does not guarantee an audience anymore (even if you have followers). Digital advertising is only a small aspect of digital marketing and it can’t be solely relied on to generate leads. Even populating your blog and including good SEO isn’t enough, and that’s supposed to reign king.
Don’t get me wrong–all the above are essential components to digital marketing and play their important role in the buyer’s journey. However, combined together, they still lack the personalization and subsequent trust that credit unions and banks need to substantially bring in customers and gain their loyalty.
Connect your prospects with sales — when they’re ready
A hounding sales person is never a feel-good approach, especially when the subject is the prospect’s finances (whether personal or business). As the customer journey evolves and the research phases are more independent and purposeful, marketing automation can provide real-time alerts and lead nurturing that makes the connection feel personalized and welcoming. The real-time alerts provide instant notification for contacts, leads, and user activities, which then allows your team to begin nurturing leads with relevant content at the right time.
Compare that to the unwanted sales attempt just because the consumer stumbled upon the business’s website.
Marketing automation efficiently connects the link between marketing and sales as it helps to plan, implement, and optimize the buyer’s journey. It ensures that the precious time and money invested in generating the lead hasn’t been wasted, and you as a financial professional are able to hone in on the most qualified leads.
Similarly, perhaps an individual was interested in applying for a credit card and moving through the research phase by exploring your website, looking at peer reviews, and finding value in your white papers or blog posts. This prospect began filling out an application, though never completed it. Maybe because he simply got distracted and forgot, or she was uncertain of how to answer a specific question. Whatever the reason, it’s important to acknowledge this prospect got that far in the buying process, so most likely still has interest in completing the application, or at the very least lingering curiosity in the business.
It makes sense as the financial institute to have a strategy in place for this occurrence, which may include a follow-up email from a financial advisor inviting to connect and answer questions, or even a simple reminder that there is a pending application. However, only 17% of banks and credit unions have a defined digital application abandonment process, according to the State of Digital Growth Report. So while 83% of the competition does nothing to capitalize on those initial leads, this is your opportunity to break free of the noise and reach out to the consumer by use of marketing automation.
Watch the webinar!
Interested in learning more about marketing automation for financial institutions? Our Senior Product Marketing Manager, Cheri MacFarlane, spoke with James Robert Lay, Founder and CEO of Digital Growth Institute for an information-packed webinar. “The Power of Marketing Automation: Why You Should Care” dives into the benefits of marketing automation for financial institutions, and how marketing and sales teams can maximize their digital growth potential with this tool.