This Insights piece looks at the issue of keeping up with new disruptive entrants – how the FSI sector can thrive and survive. It’s by Gregg Ames, Chief Commercial Officer, Act-On
In the wake of a turbulent few years, the FSI sector has made incredible strides in transitioning from its traditional way of operating to embracing digital transformation. The nature of a remote environment has successfully driven holistic approaches to digital experiences. The financial services sector, an industry that once had to rely on networking and referrals, has had to revise in real-time how it captures the eye of new customers, provides a holistic customer experience, and maximises the lifetime value of its existing customer base.
As an example, challenger banks such as Starling and Monzo highlight a new era of banking – bringing the banking scene found on the high street to your pocket. While it’s encouraging to see such significant strides from what was once a traditional sector, there are several hurdles ahead – from reduced fee earning potential due to investment in digital transformation initiatives, to new disruptive entrants in the sector driving greater choice and competition.
The internet and social media have resulted in increased access to a vast amount of information, meaning customer journeys start online, as customers want to know everything and understand all their options before making decisions. But in an increasingly crowded space, organisations now need to do more to reach their audience effectively.
Our recent research has identified that the FSI sector is recognising the benefit and need for marketing as customers and prospects are overwhelmed with options, with 80% of wealth management firms increasing their online marketing budget. While remote environments prove to be a successful driver of more holistic approaches to digital experiences, the sector still faces some challenges.
For marketing teams in financial service organisations, this presents both challenges and opportunities. How do you build your digital brand so you are the organisation of choice for prospective customers, and how do you deliver a differentiated digital experience?
Marketing is key to the success of wealth management and financial service firms as it dictates their ability to target, attract, and engage with prospective clients.
We believe there are two fundamental areas where marketing – and in particular marketing automation – can transform the wealth management and financial service sectors and help to create significant competitive advantage:
1. Building your digital brand
Today 81% of wealth management research takes place online. Individuals and families use the web to access a vast array of resources to understand what options are available and the services that are applicable to them.
You need to ensure that you are found online, that you can serve up the content that prospective investors are looking for, and that you can then proactively engage with them. You need to be able to capture their details, build a profile of their potential needs, and nurture their interest to a point where an advisor can engage.
2. Delivering a digital experience
While adding a personal touch is still important, this personal touch also needs to be able to be delivered digitally. Clients are used to and prefer engaging online; they need to be able to track their investments, but as importantly, see the value-add being provided by their advisor.
Leveraging the power of marketing automation to track the engagement of clients, understand their lifecycle, and drive communication can transform the client experience, ensuring loyalty and increasing lifetime value.
So how can marketing automation drive this value now, and into the future?
It is difficult for advisors to keep close to every client all of the time. This is where marketing automation can drive significant value, targeting proactive communication based on client profiles and their engagement levels. With 65% of all client interactions taking place online, it’s imperative that FSI marketers proactively engage their prospects, track and respond to their behaviours, and learn from insights on what is most effective for specific groups.
Marketing automation enables you to leverage the data you hold on clients to micro-segment your customer base and ensure that your marketing communication is laser- focused on each specific client type. This means you are only sending relevant information to each client, which dramatically increases engagement rates as well as the perceived value of your marketing material by your clients. Automated programmes can also be created to engage clients at specific points in their life — an investment anniversary, a birthday, or other specific life events.
In addition, it enables you to keep a watchful eye on your client’s engagement with you digitally; increased visits to your website or time spent on specific content or pages can be an indication that they are considering a new investment. By tracking such behaviour, you are not only able to alert advisors of a potential interest, but trigger proactive marketing to provide timely information.
Finally, the effectiveness of your marketing is dictated by your ability to track the success of each activity, to understand which elements either singularly or combined generate opportunities. By using the rich insights and reporting available in marketing automation, you are able to continually refine your marketing strategy to maximise return and improve results in terms of client acquisition, client engagement, and client profitability.
The path ahead
It’s no secret that undergoing a digital transformation is enabling organisations to thrive. It’s now critical that organisations continue this traction and embrace marketing automation to ensure a successful digital-first strategy for engaging with customers and prospects.