Don’t Get Left Behind: The Rise of Digital Marketing in Financial Services

Modern Marketing


Every business is different. In today’s rapidly changing financial services industry, it’s more critical than ever that marketers understand the trends affecting their industry. As a Solutions Consultant here at Marketo, I speak to financial services companies on a regular basis. I wanted to take a moment explore the key marketing trends and the resulting opportunities that can provide real value.

Mobile Marketing is Exploding

Trend – With smartphone adoption in Australia now at 52% and soon to be 80% by 2015, mobile is rapidly becoming THE key channel for interacting with consumers. Financial Services have been slow to leverage mobile marketing, mainly due to security and compliance concerns, but in such a competitive environment, firms can no longer ignore mobile marketing.


Opportunity – Wealth Management, Insurance, Brokers & FX firms can increase their customer engagement and marketing reach by utilizing SMS, MMS and mobile emails. In retail banking, mobile banking sites and mobile apps are also underutilized marketing channels. There are many tools to send messages via mobile channels and many marketing automation platforms allow this to be done easily and in one place.

Traditional Advertising is Dying

Trend – When a telemarketer calls you at work to sell you a product, that’s ‘interruption’ marketing. This form of traditional advertising is quickly losing relevance with financial service clients. Ad-skipping technology, do-not-call lists, spam filters, and online ad blockers, are all signs of a backlash against irrelevant, intrusive ads.


According to studies, 50-60% of clients have already made up their mind before ever talking to a business development representative; they interact online with companies and other clients to research, share advice, and praise or criticize financial services firms.

Opportunity – Firms need to overhaul their marketing to target clients much earlier in their decision making process (buying cycle): the point in time when people are still unaware of financial services products. This can be done using more inbound and social. Creating compelling content is certainly something that financial services firms need to be doing. By creating thought leadership, marketers will have an easier time building up their social profiles. Additionally, many marketing automation solutions can track engagement with content and social channels.

Increasing Commoditization

Trend – The nature of financial services products make offerings easy to copy and hard to differentiate. Combined with the increasing volume of online marketing, firms face a real challenge to engage customers on frequently complex and intangible financial products. How are you setting yourself apart from the competition?


Opportunity – Engaging consumers early in their decision making process is key to out-marketing competitors. Financial services firms must provide quality content that educates potential clients on their products and how they solve problems. This positions a brand very credibly. But producing quality content is just the first step, firms also need to leverage lead nurturing to build relationships with consumers and stay top-of-mind after they engage. Don’t underestimate the power of creating relationships and getting to know your customers in financial services. This creates customer loyalty. And as any marketer knows, consumers are very critical of who they chose to manage their money.

Poor Customer Engagement Online

Trend – Financial services firms are struggling to engage customers online. Often, firms send irrelevant messaging to clients, which is the fastest way to get them to opt-out of communication! Not only do these firms fail to respect the client’s online behavior, they also fail to respect their own customer data.

Innovative companies such as Allianz, are tackling perceptions of risk from clients by shifting their marketing to education-based nurturing. This not only engages clients more and with higher results, it differentiates firms from those who are ignoring this growing trend. In contrast, old firms are still sending generically targeted direct mail.


Opportunity – Firms who take into account a customer’s online behavior and combine this with their CRM data will be able to target their communications more effectively. This will increase engagement significantly.

Compliance Concerns Increasing

Trend – Financial services firms face the extra challenge of regulatory compliance when conducting marketing campaigns, which has been a major impediment to the development of multi-channel marketing capabilities. What are some ways that financial services firms can stay relevant and on-trend while still adhering to compliance?


Opportunity – By adopting modern marketing such as inbound and content, firms can get users to opt-in to marketing early in the buying cycle and then deliver the right content at the right time, thus significantly reducing compliance and privacy concerns. Additionally an online ‘subscription center’ allows clients to choose the content they wish to receive and nominate their preferred delivery mechanism, such as email or SMS. Many marketing automation platforms simplify this process immensely by managing creation and authorization of content in one place.

What’s your take on marketing trends in financial services? What else would you add to our list?