Let’s face it, we are all pretty busy these days. If we can’t click it on Facebook while watching TV, yelling at the kids to get their homework done and cooking dinner then we won’t remember it. A billboard in the middle of Sydney’s CBD will get less traction than a sponsored post on Instagram.
So it is pretty obvious that content marketing is no longer the bright and shiny new object fascinating marketers, but is a central tenet of most companies’ marketing strategies.
In fact, the latest research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute suggests, 86% of companies currently use content marketing, 70% intend to ramp it up further, and over half will spend more on it this year.
So we are all doing it, but are we doing it well? Apparently not, with only 38% of companies saying they are effective in accomplishing their overall objectives using content marketing, and many are still unable to define exactly what their overall objective even is.
This is personal. Think of all those emails you delete because Country Road sent you an alert about a sale on menswear and you’re a female. Or because Seek is spamming you with job opportunities for accountants and you work as a chef. Knowing your target market well should never be underestimated.
Global best practice shows that companies who see a dollar value return on investment from their content and digital marketing efforts use personalisation.
Personalisation boils down to giving the right message to the right person at the right time. This has been the basis of successful marketing throughout time but in a digital world it is where marketing automation technology plays a vital role.
Winning the hearts and minds of customers in a crowded market isn’t just going to happen. As digital technology becomes more sophisticated and the number of digital channels grows, companies must show they understand what their customers need and want.
The Holy Grail
Access to an infinite amount of information about different options and products means that customers find it easier to switch provider, and customer loyalty is the Holy Grail.
According to a recent article focused on the insurance industry, and with relevance for financial services companies more broadly, the real differentiator now is the customer experience through personalised acquisition and retention communications.
- Develop personas for target customer groups. If you know what kind of product a customer will, or when they are most likely to need it, you can offer a relevant option at the most relevant time.
- Personalised search is key to a more frictionless customer decision journey. If possible, the search experience should be device-specific, information given should be requested once only, and then passed through to unique landing pages.
Data should also be a two-way street where possible. Insights gleaned from search should be used not just to make relevant offerings to customers, but to segment the customer into relevant groups and sub-groups.
A good example of this comes from the auto insurance industry. If the insurer knows the customer’s location and the number of cars he or she owns when customers are searching for insurance, targeted policies and even discounts can be offered based on the customer’s online search results.
- Integrating the technology platform means that you are in control of the multiple channels consumers use to search for and purchase new policies. In this way, policy details and preferences are stored and remembered across platforms.
- Matching content to the buyer timeline, in other words delivering personalised content based on where your customer is in their buying journey. This means integrating your website with your other digital channels.
- Mapping a return on investment
Bottom line results are ultimately what matter in any content or digital marketing strategy, and the better the personalisation, the better the ability to judge what is working and what isn’t.
There are plenty of examples of a significant return outside of financial services. For example, Juniper Networks, a multinational which develops and markets networking products, created a personalised digital platform which was able to identify what customers were searching on, which banner ads brought them in, predict what they might be interested in next, and emailing them. All metrics tripled as a result, and revenue rose as cost per acquisition and conversions costs fell.
Start now and win the race
It’s no secret that financial services companies have traditionally been laggards in the digital marketing space, we might not trend as highly as a cat video on YouTube but that’s no excuse not to get involved.
The same goes for content marketing, many are now taking small steps towards a content marketing strategy, but few are able to clearly define their return on investment, let alone point to a dollar value return from their activities.
The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for forward-thinking financial services organisation to jump ahead of their competition and really make their content and digital marketing strategies perform. And really understanding the customer and the customer’s buying journey in order to provide a seamless personalised experience is a great first step.
Tell us, what’s your opinion on the role personalisation can play in financial services marketing?