The world of banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) has fast-tracked the adoption of digital technologies over the past two years. With the global population transcending to a more virtual way of life induced by the pandemic, customer self-service utilizing digital banking channels took precedence over erstwhile physical banking and even phone banking. Thriving in this landscape mandated a shift in operating models across multiple areas, including marketing.
Going by Dentsu’s Digital Report for 2021, the BFSI sector is said to have accounted for 57 percent of digital media spending. The digital marketing and media landscape is seeing greater dynamism, with consumers exposed to increasing content every day. The access channels have also broadened, with more content consumed by handhelds. To stand out in this sea of content, to be heard and noticed, is no easy task, even more so for a highly regulated industry like banking. Here are four marketing trends likely to dominate the banking sector in 2022.
Leveraging data from omnichannel presence
Undoubtedly the focus on channel convergence or omnichannel first is centerfold in a customer-centric era. To provide a seamless customer experience across channels, data across each stage of the customer journey, be it attraction, activation, onboarding, or retention, is paramount. The pool of data available for a bank is indeed big but is it harnessed to its full potential? – a question marketers will need to address.
True 360-degree view of customers is still elusive, with challenges abounding on account of customer information residing in silos. Such an experience can be successful only when there is an effective integration of data across all the channels, both internal as well as external, ensuring a streamlined flow of information and insights. Banks have immediate access to first-party data, a rich source of information. The latest know-your-customer (KYC) systems augment critical data. Effective integrations to financial services marketplaces can further validate key data points. When utilized effectively, these can help banks go beyond building frictionless experiences to hyper-personalized experiences. The returns are compelling – A BCG report pegs the revenue growth on account of personalization at $300 million for every $100 billion in asset size. Driving omnichannel data convergence and leveraging analytics to gain insights for dynamic customer outreach initiatives will continue to take up the mind space of financial services marketers.
Creating valuable content in a sea of information:
Social/digital channels are proliferating in the banking sector, given their enormous potential to tap into a market of people without access to financial services globally. Such channels also provide customers far higher propensity for self-learning and evaluation before making a purchase or addressing their financial situation. However, the flip side to such exposure is the sense of doubt and risk in choosing the right financial product. Customers, at times, feel too overwhelmed with the clutter of information and end up indecisive and confused.
The key here is for banking players to cater to all segments of customers – young and senior alike, with educative information across financial topics. Sales cycles will have to orient to the customer’s digital learning journey, providing the right information at the right stage and across the right channels. Data assets collected across the customer relationship cycle can be used to better understand the customer’s current state and tailor the content appropriately rather than pushing the ‘next best offer’ kind of messages mechanically. In addition to triggering appropriate content in the customer digital space through standard modes like ad placements and social notifications, front office staff can be effectively leveraged, to push the messages through in-person connects. Valuable content delivered through relationship managers armed with actionable insights can go a long way in ensuring customer centricity.
Content that attracts and engages digitally:
In an overcrowded and cluttered marketplace, a lot rides on the format of the content. Visually appealing, engaging, and interactive content is highly influential to garner the required attention and stand out in the digital crowd. With a generation, habituated to the experience provided by digital proxies be it in the gaming landscape or the metaverse adopting a more cohesive approach to content that is more participation-driven rather than engagement-driven (likes, comments, etc.), will be key. Branding the content, paying attention to the details, and weaving a story to make a rather boring finance topic more interesting, need to be focus areas for banking marketers.
Equally important is the need to maintain a healthy mix of different content formats. Studies indicate that video marketers experience a 54% increase in brand awareness. Service explainer videos, financial literacy podcasts, live webinars, downloadable and easy-to-use finance planners & worksheets are some of the approaches adopted by banking leaders. Blogs with inbound links that are more educational in nature rather than being sales driven and optimized for voice search will draw equal prominence in the content mix. Some of the banks also use their employees as financial educators to connect and engage with the audience as influencers.
Emotional connect through the customer’s digital journey
In a customer-driven marketplace, brands that speak empathy, compassion, loyalty, and sustainability and thus connect emotionally are the ones that gain the trust and build long-lasting relationships with their customer base. With the enhanced use of technology and all things digital, this emotional connection is what banking marketers need to capitalize. The journey of different customer personas would need to be mapped along with various touchpoints and reimagined to the present digital era. The GenZ segment of digital-savvy customers would be more engaged with instant gratification or service closure through apps or chatbots. On the other hand, millennials may still prefer human voice-based touchpoints. Thus, experiences need to be personalized to emotionally connect with different segments of customers across different phases of their journey.
Influencers with more engaged followers can help achieve this emotional connection by sharing their experiences. It is a good marketing strategy that is in vogue. Many banks leverage influencers on a more serious note on finance topics or the other side in a humorous way, like the ICICI Bank’s Orange Book promoted by social media influencer ‘Aiyyo’ Shraddha. We can expect more of this trend in banking marketing in 2022.
Certainly, there lies greater accountability for marketing in the banking space and hence the ROI from marketing campaigns is paramount. It may seem cumbersome, given the restrictions in information sharing between walled gardens. The right amount of integration between the walled gardens of Google, LinkedIn, Meta, etc., is an area of focus marketers need to work around.
As the entire banking ecosystem evolves in tandem with the digital age, so must the marketing function within this ecosystem. Marketing campaigns will need improvised strategies that build and retain the trust and reputation of the brand. With the digital age comes the additional responsibility of guarding the brand sentiments and keeping watch of any negative mentions. Banking marketers also need to have strong online reputation management discipline to ensure the brand image remains intact.
The blog has been authored by Anoop Karumathil Melethil, AVP – Marketing, Maveric Systems
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