In the finance sector, digital has encouraged the development of new products and services, and it’s forcing companies to redesign their business model in order to be competitive. In short, how a company embraces digital will determine its ability to be competitive, and ultimately successful.
This shift has necessitated a change in marketing strategy, as the classic communication levers for reaching customers are no longer enough.
This is because digital transformation has also affected customers, who are looking for a new kind of experience. A 2017 study on the state of digital carried out by We Are Social in collaboration with Hootsuite found more than half of the world’s population is actually online. Italy is also in line with this trend. It has seen an increase of about three million social media users (+10% compared to the previous year).
The constant digitization of the customer-user has changed customer habits. For example, Italians spend an average of six hours a day online, two of which are spent surfing within a social platform. The preferred platform is Facebook, with 34 million users, 88% of whom access it via mobile. YouTube is another major contender for users online since one of the most popular online activities involve the use of video material.
But does digital also affect the Financial sector?
The answer is, yes, as the number of those using digital financial services has increased.
The Italian Banking Association reports that, in 2017, as many as 8 million banking customers were doing business with them from their mobile phones, an increase of 68% compared to the previous year.
In addition, users are showing an increasing interest in more advanced features such as trading, online payment, checking services, and account management.
Communication in finance: many tools, many opportunities
Thanks to digital transformation, financial institutions must employ a digital marketing and communication strategy that makes use of new tools to reach customers.
Today, there are many more touchpoints that potential customers may encounter with your product, service, or brand. The devices through which to spread your content (e.g. smartphones, tablets, computers, smartwatches) and the platforms that can be used to diffuse them have multiplied.
An effective digital marketing strategy should involve these touch points, with perhaps a different for each of the available channels.
Direct Email Marketing, for example, can be very useful for the initial approach or retention strengthening phase, providing customers with interesting content built based on their characteristics, their needs, and depending on where they are along the customer journey.
On the other hand, social networks should also be monitored, so that they can be used to communicate directly with customers. Each of these platforms may be assigned a different role, depending on the type of customer being targeted.
This must all be part of a coherent strategy.
A well-formed digital communication strategy will seamlessly integrate touchpoint, channels, and platforms so that the customer feels at the center of things, regardless of which channel they are using to interact.
This is what we mean when we say that every financial institution must be open to all channels. This would allow each client to start a financial transaction from any device and conclude it through a different touch point without overlapping or unnecessary repetition.
In addition, a marketing strategy that employs an omnichannel strategy allows the bank to make the best use of every available touch point, revitalizing even the most traditional ones, such as the local branch office.
In Italy for example, although the number of local branches is in decline, this does not mean that they will eventually disappear.
Instead, they will become locations for consulting or perhaps become the last stage of a customer journey that started online or through a smartphone app. This allows the bank to provide the customer with an innovative experience by offering sophisticated services that are perceived as emotionally more engaging.
This is just one example of how digital transformation can provide traditional financial institutions with innovative communication and marketing tools that are ideal for effectively reaching as many customers as possible.
Here are some other examples.
Digital for bringing customers closer
Language is very important for improving communication in the financial sector.
Overly formal or technical communication creates a distance between the bank and its customers, thus making it more difficult to create a relationship of trust.
Instead, banks must be able to position themselves as not only reliable but also accessible, even friendly, in order to make the information understandable to all users.
A winning example is Bank of America’s Better Money Habits magazine, which contains articles and advice on how best to manage your savings.
In doing so, Bank of America provides a useful, free, and simple financial service to its readers, positioning itself as a credible authority able to understand the customer’s needs without being unnecessarily technical. With this type of content, the bank also positions itself as a resource for useful and practical information.
Social networking to build a community
Widiba is the digital bank of the MPS group that uses Facebook in an interesting way.
In addition to utilizing a decidedly youthful tone of voice in order to speak directly with millennials, Widiba has created a real community of so-called Widibers.
The type of communication they employed can be considered a form of emotional marketing.
Emotional marketing aims to provide a memorable experience that exceeds customer expectations. In other words, emotional marketing aims to leverage the customer’s emotions and sense of empathy to convey messages and stimulate certain behaviors.
There are many reasons that consumers decided to purchase something from you. One of those reasons may be emotional—because the product is tied to a fond memory, or because the customer wants to experience a certain feeling again, or because they feel emotionally close to the company.
Companies can tap into these reasons for purchasing and at the same time be even more relevant to their target customers by using emotions such as happiness, fear, gratification and even a sense of belonging.
Widiba’s communication is based on the latter, exploiting the aggregative power of social networks through ad hoc content.
This type of strategy is very widespread among native digital brands (such as Widiba) that are at ease in operating within social networks.
There are many advantages of such an approach.
First of all, creating an emotional bond with your consumers allows you to increase retention; customers who feel a connection or sense of belonging will keep coming back.
Secondly, customers who feel loyal to a company’s products or services will often become ambassadors, especially when they can identify with your values and principles.
In this way, thanks to one of the most effective influencers—word of mouth—companies can create a strong network to increase penetration of its products and services to even more customers.
Communication that positions
In digital communication “content is king,” and the focus is no longer only on the product.
The center of gravity has shifted to the customer and his needs and interests.
For this reason, several banks have begun to diversify their communication strategies, combining the functional with the aspirational.
Here, the example of BNL and its use of Instagram is an interesting story.
This strategy stimulates customer engagement through attention-getting editorial content.
The same approach is also followed by banks such as UniCredit Italia and Hello Bank!, which, in addition to their social media presence, also produce a magazine that provides interesting and informative content on banking related issues, as well as on lifestyle topics such as culture, travel, music.
Original is better
While it is true that the focus of communication is no longer on the product, the communication strategy must still be well rounded, and any forward-looking digital communication strategy must be able to find original ways to offer its products and services.
Again, the use of social media is crucial given the options and features that digital platforms offer.
An alternative, for example, is gaming.
Banks can use original tools to convey institutional messages or to make complex financial instruments more comprehensible for customers in order to increase adoption.
For example, BNL – BNP PARIBAS, for the launch of its new logo, built an advertising campaign based on the famous “Game of 15,” which included a series of traditional materials (such as newspapers, posters, and clothing) to which interactive content designed specifically to engage users was added.
But they’re not the only ones. Hello Bank and Widiba have also often used games to explain their offers.
Using the mechanics of gaming is very effective, because it allows you to take advantage of the fact that many potential customers often surf the internet and social networks for fun.
In doing so, banks go out to meet their customers, providing them with small moments of entertainment, which are strategic for transmitting relevant content, which is more easily received because it is not really considered advertising.
The second feature that is offered by social platforms such as Facebook and that is useful in the context of a digital marketing strategy is the ability to precisely target the content, based on certain categories.
This makes it easier for banks, for example through Facebook ADS and Facebook Audience Insights, to distribute different messages to different targets, so as to increase the relevance of communication and the degree of personalization of content.
Win through personalization
Personalization is one of the great communication opportunities offered by digital transformation and it has proven to be effective in the customer experience.
As we have seen, this kind of experience can be provided using social media (also through innovative and automated customer care), but there are also other solutions that employ different digital tools and achieve equally positive results.
This is the case of Credem and Doxee Pvideo®, Doxee’s personalized video service that banks can use to reach customers through original and interactive content.
Credem contacted Doxee to activate a communication campaign promoting financing services to Ego Classic cardholders and current internet banking accounts.
In the first phase, the customers relevant to the campaign were identified, and they were sent an email containing a link to a personalized video that addressed each recipient by name and presented them with a special loan officer.
This video also allowed the user to immediately access the loan through their internet banking account via an interactive pop-up inside the video.
The campaign was successful, and this is because the strategy combined many of the strengths described in the above examples:
1. The language used was simple and immediate, within the reach of all consumers, and designed to build a personal connection with them
2. A memorable experience was provided, one that was well beyond customer expectations, calling each customer by name and allowing them to respond to the call to action directly from the video
3. The bank has been perceived as open to innovation and new technologies
4. Interactive content was provided (users could decide what to see and not see in the video) built thanks to careful and consistent targeting
5. Finally, the customer experience was perfectly personalized, where each user received a video designed solely for him, and where the avatar was male or female according to the recipient.
The tool used by Credem was also effective because it satisfied another important aspect of any digital marketing strategy: relevant data.
Doxee’s Pvideo® has, in fact, allowed the bank to collect valuable information on customers, so as to optimize future communication and to improve the identification of services to be offered during subsequent campaigns.
Credem chooses personalized videos to communicate with its customers. Learn more, download the case study: