Brevard Nelson, CEO of Caribbean Ideas Synapse
At Synapse, very early on, we made a decision to go deep in specific industries and sectors as we know we can’t be everything to everybody, so we build expertise in specific areas and go deep to deliver for our clients vs spreading ourselves too thin.
Given expertise in house, the financial services sector is a sector we chose to go deep in which includes institutions like banks, credit unions, investment houses, real estate brokers, insurance companies, etc. Generally, the strength of the financial services sector is a good indicator of the prosperity of a nation. The application of technology to financial services sector is not new, but in recent times evolutions in Financial Technology (Fintech) have been able to tap into underserved markets, improve personalisation and customer experiences, remove the friction in some parts of the onboarding processes and a lot more.
Sometimes when I chat with some marketers about inbound marketing, they think it only applies to some sectors but there are many inbound marketing strategies that you can apply to enhance your customer acquisition, retention and conversion. Here are just a few that are useful if you are in a financial services institution:
1. Enhance your customer service channels
With the advent of social media platforms, chat bots, forums, marketing automation, technology has evolved to allow you to manage your inbound messages and inboxes so that the customer feels like they are having a one-on-one conversation with the custodian of the brand. It is critical to have a plan for responding to these messages and a clear escalation path for dealing with complaints or queries otherwise this can do more harm than good. If these messages are left unattended for too long (hours in some cases), this can be the catalyst for disaster. Financial Services institutions tend to adopt omni-channel customer experiences and the more successful ones are able to reduce friction in the process and deliver consistently across all channels.
2. Start Content Marketing
According to the Content Marketing Institute – “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” . At the core of inbound strategy is creating relevant content that resonates with specific personas and for their stage of the buyers journey. I’m still seeing some marketers jump from campaign to campaign that they think their audience need, vs fully understanding their audience and creating content they will find valuable. Success of a brand in the financial services sector is based on credibility and if you can build that relationship with that potential customer and share valuable, relevant and consistent content, you build brand affinity.
3. Tell a Story!
People like stories. People remember stories. Do you recall as a child how fascinated you were by fairy tales, local folklore and even the make-believe stories told by your friends? Or since we are in the ‘Carnival Season’, the most memorable songs from our favourite calypsonian or chantwell are usually well told stories! Why do we like those stories so much? Primarily because they appealed to an emotion or reminded us of an experience or created a fantasy that we desire to have. Storytelling is an important content marketing tool because it helps your audience connect with the content. In the Financial Services industry this also builds credibility and trust which is critical to acquiring and retaining customers.
4. Build your Funnel and Qualify Your Leads and Prospects
When you roll out your inbound marketing strategy, you might be surprised by the quantity of leads. There is a temptation to focus on quantity, but it is more important to focus time and resources on better qualified, quality leads as they will have a higher propensity to convert. Your lead qualification system can be as simple as classifying your leads to more complex lead scoring based on multiple variables. Either way you start getting higher quality leads into and through your funnel, which help with conversion. Some Financial services institutions have omni channel experiences for their customers, which not only improves customer service but can also capture useful data to help qualify leads and put them through the most appropriate nurture series to conversion.
5. Use Data to Drive Decisions
Most financial services institutions sit on a treasure trove of data and as mentioned above, if used wisely you can build better customer experiences, qualify your leads and most importantly lower your customer acquisition costs and improve ROI. Overlaying big data from your target clusters with your own business intelligence data, helps you apply some more scientific rigour to your process. In addition to campaign performance data, along the way through your experiments, you learn what works with your audience, so you are able to refine by persona, by channel, by content type. Financial Services institutions care about retaining customers, lowering acquisition costs and building Customer Lifetime Value and Data helps you improve optimisation in these areas.
6. Strengthening your MarTech Stack
In this modern marketing era, beyond compiling data and performance stats, you can use technology to help you automate some of your processes like, email marketing, work flows for web traffic, personalisation of content, A/B testing, customer nurturing and so much more! More progressive financial institutions have started using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to unlock revenue growth opportunities, minimise operating expenses, and automate manually intensive processes. A recent survey by NVIDIA of financial services professionals showed 83% of respondents agreeing that AI is important to their company’s future success.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but rather gives you a sense of the areas of focus and the possibilities for your inbound marketing solutions.
Brevard Nelson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Caribbean Ideas Synapse. He has over 20 years of experience in the world of Marketing and Communications. He is impassioned by our Caribbean region utilising technology to drive development. When he’s not working with Team Synapse on integrated marketing client strategies, he’s actively involved in various ways to give back to and create the next generation of leaders through multiple non-profit organisations.