A new report by Editions Financial explores the big issues impacting the world of financial services marketing.

The State of Play report 2019 is based on a survey of marketers across financial services. So, what does it tell us? Here, in the first of two blogs, we look at findings from the first half of the report.

Customer experience – risk of paralysis

41% of the organisations surveyed believe that improving customer experience is their key challenge for the next two years.

The challenges here are significant, from data management issues to new technology costs, and many marketers are unsure where to start. This can lead to ‘CX paralysis’ – where being overwhelmed by priorities and options leads to nothing being done at all.

The key here is identifying what you actually need to do to improve the customer journey. What do customers really want and how can you deliver it? The good news is that 72% of banking customers are currently satisfied or very satisfied with their bank.

Marketers’ part in the customer satisfaction jigsaw can be trickier, though, with 28% of consumers saying they never read or engage with any content from their bank.

New entrants to the sector are taking more innovative approaches to crack this – and the report notes that ‘once a big financial player makes inroads into CX, this will set them apart and force others to catch up’.

With CX about delivering a personalised and relevant brand experience, how can you tackle the challenges?

Brand building a priority

46% of those surveyed said that building a strong brand is their biggest priority.

This can be difficult when financial services are ‘commoditised, regulated and often homogenised’.

While brand purpose – the social and ethical role of your firm – is important, the report notes that firms mustn’t lose track of their branding fundamentals – ie, what the brand stands for and does. Brands need to get this right before tackling their social responsibility.

If you are working on your brand’s strategy and purpose, focus on:

      • Working out an engaging content strategy: content can play a key role in communicating your brand purpose and intent
      • Exploring the lessons you can learn from the best global brands
      • Convincing any reluctant management or colleagues by stressing the importance of brand to your marketing effectiveness

How is content created?

The majority of financial services firms produce it in-house – 61% currently do this, with 74% expecting to increase their in-house capability in future. This may be in part due to the strict FCA rules around outsourcing.

However, the increase in in-housing does bring its own challenges, as the report points out. Among these are a lack of skills, knowledge and training. There’s potential for agencies and clients to work more collaboratively to bridge the divide between in-house and externally-created content.

If you want to improve in-house production, and work more closely with your creative partners:

‘Insight vs infobesity’

Marketers have unprecedented data, but insufficient time or resource to garner real insights from it. Nearly half believe that the biggest challenge to the effectiveness of their content strategy is the ability to produce collateral that’s sufficiently engaging.

Very few firms in the survey use quantitative (15%) or qualitative (also 15%) research to inform their content strategy. You need to understand who your audience is, what they currently appreciate in terms of content, and when, where and how they consume it if you want to develop a compelling strategy.

If you want to cut through the data overload and create content that’s insightful and relevant:

      • Research the best-performing marketing content and see how you can make it part of your strategy
      • Understand what the content marketing cycle is and how it can help you

Usable nuggets of content marketing insight

The State of Play report provides an up-to-the minute examination of the content challenges facing financial services marketers.

Next week we’ll look at the second half of the report, covering content formats, the challenges to effective content marketing in financial services, and the ways marketers are measuring the effectiveness of their activity.

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