The value of experience

It has been proven that money spent on experiences has a much bigger impact on a person’s happiness than money spent on material things. The same can be said about money spent on your customer’s journey versus your lead acquisition.

Recently, Seth Godin, the marketing guru said in one of his articles:

If an Apple upgrade breaks your phone and you switch to Android, it costs Apple more than $10,000.

If you switch supermarkets because a clerk was snide with you, it removes $50,000 from the store’s ongoing revenue.

If a kid has a lousy first grade teacher or is bullied throughout middle school, it might decrease his productivity for the rest of us by a million dollars.

So, this shows the equation can (and should) be inverted. Most small and medium sized financial services firms focus most of their efforts -and hard-earned money- on improving the marketing funnel for customer acquisition. What would happen if that same marketing team dedicated 50% of their time to improving customer satisfaction?

In the services industry it would mean happier, referral-creating, customers.


Are You Really Doing What You Are Good At?

I was recently exposed to a simple chart that had four quadrants that I had to fill out regarding what I do for a living. The chart outlines what you are good at doing versus or in comparison to what you like doing. And although it was not easy to fill out in some ways, this exercise got me thinking about positioning for a business in general.

 

Positioning is a critical step in any business’ marketing strategy. It defines the company, forms the basis for messaging, drives the marketing approach and impacts the way in which products and services are priced. To be effective, positioning must be clear, compelling and, most importantly, differentiated.

One of the most common descriptions I hear from leaders is a company’s positioning that sounds the same as everyone else. Their products are “innovative”, their services are “world class”, and they are “customer focused.” These are all examples of buzzwords that marketers use to try polish their position. But spin is not enough. Instead, business leaders need to find or create real differences they can leverage in the market.

Anybody who ever started a business had this problem. Some succeeded at differentiation and are now enjoying the fruits of it. The good news is that everybody can do it.

  • What are your strengths? What is it that you love doing and are great at doing?
  • What are your weaknesses? What is it that you are not that good at?
  • What’s your offer?
  • What you don’t offer?
  • What’s good and what’s bad in your offer?

MAKE A LIST OF YOUR CURRENT AND YOUR POTENTIAL DIFFERENCES

You know enough about your competitors and about yourself. You know about your competitor’s differences and you know your differences. You know what competitor’s differences you like to have.

So now you can make a separate list about your current differences and another list about your potential or future differences that you would like to have.

MAKE YOUR DIFFERENTIATION STATEMENT

Can you write in one statement how your business is different? Don’t think about competition, write your own differentiations that your business has and your competitors didn’t have.


How you sound vs. How you want to sound

Does your market know who YOU are, as a person? If you are the face of your company, such as a consultant, coach or author, it’s a given that people will associate your brand with you.

However, if you’re a business where your product or service is the brand, it’s a little more difficult for your market to recognize you. And in either case, if you don’t have a clear brand voice, it’s unlikely that anyone will recognize you without a name, logo, or face.

And it’s almost impossible for customers to form a true connection with someone who has no personality.

Having a defined personality changes all that. It makes you stand out from everyone else in your market. And when the voice of your brand is consistent in all your content, people start believing they can have a true relationship.

But your brand personality consists of not just the words you use, but also how you put them all together – through the tone of voice you express in all your content, including visuals and multimedia. It also consists of the way you relate to others, including how you take care of clients, how they experience your service or even how you pick up the phone.

So, the main question you need to answer is…

If your brand was a person, how would you describe her (or him)?

If you met your brand at a social event and had a conversation for an hour, how would you describe it afterwards? What personality traits does it exhibit? Where would you find your brand? How does it behave in its spare time? What brands does your brand wear, drive and consume?

And on the flip side, how do you want your customers to describe you after they’ve had a chance to get to know you a little? How do you want them to feel about you?

Your brand needs to have a personality in order to make a connection with your customers. People remember your character traits and the voice you speak with, but they don’t remember a faceless entity that speaks in a generic, flat tone.

 

 


Selling vs developing a relationship: where financial advisors fail

What is it that regularly blows apart business development efforts? The lack of follow up.

Financial services firms can do an excellent job at marketing their business to their target clients and influencers, but then they undo their efforts and lose their ROI without the proper follow up.

And, let’s face it, marketing, networking, and building connections without following them up makes the effort a big waste of time and money from the very start.

Follow-up can be uncomfortable, especially when you would rather be managing your portfolio or designing new products instead of seeking sales, but it isn’t hard; anyone can do it.

How can you make your follow up easier and more successful?

  1. Care for your contact – Really

Don’t call or email a contact to follow them up when you are in a rush or when you’re stressed. Instead, take a couple of minutes to think about what you are going to say. Think about what you can do for them, and then contact them with a positive frame of mind.

  1. Focus on building relationships

The more focused you are on just getting to know the other person, the more authentic you will behave. When face to face, find out something about them and their life. Look for common ground as well as traversing the expected corporate territory. Common ground can make relationship-building a lot easier and a lot more memorable for both parties.

  1. Be consistent and responsive

Prospects want you to be predictable and professional, but not forceful. If they ask you for a proposal, or invite you to send some more information, do it quickly. Taking your time is disrespectful and makes you look disorganized.

  1. Watch your follow-up slip ups

When you haven’t done it for a while, follow up can seem daunting, and people can often slip into “too busy” mode and put it off. Postponement is usually a signal that your fears, nerves, or feelings are getting in the way of the needs of your business.

  1. Find a system that works for you – and within your flow

You can find thousands of tools out there to help you manage your contacts, such as CRM systems, project management tools and others. Don’t be tempted to implement a fancy one (unless you already use one). Make sure you implement the system that works within your daily workflow. If you get to things based on your inbox, use one of those systems that remind you via email. If you follow your calendar, use it to remind you of the follow up.

Just remember that all prospects are as busy and preoccupied as you, and a little reminder of a meeting or great idea they heard is never a bad thing.


The Five Keys to a Thought Leadership Strategy that Drives Growth

What is it that regularly blows apart business development efforts? The lack of follow up.

Financial services firms can do an excellent job at marketing their business to their target clients and influencers, but then they undo their efforts and lose their ROI without the proper follow up.

And, let’s face it, marketing, networking, and building connections without following them up makes the effort a big waste of time and money from the very start.

Follow-up can be uncomfortable, especially when you would rather be managing your portfolio or designing new products instead of seeking sales, but it isn’t hard; anyone can do it.

How can you make your follow up easier and more successful?

1.- Care for your contact – Really

Don’t call or email a contact to follow them up when you are in a rush or when you’re stressed. Instead, take a couple of minutes to think about what you are going to say. Think about what you can do for them, and then contact them with a positive frame of mind.

2.- Focus on building relationships

The more focused you are on just getting to know the other person, the more authentic you will behave. When face to face, find out something about them and their life. Look for common ground as well as traversing the expected corporate territory. Common ground can make relationship-building a lot easier and a lot more memorable for both parties.

3.- Be consistent and responsive

Prospects want you to be predictable and professional, but not forceful. If they ask you for a proposal, or invite you to send some more information, do it quickly. Taking your time is disrespectful and makes you look disorganized.

4.- Watch your follow-up slip ups

When you haven’t done it for a while, follow up can seem daunting, and people can often slip into “too busy” mode and put it off. Postponement is usually a signal that your fears, nerves, or feelings are getting in the way of the needs of your business.

5.- Find a system that works for you – and within your flow

You can find thousands of tools out there to help you manage your contacts, such as CRM systems, project management tools and others. Don’t be tempted to implement a fancy one (unless you already use one). Make sure you implement the system that works within your daily workflow. If you get to things based on your inbox, use one of those systems that remind you via email. If you follow your calendar, use it to remind you of the follow up.

Just remember that all prospects are as busy and preoccupied as you, and a little reminder of a meeting or great idea they heard is never a bad thing.


The Ultimate Guide To Startup Content Marketing

Source: Forbes

It’s been a long day of work and I plop myself in front of my computer to relax on YouTube. When I click on a video, the first thing that comes up: an advertisement. I groan and look away. I hate ads. You probably do too. The Internet has made it possible for ads to follow us everywhere we go. The result? We are extremely annoyed when we see advertisements.

That’s why “content marketing” has become such a buzzword. In a nutshell, you create and share valuable, relevant, and consistent information to reach the audience you eventually want to sell to. The most common forms of content marketing include building a social media following and running a blog. Imagine watching a YouTube video that you WANT to watch but the video is made by a company.

I’m here to show you how you can take advantage of content marketing even as a small startup.

Picking the Content and Battlefield

As a good startup founder, you know who your target audience is and what problems they face. Get a pen and paper and make a list of all the problems that your customers or users face. Also make a list of all the things they are interested in. Your content marketing plan will focus on the things you just wrote down. Next is figuring out the right platform for you. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin. A common mistake is doing 5 platforms at once. Each platform and method requires your attention to make it done well. Choose 1 or 2 and focus on it.

You have a lot of options for where you want your content to go. Here are some of the main ones that you can try:

  • Medium: This is particularly good for B2B companies. A lot of smart business and startup people are on Medium. You also get to tap into the existing community and won’t need to grow from scratch. You can customize your page with your branding.
  • Comma (Commaful): Good for targeting the college and high school age demographics. The team is very responsive and actively helps brands with content marketing if you reach out. Their creator tool also can generate beautiful videos to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and make your brand look hip.
  • YouNow: They have created a number of teen stars. If you’re good on camera and targeting 13-18 year olds, give this live streaming site a try!
  • YouTube: If you’re energetic and good on camera, then YouTube may be for you! These are especially good for “how to’s” that require visuals. You will need a good camera or web cam.
  • Tsu: Tsu is a social network platform similar to Facebook, but distributes part of its ad revenue with its users. There are many sub-categories to post to and most are very active, making it a good target for content.
  • Twitter: You should use Twitter to help distribute your content regardless of if this is your main channel, but Twitter is very diverse. Figure out what your audience likes and post things that align with their interests.
  • Anchor: If you’re an audio kind of person, Anchor is great for making short podcasts. The audience skews towards tech and business right now and it’s very easy to share on Anchor.
  • Instagram: Good especially if you’re targeting teenagers. Engagement is very high here but you will need to figure out how to make good photos for the content. Commaful from above may be able to help with some of the video content.
  • Your Own Blog: You will need to figure out how to grow your traffic and worry about building the site, but you get far more control if you make your own blog.
  • Figure out which ones help you reach your audience best. Try some out and see what works for you. Then go all-in on the ones that work.

    Crafting Viral Content

    Once you have the strategy and platform, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your snackable content. When it comes to content marketing, don’t optimize for the number of times you can plug your company. Optimize for sharing and trust. If the post looks like an advertisement, people will not read it. Many people think that optimizing for sharing means to make your share buttons bigger. Or putting the share button 5 centimeters to the right. What really drives sharing is the content.


5 Critical Digital Marketing Issues Facing Financial Execs in 2016

Source: The Financial Brand

There are a handful of issues that should be on the top of every financial marketers’ mind this year: mobile advertising, personalization, martech, personalization and (of course) marketing ROI.

1. Digital Advertising

There are three main areas where financial marketers are allocating dollars in digital channels: paid search, video and mobile.

Paid Search. According to eMarketer, search will remain the single largest segment of ad spending in the financial industry, accounting for 47.3% of all digital marketing budgets in 2016. Generating the maximum number of impressions for the minimum cost-per-click will remain one of the biggest challenges facing financial marketers in the near future.

“Financial companies are spending more every year on paid search,” says Tony Effik, VP of media and connections at digital agency R/GA. “Search is the most important area, but the cost of search in the finance industry is huge.”

Online Video. eMarketer also says a quarter of all digital display advertising in the financial industry will be video in 2016. Pathmatics, a digital advertising analytics firm, reported that at the end of Q1 2015, financial services was among the top five industry advertiser categories for digital video.

Mobile Advertising. Financial services ranks high in mobile ad spending in relation to other industries measured by eMarketer, with the industry’s predicted 12.1% share of total US mobile ad spending in 2016 placing it second behind only retail. eMarketer predicts the US financial services industry will spend $5.29 billion on mobile advertising in 2016, equal to 63.2% of its digital ad investment overall.

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business’s survey of CMOs revealed that those in the financial services sector expected to nearly triple the share of marketing budgets directed toward mobile within the next three years.

Reality Check: The future of advertising is digital, and the future of digital advertising is mobile.

2. Marketing Attribution

Back in the early 1900s, John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Over 100 years later, this still seems to be a major pain point for marketers.

According to a study from Black Ink, tying revenues and profits back to marketing ranks among top issues troubling C-level executives. Those tracking ROI represents the largest reporting gap for marketers. It’s much easier measuring “top of the funnel” KPIs such as tactical campaign performance and lead/demand generation. But how do these marketing activities link back to actual sales?

marketing_attribution

In the study by Black Ink, 61% of marketers say that greater insight into the ROI of their efforts is one of their top priorities in 2016. This will require both better metrics and reporting abilities. In the meantime, leadership teams will struggle to get a clear view of their total marketing ecosystem, leaving huge gaps in the decision-making process.

Reality Check: CEOs and CFOs won’t increase marketing budgets if marketing activities can’t be connected back to the bottom line.

3. Marketing Technology

According to Black Ink, marketing plans to fill some of these ROI reporting gaps with more data. How and where will this data come from? Largely from martech solutions. More than a quarter (28%) of the respondents in the study said that it was imperative that they improve/upgrade their marketing technology stack in the next 12 months, expressing a strong proclivity to purchase more business intelligence, marketing automation, and customer interaction tools in 2016.

martech

The good news is that every digital tool marketers adopt will (or at least should) bring with it a wealth of new data streams. Unfortunately, some of these technologies won’t directly support the greater need for more advanced marketing KPIs that C-level leaders expect.

If marketers acknowledge their infrastructure is currently both a shortcoming and a priority to support its brand promise and greater customer centricity, what is impeding their ability to attain it? Marketing leaders aren’t fully responsible for managing the infrastructure (e.g., analytics and data management) to deliver all the insight the C-suite craves. Marketers’ success — or lack thereof — quantifying their efforts will hinge on both a greater investment in tech (requiring the CFO’s blessing), and more support from IT. Indeed, a third of marketing execs in a study by the Incite Group said that working with IT teams to create a solid tech infrastructure is the most essential component to the marketing attribution riddle.

Reality Check: Marketers should focus on tech features that will help them close the ROI gap.

4. Personalization

In the Incite Group study, 32% of marketers say they can improve marketing ROI through greater personalization. Perhaps more importantly, one quarter of C-level execs say they are “absolutely convinced” improved personalization — of both the user experience andmarketing — yields real, quantifiable value. In short, everyone believes personalization increases engagement in ways that drive greater revenues and profits.

When looking at the priorities for personalization among marketers, the most important issue is “to get better at understanding the customer journey,” with 63% saying this is an “essential focus” in the upcoming year.

marketing_personalization

The second most critical focus for marketers is “to create different messages and experiences for different target audiences.” 59% of marketers call this an “essential focus,” and a whopping 89% acknowledge that it is at least “important.” There is, of course, a question as to the extent brands should embark on the personalization journey. After all, personalization does not necessarily equate with “one to one” marketing, which can be economically and technically unfeasible.

Reality Check: The challenge is determining the extent to which you should personalize, and to clearly understand the value/benefit of each additional level of personalization.

5. Data Analytics

Sitting squarely at the intersection of the everything covered in this article is one thing: data analytics.

Between the explosion of digital advertising channels and plethora of new martech tools, marketers will be awash in more data than ever before. And this will be precisely the kind of data marketers need to personalize their messages and calculate ROI.

But in Black Ink’s study, 46% say they will need more advanced analytics/insight if they are going to be able to leverage all these new data streams to make smarter decisions. And despite the abundance of information available in the digital age, 31% still bemoan their inability to access more data. For financial marketers, that often includes information that’s right across the hall in another department or residing a different product silo.

data_analytics

As the Incite Group points out, marketing is increasingly becoming a data-driven discipline, and in conversations with CMOs, their next focus for hiring is the executive who can act as a translator between data-analysis and traditional marketing teams. Marketing execs must become more data literate.

Reality Check: Access to internal and external data to achieve advanced analytics reporting is woefully inadequate. Not having even moderate access to data or the tools/talent to analyze it may continue to be a constant challenge.


Building a C-Suite Savvy Digital Marketing Plan

If financial marketers hope to get the resources and budgets they want, they must first build a digital marketing roadmap and get the C-suite on board.

According to the 2016 State of Financial Marketing survey, marketing ROI, automation, digital marketing and data analytics are among the top marketing issues troubling C-level executives in the banking industry. CMOs, however, have a different list of top concerns; they worry about marketing resources — both budget and bandwidth. How could the perspectives of these groups be so different, and what needs to be done to close this critical gap?

From the research, it’s clear that financial services marketers must be doing something to address the C-suite’s questions. If not, budgets probably wouldn’t be increasing the way they are. Spending on digital media by US financial institutions exceeded $7 billion in 2015, a 14.5% gain over 2014, according to a report from eMarketer. A robust 11.7% compound annual growth rate is projected between through 2019, at which point the banking industry’s spending on “digital marketing” will top $10 billion annually.

The question is, are marketers doing the right things? Or, more bluntly, is there a digital marketing strategy? Is it linked to the organization’s overall strategy? And has all of this been effectively communicated to the C-Suite? No, according to the survey.

For instance, the vast majority of non-marketing executives believe that their organization’s social media marketing investment is not effective, while CMOs have a rosier view.

“Call it the ethos of the modern digital marketer, or call it youthful ignorance,” says digital consultant Jeff Sauer. “There is very little thought given to the strategies behind most digital marketing efforts. Most efforts employ a spray-and-pray or ready-fire-aim approach.”

How Did We Get Here?

There are four critical issues that have fueled the current disconnect between CMOs and their peers in the C-suite.

1. Linking Data To Results — Banking has always been awash in customer and transactional data. Digital advertising has created another tidal wave of data — who is opening e-mails, visiting and clicking on our website and landing pages, starting an online application? Unfortunately, 53% of non-marketing executives cite “lack of analytics” as a major marketing challenge. The reality is that most financial marketers don’t have the ability to synch these diverse databases, nor do they possess the analytical horsepower to harness this volume data (at least not in meaningful ways).

2. Inability To Link Marketing Activity To ROI — Nearly half of financial marketers confess that they struggle to quantify their impact. Unsurprisingly, that leaves 47% of marketers unsure how they should best determine the appropriate marketing budget for their institution. They are also severely challenged to create a business case for critical marketing and sales automation that would allow for more effective measurement of results and ROI.

3. Knowledge Gaps — The digital marketing landscape is changing blindingly fast, and most financial services marketers struggle to keep up. They are not effectively leveraging outside resources and subject matter experts, impeding their ability to develop a truly contemporary and cogent digital strategy. More commonly, they fall back on the “next shiny toy” approach to building a digital marketing program. Hence, 38% of non-marketing executives cite digital marketing strategy as a major concern.

4. Sitting With the Big Boys? Or At The Kids’ Table — Only 40% of financial institutions in the survey said they have a C-level marketer. This doesn’t mean that marketing is not discussed at the executive table; 56% of non-marketers agree “our C-Suite regularly engages in strategic marketing discussions.” The problem is that non-marketing execs don’t typically view marketing leaders as true peers. The top dog in the marketing department is frequently excluded from C-level discussions. However, it’s fair to question whether marketing leaders have earned this privilege.

What the Heck is Digital Marketing Anyway?

There’s no real consensus about what “digital marketing” is or isn’t, so let’s get that out of the way before we try to get everyone on the same page.

Digital marketing is made up of four distinct elements, all working together to craft a positive customer experience that (hopefully) achieves strategic objectives and generates ROI. Here they are:

1. Digital Advertising — This is what most non-marketing executives think of first when they think of “digital marketing.” Digital advertising consists very visible media — paid search, display, online video and social — that our customers and prospects hopefully see and interact with. As Marilois Snowman, CEO of Mediastruction points out, “Digital advertising plays a critical role in filling the top of the marketing funnel, generating leads for the sales force, and keeping conversations going with customers.”

2. Marketing and Sales Automation — When many non-marketing executives think of CRM, they get a furrowed brow and worry about a multi-million dollar black hole. Most marketers understand that some type of automation is needed in order to effectively use customer insights to deliver the right message and product to each customer, turn interactions (leads) into closed sales, then track and measure the resulting revenue. Products like HubSpot and SalesForce get lots of mention (commensurate with their marketing budgets) but there are many other simpler, less expensive systems designed for financial institutions that do most of what is needed.

3. Marketing Analytics — Data analytics rivals automation as the “black sheep” of digital marketing. Most CEOs and CFOs are disciples of analytics and customer insight. They just don’t think that those in marketing are effectively doing it; 53% of non-marketing executives cited “limited data analytics tools/capabilities” as a major marketing challenge.

Compounding the problem, analytical resources and customer data warehouses are often placed in departments beyond marketing’s grasp — e.g., finance or IT. Marketers are frequently left with a stand-alone “Marketing Customer Information File” (MCIF) without any of the analytical horsepower to turn the data into actionable insight. Financial institutions must find ways to combine their various rich pools of customer data, and create cross-functional teams to effectively mine them. This includes the voluminous data that can be generated from digital advertising and automation campaigns.

4. Digital Delivery — Consumers are increasingly accessing the bank through digital channels, and prospects are beginning their engagement process by visiting landing pages, websites, and online account opening programs. All of these elements need to be designed with the consumer’s needs, priorities and behaviors in mind, and they must be integrated with other channels.

Digital delivery is — at least in principle and theory — a marketing function. But typically most or all of this responsibility is considered a function of Operations. It’s imperative your financial institution take a cross-functional approach to these areas, with the organization’s overall strategy and consumers’ needs balanced at the center of the plan.

The Road Forward

So how do C-suite executives become comfortable that marketers have a command of their data, that customer insight is driving their plan, that they are using automation to customize and personalize the experience, and finally, that they have an overarching digital marketing strategy pulling all this together? Here’s how.

1. Link Insight To Action — Most marketers are already using data and analytics to drive action. For instance, we’re using customer data to create trade area targeting for direct mail and digital advertising. The next time you are making an executive presentation, don’t just show the creative materials! Start with the hypothesis you were testing and the data you used to select the target audience, offer, medium, and message.

Of course no marketing team has enough analytical resources. But the only way you’re going to get more resources is to work effectively with what you already have. Then you must clearly explain what you did and how it added value to the client and organization.

2. Close The Loop — The most common refrain heard from the C-xuite is that marketers are more focused on activities than actual results. Marketers talk in terms of CPM, clicks, reach, frequency, and engagement, while the C-suite is looking for unit sales and dollar costs, net household growth, topline revenues, etc.

Financial marketers need to close this communication gap by linking online data with “offline” sales results. A good place to start is creating low cost test-and-learn scenarios that can be optimized then scaled. This allows you to constantly be measuring the impact of your actions, refining your strategy, improving results, and ultimately “closing the communications loop.”

Read More: Marketing ROI – The Big Black Hole )

3. Automate — Financial marketers can’t be successful without marketing automation. There are automated compliance review systems like Kadince. Or a bulk email provider like ClickRSVP. Or a lead nurturing system like HubSpot. Or a campaign management system like Net-Results. Maybe even a full-fledged marketing automation system like Marketo. Wherever you are on this continuum of sophistication, you need to ensure that the C-suite understands where you are today, what results you are generating from it, where you need to go next, and how the organization will benefit.

4. The Digital Roadmap — You need to begin with your organizations strategy and your primary customer’s needs and behaviors, then “map out” the digital advertising, automation, analytics, and delivery enhancements that will bring it all to life. Pay particular attention to the benefit generated and effort/dollars expended. This “roadmap” would ideally extend out at least three years, remaining flexible enough to accommodate emerging technologies and evolving customer behaviors.

digital_marketing_roadmap

5. Communicate — All of these steps need to be encapsulated in better communications between the top marketing executive and the rest of the C-suite. Be sure you get the subject of marketing on the executive agenda — at least quarterly. And don’t just give an update on the current campaign and show creative materials; that won’t get you invited back very often. Talk about where you are on your Digital Marketing Roadmap, how consumer insight is driving your current programs (and results). Tell them how automation is making your efforts more efficient and trackable, and how your “closed loop” measurement is linking activities with results.

Learn More at The Financial Brand Forum 2016

At The Financial Brand Forum 2016, the team at Capital Performance Group will show you how to prove marketing has the power to drive performance, and demonstrate its value as a strategic investment for your institution — with the right plan, budget and strategic approach. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to link marketing investment with results to establish a clear picture of ROI for C-level executives
  • How financial marketers can create alignment with their institution’s overall corporate, strategic and financial goals
  • How marketing and the rest of the C-Suite differ in their perspectives on marketing plans and budgets
  • How to structure your marketing plan to help decision-makers understand the impact, power and importance of marketing
  • How to use the annual budgeting and planning process as a stage to redefine marketing’s role

Why Content Marketing Is Essential to Customer Relationships and Brand Awareness

Source: Business2Community

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first,” quipped entrepreneur Wendy Piersall in 2007. Want to increase the reputation of your brand online?

Content marketing is something you can’t ignore if you do marketing or advertising on the internet. If you want to attract customers and generate sales, content is crucial. From brilliant blog posts to video and more, you’ll need it to attract and close new business.

Here are a few reasons why content marketing is essential if you want your prospects to talk about your brand.

 

1. Content Marketing Builds Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with your company. It can cement your position in a competitive marketplace or in a specific niche.

Exposing your brand through content marketing is a great way to build brand mindshare. Mindshare is the amount of buzz your product or service generates. The more mindshare your business has with your prospects, the more business you’ll attract.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Create content that addresses the needs of your ideal customer on a regular basis. Depending on your niche, you might write blog posts summarizing events in your industry. You might write product tutorials or how-to guides. You might tell a story of serving a customer via case studies. You might write product reviews or film demo videos. You might share slides from a talk or write a whitepaper.
  • Encourage your readers to comment and share your content. If you want this to happen organically, you’ll have to make it useful to them.
  • Don’t forget about how people will consume your content on a mobile device. eMarketer reports that there will be over 2 billion smartphone users in 2016. Smartphones are the second most popular device used to search the web. Produce content that’s easy to view on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly too so people will have a positive experience.

2. Content Marketing Can Make Your Company an Industry Thought Leader

Thought leaders are experts in their respective niches. Publishing and sharing content over time will make you a go-to authority figure.

After I had been blogging for a few years, other companies began linking to our website. Journalists called for interviews on internet marketing topics. I appeared as a guest on podcasts. I spoke at conferences and meetings.

 

That’s not to brag. But it does prove the power of sharing your thoughts and stories.

So how can your company influence more purchasing decisions?

  • Put yourself out there. Create authoritative content that educates, informs and entertains. You may be an experienced practitioner in your industry, but are unknown. Offering up your experience can establish yourself as a specialist in your industry.
  • Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good. Your blogs and videos don’t need to be perfect. You just need to write them and film them, then share them. We write over 100 blogs per month for clients, and several good ones don’t get published because of overthinking.
  • Know your ideal prospect. Thought leadership requires a thorough understanding of your customer. Improve your credibility by citing reputable sources, checking facts and improving your social clout. Enlighten followers with expert industry-specific tips and must-read perspectives. Most importantly, write on their level, not your peers’.

3. Content Marketing Builds Trust

Creating relevant content can increase trust between your company and its customers. Having difficulty engaging with companies you want to sell to? A well-planned content marketing strategy can attract those prospects and make you a contender.

  • Don’t just talk about your products. Instead, compare your technologies with others. Write on the state of you ideal customers’ industry. Share tips that they will find useful.
  • Address the competition. Let’s face it. There are times when your competitor’s product is better than yours. Let people know the hows and whys. Both prospects and Google will reward you for it.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about price/cost. My friend Marcus Sheridan (The Sales Lion) wrote a great piece on why you should talk about price. Read it. Your honesty will build trust, even if you aren’t the least expensive option.

Providing in-depth information positions your company as a transparent resource. It will increase your online reputation and you’ll see sales as a result.

Generating top-quality content increases engagement and boosts the visibility of your brand online. If you want to increase brand awareness or become a sought-after thought leader in your niche, content marketing might be the way to go.

 


Birthing A Billion-Dollar Brand: The Launch Of Synchrony Financial

Source: Forbes

You’re the CMO of a $22 billion company and your boss asks you to launch a top-to-tail branding effort. Who’s the first person you call? Your favorite agency contact? Your most trusted team member? A recruiter? When Toni White, CMO of Synchrony Financial, was asked to rebrand the GE Capital Retail Finance business – certain to be a long, exciting and career-defining journey – the first person she called was her mom.

Bolstered by her mom’s vote of confidence, Toni was ready for what was sure to be a wild ride as far as brand efforts go. The goal was daunting. Build off the reliance, trust, and recognition imbued in GE’s storied brand, while creating a new and distinctive brand that resonates with multiple constituencies – consumers financing purchases like TVs and refrigerators, their retail partners who offer financing through Synchrony, their employees,  and prospects.

 

Getting To Work

Toni chose brand consultancy Interbrand to help lead the effort. Rather than the more leisurely 18 months for a traditional rebrand, or even 12 months for a faster-paced effort, she needed the brand ready to launch in just nine months to align with the company’s Initial Public Offering. That meant working fast, doing things in parallel that normally would be done sequentially (like gathering employee and customer feedback) and enlisting people from across the organization to engage in the process and provide  diverse perspectives and expertise.

Getting Buy In

A critical element of the re-branding was picking a new company name and logo. Toni quickly learned that picking a name for a company is like naming a child. It’s highly personal, and everyone has an opinion. From the surfeit of names that she and her team considered, they narrowed it to five, which they tested with employees, customers and partners. Synchrony Financial was the clear winner. Toni and her team learned that getting employee and customer feedback early and often turned out to be good for buy-in, and also accelerated the process.

Given the size of the organization and the many constituents that would need to promote the brand, employees were also given early and frequent hints as to what the brand would look like, what attributes it would represent, and how it would reflect the core of the company. They did this cleverly, through puzzle pieces that were sent to employees over time, each holding a clue that was core to the brand that was being developed. When they were able to complete the puzzle, they already knew the story. This had the dual purpose of building enthusiasm for what was to come, but also a way to solicit feedback on elements of the brand that needed adjustment.

The trust factor is an essential element in financial services today, particularly for consumer loan grantors who suffered the harshest blow to their reputation in the last recession. This issue is more complex for Synchrony, as the brand is presented as an option to consumers through their retail partners. As with any launch, branding Synchrony required telling their story through images, logos, URLs and tag lines, and good old-fashioned advertising. In this case, Toni and team had to find the right balance between referencing its GE heritage and launching a stand-alone brand focused on the future.

To introduce the Synchrony Financial name and brand, the tag line “Engage with us” appeared across broadcast spots, and also in more personal media like digital, out of home, and C-suite business press like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Surprisingly, the airport was a great place to capture the various constituents and earn their trust. And when it came time to rally the internal troops behind the new brand, broadcast TV helped to stoke pride and reinforce what the company does best – being deeply engaged with its partners. Now the references to the company’s heritage are more muted, though its 80-year history is still an important part of the story and the foundation of its enduring purpose and values – Bold, Responsible, Passion, Driven, Caring and Honesty.

Getting Smarter

Building a brand from scratch within a year taught Toni and the team a lot. Here are some of her most important learnings:

• Recruit smart people from across the enterprise. The first thing Toni did was to recruit resources from various areas of the company to capture diversity of thought. Not just marketing folks either. She chose individuals who worked in the call centers, sales leaders who manage client relationships, finance and investor relations leaders who talk about the company in the marketplace — to become a part of the brand team. She sought a mix of experience, function, and tenure to get the broadest representation of the company from the start.

• Buy-in has to happen early. Even with a widely sourced team, there needed to be a plan for engagement across the company and every touch-point. So much of the business is customer-facing that the brand needed to be firmly embedded in everyone’s mind the day it launched. The puzzle pieces that teased out the brand helped people join the journey in their own way, and taught them the language they would use without a forced mandate on the day of the switch-over. Launch events at every site bridged the transition in a fun way with giveaways and branded items, and messages and materials describing the evolution of the brand.  A brand “vault” provided easy and immediate access to logos and images, templates and usage guidelines, and enabled employees to order business cards and branded apparel and supplies.

• Weave the present and the future together. In such a short time span, it’s important to start from the strength of the existing brand and capitalize on that message in the transition. Many folks wanted to make a clean break from the past, but that past was strong and helped build trust. Toni and team balanced the need to embrace the past and use this to convey strength and trust built over the years, with an aspirational, fresh dynamic brand still focused on delivering for cardholders and partners.

• Begin the journey to the next stage of the brand. Remember that the brand will evolve and needs to work across the business. Early on, the Synchrony team started talking to customers and developed an enterprise platform with their advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, about why the company exists and what the company does for customers to help them get what they need. They found that what people value most, that they pioneer the future and get people what they need, turned into the “What are you working forward to?” theme line (see their video creative here) that links people to the things they aspire to. This next stage makes an emotional connection with each of Synchrony’s audiences and brings that concept to life.

The birth of a “new” company with $22 billion in market cap and 80 years of history is a challenge. How did Toni do?

David Cooperstein has been observing trends in media for over 25 years as a practitioner, analyst, and disruptor. Find him on Twitter.


How Diverse is Your Content Marketing?

Source: Business2Community

Diversity |diˈvərsitē, dī-| noun: a range of different things.

How do you consume content? Do you prefer reading? Listening? Watching? In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to have something for everyone. Whether that’s a blog, eBook, infographic, video, case study, or podcast, your prospects have different preferences for their journey through the sales funnel.

So, how do you turn your content marketing plan into a well-oiled, diverse machine?

Blog, blog, and blog

Whether you’re an eCommerce brand or a B2B Saas company, your blog can drive traffic to your website, capture subscribers, and ultimately lead to revenue. Blogs present countless opportunities to diversify your content and break up the monotonous plain text version that is so often seen.

Use a video to introduce a blog post, or change things up for your readers by embedding a SlideShare presentation into the middle of a post. Our brains process visual images 60,000 times faster than text, which means you should try your hand at creating infographics, presentations, or videos that will resonate with your readers. Tools like Canva, Adobe InDesign, and Final Cut Pro are valuable for any marketing team looking to diversify content.

Additionally, SEO and content always go hand-in-hand, so make sure to write at least 500 words, include external/internal links, and use keywords to go along with each piece. Your blog doesn’t have to be just words – and quite frankly – it shouldn’t be. Finding ways to diversify your blog content will increase the odds that your readers will feel compelled to share it across their networks.

Content Marketing Strategy

When we partnered with Nielsen’s Harris Poll Online to find out how effective referral marketing is, we had a number of statistics that we knew our prospects would find interesting. Our content team created a diverse campaign to release the statistics to our prospects, subscribers, and current customers. The campaign consisted of four main assets that would engage our target audience:

Recommended for YouWebcast: SEO in 2016: How Search Has Changed & Why Modern Marketers Must Adapt

It was a conscious decision to release each piece of content over the course of a month and we encouraged our sales team to use these statistics in their workflows. We knew that if we didn’t capture someone with the first piece of content, there would be opportunities to peak their interest later on.

In addition to organic traffic, we used paid efforts, like social ads, to increase engagement with the Nielsen statistics campaign. By boosting our content with paid campaigns, we were able to broaden our reach and increase traffic to our assets.Taking a holistic approach to marketing campaigns drives the right people to the right content.

The Customer Journey

Customer journeys are unique, they vary based on your audience. And purchases can be immediate or a lengthy process depending on your industry. What isn’t unique, is that all businesses require content to nurture their prospects as they move through the sales funnel.

“While the mere exercise of mapping your customer’s journey has value, the ultimate goal is to improve your customer’s experience by understanding what they go through at each touch point and improving the quality of that experience,” Adam Toporek writes on the Convince & Convert blog. 

The quality of the experience can be vastly improved if prospects have the opportunity to consume content that they prefer. Your diverse content will make it easier to nurture these prospects efficiently, and ultimately make it easier to close deals.

Let’s take case studies for example. These are typically shared with prospects at the bottom of the funnel. They connect your prospect to real-life examples for how your product will impact their business or life. But what if you put a face to those words? Video testimonials and written case studies make sure you have multiple options for your prospects. You can take it one step further and include clips or quotes on your website, social media channels, or during sales demos. Personally, I think the HubSpot’s customers page is the perfect example for how to combine your visual and text case studies.

Having a piece of content for each step of your sales process is a must-have for all types of organizations. Top of the funnel blog posts, podcasts, and infographics build brand awareness. eBooks and Whitepapers move things along in the middle of the funnel. And case studies, executive summaries, and product videos close the deal.

Humanize Your Brand

Showing the face behind your brand let’s your fans know that there is an actual human behind the product that they interact with on a regular basis. For instance, instead of using the same stock photos that most businesses use, take your own stock photos. (In fact, the cover image above is our Content Marketing Director and Copywriter recording our podcast, The Happy Customer, coming soon!)

“When a brand is able to make a sincere connection with a consumer, something incredibly powerful happens. Beyond mere fleeting impact, that moment of connection provides a foundation for long-term advocacy, loyalty, and a sustainable bottom line,” Moz writes on their blog. 

Content Marketing Is Not A Strategy, It’s A Necessity

Content marketing isn’t a new concept, but it’s the most valuable way for any organization that wants to earn the trust of their audience. Diversifying their options for consuming that content can only bolster that trust.

Looking for more marketing best practices? Download our eBook “More Referrals. Less Hassle.” to get started with referral marketing.
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/diverse-content-marketing-strategy-01509721#xiCrYRpGY3syTdFX.99


The bitter-sweet ads designed to win back trust in financial services

Source: The Conversation UK

How do you win the trust of consumers when the recent history of your industry is punctuated by insurance mis-selling scandals and the global financial crisis? Add to that widespread disinterest in and limited understanding of your products, which are largely to do with debt, death, disability and deferred happiness rather than living in the now, and you can sense the challenge facing those with the task of marketing financial services and making them appealing.

Historically the names and symbols of those in the financial services business helped anchor complex and intangible products to recognisable words and concepts. Financial institutions were “provident”, “prudential” or “mutual”, and were created to “secure provisions for widows” (Scottish Widows) or “for the purpose of affording clerks and others provision for old age” (Aviva). Financial brands used images of strength, stability and prudence: the beehive was common as a symbol of industry, thrift and regeneration. Ironically, Northern Rock the bank whose collapse signalled the onset of the financial crisis in the UK was distinctly rugged-sounding.

Today, one of the most recognisable symbols is the galloping black horse of Lloyds Banking Group, inherited from a 17th-century City of London goldsmith. Lloyds, founded in 1765, celebrated 250 years with a television advert featuring not mortgages or banks but the horse itself, as we follow it grow from a foal to a stallion, representing centuries of corporate history and the various stages of our own lives: birth, friendship, love, loss and change.

The bank’s current advert features the horse once more, galloping to the emotive soundtrack of Tears for Fears’ Mad World through a more human-centric life alongside the slogan: “For your next step”, for which Lloyds itself adds that it will “be by your side”. These slogans are repeated in its billboard advertisements which bear captions that range from the predictable – starting a business, buying a home – to the less saccharine, such as “I don’t love you anymore” above a parting couple, or a widow’s goodbye.

What’s implied here is that endings, as well as beginnings, are also times that bring the need to re-visit financial plans. Known as negative emotional appeal, this approach is actually characteristic of financial services providers, government public information broadcasts, and the sorts of charitable appeals that try to shock would-be donors into action.

The reason this approach is considered appropriate for the finance industry is because consumers are not only generally unaware of the sorts of financial products available: they are also unaware of the sorts of problems those financial products are designed to solve. The answer is to use graphic or sensational images or “straight-talking” to stimulate recognition of the circumstances, and therefore the need, that is the first stage towards making a purchase.

Although the use of technology is new, the message is a very familiar one. In the 1990s the now-defunct Allied Dunbar produced the memorable “For the life you don’t yet know” campaign based on the lyric “There may be trouble ahead” from Irving Berlin’s “Let’s face the music and dance”.

The campaign shared similar objectives captured in their respective taglines “for the next step” and “for the life you don’t yet know”. The message is one of building a lasting relationship with your financial provider to cope with life’s fluctuating fortunes.

Today’s marketers have coined the term “event-based marketing” to describe the process whereby key events in the lives of customers are identified as a trigger for specific marketing activities. Financial planners have long understood the life events that trigger the need for new, or a revision of existing approaches, to finance. All financial planning is undertaken from the perspective of what is known about current and future priorities.

Some viewers will undoubtedly be left with a warm, fuzzy feeling – something that research suggests can transfer into a favourable attitude towards the brand – but it’s unclear how exactly Lloyds is the “hero” of the commercial, nor how viewers will respond to an ad that contains positive and negative elements. If Lloyds’ objectives are to rebuild trust in a battered brand then the campaign may well have some impact. But we have yet to see if consumers see fit to put their faith in Lloyds to help them through life’s fluctuating fortunes.


Banking Marketing ROI: No Consensus

Source: The Financial Brand

Most financial marketers don’t really know what their efforts achieve, and for most CEOs and CFOs, there just isn’t any excuse. How can anyone figure out how much should be spent on marketing if they can’t calculate ROI? Marketers have to run the numbers and do the math.

Financial industry executives agree that measuring the results and impact of their marketing programs is hazy at best. Most have no idea how much their institutions should be spending on marketing or what they get in return for what they do spend. In an industry characterized by intense competition and razor thin margins, this has to change.

Every year, The Financial Brand fields an annual survey exploring the marketing challenges facing retail banks and credit unions. Insights from the 2016 Financial Marketing Survey reveal major gaps between how senior marketers see themselves in their role and how non-marketing executives view marketing.

What Do Our Marketing Efforts Accomplish?

There is one thing both marketing and non-marketing executives agree on: “measuring performance and proving results” is the number one challenge they face today.

marketing_roi_challenge

Taking a deeper look into how their organizations assess the success of marketing efforts, both marketers and non-marketers agree that they struggle to quantify the results and impact of their marketing, and they could do a better job establishing their marketing ROI. In fact, fully two thirds of non-marketing executives admitted they have difficulty quantifying the results and impact of their marketing efforts.

marketing_roi_struggles
marketing_roi_better

Despite the fact that executives question the ROI of marketing, they still believe that marketing is critical to their success. Strikingly, a full 93% of non-marketing C-Suite executives say that their C-suite believes marketing directly helps achieve their organization’s strategic goals. In other words, top executives want to invest in marketing, but no one is providing them evidence that the dollars spent are actually working.

Given the fact that executives can’t determine the effectiveness of their marketing spend, it should come as no surprise that they face big challenges when trying to define the appropriate marketing budget. Marketing leaders are less certain about how to do this than their non-marketing peers, with 47% concerned about their ability to accomplish this fundamental responsibility.

I Smell Smoke!

The big burning question: “What’s the ROI of marketing??”

The implications of this question are clear: in an enduring low-interest rate environment, financial institutions are struggling to maintain profitability and any expense that does not have an obvious ROI is going to be scrutinized, cut or reduced. Quite frankly, a reduction in budget is the right course of action if marketing leaders can’t demonstrate their impact on top and bottom line growth.

How did we end up here? For one thing, financial marketers tend to come from the less scientific backgrounds than many of their peers who possess powerful analytical skills. To their credit, their right brain dominance helps them create the innovative programs needed to cut through the clutter and set their institutions apart. But in the Digital Age, marketers need more left brain computing power. You can’t manage a marketing plan successfully these days without being able to crunch numbers.

In all fairness, much of marketing wasn’t measurable until recently. But with all the digital marketing and media metrics available today, there’s no excuse; they should be drowning in numbers. There’s no reason to be talking about soft metrics like “clicks” and “engagement” when C-level executives are concerned with sales and revenue. What’s the correlation??

Unfortunately, the financial industry has been late to jump on the “marketing analytics bandwagon.” CEOs and CFOs read Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Quarterlyarticles that tell them that “all marketing activities are measurable.” “Why aren’t ours??”

CEOs and CFOs are feeling acute pressure to cut every nonessential dollar of expense, and most marketers have not been able to demonstrate that their programs are actually an investment in the bank’s future income stream.

Marketing leaders at banks and credit unions are feeling the heat, and rightfully so. Clearly they need to grab the reins and demonstrate — through data and facts — that what they are doing is achieving quantifiable results.

The Buyer’s Journey

In the old days, financial marketers bought a range of traditional media — radio, newspaper and TV (as their budgets permitted). In recent years, they have augmented these with digital display, paid search and social media advertising. The fundamental principle underpinning these media plans assumes that broad reach and a high level of frequency will ensure that prospects see the message multiple times. The problem with this approach is that the marketer is paying for a considerable amount of waste.

Today, smart marketers begin with a clear understanding of what type of customer is being targeted, and how that customer researches and buys the product in question. There have been huge leaps forward in how both consumer behavior and media consumption patterns can be tracked, analyzed and segmented. That allows financial marketers to have a pretty accurate read on what specific media are being used at each step of the “buying journey.” Utilizing tools like Scarborough and Nielsen are critical to making sure that money is being focused where it is most likely to advance consumers through the buying funnel.

Media Mix Modeling

Until recently, only companies like Bank of America and Proctor & Gamble could marshal the dollars and analytical horsepower to run mathematical models that determine exactly what medium and what ad was influencing a consumer to consider and buy their company’s product.

Media mix modeling uses complex math — multivariate statistics, regression analysis and genetic algorithms — to correlate media spend with actual sales. Companies like MarketShare, Google Analytics 360 and Visual IQ pioneered this type of analytical methodology over the past decade. And that’s why some of their services run upwards of $250,000 per year.

Fortunately for smaller organizations, similar methodologies are available today for a fraction of that cost. If a financial institution can provide at least three years of media plans and sales results, there are many different third-party service providers that can help them determine what drives sales and what doesn’t. Typically, an institution could invest around 2% of their overall budget into this type of ROI analysis and wind up saving 10-20% through reduced waste and more precise targeting.

The Great Branding Misunderstanding

Branding appears to be an enigma among both marketers and their non-marketing peers. The vast majority (93%) of institutions say they have formal branding initiatives underway, and about one quarter of all their marketing resources are being allocated to brand-building activities. And yet, the objectives, measurement and ROI of these activities are all in question. According to the study, 53% of marketing leaders and an astonishing 68% of non-marketing executives say they have not been able to clearly establish the ROI of their branding initiatives. Worse, only 22% of non-marketing execs believe that their branding initiatives have yielded positive results.

roi_branding

Branding has long been a “black sheep” in financial marketing. CMOs deeply believe that their company will be forced to compete on price if they lack a strong, differentiated and well-articulated brand. Other C-level execs — often believing that a “brand” is little more than a logo or tagline… or worse, wasteful and fluffy ad campaigns — prefer to deflect the conversation toward product sales. They intuitively see a connection between product marketing and ROI; they do not, however, understand how an investment in branding translates into anything concrete or tangible on the balance sheet.

Branding is certainly critical if a financial institution hopes to grow market share and rise above the me-too din of rate-based, fee-sensitive offers. But this isn’t achieved by running hollow “brand spots” that feature warm cuddly children and puppies… just like many other brands do today.

No, what is needed is a clear understanding of what exactly sets your organization apart from others. Who specifically are you trying to attract? What is important to them? What unique value proposition do you have for them? Only after answering these essential questions are you ready to launch a truly effective “brand campaign” that can drive results. If you watch market leaders in other industries, their “brand” campaigns often feature differentiated products. This brings up an important lesson: branding and product don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Strong, well-defined brands know who they are, who they serve and what they stand for. This makes it much more easy to innovate new products and solutions that resonate with your target market and differentiate your brand in fresh ways.

Another critical lesson here is that brand building is never accomplished only through advertising. In fact, there are compelling case studies from companies like Zappos that suggest that exceptional client experience and social word of mouth can be at least as effective in getting your name out there. Have you ever seen an ad for Zappos? And yet you probably have a good idea of what their brand is about.

No matter how you decide to build your brand, it should boil down to simple math — the kind of equation that any CFO would love. You need to increase unaided awareness of your brand so that when a prospect decides to change banking providers, they think of you (or at least places you in the consideration set). But, it’s not enough for them to just think of you — they need to think good things about you. That’s called “creating brand preference.” Increasing awareness — then managing and increasing conversions through the consideration and preference stages — drives increased sales.

What’s more, while large organizations often have an advantage with brand awareness, they often struggle creating brand preference. In the chart below, 94% of the public is aware of Mega Brand, but only 14% would prefer to do business with it. Contrast that with the smaller Challenger Brand, whose awareness is only half as much, but because it is well liked and respected, the challenger does a much more effective job converting awareness into preference. Even though the Challenger Brand is much smaller, their share of switchers is more than double that of Mega.

challenger_brand_awareness_consideration_preference

This is how the math of branding works. And calculating what one percentage point of growth in commercial loan or retail deposit market share is worth helps you size how much time and money your organization should be spending on building a strong positive brand image.

Learn More at The Financial Brand Forum 2016

The Financial Brand Forum is a conference that’s all about maximizing the return on your marketing investment. Every session in the agenda is dedicated to just one thing: showing retail financial institutions how to accelerate growth — how to amplify their brand, acquire new relationships and cultivate the ones they’ve got.

At The Financial Brand Forum 2016, the team at Capital Performance Group will show you how to prove marketing has the power to drive performance, and demonstrate its value as a strategic investment for your institution — with the right plan, budget and strategic approach. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to link marketing investment with results to establish a clear picture of ROI for C-level executives
  • How financial marketers can create alignment with their institution’s overall corporate, strategic and financial goals
  • How marketing and the rest of the C-Suite differ in their perspectives on marketing plans and budgets
  • How to structure your marketing plan to help decision-makers understand the impact, power and importance of marketing
  • How to use the annual budgeting and planning process as a stage to redefine marketing’s role

Crafting Double-Duty Transactional Emails With Marketing Messages

Source: The Financial Brand 

Imagine… An accountholder at your financial institution — we’ll call her Emily — has just received her monthly email notice telling her that her new statement is available. Emily waits until her lunch hour to open it, figuring she’ll use the link in the e-mail to log into online banking, but what she sees in the email gives her reason to pause.

Along with the predictable information such emails usually contain, Emily finds details about a special, limited-time auto loan rate your financial institution is offering. Emily thinks to herself, “Wasn’t I just discussing a new car with my boyfriend the other day? What perfect timing!” So Emily hops onto your website website and submits a request for an appointment to discuss a new auto loan with one of your lending specialists.

The email Emily received in this example was doing double duty — blending both transactional and marketing messages. But before going further, let’s take a step back and define precisely what transactional emails are.

Transactional Emails: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

Transactional emails are messages sent to customers after they’ve completed a specific task (e.g., a confirmation for submitting an application), or messages that are automatically generated on a recurring schedule (e.g., monthly receipts from accounts set up with auto-pay). Emails notifying people of potentially fraudulent activity on their accounts, and notifications of changed passwords are other common examples. Typically, most people welcome transactional messages; they are expected and appreciated. But these are transactional emails serving their primary function — conveying basic information.

Because transactional emails contain messages that people want or need, they tend to have dramatically higher open rates and higher click-through rates than other types of emails — often 2-3 times as high.

The superior performance of these types of messages give you a phenomenal cross-selling opportunity. By adding strategically deliberate and helpful content to your transactional emails, you can not only impart the information people need/expect, but also entice them with marketing messages that help build your brand and your bottom line.

5 Ideas for Double-Duty Transactional Emails

The most successful double-duty emails are customer-focused, timely, and relevant. Here are five ideas for how you can leverage typical transactional messages to engage consumers like Emily.

1.) Welcome/Success Messages. Many financial institutions send people a message after they’ve activated their online banking account. These emails can include instructions for the online banking system, or a link to step-by-step, how-to guides. Provide the recipient a way to receive help online, over the phone, or via email. But you can also incorporate a branding message from your institution. In the example below, a credit union can embed a graphic telling new members how their membership will be making a difference in their community.

 

2.) Account Notifications. Financial institutions often send email notifications after online or phone transactions have been completed, or warnings when suspicious activity is flagged. These account alerts can be used to notify people about other security features and services available.

3.) Confirmations & Receipts. Confirmation messages can be used as a way to showcase other relevant banking products or services. For instance, an ATM receipt emailed to someone could be used to remind them that your institution offers mobile remote deposit.

 

4.) Reminders. Financial institutions frequently send messages to members who forgot their login credentials and those who want bill-pay prompts. These reminder messages provide another great opportunity for cross-selling. For example, at the bottom of a bill-pay reminder for a rent payment, you could include a relevant call-to-action about home loans. Even emails related to password resets can have something short and simple tacked on at the end: “Did you know Your Bank is open Saturdays? Click here for hours and a location near you.”

5.) Monthly Statements. You can do more than just provide a link to the online banking login page. These emails should always contain snippets of information beyond the basics — promote new services and different types of accounts. For instance, an email telling someone that their statement is ready might say, “Do you have enough money in your account to cover an emergency or unexpected expenses? Now is a great time to create a rainy day fund. Click here to get started.”

Key Takeaways

Considering the high levels of engagement with transactional emails — and the infrequency with which financial institutions use them — adding this extra little touchpoint to your marketing mix can help you increase products per household.

Just remember, when creating transactional emails, always make sure the transactional portion is at the top of the message, and place marketing messages at the bottom. You can also provide links to give recipients the opportunity to sign up for other email communications.

By making your transaction emails do double duty, you can provide people with relevant information in unexpected ways. So next time your IT and accounting teams are preparing a batch of transactional emails, why not ask, “What marketing message might we include that Emily would find interesting?”


Cameron Madill is CEO of PixelSpoke, a digital marketing agency focused on community banks and credit unions. He is a digital marketing expert who has won numerous awards, including recognition as one of “Portland’s 40 Under 40″ business people. You can connect with Cameron on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Bank Marketing: Dump Data Scientists — Try Marketing By Walking Around

Source: Forbes 

The “2016 Guide to Financial Marketing” published by the Digital Banking Report doesn’t actually say banks should give up on marketing analytics, but in showing how bad they are at it, the report inadvertently makes a pretty strong case for dumping sophisticated customer data analysis and trying something else.

Perhaps get out of the office to talk with customers directly, or through social media, or have marketers man the phones in call centers occasionally. It’s been years since Management By Walking Around was first promoted by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in their book In “Search of Excellence,” but an occasional stroll may provide a useful break from staring at charts on computer screens. A corporate flaneur, possibly?

The 56-page report is full of stats and bar charts broken down by large banks, community banks and credit unions, but marketing ignorance is a recurring theme. Banks lag in personalized digital marketing, and few banks — even fewer than in previous years — are measuring results.

In part that is because experience has shown results are hard to measure, and are usually credited to whichever channel had the first or last contact. So a customer who has seen billboards, received emails, been exposed to ads on Facebook FB +0.20% but finally signs a home equity loan in a branch will probably be credited to the branch alone.

“Multichannel attribution is the key to good marketing optimization, yet too many financial marketers still rely on a first or last touch attribution measurement system. This misses the intricacies of the overall consumer purchase journey. A bigger challenge is that most financial marketers aren’t measuring results at all.”

How much worse off would banks be if they stopped trying analytics and talked with customers?

Publisher Jim Marous in his introduction notes that: “Unfortunately, the financial services industry as been slow to adjust their marketing investments and strategies to respond to the new digital landscape.”


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This short, checklist-style guide will help you revise the way you manage your marketing and sales processes, giving you the ultimate guide to a smart and efficient marketing machine for your financial services firm.
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This short, checklist-style guide will help you revise the way you manage your marketing and sales processes, giving you the ultimate guide to a smart and efficient marketing machine for your financial services firm.
A quick jumpstart to your business