2018 was a year of noise, volatility and competition for most companies within the consumer and the B2B finance space. With banks acquiring fintechs, fintechs acquiring banks and GDPR being the curse-word of most boardroom conversations, marketers certainly faced new challenges in their sectors.
Why is finance a challenge for marketers?
2018 was the year GDPR and PSD2 kicked in, after months, if not years of warnings. European legislations slammed the marketing brakes, shunted growth for new customer acquisition, and forced organisations to rethink the marketing funnel, customer journey and business as a whole. Being a fairly regulated industry in most markets, be that Basel iii forcing banks have bigger, safer balance sheets, or regulators cracking down on misleading advertisements, finance companies had their fair share of challenges.
Not to mention, certain areas of finance, in particular, fintech, insurance and banking had several new market entrants which have deep pockets to acquire customers. This certainly led to an inflation of CPC. On an analysis of over 175m ad impressions and 7m clicks on Google ads, the median CPC across a variety of verticals has more than doubled in the last year.
With all of this in mind, what should finance marketers be thinking about as they plan for 2019? Here are 5 considerations for the outlook for 2019:
Partnerships are key for growth
We certainly saw the snowball effect of many larger banks, financial institutions and other brands partnering with smaller more agile companies to benefit both parties.
For larger, well-established brands, offering their customers something cutting edge without having to deal with legacy in-house systems and technical complexity is hard, so partnering up with fintechs, software and technology providers was a trend that we don’t see slowing down in 2019. It’s also important to remember, in a year of volatility and uncertainty, many companies have held back on spending, so as soon as there is certainty in the economy and growth starts up again, companies will have deep pockets to spend on growth and partnerships, so whatever side of the boat you’re on, partnerships = opportunities.
Native content will rule
We were going to suggest that ‘content is king’, but when wasn’t that the case? It’s thought that around 2 million blog posts are created every day, so it’s no surprise that most major brands have content which is drowned out. Furthermore, everyone says ‘write longer blog posts to get seen on Google’, but have you considered the customer? With the Generation-Netflix consuming the internet in small bitesize doses, surely writing a 5 Point Guide with a few charts is better than uploading a finance trends thesis onto the blog will be better for the customer?
That’s why we’d bank on native content, that is, carefully curated sponsored context which is considerately placed underneath relevant blogs or websites. In doing so, you’re targeting audiences in a less obtrusive way, targeting the customer at the top of the funnel, and building advocacy, trust and loyalty. We’ve seen this a lot in the asset management space, but it’s not long before most finance brands will consider native content as BAU marketing.
Investing in brand is worth its weight in gold
Disney, Nike and Coca Cola, what do they all have in common? Brand. For some, brand consideration is low priority, but during times of turmoil, uncertainty and cutting back in costs, brand advocacy can act as a stable rock in a volatile environment. Many finance companies have invested in film, webinars, podcasts and real events to connect to potential customers and showcase their thought leadership and industry specialism. How can small finance brands with limited marketing budget invest in brand? Well, brand and brand recognition are primarily human associations, and spreading messages through word of mouth, phone calls, emails and events are key, which don’t cost the earth, and can be very effective.
Content is nothing without amplification
It’s always embarrassing for a marketer to log back in to their analytics portals and report a meagre handful of pageviews for a blog post or page that their team spent a significant amount of resource building.
If the content is something you’re proud of, why wouldn’t you showcase it, shout and scream about it, and make people want to read it?
We used to focus on producing reams of content, at the expense of low quality, and admittedly, low value articles. But by scrapping that strategy for intent driven content that our readers loved, we were happy to share amongst our social feeds, other blogging platforms (e.g. Medium) and through email. MissingLettr has been a huge time saver and effective way of syndicating the content without spending hours scheduling posts. The results were better than the high-volume low-quality post strategy, and we’re confident that this strategy will cut through the noise in 2019.
Having a voice and react fast
Most breaking news from world leaders came via Twitter in 2018, and the idea of dynamic, fast moving news is now the norm.
Finance companies tended to either shy away from big topics (e.g., Brexit, or the US-China Trade War) and not cover them at all, or be at the forefront / leading authority. People ask questions, people Google and search for news, and many are looking for industry leaders to have a voice, suggest tips and be the voices of reassurance or calm. We think that 2019 will have a tumultuous start, so better to be on the bus and shouting out loud than not on it at all.
It’s not all about reactivity though. Having assigned templates ready to go for different scenarios (e.g. a ‘Breaking News, US Congress Releases XX News… What Does This Mean for Trade?) or even having a list of journalists ready to contact and answer questions or give advice to in the case of certain scenarios such as political war, interest rate changes, currency fluctuations or data breaches.
2019 isn’t all doom and gloom though. For marketers, the industry is changing, and our role as marketing leaders is to cut through the noise, offer clarity, trusted advice and useful information, shaping the new era for marketing finance as we step into 2019.
All aboard 2019!