Salesforce surveyed over 500 financial services marketing leaders worldwide, and discovered interesting trends on their marketing priorities, data, marketing technology, and personalisation.

Financial services organisations today are facing a myriad of challenges:

  • People living longer, with diverse financial requirements
  • Uncertain economic outlook
  • Competition from new business models and new players entering the market
  • Fast pace of business change, driven by digitisation
  • Increasing competition for talent
  • Balancing business needs with regulatory requirements

In addition to this, customer expectations have risen exponentially. In terms of the experience you provide to your customers, your brand no longer competes with other financial services brands, but with all brands.

This means financial services organisations unavoidably need to focus on upgrading the digital experience to service customers better, provide personalised experiences for every customer at scale, integrate their websites with numerous systems and applications, and learn to use data to inform decision-making as part of their digital transformation journey.

76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, yet as few as 47% of financial services marketers adapt their marketing strategy and tactics based on customer interactions.

Financial marketing services
Financial Services Marketing Trends (Salesforce)

Salesforce research discovered that financial services marketers are focusing on:

  1. Engaging with customers at their exact moment of need in real time
  2. Investing in the channels that provide the best return
  3. Embracing customer journey strategies that consider the individual’s entire relationship with their company

In our view, these changes are coming too slow across the industry, and the trends – whilst welcome and necessary – need to accelerate rapidly. Financial services organisations that don’t quickly invest in the areas and the technology required to meet customer needs will soon be left behind.

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Trend 1: Adapting to meet customer expectations

Engaging with customers in real time is the top priority amongst financial services marketers.

A study conducted by Accenture, which surveyed 33,000 financial services consumers in 18 countries across all generations and incomes, found that 73% of consumers expect personalised products and services in exchange for their data when it comes to investment advice. This number reduced but was still significant – 63% when it comes to banking and insurance services.

This means financial services organisations have started to invest in technology and a set-up which enables customers to interact with their brand across channels without losing context, delivering dynamic content in the right place, at the right time, to the right person, on the right device.

Many financial services marketers are turning to digital experience platforms with marketing automation, and personalisation, and artificial intelligence (AI) built in, in order to bring their digital experience capabilities up to a level that meets the needs and wants of customers.

In fact, nearly half of financial marketers are planning to use AI within the next two years.

Financial marketing services
Financial Services Marketing Trends (Salesforce)

What’s interesting is that the three main drivers of AI adoption are:

  • Personalise the overall customer journey
  • Deliver predictive journeys
  • Drive real-time offers

Financial services is not alone as an industry trying to make in-roads into predictive, contextual personalisation across the entire customer journey. It’s what consumers expect.

Investing in the technology and a platform that allows marketers to: specify the conditions under which website content is delivered to a visitor, based on where they’ve come from or what they do; dynamically adapt the content shown to different website visitors, in real time; and assess where people are on their journey, using triggers to move them through the journey based on where they are at any given moment, is something financial services organisations need to investigate now, not in twelve months’ time. By then, it may be too late!

Trend 2: More channels + more data = more chances

In an effort to hit consumers when and where they might be, and to reach more potential customers, financial services marketers are increasing the number of channels they employ. The average financial services marketer currently uses 8 channels, and plans to increase this to 13.

Financial marketing services
Financial Services Marketing Trends (Salesforce)

Financial services marketers are also using more data to garner a better picture of customer profiles and customer situations, in order to deliver the highly personalised experiences customers expect.

With all these channels and the increase in data sources, consolidating this customer data into one location is high on the marketing priority list, and another reason for financial services marketers to invest in a digital experience platform. Half of financial services marketers say the ability to provide individualised experiences – by uniting all known and unknown customer data – is a critical marketing technology requirement.

Only 47% of financial services marketers have a completely unified view of customer data sources.

A digital experience platform would allow financial services marketers to connect and collect data from third-party data sources like CRMs, PoS, ERP, and other systems into one database for a holistic 360-degree view of the customer. Customer data from the CRM system can be fed into the digital experience platform database to enable deeper personalisation, and marketing data from campaigns and website interactions could be added into your CRM system so that both systems know exactly what the customer or prospect has been doing, what they responded to, what worked, and what didn’t.

Trend 3: Focusing on the customer journey

Customers today expect the same brand experience when they visit your website, when they phone your call centre, and when they buy one of your products or services.

Breaking down departmental siloes, having the right technology in place, and using data to deliver specific content to specific customer segments, people who may well change segment along the user journey based on life-style and life changes, so they can always be provided with a relevant, fully personalised experience, is what is required.

Real-time omni-channel engagement, meeting the hopes and needs of these customers, is the new Holy Grail for financial services marketers.

87% of financial services marketers say refining customer journey strategies is a priority.

Financial services marketers realise that creating compelling digital experiences builds more intimate relationships and cultivates loyal, lifetime customers – and that their department can lead the way for the organisation.

Introducing Sitecore

Sitecore is a flexible and powerful digital experience platform. It comes with a raft of marketing features that solve your digital challenges. From content management to personalisation and marketing automation to analytics, Sitecore helps you deliver highly optimised, personalised experiences that deliver a better customer experience and improved marketing and business results.

  • World-class multi-language content management: Many financial services firms operate on a global scale. Sitecore makes things easy by allowing you to upload, create, manage, and publish content across different pages and fully mobile-optimised websites, in different languages, all from the same platform.
  • Personalisation perfection: Sitecore has been built to provide you with a 360-degree view of your customers. You have a database which collects customer data and tracks a visitor’s interactions, and a personalisation rules engine which reads this data in real time. This enables you to deliver personalised content in the right place, at the right time, for the right person to give clients a superior digital experience.
  • Rubber-tight approval workflows: With numerous offices comes multiple content owners and website editors. Sitecore’s content versioning keeps an audit trail to review and compare different versions of the same page or components, and all content can be pushed through an approval workflow that you define, making sure the right people have seen and signed off public-facing marketing materials.
  • Impressive search functionality: Many financial services firms create and manage hundreds, if not thousands, of content assets. Multiply this ten-fold with different languages and you could have a content crisis on your hands. Sitecore gives you an industry-leading search function that allows both website editors and clients to quickly find the content they need.
  • Sleek marketing automation: Sitecore Marketing Automation nurtures prospects, clients, and website visitors by delivering real-time, automated responses triggered by actions completed during user journeys. For example, a known client visits a landing page with a form to download a document, but they don’t fill it in. You could send them an email to check whether they had just forgotten or were looking for something else.
  • Advanced analytics: Sitecore Analytics shows you all the visitor interactions with your website across Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour, and Conversion. You can assign and track events, goals, and conversions, as well as campaigns – just like Google Analytics. And you can also track engagement value (goals) and visitor profiles by assigning them to website content, helping you to ascertain whether visitors engage with a page and show more propensity to be clients.

We've delivered Sitecore websites to financial services companies like M&G Investment, Liontrust and Seven Investment Management. For the financial services firm wanting to adapt to changing customer needs, manage customer data, and deliver exceptional digital experience across the entire customer journey, Sitecore is the technology you need.