Financial Services marketing trends for 2021 [Report and expert advice]

The ever-changing landscape of Financial Services marketing. Keep up to date with the latest trends and innovations integrated across our RACE Framework to optimize your customers’ journeys

Financial Services is both a highly competitive and highly regulated sector. Cost per customer acquisition is high, and encouraging customer loyalty in younger, digitally savvy audiences is challenging given that new challenger banks, neobanks, and aggregator services encourage switchers to seek better deals. But what does that mean for your Financial Services marketing strategy?

Understanding the marketing communications trends at play in the Financial Services sector is imperative for all existing businesses and offers great opportunities to new startups and challengers.

To inspire innovation in your business, we’ve collated 9 of the latest trends and best-practice examples of Financial Services marketing. Download our free report to discover all the trends in full.

Financial Services marketing trends 2021

Accelerate your growth in 2021 with trends, examples, and practical strategy integrated with our RACE Framework

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Budget X2

PLAN: Omnichannel Financial Services marketing

At Smart Insights, we define omnichannel marketing to include both managing customer
experience and marketing communications:

Planning and optimizing always-on and campaign-focused marketing communications tools across different customer lifecycle touchpoints to maximise leads and sales – all the while delivering a seamless customer experience to encourage customer loyalty.

The number of online and offline channels that need to be orchestrated is shown by the RACE customer lifecycle visual featured here

Omnichannel Financial Services Marketing

The rapid digitization of Financial Services to create convenience and more touchpoints with consumers requires an intimate understanding of this lifecycle if businesses want sustained growth in the digital space. The difference in customer expectations is summarized by this visual which shows customer expectations.

Financial Services Customer Journey

Benchmarking the service experience compared to competitor banks can highlight the
difference in expectations as this research from Built By Mars shows.

Banking User Experience

The challenge of omnichannel for Financial Services marketing

“Omnichannel marketing is about providing appropriate and relevant content across different channels that ties together to create a unified message, without becoming repetitive.

Many companies try but fail to build an omnichannel experience for every channel and customer. Leaders should instead limit their focus to the top two or three cross-channel customer interactions.”
– McKinsey, July 2020

Another McKinsey article – The balancing act: Omnichannel excellence in retail banking – highlights the value of focusing on how digital marketing tactics can support omnichannel experiences.

The authors explain:
“As banks continue to make progress in digitizing the customer experience, they must also remember that omnichannel includes the critical human side of the equation. To maximize sales, banks must effectively combine digital and human channels to create a seamless omnichannel offering.

One European bank that implemented changes at scale saw consistent sales growth of as much as 20 percent over two to three years, suggesting that the benefits of optimizing omnichannel capabilities are ongoing and significant”.

This movement towards creating services and offers that are more personalized and more in tune with customers means that being at the forefront of digital marketing trends is critical to reach new and existing audiences.

The year in personal finance

Research from Google determined that there were significant patterns over a calendar year
when people were more engaged in certain financial products at certain times of the year.

The underlying implication is that while money may be on everyone’s mind for most of the year, there are times when they are likely to be more interested in specific products or offers.

Personal Finance Marketing

At the same time, banking organizations should be working on rebuilding consumer trust. Financial Services overall that are focused on quality customer experience, building stronger relationships, and using data to deliver the tailored experiences consumers crave will be more successful.

By moving your marketing tactics to be more in line with what consumers expect and demand, and employing an optimized strategic approach, you will be able to grow your brand at a local and global level.

The latest digital marketing tactics that we review in the later sections of this report fit within the context of the broader trend of digitization of the Financial Services customer journey.

Financial Services digitization in an omnichannel world

Digitization has been gradually occurring for many years with the percentage of customers who are willing to purchase digitally gradually increasing. This naturally varies depending on the complexity of the product and the maturity of the market.

The McKinsey article presents this data showing how, for some simple retail banking propositions like savings accounts and credit cards, the vast majority of customers in Northern Europe are now willing to purchase digitally. However, there is a lower preference for digital purchase in southern Europe.

Complex Financial Services Products

More complex products like loans and mortgages have much lower digital purchase rates and a large gap between willingness to buy online and actual purchase rates. This suggests the opportunity for increasing digital sales will require a multi-touch approach that works seamlessly with customer preferences for using offline channels to discuss the purchase decision, particularly for more complex products.

This visualization from the Verint Experience Index of the customer journey for a loans product shows customers cross-device use multiple touchpoints on the path to conversion.

This means that people expect to be able to pick up where they left off regardless of device or physical location.

Another point to note is that physical attendance in branches for big decision products is still very strong. This means that while you may be focusing on digitization remember to consider how this will work alongside the physical experience in branches.

Cross Device Digital Marketing

This may change significantly based on the ongoing physical restrictions due to COVID and as this US-based research shows there is a large gap between willingness to use remote advice (i.e. the website or assisted sales like livechat) and reported activity).

Remote Advice And Digital Product Purchase

The goal is to create and maintain omnichannel engagement through agile dynamic targeting. This allows for coordinated programs of cross-channel engagement to be tailored for individual preferences.

Your Financial Services omnichannel marketing strategy

As a Financial Services company, you will need to tweak your marketing accordingly based on your customers’ emotional motivations for their financial transactions and by integrating the power of customer segmentation (banking, savings, investments, etc.) you can tailor bespoke marketing campaigns and reach your right target audience. Addressing your key customer concerns so they know you also care about what troubles them.

“What are your biggest pain points?’ and ‘What are they looking for in a financial product at the moment?’ are good questions you can ask them and then take it off from there.

Omnichannel Financial Services marketing recommendations

Without an Omnichannel mindset, you may be missing out on crucial opportunities to improve your financial Services brand experience across all channels, at every stage of the buying funnel.

We’ve got marketing solutions to support you to optimize your digital marketing strategy and win more customers. Business Members can utilize our paid media investment learning path module. This dedicated module will help you discover options for reaching, converting, and retaining key customers across important platforms for your business, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Omnichannel Financial Services marketing is just one of our 9 curated 2021 Financial Services marketing trends. Download our free report to discover all the trends in full.

Financial Services marketing trends 2021

Accelerate your growth in 2021 with trends, examples, and practical strategy integrated with our RACE Framework

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Budget X2

REACH: Improving organic search

When you understand how your customers are searching, and what they’re searching for, you gain a greater understanding of what matters to them – and that’s an advantage for any business.

Google identified five general key themes:
1. Convenience
2. Reassurance
3. Value
4. Inspiration
5. Uniqueness

However, when it comes to finance, these themes are perceived in slightly different ways. For example, a growth in searches for everything from “best credit cards” to “business bank accounts” also shows we’re investing our time in research, before we invest our money. This can be seen as a
combination of value, convenience and reassurance and possibly less about inspiration.

Furthermore, a growth in searches for different ways to pay suggests searchers are interested in convenience and looking at financial solutions that better allow them to make purchases in a variety of ways, both online and offline.

Increasingly search is being used to answer big money questions – whether it’s mortgage
calculators or term deposit accounts with better interest rates. There has also been growth in searches for “business savings accounts” suggesting people are becoming more entrepreneurial, and interested in becoming self-employed.

Smart Insights business members are using our gap analysis template to optimize search opportunities

Share of Search is a useful measure for reviewing the effectiveness of both organic and paid search marketing. It is particularly critical to competitiveness for businesses in the financial service sector where there are high-involvement products where people show high search intent and volume by searching for product information as part of the buying process. Find out more about business membership.

The Financial Services Consumer Journey Begins Online

For many Financial Services consumers, search is the first step to assess their options. Whether people are looking for loans and mortgages, or other Financial Services consumers start their journey with an online search.

Mobile searches related to financial planning and management have grown and in our mobile-first world, many Financial Services searches are run on smartphones, which makes calling an agent more seamless than ever before.

93% of check cashing consumers, 81% of loans and mortgage consumers, and 54% of tax return preparation consumers did not have one company in mind while searching. This presents a golden opportunity to convert these undecided searchers.

Customer Search Financial Services

After running a search, loan and mortgage consumers spend an average of $28,435. Banking consumers spend an average of $3,432. Accounting consumers spend an average of $683. Each undecided searcher represents a major revenue opportunity for your company.

Average Amount Spent After Search

Best practice SEO case study: QuoteSearcher

Objectives and aims

QuoteSearcher needed a bespoke digital PR campaign that would not only gain coverage in
high-end national and international publications but also improve brand awareness and have a positive impact on their overall SEO campaign. The main commercial objective for the campaign was to gain press coverage for QuoteSearcher in national and niche insurance news outlets as well as naturally earn links and traffic to the QuoteSearcher website.

Implementation, execution, and tactics

Numerous target demographics and industry sectors were analysed to create a campaign that both QuoteSearcher’s target audience and journalists would respond to positively.
Using data from a survey commissioned to YouGov, a dedicated landing page was created on SMEs opinions on the EU Referendum that included:

  • A bespoke, fully-interactive online graph allowing multiple datasets to be cross-referenced
    at one time.
  • Headlines from the research with follow up information for quick and easy insights.
  • Graphs and imagery to illustrate data and findings.


QuoteSearcher’s campaign gained coverage in numerous national and international newspapers, both print and online, including The Independent, The Daily Express, International Business Times, London School of Economics, and City AM.

From this coverage, the total digital reach was over 190k whilst the estimated offline reach
was over 1.1 million. The QuoteSearcher website gained high authority links and the campaign increased awareness of the QuoteSearcher brand. Awareness was also increased amongst target demographics via news coverage as well as providing multiple SEO benefits, including increased Domain Authority and natural links from quality sites.

Voice-activated search

This started from the smartphone trend of voice assistants, where Apple and Google introduced voice assistants on their smartphone operating systems. We now have voice interactions through the likes of Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa/Echo. This is a major trend across all the main digital platform providers.

Global WebIndex report that 20% of adults have used mobile voice search or voice command tools at least once a month. As expected, a higher proportion of younger age groups prefer voice search, showing the potential for voice search to grow.

Smartspeaker interactions

The increasing popularity of smartspeakers has increased the potential of voice commerce, but it’s unlikely to affect Financial Services to the same extent. However, it’s a trend that should be assessed.

According to research by Computerlove and Mediacom North, the daily use of voice assistants inthe UK has risen significantly in the past 12 months.

  • Seven out of 10 people who own a voice-controlled device now use it on a daily basis, up from four in 10 a year ago.
  • 93% of voice device owners now use it at least once a week, up from 83% in 2018.
  • One in five people are heavy users, interacting with their voice assistant at least five times per day.
  • 32% of respondents said they have more than one device in their home.

Voice Search For Financial Services

Recommendations to improve your Financial Services company’s reach

Improving your approach to SEO in 2021 is undoubtedly a good choice. Solid SEO theory, implemented thoughtfully and with attention to detail, builds an incredibly strong foundation on which to build organic – and technically ‘free’ – growth.

We say ‘free’ with some amount of hesitation as you clearly need to invest time and resources into identifying opportunities and acting upon them. However, the great thing about SEO is that it can complement your efforts in paid media, and support you in times of instability. If you turn off your paid ads, nobody will see them – but if you also have an effective organic presence you will still bring in traffic.

Sound good? Learn how you can make organic search and technical SEO work for you – whether you’re already well versed or you’re somewhat of a novice – with our SEO Learning Path for individual and business members.

To begin your journey to improving your company’s reach, download our Financial Services marketing trends guide. It’s packed with concepts, examples, and opportunities to bring your knowledge up to date and ultimately apply a data-driven approach to your marketing strategy.

Organic search is just one of our 9 curated 2021 Financial Services marketing trends. Download our free report to discover all the trends in full.

Financial Services marketing trends 2021

Accelerate your growth in 2021 with trends, examples, and practical strategy integrated with our RACE Framework

Get Started Today

Budget X2

ACT: Experience optimization and digital payment trends

“UX is hygiene and no longer a nice to have”
– Martin Parker; Senior UX Consultant, Old Mutual

Perhaps the most major change within digital Financial Services is its approach to UX and product design.

The Financial Services industry has traditionally created UX and design experiences from an expert’s point of view but this has significantly changed with a greater understanding of UX being about the digital customer combined with a data-driven process of customer insight. As a consequence, banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions are now building strong in-house design capabilities that are shaping new product design and development.

Examples of this change include Direct Line, Nationwide, and Old Mutual who have both invested heavily in recruited design and UX skills in-house. As online competition has increased, and more Financial Services customers migrate online, it is also clear that established Financial Services institutions are operating in a very dynamic market with a diverse array of new entrants and emerging technologies that is upending traditional growth areas and thus compounding the need for UX design at the center of their digital strategy.

How has UX evolved?

Some of the main trends in user experience are:

1. Creating transparent and frictionless customer journeys with user-centered design

New entrants to Financial Services are providing transparent, frictionless, and holistic customer journeys, allowing users to control and empower themselves. Take for example the design example of insurance provider Back Me Up. On their website, they have created a really clear proposition with minimal information and a frictionless journey from desktop to their mobile app.

2. Increased understanding of the value of research and usability studies

Costs of usability studies and UX research have declined combined with a new range of readily accessible cost-effective online tools such as Crazy Egg, Qualaroo, and Optimizely combined to make an argument supporting investment in good UX far easier than it was a few years ago.

“The importance of UX and design has definitely changed considerably in the Financial Services sector. We now carry out extensive research before any new digital project is started which is critical for all successful design.” – Martin Park, Senior UX Consultant, Old Mutual

3. Mobile intuitive customer experience

There is a clear trend toward providing customers with intuitive, mobile-first, personalized financial offerings. Banks and financial institutions can create mobile branches driven by technology so customers can do most banking tasks from their home or in the bank more efficiently.

The expectation that banking online or choosing your insurance is as user-friendly as shopping or browsing your Facebook page is increasingly the new normal. Payment platforms such as Apple Pay is a great example of intuitive customer experience and design disrupting the customer experience.

4. Understand your customers via the data you can collect

The rollout of new mobile apps and other cross-channel experiences will exponentially increase data generation as more people use their phones, watches, and more to interact with insurers, mortgage brokers, and banks.

The better Financial Services companies understand their customers and can build models based on rich user research, analytics, and evolved personas the better they will be able to improve services to meet today and future customer demands.

Conversational engagement: A technology that empowers brands and consumers to interact with each other through chat or messaging, voice assistance and other natural language interfaces.

Simply put, conversational engagement uses natural language to interact with customers during their buying journey by providing them with personalized help and recommendations while nurturing long-term relationships.

We recommend businesses review the relevance of these applications of conversational commerce:

  • Voice-activated search
  • Smart speaker interactions
  • Voice-based commerce
  • Chatbots and Messenger interactions

Chatbots and their place in financial decision-making

While retailers have used chatbots, many of these with Artificial Intelligence, for many years tier application within the pharma sector has only just begun to become commonplace. This form of conversational UI makes perfect sense on smartphone where a combination of spoken or typed questions can be combined with prompts to select from a preferred response. It seems certain that chatbots will become a more common form of customer service for pharma as people gain trust in the technology and the provision of an integrated healthcare approach becomes more prominent.

According to a report on conversational commerce, the average conversation rates in stores range from around 20-30%, whereas online, that rate drops down to sub 10% depending on the brand strength. The obvious reasons for that could be the rich, visual, and tangible experience that customers get when they physically visit a store.

However, another reason is the instant customer support and service that they receive within the stores, making it essential for online platforms to be able to compete with that level of customer service. E-commerce brands, hence, need to be able to provide a more personalized, real-time customer experience.

The report also reiterates that 53% of consumers are more likely to shop with a business they can message, making it worthwhile for businesses to consider deploying newer, more innovative martech such as chatbots and conversational UIs.

Millennials seem to be the quickest adaptors of chatbot-based customer experiences. According to research by Qualtrics, conducted in the US and key European markets, people aged 18-34 are twice as open to communicating with a personal chatbot as an assistant when shopping, compared to other age groups.

Facebook data shows that:

  • 53% of people are more likely to interact with a business they can message directly.
  • More than 50% of people consider business messaging the modern way to communicate.

Businesses can use messenger-based chatbots as a more cost-effective way, to send customers personalized content, offer exclusive deals and suggest purchases.

Google Dialogflow CX chatbot developer platform

In 2018, Google introduced Dialogflow, which is an advanced development suite for creating conversational AI applications, including chatbots, voicebots, and IVR bots. It includes a visual bot-building platform, collaboration and versioning tools, and advanced IVR feature support, and is optimized for enterprise-scale and complexity.

Dialogflow CX is cross-platform and can connect to your own apps, existing telephony platforms, and digital platforms. AI: Advanced Chatbots Everything has to be instant now. The longer it takes for a transaction to go through and finish, the more off-putting it becomes. Customers expect instant results as well as instant answers to their questions. Time wasted is money wasted and a prospect lost. No business would want that to ever happen to them. The good news is that’s exactly what chatbots have been created for.

Chatbots have been around for some time already and with better versions constantly popping up, you can now include conversational messaging into your bots to give your customers a personalized experience at every financial stage.

Facebook Messenger chatbot developer platform

The Facebook chat plugin caused a great uplift in chatbot interactions when it was first released in 2020. You can also integrate your Facebook Messenger and e-commerce account to accept payments within Messenger, making the purchase even simpler for your customer.

AI: Advanced Chatbots Everything has to be instant now. The longer it takes for a transaction to go through and finish, the more off-putting it becomes. Customers expect instant results as well as instant answers to their questions. Time wasted is money wasted and a prospect lost. No business would want that to ever happen to them. The good news is that’s exactly what chatbots have been created for. Chatbots have been around for some time already and with better versions constantly popping up, you can now include conversational messaging into your bots to give your customers a personalized experience at every financial stage.

Depending on the service you want to provide, there are broadly speaking two types of bots that you can choose from:

Lead bot

Qualifying a lead for Financial Services is deemed as the most important function of any Finance Business. It’s all about connecting your prospects to your marketing department for more personalized questions. Say your prospect clicks on one of your ads that you’ve posted on your social platforms. They would have to provide relevant details about their business, needs, interest, etc. If they get qualified based on the information they enter, the bot now can send their details through to the sales team so they can get in touch with the lead and start the purchase journey.

Support bot

The role of support bots is more of a virtual guide for your customers. They can handle all the financial product-related questions that your customers might have round the clock so you don’t have to worry about unanswered queries in your chatbox while the humans sleep. The great thing about chatbots is that they empower the users to be self-sufficient by also offering them solutions that are efficient and quick; providing them with all the information they need to understand your product features and their benefits, etc. Chatbots enhance the user’s experience with your brand and that will encourage them to keep coming back. In the financial sector, companies are using enterprise social media solutions to grow their revenue, to reduce operational expenditure and to manage digital risks.

Chatbot technology focus – What is GPT-3?

A software program that ingests gigabytes of text and can automatically generate whole paragraphs so natural they sound like a person wrote them. The reason that such a breakthrough could be useful to companies is that it has great potential for automating tasks. GPT-3 can respond to any text that a person types into the computer with a new piece of text that is appropriate to the context. Type a full English sentence into a search box, for example, and you’re more likely to get back some response in full sentences that is relevant. That means GPT-3 can conceivably amplify human effort in a wide variety of situations, from questions and answers for customer service to due diligence document search to report generation.

The benefits of this technology for enhancing the ability of chatbots to more effectively answer customer questions is definitely something that more businesses will be looking to over the coming years.

Mobile Experience Optimization

Mobile devices have already made a tremendous impact on the Financial Services industry in the previous years, and they will play an even bigger role in future. Estimates say that 82% of people consult their phone regarding financial information before choosing a course to go forward.

We are seeing a shift from desktop-dominant searching to mobile-dominant searching and conversion. A clear preference is forming, with 15% of customers choosing the smartphone as their chosen banking device (PWC). This is an increase of 10% from the previous year and demonstrates a shift from those who previously banked online through a browser. To a rising number of consumers, banking is now purely a mobile activity.

Despite this, there are a number of transaction types that customers still prefer to undertake within a branch. These include applying for a:

  • Loan: 59%
  • Checking or savings account: 58%
  • Brokerage/investment account: 43%

Banking and fintech app downloads have experienced a 75% increase over the last two years, reaching 3.4 billion downloads and an average session duration of 3.1 minutes (The State of Mobile 2019).

Mobile Banking

Mobile apps are also being used to renew policies for insurers, serve interactions between the company and intermediaries/suppliers in the insurance sector and Apple Pay is transforming mobile payments at the point of sale.

There have been significant increases in the number of mobile queries relating to financial advice, bank locations and online calculators relating to retirement. In 2020, Google reported that:

  • Mobile queries for “retirement calculator” have increased by 115% in the last two years. Reach consumers planning for retirement by optimizing for these search terms (Source: Google).
  • Mobile queries for “bank near me” have grown by over 60% in the past two years. More than ever, consumers are using local searches to find and evaluate Financial Services providers (Source: Google).
  • Mobile queries for “financial advisor” have increased by 75% in the last 2 years. Financial Services consumers are increasingly making searches on their mobile devices — placing click-to-call extensions on your ads can create a seamless link from searching online to speaking with an advisor (Source: Google).

Mobile banking is changing the way users interact with financial institutions. They want to have access to their accounts anytime and anywhere.

Mobile Banking Apps

Mobile app technologies that enable more accurate and precise location identification, like beacons, will make these tools useful for synchronising with branches.

We are seeing a fundamental shift in the way marketers are using mobile. This is why the simplicity of Pingit and Apple Pay have really taken hold with customers.

Apple Pay now has no maximum spending limit per transaction. Whereas users are limited to £45 for using contactless debit cards, Apple Pay (and now Android Pay) users are allowed to spend as much as they want per transaction. This shows the shift in trust for users with online banking and mobile purchasing. The day-to-day ease it provides for users also increases its popularity and usability.

Merchant Savvy, in their Global Mobile eCommerce Statistics, Trends & Forecasts predict that by 2021, global mobile eCommerce sales are expected to be worth $3.56 trillion.

Mobile E Commerce Financial Services

Mobile payment has brought huge changes to the way that people shop and the mobile payment market has increased steadily over recent years. Mobile platforms such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, banks such as Chase and Softbank, and cryptocurrencies are moving consumers away from cash transactions.

Biometric logins for mobile

Biometric authentication is being used to strengthen, and in some cases completely replace, outdated legacy passwords, tokens, and swipe cards. HSBC became one of the first banks in the world to provide its corporate customers with access to mobile banking using facial recognition technology. The company is one of the world’s biggest users of biometric technology for the Financial Services industry. Customers can use ‘Touch ID’ fingerprint recognition, voice recognition and Selfie ID to log-in with a photograph, speeding up the login process.

Mobile app innovations

Monzo customers offer a range of mobile app services including real-time breakdown of spending habits, quick mobile money transfers, integrations with the likes of Transport for London, Uber, and fellow FinTech company, Nutmeg. Monzo uses AI layering to better predict customer banking habits, zero foreign exchange rates, and biometrics for security. Larger banks with higher customer success burdens are adopting customer service automation such as chatbots. Insurance companies are improving risk models with AI.

Bank of America has introduced a chatbot named Erica, an AI-enabled tool, which provides customers with financial guidance via voice and text messaging. The service allows customers to access services 24/7 and to perform day-to-day transactions. Their chatbots are helping to ensure that, over time, less-typical queries have pre-prepared responses.

Artificial Intelligence can be used to track transactional and other data sources to better understand customer behavior, preferences, and to improve their overall experience. Wells Fargo is a multinational American bank that has created an AI enterprise solution tea, to better leverage data and customize their services.

Banks are demonstrating that they understand the importance of better connecting with customers, looking for new and creative ways to personalize the user experience, and to better understand their behaviors. Both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan have launched mobile banking apps with the aim of attracting new customers and making customer interactions easier, particularly aimed at Millennials.

Citibank is using machine learning and big data to prevent criminal activities and to monitor potential threats. It has implemented a new anti-money-laundering system, launching a new personal finance app that encourages customers to participate in third-party services.

Process Automation with RPA is a key driver of automation in the FS sector. This is evolving into cognitive process automation, where AI systems can undertake increasingly complex automation.

JPMorgan Chase has invested in a new technology called COiN which quickly and efficiently reviews documents and extracts data – it can review approximately 12,000 documents in seconds, in comparison to 360,000 hours of human work.

On-demand insurance app

Trov – an on-demand insurance app for common electrics allows users to protect and insure tech items on the go for a short period of time. This is reinventing the way in which users can protect themselves and their items without signing into a long-term contract.

Through the app, you are able to turn protection off and on at any time making usability easy, fast, and convenient at any time of the day wherever they are. This covers users against damage, loss, and theft, and making a claim is as easy as sending a text message.

This is taking insurance to a complete mobile-user experience. No desktops or paper forms needed.

Case-study: Alfa Bank Belarus

Alfa Bank Belarus is a commercial bank in Russia that tripled the number of its retail banking customers by embracing mobile. The company developed a mobile bank, inSync, focusing on social banking, conversational banking and lifestyle banking.

Mobile Insurance


“To me, mobile is not just a product but a mode of working. Mobile banking doesn’t mean a smartphone app; it means being close to the customer when and where they need us and talking in their language, literally and figuratively.”

– Rafal Juszczak, CEO, Alfa Bank Belarus

The company focused on processes in the transformation of the company, building them from the ground up with a clear vision of what they wanted it to be seen as. What happened was that the retail banking part changed, becoming mobile-first.

One of the first processes they implemented was the ability for new customers to utilize mobile banking without having to go to a physical office or branch. For an app user to become a customer, the process takes just a few minutes and the only in-person interaction that the user experiences is to show their ID to a courier. They can alter the app’s interface, changing the home screen to only show the tools and features that they use most frequently.

inSync Now is a news feed for mobile app users, pushing out content that is focused on the customer and their needs. The feed contains short stories that the company posts to explain new features on the app, with screenshots and animated GIFs. The feed also contains local event recommendations, film reviews and ratings, technologyrelated advice etc.

The bank’s support chat is a key feature of their content and communications strategy, which is available 24/7 and provides customer support beyond the bank and its services. The chat facility, for example, can be used to provide gift suggestions, life advice, and so on. Around one-third of the company’s 75,000 support requests are received via chat, showing that their customers trust them and want to stay in touch.

Alfa Bank Belarus has demonstrated that it is possible to create a highly successful mobile bank within a bigger bank. This has been achieved through the customer viewing the mobile bank app as an extension of themselves. Through building the right processes they have created a bank that is perceived as a trusted friend and partner, versus a boring and hostile bank that controls their money.

Recommendations for improved Financial Services customer interaction

Bring a more personalized experience to your customers by reading up on the full 9 Financial Services marketing trends today. Our report is packed with research, theory, and practical examples of better customer experience for Financial Services marketing leaders.

We’ve got marketing tools and templates to help you interact with and convert your key audiences by crafting a personalized buying journey that resonates with them as individuals. Download our free report to discover all the trends in full.

Financial Services marketing trends 2021

Accelerate your growth in 2021 with trends, examples, and practical strategy integrated with our RACE Framework

Get Started Today

Budget X2

CONVERT: Conversion rate optimization developments

We all know that money is a sensitive, guarded subject for the majority of people. As the digital marketing industry has seen through the likes of Google’s E-A-T update, experience, authority and – perhaps most importantly for Financial Services marketing – trust are of paramount importance. We are all programmed to avoid loss and this is further reinforced through cultural approaches to money as being something that needs keeping safe. So, it stands to reason that people are naturally cautious – even skeptical – when it comes to financial matters.

Hence, the biggest challenge for banks and others in the Financial Services industry is to overcome people’s trust issues by delivering online experiences that engage their existing and potential customers. This makes it imperative that banks and others in Financial Services marketing work to introduce measure that improve a user’s perception of trust minimize skepticism or even fear. This can go a long way to increasing conversion and the uptake of products and services.

Define conversion goals

Online banking portals can often eclipse other avenues when it comes to analysisng and improving digital experiences. This portal is clearly worth the time spent on optimization, but to neglect the company website or email communications is to miss a crucial opportunity to increase trust, brand perception and, ultimately, further conversions. Seizing this opportunity can only happen once you have a clear and defined set of both macro and micro conversions.

Macro and micro conversions

Conversions can be split into two camps – macro and micro conversions.

Typically, a macro conversion refers to when a user completes an action related to the primary goal of a website or organization. A good example would be a form completion on a lead generation page or a purchase on an e-commerce site.

A micro conversion are all the other forms of conversions that serve to support a macro conversion. Subscribing to newsletters and downloading product info are good examples.

Set your conversion optimization goals

Before you can choose which conversion techniques you want to implement, you must first decide on your business or revenue goals. These will help you define the KPIs you use to gauge the performance of your optimization efforts.

This is a good way of understanding their relationship:

  • Business goal: Increase revenue from services and products
  • Website goal: Increase product and service sales from new customers
  • KPIs: Conversion rate, abandon rate

You can map out your specific macro and micro conversion actions once you’ve defined your business/site goals. So, if you want to increase business loan applications, your actions could be:

  • Macro conversion: Submitting business loan application form
  • Micro conversion: Using on-site comparison tool to compare various loan features, downloading information pack, reading blog post about types of business loan

Another important step is to establish a performance baseline or benchmark from which you can then measure any improvements made after you implement any changes.

A/B testing and personalization

A/B Testing imagery and copy variants as part of conversion rate optimization can make a significant difference in trust, but for some highly rate-led propositions such as credit cards, interest rates may have the biggest impact on a number of applications.

There is a trend of putting more resource into Conversion Rate Optimization which combines A/B testing and AI personalization. For example, US Digital bank, Chime has implemented predictive personalization where they use machine learning insights about factors that influence conversion such as location, device and time. They then tested the best creative for these segments. They tested 21 different ideas and 216 different versions of their homepage over a three month period. You can see that there are significant differences in conversion.

Conversion Rate Optimization For Financial Services

Our recommendations to convert more customers

Conversion optimization is inextricably linked to the digital experience. Improving one will benefit the other, and make both you and your customers happier. Let us help you to help your customers – we’ve got marketing solutions to help your convert and retain more customers, improving your ROI and growing your business.

For example, our module on conversion optimization introduced the principles and best
practices setting up a simple AB test and a broader CRO program. Another module that can support your CRO goals focuses on improving basket, checkout, and form completions.

In fact, every single touchpoint in your customers’ journeys has a role to play in nurturing and reassuring your customers on their path to purchase. Download our free report to discover all 9 trends across the RACE Framework so you can optimize your marketing strategy and start converting more customers. Get started today.

Financial Services marketing trends 2021

Accelerate your growth in 2021 with trends, examples, and practical strategy integrated with our RACE Framework

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ENGAGE: Customer retention and brand loyalty

Research from Google showed that consumers felt they were being penalized for being loyal and when people feel this way it creates dissatisfaction and high churn. For example, consumers of insurance said they experienced increases in renewal premiums when they believed their circumstances hadn’t changed.

This in contrast to overall findings from the Think with Google research review that suggests that immediacy is often more important than loyalty. For products where customers are likely to have a longer-term relationship with a brand such as Financial Services and insurance, you need to consider which is the best for you.

Google data suggests that people are carrying out extensive research around potential insurers, challenging loyalty and searching direct insurers as well as comparison sites. Additionally, consumers reported using two different aggregators during the buying process — comparing deals across comparison sites.

So how do you build loyalty?

Google suggests that a personalized approach that is holistic, automated, and granular is the most effective way for insurers to build loyalty. This builds on a number of trends already discussed.

Digital Marketing For Insurance

Holistic approach to insurance

One in three adults say they’re very interested in having a single policy that covers all their insurance needs. For consumers, an all-in-one solution based on their lifestyle helps simplify the administration burden and identify gaps in coverage. For insurers, it allows the opportunity to price more accurately, with more data to understand risk. This leads to economies of scale, which can help reduce premiums and reward loyalty for the number of products held.

The same principles apply for Financial Services marketing where people are more likely to choose a provider that has all of their solutions in one location.

First-party data is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage in a cookieless, privacy-first world so engaging with your technology and marketing partners to understand how to leverage an integrated view of your customer across business operations is crucial to planning, activation, and measurement. Auditing where your customer data sits across the organisation allows you to come up with efficient ways for it to be brought together to create a common data set for effective segmentation and targeting.

Automation for improved engagement

Improving loyalty and lifetime value can help bring down acquisition costs, but it’s hard to build these when meaningful customer engagement is infrequent. This is interesting considering most people want their insurance purchase to be quick and easy — and don’t want to think about it again until they need to claim or renew.

There is a need to find a balance. One way to achieve this is to explore automation options for a more seamless customer service experience. Consumers consistently express a desire for convenient, seamless experiences, without, for example, the need to update their insurer of changes to their circumstances — something machine learning can facilitate.

Research suggests that customers would be open to the automation of their cover to meet their precise circumstances, such as by-the-mile car insurance where prices are set according to when and how a car is used. This would be beneficial, for example, during periods of lockdown where cover can be automatically paused or reduced to reflect changes in mobility. However, there is a risk of unhappy customers when the prices go up due to increased usage.

Engagement means different things to consumers along their insurance journey. With over half of insurance queries done on mobile, making sure you are ready to meet consumer needs with a seamless experience across devices is a great first step. By automating parts of servicing or claims, especially when call center capacity fluctuates, you can maximize engagement during peak times.

Granular approach to customer needs

The surge in demand for niche insurance coverage such as wedding insurance and working-from-home insurance this year means that because there are fewer like-for-like products in these spaces, consumers are more inclined to focus on features over price.

By highlighting the benefits that serve specialist audiences and providing bespoke coverage for specialist activities you can more easily avoid the “race to the bottom”. In addition, those companies who clearly delineate pricing can also build brand value and inspire loyalty.

It is crucial that you have your finger on the pulse of fast-moving trends to reach the right customers with the right message at the right time particularly in times of significant disruption like we saw during the pandemic. Through the use of high-quality, targeted commercial propositions based on your Google Analytics or first-party data you can quickly identify niche audiences based on interests or life stages and move quickly to market.

There will continue to be tensions between price, loyalty, and engagement. However, those companies that will be successful are those by meeting the demands of more digitally focused consumers to become more holistic, automated, and granular, providers can build the agility and resilience needed to meet changing consumer needs now and into the future.

Impact of COVID-19

So-called “challenger banks” such as Starling bank and Monzo have found differing fortunes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst Starling Bank managed to break even late in 2020, its competitor Monzo has continued to rack up losses, lost its founder and even stated publicly that the pandemic has cast doubt on its future.

So why such different fortunes?

On the face of it, Starling Bank has simply offered a more diverse range of products much quicker than Monzo. This would also indicate that Starling Bank’s finances were in better shape than Monzo’s when the pandemic hit.

This meant that Startling Bank could forge ahead with its plans whilst Monzo had to pause new product launches – possibly forever. Monzo also had to lay off a hefty chunk of their staff, further reducing their ability to make progress.

The challenger banks’ first goal is to convince users of traditional banks to switch to their services. They need to make it free initially, and simplicity of the switch is of paramount importance.

Whilst challenger banks have indeed seen uptake across the globe, their second goal is to get free users to commit. Ideally, these users would close their previous accounts and start depositing larger amounts of money such as salaries. They would also engage in the subscription model of tiered account benefits.

Monzo, for example, has seemingly failed to achieve the second goal, and this causes investor concern and reduces their lending abilities. They introduced paid accounts with enhanced features, but is it too late? In short, to the majority, they remain a cash card with a nice interface and simple money-sharing features.

Ali Niknam, CEO of Dutch challenger bank, bunq, told Finextra “It’s not surprising to me that Monzo has finally realized that they need to pivot towards a more sustainable business model,” Niknam tells Finextra Research.

“From the beginning, bunq has worked off a subscription model which has allowed us to get through Covid-19 with no redundancies or other cost-cutting.”

Monument, an emerging digital bank operating in the UK, has foregone aiming for current accounts and instead focuses on offering savings accounts and property loans. They also target a much more specific audience – customers with a net worth of £250,000 to £5m – making their offering particularly tailored.

This points to a focus on understanding your customers and reinforces the value of offering exactly what will resonate with the needs of a customer base.

Recommendations to retain your Financial Services customers for life

Refresh your approach to increasing customer loyalty today. Understanding all the parts of the customer lifecycle in the Financial Services sector is imperative for all existing businesses and offers great opportunities to new startups and challengers.

Our trends guide will help you improve your digital communications to welcome new customers and encourage ongoing usage, and purchase, of these services. With best-practice advice and examples, plus crucial insight into encouraging retention and customer satisfaction by making strategic improvements to your quality of service.

Download our free report to discover all the trends in full. Get started today.

Financial Services marketing trends 2021

Accelerate your growth in 2021 with trends, examples, and practical strategy integrated with our RACE Framework

Get Started Today

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