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Best digital marketing strategies for financial services

Best digital marketing strategies for financial services

Neobanks, digital banks, mobile banks, D2C mortgage, insurtech and digital payments are reshuffling the financial services industry worldwide. While old institutions struggle, new creative financial players are driving offensive digital strategies with the goal of being Millennials' preferred partner for every financial matter.

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Let’s have a look at how they do it.

It’s definitely not a fad. 77% of people use one or more types of mobile payments nowadays, with 91% of Millennials being heavy users. 75% of a typical user journey is now digital. Social media and digitization have a massive impact on buyer behavior and brand notoriety.

The days when financial service consumers had one single bank for payroll deposit, savings, checkings, insurance, credit cards, and mortgage all under one roof are over. Gen Z and Millennials favor several accounts and cards from different suppliers.

Go digital first

Marketing expenses within digital-only banks represent 25-35 % of operating costs. So stay focused and do it right because the impact matters.

Customer acquisition - which was traditionally generated through a family or friend referral - is now heavily influenced by new digital strategies such as top of the funnel approaches or trial conversions. Customer acquisition costs through social media are lower than branch banking and large traditional advertising marketing campaigns, hence lowering fees for clients. Blogs, chat-bots, videos and social media marketing are the new way to generate quality leads for new banking players. Be smart and use to-the-point social media strategy guides to refine your go-to-market strategy.

Fintech unicorn Chime uses Instagram heavily to promote their quick deposit features.

Talkwalker Quick Search shows how MoneyLion performs versus Credit Karma on social media

Online financial services such as MoneyLion or Credit Karma are fighting a share of voice battle on social channels.

Fintech star Chime is using an inbound marketing blog content strategy to teach finance basics

Fintech star Chime is using an inbound marketing blog content strategy to teach finance basics to Millennials while generating leads.

Financial services marketers must get ready to stay ahead of the curve.

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Know your financial audience and select your niche

Polygamic financial relations.

Challenger financial services are profiting from the unbundling - the fact that customers nowadays bond with multiple financial institutions for different aspects of their lives. International travelers need payment cards without exchange fees. Unbanked individuals need money transfer solutions. Kite board buyers need easy insurance for their new gear, and online-shopping divas just want to click one single button to buy, ideally staying in their ecosystem.

Hence, knowing your audience is key, and as a smart marketer you can cut through the advertising noise of big banks by jst targeting a specific sub-group of consumers with a particular pain point.

Talkwalker Financial Services Conversation Cluster

Data visualization tools such as Conversation Clusters deliver a birds-eye view of online discussions to determine your niche segment.

Talkwalker’s Conversation Clusters is helping major banks to gather the insights that help inform their communication strategy, from social media posts to more engaging advertising and different forms of content. Constant social media monitoring for financial institutions helps to unlock valuable insights, to know who is talking about your financial brand and to understand consumer sentiment. It’s all about putting online conversation into context while unveiling insights and pain points that consumers are discussing.

Consumer Insights: Find finance industry white space opportunities now

Fintech adoptation trends by industry

Global average adoption by fintech services (source: EY).

Research shows that fintech offers such as money transfer has an overall adoption rate of over 70%, insurance 45% and savings over 30%. Analytics, the deployment of a data-based strategy and intense multichannel marketing will help you target and reach specific audiences to generate organic growth.

Know your customer

Once your niche is selected, you need to try to connect with the prospect at the various steps of the customer purchase journey. Email marketing, online ads, podcasts, websites, comparison sites, are all important tools to get in touch and convert a lead into an opportunity.

Financial Services Consumer Journey

The 9 step financial services customer journey.

Once your financial customer purchase journey is fully understood and structured, you can adapt your commercial approach with smart conversation strategies such as the AKIPA model.

AKIPA Model - Awareness, Knowledge, Interest, Preference, Action

AKIPA Model - Awareness, Knowledge, Interest, Preference, Action.

Emails, chatbots and feedback forms will generate first-party data that you can use to get a full picture of your prospect and customer mindset, uncovering purchasing habits.

You need to understand what matters the most to your customers, across every touchpoint with your financial brand. Increase sales and optimize Life-Time Value by keeping them fully engaged.

Understand your customers with Customer Data +

Frictionless financial experiences only: the online bank case

“Friction will be the biggest killer of bank revenue in the next 10 years,” says financial futurist Brad King. Consumers will adopt a new payment card or financial service if the user experience (UX) is easy and via an app that is well designed and consumer-friendly. The fewer moves a consumer has to make, the more he will love the service, especially when it is about his money. Cards made cash disappear, and mobile payment will make cards disappear.

Agile marketing approaches such as influence marketing, cause-related marketing and video marketing are fueling the new online bank’s growth rates.

Mobile “green” bank Aspiration is backed by Leonardo DiCaprio on Twitter.

The social media battle between N26 and Revolut, two fintech mobile bank players that are entering the US market, was mostly executed via YouTube influencer referral programs in Europe.

N26 influencer referral video “100 miles without a map” generated 2.8 million views and 196.5K shares/likes on social media.

These new old continent companies will probably struggle when entering the US market, as their “0 or low exchange fee on international expenses” USP will not have the same impact in North America. Besides this, the points & miles US payment card market relies mostly on aggressive credit offers and cash-back solutions, which are not well known in old Europe.

Design matters.

Consumers have an eye for aesthetic user experiences. Polished yet no-frills look & feel of all touchpoints are key. The mantra is “Open a bank account with 1 click”

N26 landing page

N26s polished Google-style website.


Varo Money landing page

Varo’s straight-to-the-point landing page.

Legacy fights back.

Traditional payment cards are fighting back by overinvesting in powerful fashion and music-based endorsement plans, trying to attract Millennials to their credit food stalls.

Talkwalker Quick Search shows how American Express wins social media share of voice race vs Revolut and N26 with punctual celebrity endorsements

American Express wins social media share of voice race vs Revolut and N26 with punctual celebrity endorsements.

Social engagement is key in share of voice battles. Legacy brands such as American Express have a similar online share of voice to regional newcomers such as N26 and Revolut during the year, beside punctual celebrity-driven moments (get your tickets first with Amex).

Harry Styles empowers American Express’ online engagement rates.

Regarding financial services on Twitter, research has shown that banks should focus on three elements to drive positive engagement

1. Community engagement
2. Sponsored event brand mentions
3. Positive issue response

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Mobile payments, e-wallets & P2P payments - dive into new money ecosystems

Cash was king. Then we had cards. Then Apple Pay happened. Nowadays, 30.3 million users are paying their grocery bills and online purchases with Apple’s payment feature, followed by Starbucks Mobile Pay with 25.2 million users in the US. Apple Pay is expected to represent 10% of the world’s global card transactions by 2025.

Apple Pay is the #1 mobile payment tool in the US.

Peer-to-peer payment enemies Zelle and Venmo are battling on social for share of voice and engagement.

Venmo uses very casual verbiage on Twitter.

Sporst endorsement is one of Zelle's social media approaches.

Social media metrics show that Venmo wins largely with over 5.6 million mentions versus 1.3 million mentions for Zelle. Zelle is owned by the seven largest US banks, hence its tone of voice on social is more polished, more corporate, less human, which results in less engagement and global traffic.

Talkwalker Quick Search shows the Zelle vs Venmo social media battle

The Zelle vs Venmo social media battle.

Peer-to-peer payment brands are also under attack from Apple Pay and Google Pay, which allow users to send and receive money, in exchange for your data. P2P payment brands need to enter strong partnerships with retailers, food chains and fashion houses to be the first choice solutions at the cash register.

A human tone of voice on social media with easily understandable finance tutorials will make new customers feel at ease.

How your finance brand can better leverage social media

Brokerage - how Robinhood is reshuffling the cards

Ever tried to buy some company stock at your local bank branch on Sunday morning while sipping coffee? Tight opening hours, boring offices, nerdy finance language, tricky fees, long waiting times, loads of paperwork - and no possibility to watch Netflix!

Online investment fintechs such as Robinhood, an app-only instant brokerage, disrupted the B2C investment industry buy offering zero-fees for commissions on trades, cryptocurrency exchange and no account minimums, with fractional stock trading options. This approach turned couch potatoes into Wall Street wolves.

Talkwalker Quick Search shows how Robinhood performs versus Charles Schwab on social media

Robinhood rules on social versus Charles Schwab if it comes to brokerage, except during Schwab’s merger talks with TD Ameritrade.

Disruptor Robinhood uses a chatty and young multi-channel approach to attract investment amateurs. YouTube influencers love the unicorn and are eager to praise their hassle-free tool in low-key “How-To-Get-Rich” videos while comic or gaming influencers are doing pushy referrals for the brand.

320K views and 9K likes for this influencers YouTube video featuring Robinhood.


4.6 million views and 100.6K engagements for this Captain Marvel VS Shazam featuring a Robinhood referral.

Robinhood also plays the podcast way, with its Snacks Daily Podcast being downloaded over 10 million times, ranking #3 in Apple’s Business News category while Snacks Minute, their 3-minute version of Snacks Daily, ranks in Spotify’s top 10 podcasts.

Robinhood’s podcast generates an engaged fanbase.

Offering zero-fee investment possibilities with sound advice on social is a working mix to reach a new bubble of consumers, that quickly transform into a base of brand ambassadors. Understanding concepts such as Net Promoter Score helps you understand what it takes to turn customers into true brand aficionados.

Key digital marketing strategy takeaways for financial services

  1. Be laser-sharp on USPs: perks, fees, and rewards should be your strongest sales arguments. Show them in an obvious and understandable way.
  2. Best customer experience rules: forget thick carpet and cherry-wood desks. Offer a sleek and intuitive app-only user interface. Trading stocks or sending money shouldn’t be more complex than buying bubble gum these days.
  3. Be universal: enter partnerships with mainstream consumer brands and trust-worthy celebrities to profit from their notoriety and ubiquity.
  4. Be human and digital-savvy: to differentiate from legacy brands, engage in a human way with your audience, don’t let the financial guru speak, be digital-savvy, don’t use jargon, speak about day-to-day.
  5. Be audience oriented: get in touch with prospects where they are and while they are open for new advice. Conversational intelligence is king. Think enhanced social media, YouTube tutorials and referrals, podcast testimonials, interactive blogs, search-engine optimization, offer human-focussed and problem-solving content that engages.
  6. Measure your brand impact: data-driven decisions and actionable insights can be delivered with smart social listening solutions for enhanced brand impact and promotion.

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