How Financial Services Companies Can Connect with Customers Both On and Offline

Our current world environment has proven the need for companies to build marketing strategies that can withstand pivots when necessary. It’s also exposed a major flaw in industries built on traditional tactics and in-person relationships – especially financial services. While these industries have been focused on connecting offline, their struggle to connect online is now a crisis.

My colleagues, Jennifer Harmel and Lauren Goldstein, recently hosted a webinar with Adobe and BAI to address this challenge and offer solutions on how to evolve and connect with customers both on and offline. In a webinar filled with game-changing insights, these are my four biggest takeaways.

1. What’s the problem with sales and marketing in financial institutions today?

Financial services companies have long relied on sales to do the heavy lifting when it comes to connecting with prospects. Bankers have been responsible for maintaining personal relationships with prospects until an external trigger forces the prospect into an active buying motion – which can take years (although in the current environment the buying process could certainly be shorter). These teams spend countless manhours connecting offline with each lead in their portfolio.

Meanwhile, marketing teams are facing similar challenges. They aren’t able to connect with buyers online and, instead of moving a potential client forward in the process, they often execute generic, tactical campaigns that actually risk alienating the prospect with a poor customer experience.

This type of framework was always problematic, but now it’s crippling.

2. How did this become the current state?

This problem is the result of a series of challenges that financial services companies have faced for years. They’ve struggled to:

  1. Digitally engage customers
  2. Deliver lead-to-revenue visibility
  3. Improve and personalize the customer experience
  4. Fully leverage technology investments
  5. Empower bankers with more insights

All of these challenges come from an inability to understand the customer journey and then operationalize around it.

3. Understanding the Customer Journey and Operationalizing Around It

For the most part, marketing teams in financial services are still running one-and-done campaigns (not sure what these looks like? Read: The Hidden Costs of Tactical, Campaign-Based Marketing). There’s no consideration of where a person is in his buying process, what type of content he wants to read, when he wants to engage, or how he wants to be contacted. Instead, marketing is blasting outbound emails hoping that one lands with someone in an active buying process. There’s no understanding of the customer journey.

This doesn’t work for any industry, but it’s especially ineffective in financial services. As mentioned before, the buying process for financial services is long, and it’s not necessarily linear. Buyers can enter and exit the buying process at any time. So, if marketing doesn’t understand the customer journey, then they aren’t prepared to meet the buyer where he is. This results in a lot of wasted time, money, and effort.

But what if marketing could do more? What if – instead of bankers having to call cold leads every now and then to keep them warm – marketing was so intimate with the customer journey that they could automatically engage with and nurture cold leads behind the scenes? And furthermore, what if it was creating a more personalized customer experience along the way?

Reaching buyers in the right place, at the right time, all the time, is a game-changer for financial services. It starts by embracing the strategic role that marketing can and should play and then bringing that strategy to life. It involves:

  • Understanding the customer journey and operationalizing around the buyer
  • Integrating content marketing and lead management
  • Shifting to a perpetual state
  • Optimizing against outcomes
  • Aligning technology to processes
4. The Next Steps

Once those five pillars are put into place, your marketing teams can begin nurturing leads behind the scenes while bankers focus on selling to hot leads – all while creating a clear lead-to-revenue line of visibility.

We know that this can sound like a daunting task, so I highly recommend watching the webinar yourself to understand the roadmap. You can watch it here:
Harnessing the Digital Customer Journey to Drive Growth.

You can also see how this type of transformation plays out in the real world by reading:
A Large Financial Firm Transforms Demand Marketing.

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