Marketing leaders from the most innovative B2C financial services companies in the world understand the neccessity to meet customer expectations and grow their business with relevant experiences across the entire customer lifecycle, starting with awareness and acquisition. 

We know this because we have seen marked increases in digital advertising spend coming from that sector. In 2017, the United States financial services industry will have spent $10.1 billion on digital advertising, a 13.1% gain from 2016, according to eMarketer. That means this industry is the third-largest advertiser in the United States, trailing only retail and automotive.

These eye-popping numbers repeat in most other countries. In Australia, the U.K., and Germany, financial services digital advertising is the fifth-largest industry, consuming between 8% and 12% of all media ad spend. Last but not least it is not surprising to see that “Insurance” and “Asset Management” were among the top 10 most expensive keywords in Google in 2017.


Why the change?

How customers interact with financial services is undergoing a second major shift right now. In the first shift, customers started engaging with their financial institutions online. Today, many customers think of their brand relationships with a mobile-first mindset with 71% of people in the U.K. and U.S. now using banking mobile apps, according to SNL Financial. 

The trend is even stronger among younger customers — 89% of people between the ages of 21 and 30 in the U.K. and U.S. check account balances through a mobile website or app. Use of mobile banking is increasing across all geographies with some countries, typically U.K. and northern Europe, being further ahead in the journey thanks to an earlier adoption trend.

It was back in 2014 that Ross McEwan, RBS CEO, said “Our busiest branch in 2014 is the 7:01 from Reading to Paddington - over 167,000 of our customers use our Mobile Banking app between 7am and 8am on their commute to work every day. Over 2.1 million customers use our mobile app every week.”.


But how do digital advertisers stay ahead of these trends? 

A great way to do this is to use the data you already have about your customers to make advertising personalised, based on their relationship with your brand. In financial services, you already have many powerful ways to digitally segment your customers, including by what products they have with you, what spending tiers they are on, where they are located, and how long they have worked with you.

This is a unique advantage compared to almost any other industry that is among the largest advertisers. For example, many retail purchases are made in physical stores and aren’t tied back to a known customer, unless he or she is using a loyalty card. CPG brands have it even harder — most of their customer relationships are indirect. Automotive companies may build a personal relationship at the point of purchase, but it is usually not a long-term ongoing relationship. 

But data can be extremely difficult to use. According to Capgemini Consulting’s “Big Data Alchemy: How Can Banks Maximise the Value of Their Customer Data?” report, the number one impediment to using data for decision-making is that it is often stored in silos and is difficult for advertisers to access. 

The result of this siloed data organisation and use is that customers and prospects are typically targeted with blanket product focussed campaigns that are miles away from the concept of 1:1 advertising - i.e. being able to target the customer with a message that really matters, in that particular point in time and in that particular context.

Additionally, protecting your customers’ personal information is not just the law in this highly regulated industry but a critical component of maintaining customer trust and relationships. To balance these competing needs, Google Customer Match and Facebook Custom Audiences allow advertisers to simply upload SHA-256 hashed copies (a one-way transformation) of customers’ personally identifiable information (PII), including email addresses and phone numbers, so they can make advertising part of the customer journey without the information ever leaving their company. 


Amplify Credit Union are Trailblazers

Let’s give you an example, Amplify Credit Union, a member owned financial cooperative with 57,000 members in eight locations throughout Texas, implemented Salesforce in 2015 to streamline its customer data, which was spread across 80 different systems. With Salesforce’s single view of the customer, Amplify can now upsell, cross-sell, and prospect and nurture new customers more efficiently than ever before. Reporting time, for example, has decreased by 98%, according to Nucleus Research, and Amplify executives estimate that they would need four additional full-time marketing employees to do the same amount of work as the company’s marketing department does now. That’s saved over $300,000 in employee salaries alone.

Amplify estimates that it would have needed to double its advertising spend with its prior marketing program to achieve the same number of leads per month as it does now with Salesforce. Beyond the personnel and reporting efficiencies, since launching Salesforce Advertising Studio, Amplify has seen lead generation jump by 50% and CPA drop

by 50% because of the power of lookalikes based on existing Amplify customers.



In Summary

As the B2C financial services space evolves towards offering 1:1 experiences, advertising practices and technologies need to be able to provide that type of experience and personalisation. Great opportunities are emerging for those who are well prepared. Download our Digital Advertising 2020 report to get yourself ahead of the big trends coming your way.