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Financial Services Firms Need to Implement a Comprehensive Digital Strategy

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The financial services industry is at the center of some compelling forces that are changing the way business is done: they include AI, blockchain, the cloud, and cybersecurity. All those issues are important, and they command the attention of anyone who follows this industry closely.

But the trend that fascinates me the most is the growing influence of digital on the customer journey. Digital continues to influence how consumers conduct their financial planning even for the most complex, life-changing decisions. Financial services firms need to adapt to this reality to remain relevant.

Eye-Opening Data from Google

Earlier this year, Google released some eye-opening data about how digital influences the way consumers research financial management options. In a report, Stephen Arthur of Google noted that consumers no longer plan complex wealth management investments simply by sitting down with a trusted adviser for a face-to-face conversation. The personal interaction is still important and is usually a necessary part of financial planning. But consumers are quite comfortable complementing the in-person consultation with online research. Consider that:

  • More than half of offline investors gather information online first.
  • 86% of potential investor spends more than an hour researching online.
  • Google has seen a 115% increase in mobile searches for “retirement calculator” over the past two years.

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But the statistic that really jumps out to me is this:

  • More than half of online investors don’t even have a brand in mind when they start looking.

For our financial services clients we have observed a similar type of increase based on the analytics we manage. We have been leveraging Google Data Studio to report on multiple digital KPI’s. Here are some of the reasons we have been leveraging Google Data Studio:

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Once you connect to your Google Analytics (GA) account properly, you will have access to all of your GA data at once. We have integrated our Google My Business (GMB) metrics into the Google Data Studio dashboard, and we are seeing similar trends to those referenced by Google for our financial services clients. Here is one example:

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If you are a financial service firm, the fact that more than 50% of online investors are not thinking of you when they start doing their research should prompt some questions such as:

  • How do I attract those non-branded searches?
  • How do I become visible, so that I’m dominating the branded searches and converting those searchers into customers?
  • If we have the ability to convert those searchers into customers, are we delivering on our brand promise?

The answers to these questions come down to implementing a comprehensive digital strategy. At this point, building a digital brand means a lot more than managing a Facebook page and investing in paid search. Those tactics are useful and important, but you need to think of them in context of your customer’s digital journey. That journey usually encompasses these essential touch points:

  • Business listings (Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing and the rest of the local search ecosystem).
  • Robust locators (leveraging location detection technology).
  • Robust locations pages (bank, financial advisor, loan officer) optimized for a mobile experience.
  • Ratings and reviews (a top 10 local search ranking factor).
  • Paid search and paid social to be very granular in targeting the right audience for your brand.
  • Google seller ratings to increase your click-thru-rate (CTR) and reduce your cost-per-click (CPC).
  • Surveys and sentiment analysis so you can better understand the voice of your customer.

When you invest properly into these elements of a comprehensive digital strategy, you realize a number of important outcomes:

  • Better visibility that comes when your name appears more often for both branded and non-branded searches.
  • Stronger consideration from customers who gain confidence by reading customer reviews complemented by deep content on your listings that discusses both customers’ needs and your services effectively.
  • Better understandings of how these new customers are being treated at a location and/or advisor level (bank, financial advisor, loan officer etc).

By investing properly into these elements of your online brand, your business will become the preferred choice of the digital generation. Have you implemented a comprehensive digital strategy?

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