There are four important reasons why digital marketing is the future of B2C and B2B marketing in the financial industry.
First, this marketing strategy fits the way most consumers make decisions. They find what they are looking for, they research what they find, and they initiate contact.
Second, this strategy is non-invasive compared to the outbound marketing tactics of the past.
Third, consumers have instant access to vast amounts of information that helps them make better decisions.
Fourth, consumers have more control over their selection processes. For example, they determine who they contact and they retain their anonymity until they are ready to talk.
There can also be a fifth reason. Covid accelerated the pace of change when large numbers of firms transitioned from traditional to virtual marketing. They do not expect to revert back to traditional tactics for all of their marketing when Covid is no longer a health risk.
What About Outbound Marketing?
Financial advisors used Outbound Marketing tactics (cold calling, direct mail) for decades to initiate contact with potential clients.
This was always an invasive form of marketing because 99% of the names on their lists did not want to be solicited by companies or professionals they did not know. This marketing strategy was also time-consuming, expensive, and largely ineffective. Technologies, like Caller ID and spam filters, made these tactics even less effective. The increasingly high rejection rates caused 70% of new advisors to leave the industry.
Merrill Lynch recently stopped cold calling, the primary form of Outbound Marketing, by its advisors.
What About Inbound Marketing?
Like it has for so many industries, the Internet is a game-changer that enables consumers to find what they are looking for and conduct research before they buy or initiate contact.
There is no Amazon in the financial services industry, but there is a vast amount of information about firms, advisors, services, and financial topics on the Internet.
All consumers have to do is enter a few keywords in Google and they have online access to service providers and content. Or, they can enter geo-specific keywords to help them find local service providers.
Is the Financial Industry Different?
The answer is Yes and No.
If you compare finding, researching, and contacting CPAs and attorneys to financial industry firms then the answer is Yes. That’s because the tax and legal industries are not dominated by powerful sales cultures and firms with more than 650,000 financial advisors and sales representatives.
On the other hand, the answer is No when you look at the three industries from a consumer’s perspective. They can use the Internet to find, research, and contact all three types of professionals. Their needs for advice and services may vary but the process for selecting a service provider is the same.
The Digital Marketing Challenge
Given this background, there are four major challenges for firms that use a digital marketing sales funnel strategy.
First, consumers have to be able to find financial firms on the Internet. So, the first challenge is visibility on page one. Page one is important because Google says 91.5% of its users do not scroll to page two. Only 4.8% scroll to page two, and 1.1% scroll to page three.
Second, firms are seeking online visibility for keywords that are used by their ideal types of clients. For example, they want to reach particular types of consumers that are frequent users of their services.
Third, is the production of traffic for their websites. They need a digital marketing process that transitions large numbers of consumers from the Internet to their websites.
Fourth, is a website that is designed to convert visitors into qualified leads when they initiate contact or register to receive a free offer (eBook, consultation, etc.).
Financial firms can divide potential leads into two categories. Investors who know them and those that do not.
When they know a name and want to learn more they will enter URLs in Google. Investors who don’t know names will enter various keyword combinations in Google. Either way, they need to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
Finding firms on the Internet is step one in a digital marketing sales funnel.
The role of digital marketing is to reach strangers, although consumers that already know firms will also benefit from this marketing process.
The Flip Side
Just about every financial firm talks about their need for more leads. This makes perfect sense because leads can be converted into revenue-producing clients.
There is also a flip side to this part of a sales funnel. One side is definitely all about leads, leads, and more leads. The flip side is the consumers’ need for information. They need access to information that helps them make the right decisions - who to interview, who to select, etc.
Even though they may know firm names, they will still conduct their due diligence before they initiate contact. For example, they will visit websites, Google search names, look for reviews, and visit third-party websites.
Finding firms on the Internet and information about the firms are equally important parts of a digital marketing sales funnel. One without the other will diminish the results that financial firms are seeking.
Digital Marketing Is Now
A successful digital marketing experience requires the development of a sophisticated online sales funnel that produces Internet visibility, website traffic, and higher conversion rates.
This development requires the specialized skill sets of multiple digital marketing professionals: Designers, developers, writers, editors, graphic artists, social media experts, SEO, and SEM experts.
It is a major plus when firms select a digital marketing agency that knows their industry and speaks their language.