There’s a lot of talk about the importance of marketing automation these days. But how much of that is hype, and how much is real? The answer largely depends on the sector of your business. In the case of the financial services industry, marketing automation is becoming a key tool for many successful organizations.
Marketers in the financial industry are always pushing for faster, better results, preferably at a reduced cost. And, as is the case in many businesses now, the demand for verifiable results, with detailed metrics, is crucial. Every marketing initiative must be worth the time and investment, and without the proper tools to execute these increasingly complex strategies, such goals can be difficult to reach.
As marketing across all industries continues to change and evolve, marketing for the financial industry can’t stay rooted in what worked before. Sales and marketing must be aligned. Revenue and sales leads are more important than ever. Multiple marketing channels must be maintained. Return on investment (ROI) must be demonstrated. With the growth of real-time metrics, marketers are being held more accountable than ever.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is the blanket term that encompasses technology that lets businesses modernize and simplify their marketing efforts, as well as automate some or all of it, and track and measure programs to improve ROI. Put simply, it’s software that automates marketing efforts, such as emails, social media posts, and other online activities.
When utilized properly, automation helps you manage your business’s communications and marketing, ensuring that qualified leads are being properly directed into the sales funnel, and that the correct messages are getting to the correct people at the correct time.
An automated marketing platform can include a triggering system to automatically send out emails when customers click on a certain link, for example. You could then send out a personalized email to follow up and address that customer’s specific interests or concerns. You can also incorporate an easy share function into your social media platforms to track customer interactions and monitor what kind of content is generating interest.
Studies have concluded that firms that use marketing automation to cultivate prospects have seen an increase in qualified leads as high as 450%. And by automating repetitive, mundane tasks such as updating social media and sending emails to customers and prospects, you and your team are freed up to focus on more complex tasks that will play a larger role in the success and profitability of your business.
Getting started with marketing automation isn’t easy, however. There are dozens of different options and vendors out there, and many of the programs and software packages available are far from cheap. Worse, some may simply prove ineffective for your company’s specific needs; marketing is hardly a one-size-fits-all endeavour. To use marketing automation effectively, some research specific to your business’s capabilities and needs will be necessary.
Marketing Automation and the Financial Industry
Much of marketing automation comes down to leveraging customer data, which makes it a perfect fit for the financial industry. A 2017 study found that 73% of Americans said they’d be willing to provide their bank with more access to their personal and financial data if it meant added value like special offers, lower interest rates, and financial advice tailored to their specific circumstances. In a world where spam is a dirty word and customers are increasingly wary of turning over their personal data to businesses, that statistic would have marketers in many other industries salivating.
Marketing automation allows financial companies to use customer data to develop a deeper understanding of customers’ needs and desires, and to tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. Most importantly, these engagements will actually be relevant to the customer in terms of where they are in life and what their financial requirements are.
Some of the ways that marketing automation can benefit businesses in the financial industry:
- From search engine optimization (SEO) to improved targeting of online and offline communications, marketing automation helps create an ongoing flow of leads across all departments and channels, providing suggestions for better content and targeting options. It also lets you personalize your company’s message, and the channel used, to reach potential customers in real time.
- In the financial world, social media marketing can be a tricky addition to an already complex marketing process, and automation software allows you to increase your social media potency by adding key tools to websites and social media platforms, which in turn can help accelerate sharing and referral campaigns.
- Marketing automation allows you to test all elements of a marketing program, from content to channel, optimizing effectiveness along the way. Even the smallest changes can yield massive returns when measured over time, and as you test and learn, you’ll be able to quickly replicate your success. If you have a small team, marketing automation allows you to easily re-implement a program that previously worked in just minutes, rather than months.
- Triggers set up through marketing automation allow your business to act on immediate opportunities based on a potential customer’s action (like visiting a certain page on your website), which in turn enables you to set up a flow of communications based on that trigger. Once that’s done, marketing automation allows a financial marketer to alter scheduled communications based on real-time changes in customer behaviour, such as opening an account, downloading certain content, or visiting a social media page.
- Marketing automation tracks the effectiveness of all marketing communication across all touchpoints. This helps determine who to contact as well as what sequence and cadence of communication is the most successful.
Marketing automation can help your business deal with many of the complex challenges in modern financial marketing, helping to attract and engage customers. By automating your marketing process, you can manage more programs, more leads, and more channels, all while tracking your results in real time. When properly used, marketing automation can be an invaluable tool, and one that can help financial businesses prosper.
Justin Anderson | Staff Writer