A new year brings financial marketers new opportunities to achieve that age-old goal: appeal to a broader member base. If your marketing digital marketingefforts in 2013 didn’t achieve desired results, get a jumpstart on 2014 by planning around the trends identified by FI leaders. According to a recent poll, financial institutions will be seeking to improve customer/member experiences, reduce overall costs and stand out from the competition by integrating unique delivery channels, offering mobile solutions and learning from big data in 2014.1 The recurring theme in 2014’s marketing trends is information – how it is curated, viewed and analyzed.

Let’s dig into some of the major online marketing trends to understand how financial institutions will be responding in 2014.

Content Marketing Builds Visibility, Trust and Loyalty

Content marketing – commonly referred to as “inbound marketing” in interactive circles – is the strategic creation and targeted distribution of media to acquire and retain customers. For financial institutions, content marketing is key to attracting and maintaining members, by integrating multi-channel approaches such as affiliate marketing, direct mail, display advertising, email marketing, search engine optimization and marketing (SEO/SEM), blogging, social media marketing and more. Typically, these strategies are intended to drive individuals to a specific landing page, blog or corporate site. Whether generating new content or leveraging existing content, financial marketers must plan, create, place, audit, measure and adjust content accordingly.

In 2014, financial marketers will bolster their content marketing efforts by investing in emerging digital techniques, as well as reemphasizing some stated marketing tactics:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Attribution modeling
  • Branding and positioning
  • Customer feedback
  • Email marketing
  • Landing pages
  • Mobile marketing
  • Retargeting members/customers
  • Personalized experiences
  • Social media marketing
  • Traditional marketing
  • Videos

Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in 2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or clicked. By looking at the historical big picture of a sales funnel, financial marketers can make better recommendations on the proper mix of tactics in subsequent content marketing plans. Behavioral retargeting, where existing and potential members are served online advertising based on their previous interactions with online content, also will become more prominent. Retargeting can serve up display or search ads to customers/members who have not been converted yet on the financial institution’s site – or even those searching for a new bank or credit union.2

In 2014, bank and credit union marketers must increase and improve their content marketing efforts by developing compelling, branded campaigns that tap into the elusive Generation Y segment. This means reinvesting in social media and email marketing – two digital marketing tactics worth pushing again – to engage millennials in the manner they prefer to be reached, online. Banks and credit unions will be integrating more branded videos into their 2014 digital strategies, serving up this interactive content along all online channels. The idea is to engage and entertain, rather than sell and bombard customers/members in their 20s and 30s. Presenting more digital touch points to Gen Y should help build credibility and increase awareness, eventually drawing the younger demographic into the bank or credit union, where this valued segment actually prefers to discuss services face-to-face.3

Mobile Optimization Enhances the User Experience

Mobile optimization will continue to be at the forefront of digital strategy for banks and credit unions. With tablets on track to outsell desktop computers and laptops in 2013, mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage in 2014. Furthermore, 99% of smartphone owners use their mobile browser at least once a day.4 While most Internet users in the United States still prefer online banking for managing personal finances, mobile banking is catching on with customers/members. About 94% of users in all age groups use online banking and approximately 71% of respondents ages 18-60+ have signed up for mobile banking, according to Celent’s research.5 The European Financial Marketing Association (EFMA) and Wipro’s “Global Retail Digital Marketing Report” indicates that 91% of banks envision online/mobile as the primary channel for transactions in 5 years.6 The widespread adoption of mobile devices means that financial institutions need to deliver an optimal user experience.

To deliver more immersive experiences for members on handheld devices, financial marketers will need to focus on the following mobile methodologies:

  • Adaptive mobile experiences
  • Mobile Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
  • Mobile email marketing
  • Mobile online ads
  • Responsive web design⁷

Leading the way for mobile optimization, responsive design utilizes a single source of HTML code that is built to adapt or respond to the display environment and screen size. Media queries interpret the resolution of the device used to display the site and correctly fits the screen through flexible images and fluid grids. Planning on linking to a landing page or a site from a display ad, social media post or email? There’s a good chance your member will view it on a smartphone or tablet. Not only will the layout shift to accommodate the device, but the site’s behavior can adapt, as well. Adaptive design allows for swiping on touch devices. Responsive web design enables banks and credit unions to offer a “one size fits all” site for members to enjoy a friendly, seamless user experience.

Financial institutions need to understand that an optimal web experience means more than just making it mobile-friendly. With a 68% annual growth rate, mobile payments are projected to amount to $214 billion by 2015, according to the “2013-2014 CUNA Environmental Scan.” As customers/members continue to pay for items through their smartphones and tablets, banks and credit unions will need to integrate with mobile payments. The proliferation of mobile banking also brings the threat of mobile malware. As mobile sites become the order of the day, financial institutions will need to offer user-friendly and completely secure mobile banking experiences while investing in mobile malware education, detection and prevention for the coming year.8

Mobile content consumption gives financial marketers another avenue in mobile advertising. Mobile ad spending in the United States is projected to hit $11.8 billion in 2014. Heading into next year, mobile ads will account for 50% of Facebook’s revenue and $4 billion of Google’s projected ad revenue.9 Banks and credit unions seeking brand impressions and click-throughs to products and services will need to implement display ads, Facebook advertising, Google AdWords and other mobile pay-per-click advertising in 2014.

Big Data Realizes Value by Analysis

As financial marketers work with banks and credit unions to deliver mobile-friendly, integrated content marketing experiences, information about members engaging with the brand will become more and more abundant. This big data is the collection and analysis of large, complex quantities of marketing information. Financial marketers will need to figure out how to use big data marketing tools to capture, curate, store, search, share, transfer, analyze and visualize these massive data sets into usable information to better engage members. To be effectual, big data requires managing, distilling and curating the information for syndication and optimization. Realizing value from big data requires collection and refinement via automated systems, as well as a human touch to interpret and disseminate the information to others who can use this intelligence to more effectively market to members.10

Financial marketers can create new connections for banks and credit unions by understanding and enacting big data derived from the following member information:

  • Account transactions
  • Behavioral trends
  • Credit reports
  • Customer profitability
  • Demographics
  • Life stages
  • Locations
  • Stock market and trade references
  • Mobile usage
  • Social media engagements
  • Spending patterns
  • Risk and finance trends11

Big data and analytics can generate new revenue streams for banks and credit unions, counterbalancing the many challenges these financial institutions face in 2014, including interest rate reduction, financial market instability, regulatory constraints and low asset performance. Big data will provide better insight into customer/member wants and needs to give banks and credit unions an edge in target marketing. For example, a bank or credit union can crunch big data to discover that a particular member might be nearing his or her credit limit. As a result, the customer/member is offered to extend his or her credit line with the financial institution. Tracking purchases made with this extended credit, the bank or credit union then serves up contextual ads and offers for products, services and promotions that appeal to the member’s specific interests via email, text message, display and search ads.12 As the customer/member continues to spend and take advantage of offers through various online channels and devices, the bank or credit union can continually cross-sell other products, programs and services. Big data affords the financial institution the ability to enhance customer service and loyalty, while simultaneously creating more revenue.

Converging Content, Mobile and Data in the New Year

Financial marketers will use these evolving digital strategies to benefit banks and credit unions.

Interestingly, the three points of emphasis – content marketing, mobile optimization and big data – all intersect. Content marketing is most effective when all integrated marketing channels are accessible in a mobile-friendly format. Mobile optimization is necessary for content viewing and engagement on consumers’ preferred devices. Mobile advertising, such as display and search ads, as well as email and landing pages, is integral to a sound content marketing strategy. Big data analyzes how and when customers/members interact with content along various channels and mobile devices. This valuable information is then leveraged to inform subsequent tailored content – special offers, contextual ads, personalized alerts – to members most often via a mobile device. For banks and credit unions to attract and retain new customers/members and build brand loyalty, financial marketers must successfully serve up content on mobile devices while analyzing and leveraging the data for improved brand engagement. The year 2014 will see financial marketers combine content marketing, mobile optimization and big data in an actionable, cohesive digital strategy for banks and credit unions.

To learn how ZAG Interactive can assist in your digital strategy, design, development or marketing, please contact us at 860.633.4818 or visit us at zaginteractive.com.


1 Banking Leaders Discuss 2014 Strategic Planning Priorities

2 Digital Marketing Strategies for Financial Services

3 Infographic: Gen Y embraces mobile bill pay, boomers like mail

4 32 Startling Statistics on Mobile Usage [Infographic] http://www.ezanga.com/news/2013/08/05/mobile-usage-stats/

5 Top 5 reasons why people still prefer online banking over mobile banking

6 The global retail banking digital marketing report 2013

7 22 Digital Marketing techniques that demand attention in 2014

8 Top 10 Strategic Planning Trends

9 Financial Marketing Trends 2014 Webinar

10 Marketing Big Data For Financial Services: The Needle In A Haystack

11 The Case for Big Data in the Financial Services Industry

12 Big Data, Big Opportunities: Digital Banking