MNI Blog  /  5 minute read

A Strategic Guide to Digital Marketing & Advertising for Financial Services

Over the last two decades, customer visits to banks have dropped from over two dozen per year to roughly three visits per year. Without face-to-face interaction, traditional advertising is no

Over the last two decades, customer visits to banks have dropped from over two dozen per year to roughly three visits per year. Without face-to-face interaction, traditional advertising is no longer the solution to the pressing challenge of connecting a financial services company to its existing and potential customers.

Consumers—particularly in the well-studied Millennial demographic—desire connectivity and conversation. Traditional TV ads are one-sided and lack depth, limiting their fit with an audience that increasingly demands personalization. In 2019, financial services brands can breathe easy. The current digital era has created an open environment where ads build relationships and provide value, particularly educational value, which deepens consumer engagement with their financial institutions. Also, considering that this industry relies on consumers being hyper-aware of new services as well as regulations that govern them, digital ads today are the norm rather than the exception.

With digital channels and tactics evolving rapidly, as well as consumers’ desire for personalization, the financial services brands have had to dive headfirst into digital waters to stay relevant, cut through the clutter and competition, and grab attention (as well as wallets).

Consumer Fintech Trends to Watch in 2019

  • Financial services brands are expected to spend over $15 billion on digital ads this year, a nearly 17% growth over 2018’s spending.
  • Search is vital to this industry, as consumers research financial products and interest rates. Still, display continues to outpace search in spending: outlays on display ads will increase by 18% to $8.16 billion, while search will surpass $6 billion in 2019.
  • Over 25% of display outlays will go toward video ads, as consumers seek more avenues to improve their financial literacy.
  • Last year, programmatic direct was the preferred method for digital video ad buys for nearly six-out-of-ten financial services brands. An underlying factor for this is the need for more control over first-party data and how it is used to target specific audience groups with personalized messaging.
  • 70% of the industry’s digital outlays went toward mobile in 2018. Mobile will continue to get the bulk of financial service brands’ ad budgets through 2019, as spending is expected to reach nearly $11 billion.


Effective Advertising Requires Financial Brands to Understand the Buyer's Journey

Choosing a financial partner, product, or service is nothing like shopping at a supermarket. The stakes are higher, so the decision-making process is more complex. Consumers need carefully crafted messages served through the right channels at the right time.

The key to selling financial services is identifying where in the purchase journey the consumer is and keeping your message consistent and coherent, as different channels work collectively. Tracking investment and performance across advertising touchpoints is important because moving your consumers toward conversion is a cumulative experience.


Leveraging Display and Video Ads

Consumers aren’t always actively looking for solutions to their financial problems and needs. Display advertising is an excellent way to gain visibility with specific audiences that might not be actively searching for your products or services. The larger and more visible formats yield higher conversion rates—think floating ads, homepage takeovers, skins, and overlays. Financial brands can now choose from a variety of options.  Some video and display advertising examples include:

  • Site-Specific—When display ads appear on sites that target consumers visit, content gains relevance and credibility. This is because your brand builds trust by leveraging site content and editorial reputation.
  • Contextual—Editorial content strongly influences on-site ads and displaying your ad alongside relevant content always drives engagement in your favor. Imagine the impact on a potential customer who sees an ad from a bank promoting mortgage loans when reading a banking article in the online New York Times. Contextual ads carry the obvious benefit of timely, relevant messages delivered directly to engaged consumers. 
  • Behavioral—Financial institutions focusing more on the person than on the web page can track online behavior to refine targeting efforts. Consumers who respond well to behavioral targeting tend to have higher incomes, shop online more often, and spend more.
  • Location/Geographical90% of product searches result in offline purchases within 20 miles of where the consumer lives or works. It’s no wonder that more financial brands are localizing display to reach consumers in targeted areas with tailored offers and brand messaging.


Creating a Social Media Marketing Program That Converts

Social media gives brands a platform to share content and connect with individuals and organizations that support the brand. By leveraging multiple platforms across organic and paid modes, a strategic effort in social media marketing for financial services can help brands gain visibility, drive leads, and reinforce their brand identities.

63% of affluent customers reported that they were motivated to take action after learning about financial products and services on social media.

21% of consumers reported using social media to look for product information when seeking a new credit card.

  • Twitter is a great place to connect directly with content partners, industry leaders, account holders, and participants in financial-education programs.
  • Facebook posts have a longer lifespan and can generate lengthy comment threads. Financial institutions looking to generate B2C connections will benefit from a branded Facebook page and a well-thought-out content strategy.
  • LinkedIn works best for generating professional connections and sharing industry-specific content and thought leadership. Engage with other leaders and influencers in your industry, as well as in other industries that can support you.
  • People use YouTube just like they do Google—to find information and answer their questions. It’s a great place to publish valuable content to earn awareness for your brand. Video is also extremely valuable for reaching affluent investors. According to Spectrem Group, 21% of millionaires use YouTube for videos on financial topics.

Investing in social media advertising increases the chances that your boosted posts will be seen by your target audience. Because social media feeds are subject to constant motion and algorithm changes, only a small percentage of your audience will see any given post. Paid social takes the guesswork out of posting by letting you strategically choose your audience. Paid social’s targeted and timely nature results in a 25% higher conversion rate than organic social—making it an investment with significant returns.

The Role of Content and Inbound Marketing in the Financial Services Industry

Many individuals are quite lost when it comes to choosing the right financial product, let alone the right banking partner. This is where content marketing comes into the picture.

Content marketing goes one step ahead of generating awareness. It informs consumers and empowers them with the knowledge that they need to make the right decision.

  • Blog posts (and guest posts)—The purpose of this top-of-the-funnel content is to raise awareness and drive engagement from a web visitor. Blog posts can be used to write articles to educate an audience and put your experience and expertise on display and share resources or solutions to address your consumers’ pain points.
  • Videos—Not everyone enjoys reading eBooks or blog posts, which is where videos come into play.  Videos offer a more engaging option for certain audiences.
  • JPMorgan Chase produces “Kneading Dough,” a YouTube series where pro-athletes discuss money-management lessons they’ve amassed through their careers.  With 165 million views, the series has been successful in reaching people looking to improve their financial literacy.
  • Infographics—Infographics present data visually, which makes them effective at displaying complicated information or numbers in a compelling way. Their visual nature makes infographics highly consumable and great for sharing on social channels.
  • Whitepapers—This may translate into guides, worksheets, and calculators that you give away to your site visitors, in exchange for their email addresses. Whitepapers are valuable pieces of content that take a deeper dive into a particular subject and offer in-depth knowledge and resources to a reader.


Email Marketing

The most successful financial brands touch their consumers 12-18 times per year. This keeps the brand alive in consumers’ minds, so they’re more likely to mention the brand when a referral opportunity arrives. It also helps improve customer satisfaction and increases consumer awareness of financial products and services offered, resulting in increased business. 

This is where email marketing can play a large role in digital advertising. An email newsletter touches and educates clients and is easily shareable to referrals.

83% of the top financial service companies are using email marketing.

Customers want relevant, informative emails and they value quality over quantity. Personalized, high-quality emails featuring engaging video snippets, motivating content, and related articles encourage recipients to open your branded emails, consume content, and take relevant actions.

Your customers love to be kept in the loop, whether it’s about a new investment option or a new service, like offering paperless statements. When your company offers something new, tell customers about it via email. This nurtures your relationship with them. 

There is no magic formula to connect with, inspire and convert your target audience groups; just strategy. Talk to our media experts today to know how to best reach your consumers online across the financial services purchase funnel.



U.S. Financial Services Industry Statpack 2018 | eMarketer

Power of Display Advertising | Neustar Marketing

Six social marketing tactics for financial institutions | VISA

The Financial Advisor’s Digital Marketing Playbook | eMoney

Social Trends for Financial Services and Insurance 2019 | Hootsuite

The Power Of Email Marketing For Financial Advisors | FMG Suite