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7 Big Takeaways from Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit

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Nestled in the heart of the Toronto financial district, digital marketers, social directors, and compliance officers from North America assembled for the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit annual event.  The event is built for financial marketing executives and focuses on dedicated streams around social & compliance, big data & optimization, mobile marketing & customer experience.
It would be difficult to sum up all the topics covered and discussions held during the breaks, so here are my top seven takeaways from the event:
1) It’s all about the customer experience
Jon Day of SapientNitro kicked off the event with some sobering statistics noting that only 54% of the public trusts Wall Street, haunted still by the prolonged downturn of 2009-2009. In order to rebuild investor trust, technology can help scale and create more personalized experiences.  At a foundational level, consumers expect financial services companies to help meet their needs and those that thrive go the extra mile by making it engagement easy and value added.  For brands, scaling via technology can help them save money, convert opportunities into sales and provide value through enhanced experiences.
Action: In order to rebuild trust and meet consumer expectations,  financial services organizations need to create personalized memorable experiences that consumers will share.
2) We’re living in a multi-device, multi-channel world 
Access to information via multiple platforms is commonplace these days, and consumers expect brands to reach them via their preferred channels.  The good news is that multiple channels don’t necessarily mean new content creation as much as the creative process of repurposing it.  A single white paper can be converted into a presentation, an infographic, or a podcast all amplified via social assets.  An approach that worked well for us when we launched the Advisor of the Future Executive Report in February, maximizing its exposure and providing readers different ways to experience the content.
Action: Identify the primary mediums your customers use to consume content, and create and repurpose content and distribute in multiple mediums.  
3) Reduced barriers of entry = success
Opening a checking or savings account should be easy.  Finding out your balance should be easy.  Moving money from one account to the other should be easy.  Financial services companies that find creative ways of making the process of becoming a client easy will thrive.  Online banking has solved for the ease of client acquisition for everyday transactions seamless and the real opportunity lies in doing the same on longer term client relationships that include credit, mortgage and investments.
Action: Reduce barriers of entry to secure the customer by making the process simple, and build loyalty by making the maintenance and access to information intuitive and easy.
4) Mobile, mobile, and mobile
The conversation around mobile and its growing use permeated every conversation and presentation at the event, especially smartphone usage.  Erin Elofson, Director of Financial Services of Facebook Canada shocked the audience when she shared that there are 7.2 billion SIM cards, outnumbering the number of people in the world.  In addition, there are approximately 100 countries in the world with more mobile phones than people.  I’ll let that sink in.
This year we crossed over where 51% of offline sales were influenced by the web, and more and more of that experience is being done on a handheld device.  The bottom line: if you don’t have a mobile strategy or your website is not optimized for a mobile experience you are placing your company, product and service at risk.
Action: Develop a mobile strategy that recognizes how your consumers are likely to seek out information or experience your product/service.
5) Collaboration wins
Creating a digital strategy does not happen in a single silo, but through collaboration. Implementation, especially in a regulated industry like financial services, requires buy-in and approval from multiple stakeholders. The earlier you engage stakeholders and make them part of the process, the easier it is to implement, process and maintain your digital program. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and digital transformation begins in the conference room.
Action: In order to build a digital strategy, assemble a team of key stakeholders to represent the interests of their departments and identify the opportunities and risks associated with a digital strategy, and stay at it.
6) The growing influence of Millennials
Millennials are more than just a demographic as much as a mind set. These digital natives have only known a working world with the internet. These savvy collaborators are influencing the experience, the content and the mediums.  As they become the majority of the workforce in 2020, they will drive it.
Millennials demand so much from companies and brands, and expect things at their fingertips on a 24/7 basis.  They consume content in multiple formats and prefer information via text, social, instant messaging, and blogging to share content and connect. Are you doing enough to connect with this growing base of investors?
Action: Create a strategy to address the changing and evolving expectations of the market influenced by Millennials. Focus on adding value, being authentic and socially responsible.  Leverage technology to personalize, simplify and amplify.  You can do it!
7) Content IS the ad
Traditional advertising is transparent, and consumers don’t like to be sold too- they want a conversation.  Savvy marketers are finding ways to increase brand awareness by developing creative content that helps tell their story aimed at adding value. Embed your message in stories, pictures, infographics.  In short- tell better stories where your product or service plays a starring role.
Action: Develop personas based on demographics and psychographics to understand your client and use this date to drive the kind of content that clients and prospect want, and the mediums that will make the most sense to tell your story.
In summary, the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit offered up two days of interesting conversations and themes that sparked new ideas and themes.  What was clear was that digital technology, especially mobile,  is moving and evolving faster than the industry is prepared to adopt.  Thereby, the ability for financial services companies to adapt and then adopt will prove to be a competitive advantage.
Are you ready? To learn ways to engage today’s social, mobile customer, read about our predictive social suite for advisors.
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Victor Gaxiola

Thought leader, speaker, host of the #HSonAir podcast. Evangelist for digital tech adoption in financial services.

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