Personalisation: It’s a 2020 focus for financial services. Here’s why

Marketing trends come and go, usually shifting to reflect consumer interest and priorities and the perception of major brands in a given industry. Financial services are no exception and we’re now seeing a fresh drive amongst major players to personalise their services.

Customised content is seeing a surge in popularity and it’s easy to see why: COVID-19 has, despite its other effects on UK business, driven most companies to refresh and revitalise their digital offerings. Financial services are no exception to the rule, with the ability of personalisation to drive growth and brand awareness reigning supreme as a marketing focus for the remainder of the year and beyond.

Studies abound, with some showing as many as 37% of financial service companies as highlighting the new priority of targeting through personalisation. The challenge, though, is getting it right; other studies on similar subjects have found an overwhelming majority of banks and lenders to be unsure as to how to effectively personalise their offerings in an authentic manner. What’s missing?

A double-edged sword.

The key reason for hesitation amongst financial service companies is clear and understandable: They don’t want to get burned by getting it wrong. Any endeavour related to digital communication in 2020 is a risky one; social media and the viral nature of breaking stories means a well-meaning stab at personalising a bank or lender’s communications strategy can backfire spectacularly.

Studies performed by Gartner on the subject found the majority of respondents to consider unsubscribing from a company’s communications if they felt the messaging was insincere. Similar research performed by none other than Google has found negative associations and results with poorly implemented personalised advertising. The consequences of messing it up are real and tangible.

What’s necessary to do it right?

So, you want to consider what’s important in avoiding that negative result. Let’s look at a few key principles that are highly regarded by marketers like Digiconomy Ltd in their importance and value where personalisation is concerned.

Consistency: One of the worst things any content or communications-related strategy can do is be inconsistent. It confuses customers and clients, muddies brand image and limits the cumulative growth any effective comms strategy can offer.

To avoid this, consider some way of setting consistency itself as a KPI. Think about measuring the success of your personalisation efforts in weeks and months where your plans were adhered to closely, and be sure to have consistency through the usual paths a customer or prospective client will travel through, such as an advert leading to a landing page and a subsequent newsletter.

Poll your customers and clients: You won’t know what to personalise towards if your buyer personas are out of date and ill-defined. As with any reliable and effective marketing activity, you should start with solid research. Speak to your audience through polls and newsletters, invest in a refresh of your buyer personas and get specific about what pain points, priorities and frustrations your newly personalised messaging will touch upon.

Test iteratively: We’re blessed to have the power of platforms like Google Ads at our fingertips. If you want to benefit consistently and safely as you grow and expand your new communications strategy, you’d be best suited to incrementally test different styles of messaging and to measure the results.

Consider setting up a set of landing pages that reflect different types of tone and personalisation. Link these to similarly worded mini-campaigns on Google Ads and compare the performance. In time, it’s as simple as ditching the poor performing sets and expanding your budget on the best ones – and reviewing just why you think they’re doing so well.

In time and with a measured and diligent approach, any financial services company can benefit from the ability of personalised messaging to drive digital growth and to build consumer trust during a difficult period in our country.