It’s common for companies like Forbes to publish rankings of the most trustworthy financial companies in the country. The meaning of trust in the financial industry has evolved over the past 10 to 15 years and continues to play a main role in the customer journey. According to the CFA Institute, trust in financial services is at an all-time high. Digital banking experience platforms, chatbots, artificial intelligence, automation, and cybersecurity are just some financial technology advancements that have assisted with this increase in trust among consumers. As a result, there is more competition, and digital marketing is an effective strategy to help you win and land more customers.
Wayne Cichanski, Heather Collins, Mike Cooke, and Brian McDowell are digital marketing leaders for financial institutions. We were lucky enough to have them speak at Conductor’s annual organic marketing conference, C3. By focusing on the eight tips these experts provided for financial service strategies, you can bank on expanding your digital presence while learning how to navigate the industry as trends come and go.
1. Build trust by ranking well on Google
Google’s search index is the world’s largest library, so if your brand ranks in position one, it is respected as the leading authority on the subject matter—and your brand gains trust in the eyes of the consumer. Prioritizing SEO strategies will help your organic rank performance and allow customers to find your content before landing on your competitor’s site.
Pro tip: E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, is a part of Google’s search quality rating guidelines. Keep E-A-T in mind as you’re creating new content to drive higher rankings.
Brian McDowell, Senior Director of Growth Marketing at Credit Karma, sees rank as going hand in hand with trust for his customers: “Ranking well is what will create trust and brand awareness… [T]his will also help improve organic traffic for your domain.”
2. Invest in quality content
You can’t rank well without creating valuable content. Heather Collins and her team at RBC Capital Markets have researched what B2B and B2C customers care about throughout their buyer’s journey in the financial space. Their findings have shown that as customers are in the consideration stage, they want to feel they’re dealing with a brand that’s the best and brightest in terms of advice, guidance, and most knowledgeable on foreseeing what’s in the future. Consumers and businesses alike are leaning on their search bar for answers to their finance-related questions. Providing the answers within your content will help you be seen as a trusted thought leader.
“The feeling of trust comes down to distributing our content and thought-leadership through digital marketing platforms to explain the definition of trust.”– Heather Collins, Director and Head of U.S. Brand Marketing at RBC Capital Markets, emphasizes the importance of creating valuable content
Our 2022 Financial Services Industry report found that top market share owners across the financial sectors tend to focus on creating content, ranging from glossaries to calculators. Charles Schwab, for example, is a top market leader across different types of investment categories (i.g. IRA, 401K, and mutual funds).
These pages by Charles Schwab show a clear understanding of their consumer persona, bucketing content by life stages from early financial planning to living in retirement. Schwab also creates content in different formats spanning written pieces, podcasts, infographics, and videos.
3. Don’t get caught up on search volume
Search volume provides insight into what content topics to prioritize and how to optimize a piece to be customer-voice friendly. It can also help estimate the traffic potential.
Long-tail keywords are searches that tend to be three or more words in length. These types of searches often have a lower search volume, which can cause them to be less competitive to rank for and may have higher conversion rates due to more clear search intent. If a search—regardless of its search volume—seems like it’d be valuable for your customer’s journey, then consider speaking to it.
NerdWallet, for example, created a piece titled “What to Invest in During a Recession.” The monthly search demand for the long-tail keyword, “what to invest in during a recession,” is only 170. However, NerdWallet currently receives an average of 1.6K clicks a month to that article, and this number will only increase as more people start to research recessions due to 2022 economy predictions.
Our four financial services experts had excellent commentary on how to best approach these situations if they arise:
“Your job is to put the right content out there regardless of search volume.”– Mike Cooke, Digital Lead of SEO at Franklin Templeton
“For niche industries, broad content creation with high search volume won’t help as much with capturing the right funnel audience. The content we create needs to be highly customized and relevant.”– Heather Collins, Director and Head of US Brand Marketing at RBC Capital Markets
“Search volume is a top metric to look at but it may not always be the most impactful or help as much with conversions.”– Brian McDowell, Senior Director of Growth Marketing at Credit Karma
“Focusing only on search data can become reactive at times. Understand the customer journey, behavioral patterns, and intent of users to anticipate what their looking for and map out that full funnel connection.”– Wayne Cichanski, VP of Search and Site Experience at iQuanti
Pro tip: Look to People Also Ask result types to brainstorm and get ideas for content topics. This is a free and great way to understand the types of questions being asked that are relevant to your products and services and find ways to incorporate them into your content.
4. Use engagement metrics to search for patterns
The first step in understanding engagement metrics is by knowing what goals are important to the company. For some, it may be as straightforward as a download of a report being a win, whereas for others the win might be that the user signs up or signs into their account.
Digital marketing teams tend to focus on site engagement metrics like pageviews and bounce rate to set KPIs. Take the time to research industry benchmark standards and compare your own site’s performance data to past months, quarters, or years as you test new content creation. Our 2022 industry benchmark report found that the average pages per visit for the finance industry is 6 and the average bounce rate is around 38%.
“It comes back to traffic; if you have a good amount of traffic, look for patterns to learn what you’re doing right.”– Mike Cooke, Digital Lead of SEO at Franklin Templeton, recommends adapting your site engagement goals as the market adapts
5. Focus on improving the mobile experience
When analyzing a keyword set of over 20K related-financial searches, we found that over 64% of searches occur on mobile devices. Over 165K people a month are searching for the term “mobile banking.” Being able to view banking and investments on a mobile device is only going to continue to be more of the norm as companies take the time to invest in building and optimizing their mobile apps.
The mobile experience of a landing page is one of the top factors considered when Google’s algorithm determines the page’s ranking for search terms. Check out our in-depth report for the latest tips and actionable insights on how to make a website mobile-friendly.
6. Legal and compliance teams are your friend
This may seem like an unexpected strategy for digital marketers, but when working at financial institutions, it’s advantageous to team up with legal and compliance teams. Major events, such as the financial crisis in 2008, caused regulatory changes to occur for banks, insurance, and brokerage firms. Compliance and SEO both value trustworthiness and aim to provide an honest and safe brand experience. Both teams also have to trust that each team wants what’s best for the customer.
As digital marketers, it’s valuable to bring in the legal team as early and often as possible throughout content ideation. As tedious as this sounds, this will help avoid future frustrating situations like having to redo an entire campaign due to missing compliance guidelines. Heather Collins sees her legal and compliance team as partners to the brand team. Here are a few of her tips when working with legal:
- Be patient.
- Set expectations on a reasonable timeline.
- Don’t be so married to what you think is the right outcome.
- Be willing to push back.
7. Continue to prepare for a cookieless world
The increase in privacy laws is only going to reinforce the importance of organic marketing as third-party cookies are disappearing. This will cause targeted (AKA paid) ads to become increasingly volatile and unreliable. Content and measurement will allow companies to understand what users are looking for. The customer is now in control; every company will be forced to become a data company and rely on its own first-party data.
The cookieless future is still seen as a mystery, so it’s worth tracking searches relevant to your financial services and products now to see how the result page (SERP) shifts in the upcoming years. Google is even a competitor as they’re starting to serve their own answers which can cause a decrease in organic traffic to sites.
Pro tip: Financial institutions should focus on being transparent and openly communicating their privacy strategies so customers can trust them in return.
8. Future tech isn’t always the answer
It’s easy to get caught up in big future tech innovations that we predict will change the world. Space tourism, self-driving cars, the metaverse, and augmented reality (AR) at work are just a few examples of captivating technologies that are easy to get wrapped up in. When thinking about these innovations from a business perspective, executives need to decide which advancements they’d like to be a part of.
“Before you jump into something and think about it from a novelty perspective, take a step back and think about what value it can bring for your client.”– Heather Collins, Head of U.S. Brand Marketing at RBC Capital Markets, giving advice on how to approach movements like the metaverse
This customer-first mentality is one of the best ways to navigate the mysterious future of tech. Start by seeing if it’s something that would even be a good fit for your existing and future customer base and if the strategy also matches your employees’ culture.
Set up your financial brand for greatness going into 2023
Implementing all of these tips will enhance your current digital marketing strategies and highlight your financial company as a trustworthy organization. One of the underlying themes to prioritize is collaboration. As digital marketers make advancements with privacy, user experience, technology, and government regulations, their teams will need to partner more with legal and IT teams. The more teams at an organization understand what organic marketing is and why SEO is so important, the more success you’ll have trying to differentiate your brand as being trustworthy.
The customer experience should be at the forefront of decision-making for financial institutions of all sectors and sizes. To learn more about how to leverage digital marketing in finance to better understand your audience and how to stay ahead of emerging trends, check out our advanced SEO Marketing Platform.