Webinars Empower Financial Organizations with Better Digital Experiences

This article was originally published on paymentssource.com. Shared with the author’s permission.

New data protection laws are changing marketing forever for merchants, payment firms and other companies.

It started with GDPR, the EU’s landmark privacy regulation that ensured consumers must consent to receive digital communications from corporations. California is next: The California Consumer Privacy Act, modeled largely after GDPR, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

As more state and national governments feel the privacy demands from their constituents, this trend will fundamentally change how we market to our audiences. Making phone calls and sending unsolicited emails will eventually be a tactic of the past.

When it comes to certain marketing tactics, such as promoting webinars, the strategy is too often to simply blast as many emails and try to get as many folks to attend as possible. The same goes for in-person events. As these regulations take hold, marketers need to move from force-feeding and spamming their database to create engaging experiences that audiences will want to sign up for and even subscribe to long term. It’s no longer about generating leads, now we have to learn how to build an audience.

So you may wonder, who is executing the model? What companies are already creating valuable, subscription-worthy content right now? The answer may surprise you: Financial services and payment companies are leading the way.

That’s right. A sector not known for its innovation or willingness to change is actually a shining example when it comes to creating hubs of engaging content. Charles Schwab, for example, this summer announced a first-of-its-kind pilot program modeled after Netflix: a $300 signup fee gets customers a one-on-one consulting session and $30 a month after provides unlimited access to their videos and content. A glance at Schwab Live illustrates how they’ve created a news source for their customers, with wall-to-wall programming covering topics ranging from “Introduction to Futures Trading” to “How to Invest in Dividend Paying Stocks” to live market coverage and more. It’s a shrewd move. Now customers have a CNBC-style content stream that’s on-demand and personalized to their needs and interests.

Citi has its “Life and Money by Citi” section that features sit-down interviews with celebrities and athletes like Noah Syndergaard, Dak Prescott and Saquon Barkley. These conversations draw in a wider range of audiences, including those who are not as engaged in the financial community.

Meanwhile, American Express, which has long been the leader in the business market, has a landing page that features a range of topics to advise SMB owners and executives alike. These topics include — in a very meta sense — content marketing. Other titles include “Should You Create Your Own Podcast?” and “Doing Business in Japan: 10 Etiquette Rules You Should Know.” Many of these subjects seemingly have no connection to the financial services expertise you’d think American Express would be touting.

But that’s because this industry understands what it was built on, and that’s face-to-face relationships.

These financial services companies are still building relationships, but they’re doing it in innovative, digital new ways. They’re doing it through creating engaging content experiences and news hubs that their customers can enjoy on their own time. The rest of us should follow their lead — or risk having our own marketing messages go bankrupt.

Five Asset Management Webinars To Kickstart Your Marketing

Without face-to-face interactions, asset management companies struggle to maintain expertise, spread influence and establish themselves as trusted experts in the digital age. To combat this challenge, asset management marketers are turning to webinars as a digital channel that creates more human interactions on a digital scale.

So what do these digital programs look like? We’ve scoured our asset management customer webinars to find out what events they’re running and why. Here are the five most popular webinar programs we found.

Global and Sector Outlooks

Asset management companies are using webinars to share market conditions and outlooks with investment communities. It’s an opportunity to promote your firm’s expertise, build thought leadership with advisors and create stickiness with clients. To help validate your predictions, showcase your investment advisors or portfolio managers — you can even consider having an economist join the conversation. Within your webinar consoles, you can provide links to further research, calls-to-actions linking to specific funds and influence investments without pushing products. Offering global and sector outlook webinars also enables you to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way than a simple report.

Fund Updates

Sending fund updates via newsletters lacks engagement and deprives you of valuable data. Firms know this and are shifting to a regular cadence of webinars to keep investors informed and engaged. With a webinar program in place, you can show performance metrics while providing color around the data points and open up the conversation for questions and answers. Delivering full transparency on everything you’re doing with funds helps make up for the lack of face-to-face interactions the digital age has lead to.

Fund Launches

Digital fund launches are empowering asset management companies to announce new funds that are engaging, scalable and provide a more human touch. But advisors often have hesitations when it comes to investing in new funds. With live webinars, you can answer advisors’ burning questions in real-time, provide resources on new funds and remove any barriers holding them back. Webinars also provide advisors with all of the relevant content you’ve created in support of a fund, including presentations, reports, videos and interviews. Post-event, you can use webinar data to discover who is most interested and direct your sales team appropriately.

Continuing Education

Webinars are taking the place of online tutorials as a channel for advisors to obtain continuing education credits. Webinars provide a more dynamic experience for self-education and a better way to connect with company expertise. With ON24, you can offer full or partial CE credits and auto-generate certificates after attendees complete standard governing body requirements, including tests, required viewing time and more.

Knowledge Centers

If you’re running all the programs above, you’ve created a lot of content, including accompanying reports, articles and videos as well. Aggregate this content into Engagement Hubs where advisors can binge on the information most relevant to their needs and interests. You can create specific content hubs for unique clients, topics or CE accredited webinars. Collect data on every piece of content a person watches, what they did, what they downloaded and how long they watched webinars or spent on a piece of content.

To see peer examples and hear a deeper explanation into these programs, check out the webinar Digital Engagement for Asset Management Marketers.

How FinServ Can Get On Board with Financial Education

Research has shown that consumers are most likely to turn to their primary financial institution (55%) when seeking financial literacy resources, ahead of online sources (45%) or their family and friends (39%). The payoff is certainly not negligible: a financial education program would prompt nearly a fifth (18%) of consumers to bring more business to their financial provider.

Millennials are one of the most important segments to consider when developing a content program. They are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve their financial health and prefer using digital channels to access content, usually turning to comparison and advice websites. Over half (55%) of millennials said that a financial education program offered by their financial provider would be ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ valuable (compared to an average of 38% across all consumers surveyed).

Santander’s Prosper and Thrive content hub, which was set up to deliver regular financial content to this key demographic, is an example of a successful content initiative. Designed to resemble a media outlet, the hub features practical content prospects can relate to and helps the bank move away from a heavy focus on product promotions.

C. Decker Marquis, Santander’s SVP and Director of Digital, Social Media and Multichannel Marketing, explained the rationale behind its financial education offering:

“We wanted to talk to people earlier in their decision-making process, and wanted our content to be found when they had lifestyle questions.” She added: “You wouldn’t necessarily think about coming to a bank for the types of stories we feature, but we want our audience to feel like we understand them and their goals.”

How to Financial Services Can Connect with Content

Despite these success stories, there’s evidence that content creation is one of the areas that’s downplayed in the industry. In many cases, content marketing is perfunctory at best. In 2018, FSI companies were less inclined than their peers in other sectors to cite ‘creating compelling content for digital experiences’ as their most exciting opportunity (7% vs. 15%). They were also less likely to prioritize content marketing, content management and creation of video content.

Deploying a mix of content types is the best way to reach audiences, whether you operate in the B2C or B2B space. Almost four in five (78%) treasury and finance professionals consider webinars to be useful or very useful, only slightly behind conferences and white papers/research reports, and sharing the third spot with infographics and interactive tools.

Finance organizations need to be careful not to fall into the quantity over quality trap though. Three in five (59%) executives working for asset management companies claim that too much content is being produced in the industry and the vast majority (94%) agree that content in financial services needs to be more targeted.

Compliance, Legal Aren’t the Hurdles Financial Ed Thinks It Is

While this indicates there’s a lot more work to be done, it also suggests that restrictions imposed by legal and regulatory teams don’t slow down content initiatives that much and content can move quite quickly through the long approval workflows. Compliance teams increasingly sit in marketing departments and are involved early, at the planning stages, to enable swift content production.

In order to stand out in a world overloaded with information and be seen as a trusted partner, finance organizations need to frame the messages they want to convey with the help of their content program in a way that resonates with their audiences. It’s also worth looking beyond close competitors to get a glimpse into how other sectors are serving the same audiences.

Content in the finance industry is used both to inspire and help assess options, and it’s worth remembering that consumer and business audiences have slightly different needs. Consumers crave transparency and timely advice, are eager to understand the impact of their financial choices and don’t want to miss out on good financial opportunities, and content can dramatically influence their perceptions. Finance professionals prefer well-researched, data-driven content and look for impartiality, specialist insight and practical guidance.

Discover how professionals in the financial services industry can provide a better digital experience with ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report: Financial Services Trends.

How FinServ Can Keep the Human Touch with Tech

Leading finance firms are starting to reap the rewards of their early investment in emerging technology, such as chatbots used to deliver automated advice that is impartial and fully customized. A renewed focus on improving the customer experience is now turning their attention to distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing (or DARQ, as Accenture calls this technology quartet). Obviously, the FinServ digital experience is a topic on the industry’s mind.

The vast majority (96%) of banking executives said that new technologies have accelerated their pace of innovation over the past three years. Encouragingly, nine in ten banks are already experimenting with one of more DARQ technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) is leading with 43% adoption, slightly lower than the 48% in insurance. This is not surprising when factoring in the 20-25 % cost savings banks can expect from augmenting their operations with AI.

How Finance Views Tech Today

However, the technology wave sweeping through the finance industry is seen as both an opportunity and a threat. Nearly a third (32 %) of financial services CEOs regard ‘speed of technological change’ as a top threat to their organizations, compared to 28% across all industries.

Competitive forces continue to intensify, which puts further pressure on finance organizations to elevate the services they provide with the help of technology. After disrupting the traditional advisory services space with passive asset management and low minimums, the robo-advisory sector is expanding into deposit banking with cash management programs and high-yield savings accounts. According to The Robo Report, “the expansion from digital investment advice to cash management and banking is well underway. These attractive offers from fintech companies will continue to ramp up competition amongst traditional financial advice firms and banks.”

Three Ways Financial Services Professionals Can Step Up Their Digital Game Today

Make engagement a strategic pillar, shaping everything you do

In the highly competitive finance world, companies that succeed will be the ones that build trust and foster ongoing engagement. Use an array of engagement strategies and tactics to stand out from the pack and meet your customers where they are.

Combine human interaction with technology to facilitate seamless interactions

The race to adopt new technology has inadvertently removed the personal touch. But human touch still has a place in this high-tech world, and future success will be very much dependent on the ability to combine the best aspects of technology with the human advice-driven model into one seamless customer experience.

Webinars help educate and inspire and make audiences feel more empowered.

Draw on your organization’s specific specialisms and offer a combination of data, research and evidence to showcase your expertise. Putting your audience’s needs first is key, and educational content is the best way to do that.

Tech Comes to The Rescue

Ironically, it is technology that will help finance organizations regain the customer intimacy of the past by uncovering interests, behaviors, likes and needs. Most banking executives believe that digital demographics will enable them to identify unmet customer needs and expand the way they deliver products and services.

As emerging technologies become the table stakes of the future, finance organizations can’t afford to be hesitant about the priorities they should pursue. Unlocking their full potential requires agility and commitment to innovation as well as getting the basics right: understanding what customers need and meeting those needs. And the end of the day, the FinServ digital experience is set to improve.

Discover how professionals in the financial services industry can provide a better digital experience with ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report: Financial Services Trends.

How Digital Marketing for Financial Services is Changing

The finance industry, one of the main contributors to the global economy, has seen more disruption from digital innovators and startups in the last few years than ever before. Incumbents face significant challenges as new players enter the market, unique operating models emerge and technology redefines product and service delivery.

Sentiment among financial services firms continues to deteriorate in the face of a challenging economic and political climate. Building a successful brand in an era of fierce and unprecedented competition is an onerous undertaking and requires extensive investment and commitment. In Europe alone, nearly a fifth (17%) of players that entered the banking market over the last 13 years have captured one third of revenue growth.

Digital Expectations for Financial Services

Organizations are also racing to meet expectations that haven’t even been shaped by their close competitors, but by best-in-class companies operating in other sectors. The appetite for instant, always-on experiences transcends sector boundaries and is set to significantly impact the finance industry. Adding value while maintaining utility and security – all while complying with a complex regulatory burden – is a balancing act that organizations will need to excel at in the coming years.

An inherent level of trust in financial services has traditionally contributed to above-average levels of loyalty in the industry but gaining trust is no longer an easy win. Unsurprisingly, trust in financial institutions is yet to recover following the economic crisis. At 57% among the general population, the industry remains least trusted in comparison to others. Additionally, over two-fifths (45%) of millennials don’t trust banks to be fair and honest. The ability to engender trust is a critical deliverable when it comes to customer experience design, so it’s something that finance organizations will need to work towards if they are to meet the challenges of the future.

Before diving into ON24’s benchmark data, let’s explore some of the challenges the finance sector faces today and how organizations can turn them to their advantage.

Digital Marketing for Financial Services Need an Engagement Upgrade

Historically, financial institutions haven’t offered much in the way of differentiation. This is set to change as digital continues to disrupt their relationship with clients. Both wholesale and retail financial users are now experience-centered, have high expectations and low loyalty, and demand instant, easy access to financial services.

As fintech players are changing the rules of the game by focusing on cutting-edge services powered by data and technology, providing a differentiated customer experience has moved to the top of the incumbents’ priority list. Balancing transparency and security without impairing the customer experience continues to be a major theme in the industry, but regulatory constraints limit the speed of innovation. For many organizations, selling products through multiple intermediaries, such as financial advisors, brokers or insurance agents, further compounds the issue.

While average retention rates in the banking, financial services and insurance sectors are relatively high, ranging from 75% to 83%, it doesn’t mean that continued investment in engagement strategies and tactics is less important. Developing innovative services that tap into the latest technologies (explored in more detail in the next section), forming strategic partnerships and connecting with customers on an aspirational rather than rational level are just some of the ways organizations can build trust and deliver positive experiences.

Finance Gets Digital, but Doesn’t Act On Digital

The vast majority (87%) of banking executives claim that the combination of customization and real-time delivery will underpin future competitive advantage, only slightly behind insurance executives at 90%. However, the gap behind perception and execution is large: only 38% of organizations in the banking sector are prioritizing a customized approach to delivering products and services and a mere 9% are prioritizing on-demand delivery.

With fintech and insurtech disruption at the core of this journey to customer centricity, the spotlight has gradually shifted from fierce competition to mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborative innovation. As customer demands continue to grow and catering to all their needs is increasingly difficult, new entrants and established players have come to see the value of working together. Opening API platforms to third parties unlocks value from data, enables organizations to enhance their value proposition with exclusive or premium features, and accelerate speed to market.

In order to respond to the ever-changing client needs and create points of differentiation, finance organizations need to think outside the box, import best practices from other industries and form strategic partnerships that enable them to add value while retaining utility.

Discover how professionals in the financial services industry can provide a better digital experience with ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report: Financial Services Trends.