Financial Brands Can’t Afford to Ignore Real-Life Conversations

Published by Engagement Labs October 20, 2017

More than half of financial services marketers say they plan to increase their investment in marketing analytics, according to a survey conducted by Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe. As a data and analytics company, that’s music to our ears. 

But the findings also indicate that many marketers still seem to undervalue a key asset: real-life conversations. Just 11% of survey respondents say they’re making the combination of offline and online data a priority, and Econsultancy notes this could be:

“an important advantage for established organizations with a high street presence, over the digital-only challengers.”

We couldn’t agree more. We’ve done extensive research proving the powerful impact of consumer conversations on sales. And in our analysis of financial services companies, few are what we’d consider “Conversation Commanders” – those brands that excel at driving conversation both offline and in social media.

Consider, for example, Fidelity Investments. The investment company once again tops our latest analysis of the top financial services brands for social influence, and it continues to do so because it has very strong offline scores.

But Fidelity and other traditional financial services brands should be wary of digital-only competitors. Despite the lack of street presence, brands such as PayPal are poised to disrupt the industry – and not only with technology. 

In our latest rankings, PayPal jumped 10 spots due to a surge in its offline TotalSocial® scores over the last six months. The payments company has been a consistently strong performer in social media, but its offline scores now match its online performance.

The brand has moved more aggressively toward a mobile-first mindset, added new digital financial services such as bill pay, and strengthened partnerships with major banks and tech companies. These actions have elevated consumer conversations about their brand not only on social media but also in real-world conversations.

PayPal’s example offers key lessons for other financial services companies in how they can amp up their social influence campaigns. The following tips will help you drive more consumer conversations about your brand and have a greater impact on sales. 

Understand the relationship between word-of-mouth and sales

Many brands are focusing heavily on social media, and becoming a social brand has real benefits. But social means more than social media and our data shows that real-life conversations are massive in quantity and significantly drive sales. Ignoring them can be a costly mistake. Truly understanding the balance between offline and online conversations as it relates to your brand is critical for optimizing your marketing strategy.

Identify the messages and media most likely to spark brand talk

Marketers know they need to tailor each campaign for their target audience and media channel. But impressions alone shouldn’t guide strategy. Some messages are more likely to resonate with a specific consumer group than others. In addition, some channels are better than others for delivering that message. Advanced predictive analytics can help marketers determine which messages and channels are likely to spark more conversations about their brand.

Know what your competitors are doing

Most marketers already keep close tabs on their competition, but few appear to be taking the extra step of fully understanding what is driving the social influence of specific competitors. This type of analysis is especially valuable because it often yields important insights about each competitor’s marketing strategy, thus enabling financial brands to respond more effectively to specific campaigns.

As digital-only financial brands gain more of a foothold in the sector, it’s understandable that traditional brands would want to invest more in the digital side of marketing analytics. But they should be very careful not to ignore real-life conversations. The recommendations above may seem counter-intuitive as the industry changes, but focusing on the total picture will prevent financial marketers from undervaluing this key asset.

To learn more about social influence and how you can leverage it for your brand, check out our e-book. 

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