1. Measurement is key! Utilise campaign tracking within Google Analytics
Understanding the performance of your marketing activity is essential, from informing day-to-day optimisation recommendations, through to board-level reporting and justifying additional investment.
A relatively low cost way of tracking your activity is using campaign tracking within your Google Analytics account. However as Google Analytics only reports on three channels: organic, referral and “none”, a little extra work is required if you want to measure the performance of other channels like aggregators and social. You will need to tag destination URLs with specified tracking parameters. This enables Google Analytics to override the default campaign, source and medium values when a user lands on the site, meaning you can attribute sales / conversions back to those channels. If you don’t have campaign tracking set up, this can result in sessions being incorrectly attributed to the wrong source.
When every single paid traffic source is attributed correctly, on top of the benefits of standard reporting you can also use the multi-channel funnel and attribution reports to understand the relationship between each channel. These reports can often support the argument for keeping a channel alive, even if it’s not delivering quite the Cost Per Sale (CPS) on a direct basis.
Our advice in a nutshell? Tag everything! System generated renewal emails, social media and aggregator activity are natural choices for those of you in the financial services and insurance space. Make a long list and talk to your developers to find out what is possible.
2. Use social media to give your brand a personality...
As in any sector, social media offers financial services and insurance brands the opportunity to engage with both existing and potential customers on a more personal level. The ability to participate in direct, one-to-one conversations is a unique opportunity in terms of online marketing opportunities and something you should embrace.
There are a number of factors that have led to the financial services industry being relatively slow at jumping on the social media train. Many financial services brands, whether they’re active in social media or not, will have received a number of product and service complaints from customers, and as more consumers continue to turn to platforms such as Twitter to vent their frustrations, it’s important to understand how to handle negative feedback.
Our advice? Take a staggered approach to social media; don’t just jump straight in. Introduce a social media monitoring tool (our preferred tool is Brandwatch) to listen in on the current conversations. This exercise will enable you to take time to understand the conversations already happening across social platforms (whether that’s around your brand, your competitors or the wider market) and implement a plan around how to proactively deal with each type of conversation, rather than diving straight in and always being on the back foot.
Preparation is essential and understanding the key complaints and topics of discussion will enable you to design escalation processes that hopefully will make you – and your compliance team – feel more comfortable.
3. Maximise your PPC ads for stand out using Ad Extensions
When you’re in a price-led market, ensuring standout for your products, offering the best service is key. Within the financial services and insurance sectors, this is extremely important, especially due to the dominance of aggregator brands across high volume generic search terms.
Our advice? If your agency isn’t keeping you abreast of the new betas available and making an effort to get you whitelisted to these, you need to query this. You want to ensure you are taking advantage of all the new initiatives launched by the Search Engines to provide a better user experience for your customers, and gain first-mover advantage over your competitors.
Recent betas we have successfully tested for clients include extended sitelinks, review extensions, social extensions and callout extensions (read Darren’s blog post on this).
Figure 1: Google example for our client Aldermore featuring extended sitelinks, review extensions and social extensions
Figure 2: Aldermore example on Bing featuring sitelinks, rich ads in search and social extensions.
As you can see, implementing these Ad Extensions leads to your competitors being pushed down the SERP because of the extra space taken up by your ad. It also enables you to communicate more information about your products and services within one ad.
Our advice? Act fast and ensure these extensions are set up before all of your competitors catch on. From our research, the financial services sector is lagging behind as a result of the FCA compliance process, giving you further scope to improve your paid search performance.
4. Utilise your customer knowledge and data – cross-product remarketing
When it comes to remarketing, there are two common approaches that brands take to utilise customer data, which include:
- Adding them to the customer pot but no longer serving them ads as they are already a customer
- Continuing to remarket the same messaging to them, just as you would with someone who hasn’t converted to becoming a “customer”
If brands segmented their customers based on the product purchased they could then mirror their own customer relationship management (CRM) strategy using up-front remarketing to extend and reinforce this message.
Of course it can be difficult to do this when dealing with different product managers, as well as different targets and budgets, however the rewards can be simplified: Rather than three product areas potentially competing for the same customer segment, if you attempt to sell them something different from the same brand, this is turned on its head.
Our advice? First, use your best possible hook or “hero product” to acquire them, then focus on upselling additional products using your remarketing activity while the customer is already predisposed to the brand.
We all know it’s infuriating when you’re being marketed to after purchasing a product or service from the same supplier. Therefore by segmenting your customer base according to interest / products sold you are serving them relevant messaging that isn’t going to infuriate them, but might also make them a more profitable customer to you overall.
5. Don’t throw in the towel… Grow direct share from aggregators
Within sectors such as financial services and insurance, aggregators pose a real challenge for those seeking to communicate to consumers directly.
From our experience, these aggregator sites were influencing over 90% of online sales for a time, meaning efforts to grow direct online sales were diminished via promotional methods across other channels.
But there is hope - consumers are losing faith in the aggregator model, often checking direct prices to ensure they are truly being offered the best deal. Aggregators have also come under fire recently in a study by The Big Deal, by being accused of not putting forth the best deals for their customers and instead only featuring those who pay the big five aggregator sites a commission. As a result, consumers are finally beginning to question their ethics and not just take the top listing as the best available price.
Our advice? Control, test and learn. What didn’t work then might just work now, especially with the aggregator model beginning to be questioned by the consumer. Retest promotional activities across your direct channels such as af/wp-content/uploads/filiates, paid search and email, and ensure you are logging results and outputs from each test to make the case for the next one.
6. Keep your brand safe and close any loopholes in your af/wp-content/uploads/filiate programme
For any af/wp-content/uploads/filiate programme, the af/wp-content/uploads/filiate validations process is an important consideration as this can impact on both the af/wp-content/uploads/filiates and the end user where a cashback payment is involved. Af/wp-content/uploads/filiate sales should be audited and commissions processed in a timely manner, but if your validation window is too short you could end up paying af/wp-content/uploads/filiates and consumers for policies or sales that were subsequently cancelled.
When you first set up an af/wp-content/uploads/filiate programme it is worth mapping out the customer journey and identifying any potential loopholes, as well as putting in place a matchback process to ensure every sale is checked and you are only paying for valid sales.
Our advice? When setting up an af/wp-content/uploads/filiate programme it is worthwhile making it closed to the general af/wp-content/uploads/filiate population, at least initially. This will enable you to stay in control of those wishing to join the programme; only inviting af/wp-content/uploads/filiates that fit your brand values. Limiting the number of af/wp-content/uploads/filiates on your programme also means it is easier to audit the creative and messaging being used by af/wp-content/uploads/filiates to promote your product, so you can ensure they are complying with the guidelines that you and the FCA have set in place.
7. Your customers expect a good mobile experience – give them one!
Smartphone and tablet traffic is growing so significantly that on average the Desktop share of traffic for our clients has fallen below 50% (on average). It may not be this high if you look at financial services alone, but an article on the IAB website from earlier this year summarised the impact within this sector and how sales in financial services from smartphones are increasingly important.
Many financial services companies now have a smartphone optimised brochure website, but it is increasingly important to also consider the full user journey. With the ever increasing share of smartphone traffic, the business case for developing a smartphone optimised funnel is clear; without one you risk being left behind by the competition.
Our advice? Act quickly to gain the competitive advantage! We’ve noticed that once a smartphone optimised funnel is applied, our clients have achieved record sales from smartphones devices. In fact we have seen conversion rates increasing by more than 150%!
A smartphone optimised funnel can be built within reasonable budgets. There are solutions at various budget levels, from shorter, bespoke smartphone only journeys, up to fully responsive solutions. There is undoubtedly a business case to be found for the right option – so speak to your IT team to find out what’s possible.
If you’d like to find out more or you’re interested to discover how we can help improve the digital marketing performance of your brand contact Stacey (our new business manager) today!