Managing marketing in financial services can be an uphill slog

I heard a senior marketer once compare the approval process for financial marketing materials to the dementors in Harry Potter: “Given half a chance it will suck the goodness out of any innovation and creativity that we all love about marketing”, she said.

This experienced marketer had recently started working in the finance services industry from a less regulated sector and it was proving to be a real eye-opener for her.

Getting marketing materials signed off, not only by management but legal teams and then compliance teams, adds many frustrating layers to the approval process. But in their defence, the latter has an important role to play to ensure that any ‘financial promotions’ are not misleading to customers and obey the rigorous regulatory guidelines set by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

This leads to two main challenges:

  1. It takes a long time to take something from a plan to go live as things are tripled checked.
  2. All the excitement and life that went into creating a great piece of creative content, ad or campaign is often sapped as it can change out of all recognition into something bland and ‘vanilla’.

So, what can you do to keep your marketing interesting?

Keep up-to-date with changes

Laws, rules and regulations change constantly. Subscribing to compliance and data security alerts from governing boards and regulating bodies will help to keep you informed for when you’re designing and executing a campaign. Not only will you be ‘following rules’, but you’ll be doing so while maintaining creativity. Ticking the compliance and legal box will ultimately mean speedier checks and approval – and retain a lot more of your original vision.

In addition, the best way of keeping up to date is building good relations with legal and compliance. Involve them in your plans so they can advise at the outset, get them to buy-in to your ideas, allow them to rein you in where you need to be before it goes too far, and make the odd checks as you start building. This is mutually beneficial for all parties involved – you will win trust as your content needs less scrutiny, and your checks will be quicker as you learn and adapt.

Choose your tools wisely, but do choose them and justify them

Although the financial services industry is still working with very traditional marketing methods and channels, everything is now digital. The sector is so bogged down in red tape and old legacy systems that it’s often difficult to bring in new tech but change absolutely needs to happen and communicating with the right influencers and departments will help bring about needed online tools. Technology isn’t slowing down and neither is your competition. It’s a slow burn to get decisions made and software approved for security, but the more you can discuss plans with leaders and compliance, the more they will work with you to help find a solution.

Measure success with the whole picture

But compliance and legal issues aren’t the only problems facing financial services marketing. Measuring the effectiveness of your campaign often hits a brick wall because of your legacy technology. You sweat for months getting one campaign approved and out the door – and then what? How many leads did it get and how many converted to sales? When they found you through a promotion, what channels did those prospects use to contact you?

I mentioned the dependence on traditional ways of marketing earlier (direct mail shots and letters) and inbound contact channels (phone). These still have their place but notoriously difficult to track results – a big blind spot appears when you send your mail shot or when someone calls you. Google analytics can’t see whether a person receives the mail or picks up a phone, can’t listen to a conversation or know what the caller wants to do next. And in an industry that has a huge proportion of inbound phone calls, excluding them from your marketing results is only presenting you with half the picture. In other words – your marketing efforts are probably getting you more inbound business than you’re able to take credit for.

There are ways to get these results and the likes of Worldpay have implemented call-tracking technology to ensure their marketing department can attribute inbound sales phone calls to their activities. It gives them an accurate total of all their inbound contact and the marketing source that triggered it. It also enables them to include inbound leads and sales through all customer contact channels, not just online. When you understand how your target market prefers to contact you, you can better analyse what campaigns are working and where to divest budget.

Worldpay works under the same regulations as other financial services organisations, so if they can implement technology like this, so can you.

In summary – the main take-aways are:

  • Get closer to your compliance and legal teams – understanding the rules and planning with them will help get things signed off quicker and retain creative vision
  • Choose technology that will help you show Marketing’s contribution to getting revenue and results, and bridge the gap between old and new marketing channels
  • Ensure your inbound calls to your contact centre are tracked back to your marketing sources – and stake the claim on bringing in these leads

If you would like to know more about how Mediahawk can help you track all your campaigns from source to contact, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.

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