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Last Look Back: The Year That Was in Financial Services Communication; AU

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Written by: Carden Calder | Blue Chip Communications, Sydney NSW

Last year we predicted what the year 2014 would bring in terms of content, social media and ROI measurement for the financial services sector.

How right, or wrong, were we? With 2015 now underway, we take a look at how 2014 unfolded.

‘Hyper-targeted’ marketing

We said hyper-targeted marketing using ‘big data’ for small relationships would grow in importance. From our own experience, we have seen how useful these tools have been for marketers. Sites that record your history, location and purchases now target consumers based on ever narrower profiles.

One example of this is Facebook ads, which can be tailored specifically towards an audience and their behaviours. According to the Social Media Examiner’s 2014 industry report, 90% of marketers said they regularly use Facebook ads[1]. In one 2014 consumer campaign we found Facebook ads far better at targeting narrow audiences than an equivalent spend in print advertising. At the same time using Facebook gave us the opportunity to test and learn before spending the client’s whole budget.

Similarly, in 2014 Twitter launched a new way for businesses to leverage existing databases to better target potential customers by enabling them to specifically target consumers who have shown prior interest, purchased products before or have asked to be contacted.[2]

The year to be seen – literally and figuratively

We said social media sites would be all about visuals and that text would fall out of favour, as indicated by falling adoption rates and engagement.

According to Digital Marketing Philippines, visual content marketing is now one of the hottest digital marketing trends, with the ever-increasing popularity of visual social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and others used by both business owners and digital marketers.

In 2014, Instagram recorded more than 300 million monthly active users (up 50% in just nine months)[3], outdoing other sites such as Twitter. Visual content in Facebook campaigns generates 65% more engagement and content views can jump up to 48% if they contain both photos and video[4].

Strategic communications the key for financial advisers

We said that for advisers, increased clarity would enable greater focus on enhancing their practices, whether through growth and consolidation, addition of new service lines, partnering with other professionals or aligning themselves with like-minded groups.

2014 showed that building and protecting brand reputation is no easy task for our industry. The reputational stumbles of the year made high quality communication and marketing even more important. This has accelerated the move towards integrated approaches that combine more traditional areas such as profile building and media with social media and content marketing / thought leadership.

2014 research from Zurich Financial Services Australia found that the use of social media platforms by financial advisers has grown significantly, with a substantial amount of advisers incorporating social media into their client communication strategies. 31% of advisers are now using mobile tablets with clients, compared to just 7% two years ago.[5]

The power of a good story and effective measurement

We said that compelling storytelling that resonates with clients, partners and customers would be the key to communications success and that measurement would also be vital. Online platforms have made it easier to show how effective our efforts are and reporting functionality can show more detail and analysis about our audience, its habits and behaviour than ever before.

In 2014, 67% of the Fortune 500 websites used Google Analytics and/or a combination of Google Analytics and other web analytics tools[6] and we are only going to see this trend increase.

Sponsored content, longer term strategies and smart data

We said that the use of sponsored content would be on the rise. Sponsored content enables financial services companies to build a presence in harder to penetrate, non-financial sites that may be more consumer orientated, enabling you to gain the value of attracting a larger audience.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 2014 was the year for sponsored content. Large online publishers stepped up their efforts to sell branded articles, with major marketers including GE, Intel, L’Oreal and Mountain Dew increasing their investment in the tactic[7]. In 2014, The Times reported a 16.5% increase in digital-ad revenue during the third quarter, which was fuelled by its native-advertising product paid posts.[8]

So did we get it right or wrong? It’s not a clear cut answer, but it’s clear 2014 saw the majority of financial services brands recognise the need to use content on multiple platforms, integrate their marketing channels and tactics, and do better online.

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[1] http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2014.pdf

[2] http://blog.zogdigital.com/2014/02/19/hyper-targeting-twitter-businesses-can-leverage-big-data/

[3] http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/its-official-instagram-is-bigger-than-twitter/?_r=0

[4] http://digitalmarketingphilippines.com/12-reasons-to-implement-a-visual-content-marketing-campaign-infographic/

[5] http://www.adviservoice.com.au/2014/10/financial-adviser-usage-social-media-mobile-technology-latest-survey-results-announced/

[6] http://www.e-nor.com/blog/google-analytics/google-analytics-maintains-lead-with-fortune-500-in-2014

[7] http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2014/12/17/sponsored-content-that-buzzed-in-2014/

[8] http://adage.com/article/media/media-companies-strike-gold-sponsored-content/295679/

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