Developing an Effective Online Presence
Following is the first in a series of MarketScope articles excerpted from FPS' soon-to-be published Financial Institution's Guide to Marketing in the Digital Age. In this series, we'll take a closer look at how traditional electronic publishing modes such as e-mail — as well as newer online marketing channels including video, Search Engine Optimization, mobile marketing and social media — are all now being employed to generate and nurture leads, increase client loyalty and reduce client defections.
We'll also explore ways to:
- Use content as a primary driver for delivering and measuring online marketing effectiveness
- Improve cross-selling opportunities to increase profitability per client
- Identify hot prospects online, by individual and in real-time
- Transform your client and prospect database into your most valuable sales and marketing asset
Delivering What Your Clients Want
Today 90% of purchasing decisions begin online, according to Forrester Research. Consider the marketing and sales implications of this statistic. For one thing, it indicates that the sales and marketing effectiveness of your online presence will be the critical factor in determining your institution's survival, as you compete for a shrinking pool of prospects and clients.
Yet an online presence alone is not enough. Your prospects need to be able to find you online, and once they do, be motivated to consistently engage with your content.
Break Through the Clutter
While there is no shortage of content on the Web these days, there appears to be a shortage of the type of quality content that business buyers are seeking. Forrester Research reports that business decision makers are shifting to digital media use at a faster rate than B2B marketers are adopting these media. However, these business decision makers say that when searching online, they typically find relevant content only 42% of the time, according to a 2010 survey by IDG.
This situation represents a tremendous opportunity for those who understand what their prospective buyers want and how to provide it to them when they need it and in a form they can access and easily share. In a recent article, Right Content, Right Time, CMO.com cites survey results by IDG noting which content formats were most helpful at various stages of the purchasing process. The article says you can increase the overall effectiveness of your lead generation and conversion by further qualifying leads and nurturing them with appropriate content to build trust and help the prospect make a decision. An added bonus, the article states, is that by making the extra lead qualification effort, you create a relationship with the purchaser rather than merely conducting a transaction. And such efforts often lead to long-term and, likely, profitable customer relationships, the article concludes.
Getting in at the Early Stages of the Buying Cycle
Some 78% of business decision makers now do extensive pre-sales research on their own and spend less time dealing in-person with salespeople, CSO Insights reported in a 2009 survey. The Internet has made this research possible, but the question is: Will your company be there with the information these decision makers need, as they draw their conclusions? Will they find customer-centric information on your Web site and in your newsletter, white paper, webinar and video content?
Note that, according to a 2010 Forrester Research webinar, the top two online channels business decision makers will look to as they begin their buying process are newsletters and vendor Web sites.
CFOs and other corporate practitioners seem particularly receptive to receiving online information to assist them with their challenges. In our experience in publishing hundreds of newsletter editions on behalf of bank clients, the recipients are embracing this information, opening newsletters at a rate of more than 70%. This may be due in part to the pressure they're feeling to perform well in an environment in which not making the right decisions can have serious negative financial consequences.
Re-establish Clients' Perception of You as a Valued Financial Partner
As we reported in the February 2011 MarketScope, CFOs are now being held accountable for more strategic planning as well as process efficiency and profitability. They seek a financial partner that is willing to provide them with the guidance they need to make wise business decisions.
Also, according to leading analysts, there's a direct correlation between customer engagement and driving revenue. Brand loyalty and proactive customer engagement translate into profits by increasing sales from existing customers, while minimizing defections to the competition.
Today, banks are suffering all-time high client defection rates, the New York Times reported in February 2010 ("The Least-Trusted Banks in America"). Meanwhile clients are expressing increasing dissatisfaction with their banks, as noted in the October 2010 CFO article, "Take Control of Your Bankers," where a large percentage of surveyed CFOs rated their relationship with their primary bank as "strictly transactional" or "abysmal." Accordingly, being the go-to resource for timely, objective business information goes a long way in elevating the status of these banks from transaction portal to long-term business partner. The financial implications of improving this perception are indisputable in banking, as retaining the loyalty of just one large corporate client can result in a gain of $509,000 over the lifetime value of the relationship, according to the latest estimates from consulting firm Treasury Strategies.
Increasingly, banks such as Wells Fargo, KeyBank, Royal Bank of Canada, Union Bank, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank are putting a greater share of their marketing efforts into online communications such as electronic newsletters, white papers and case studies, to respond to their customers' growing need for on-demand, strategic business intelligence.
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FPS regularly works with financial services companies to maximize the impact of their client communications, including e-mail and online communications. To find out how we can help you develop effective strategies for communicating with corporate financial executives, contact FPS President Vince DiPaolo at 847-501-4120 or [email protected].
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