9 Critical Priorities for Bank Marketing Budgets

Marketing budgets in the banking industry average around 0.1% of assets, and marketing gets about 8% of an institution’s overall budget. How should those dollars be allocated? Here’s where that money should go.


1. Martech and automation tools.

Gartner estimates that investments in marketing technologies now accounts for a whopping 29% of all marketing budgets, making it the single largest area of investment. That’s not hard to believe considering there are a staggering 7,000 different martech solutions available today — a number that has ballooned from barely 1,000 just five years ago.

For every marketing challenge your financial institution faces, there is a tech tool tailor-made to tackle the problem. Whether you need to speed up processes, automate actions, improve targeting, find new markets or grow existing ones, you need to continue building out your martech stack.

2. Personalization.

Banking has always been a deeply personal experience. Back in the old days, before the internet, relationships were formed on a one-to-one basis — in person. This is something most banking providers excelled at. But with the majority of interactions now occurring in digital channels, financial institutions are struggling. Most banking providers are ill prepared to deliver even the most basic level of personalization, let alone replicate the level of intimacy they can achieve in their branches.

And this bothers people. Nearly half of all consumers say they become frustrated when companies fail to provide a relevant, personalized experience. Banks and credit unions must capitalize on their historical strengths in offline channels by figuring out how to build strong relationships with consumers in digital channels.

Today, one of the best ways a financial brand can differentiate itself is with a hyper-personalized experience fueled by data and powered by automation tools. With an almost endless supply of data available to financial marketers, there is no excuse. All it takes is the right investment in technologies that put your data to use.

3. Digital media channels.

Many financial institutions still spend the bulk of their marketing budgets in traditional channels like print, radio, TV and billboards. This is a huge strategic mistake.

Today, the average company is spending 35% of their marketing budget on digital campaigns, and that’s not enough. In most industries, the average company is stuck about three years in the past. In banking, it’s worse. Most financial marketers aren’t investing anywhere nearly enough into email, retargeting, PPC, SEO, SEM, and social media channels like Facebook and YouTube.

According to experts, at least 50% of your marketing budget in 2019 should be dedicated to digital marketing. Anywhere between a third to half of that should go towards organic and paid search. Online video represents one of the highest growth categories for marketing spend, with investments projected to double over the next five years.

4. Customer experience.

Research from Gartner reveals that CMOs are now spending an average of 18% of their overall marketing budgets on customer experience initiatives. Why? Because CX has become one of the greatest competitive weapons in the financial marketer’s arsenal.

Bigtech players like Amazon and Netflix deliver experiences that are seamless, simple and intuitive experiences. As a result, consumer expectations keep rising at a faster and faster rate, and consumers have become conditioned to expect experiences that are continually improving. Most banking providers simply aren’t keeping up.

Great customer experience in banking is still rare, but that means that there is huge potential upside for financial institutions to differentiate by transforming their CX.

5. Data analytics.

With customer journeys that now span across multiple online and offline channels, it’s more important than ever that CMOs figure out how to allocate their marketing dollars efficiently and for maximum impact. After all, you can’t make the most of your marketing budget if you don’t know what works… and what doesn’t. Your entire digital marketing strategy starts (or stops) with your marketing analytics platform.

Thankfully, digital channels are making meaningful marketing attribution a reality. Attribution solutions rooted in statistical analysis and mathematical fundamentals are quickly becoming a critical part of the modern marketer’s toolbox. In 2019, you should be tagging, tracking and testing everything.

6. Content marketing.

“Permission marketing” and “inbound marketing” strategies are built around content. Content has become the cornerstone anchoring nearly everything financial marketers do, and your budget should reflect that.

You need to be creating guides, resources, and tools. You need to be answering the common questions people frequently have about money, banking and their finances in a detailed and visually compelling way. When you have the best answers — those that are easiest to understand — you will generate more interest and get more attention (e.g., more pageviews).

To generate all this great content, you need great writers, so you have to budget for that too.

(For those who may doubt the power of content marketing, consider this: You are engaging with it right now.)

7. Chatbots.

New technologies use real-time data analysis to create contextual conversations built on previous interactions much the way humans normally do. From providing rudimentary support to advising on more complex matters, conversational AIs are increasingly able to replicate much of what a human customer service agent does, only faster and more accurately.

Furthermore, chatbots can give financial marketers insight into exactly what your audience is looking for and when. By analyzing thousands of interactions, you can yield actionable insights that will help you refine your future messaging. It should definitely be on your radar in 2019 if it isn’t already.

8. Voice search.

According to Google, voice is already used in 20% of all searches. Voice search is on the rise, and financial marketers need to be prepared for it. That means investing in “skills” for Amazon Alexa and “actions” for Google Home. You need to make your institution’s website plays nice with Apple’s Siri and gets along with Microsoft’s Cortana. But don’t fret. Engaging and supporting consumers via voice channels isn’t just for megabanks with innovation labs and armies of developers. New tools are making it increasingly accessible to organizations of all sizes and various levels of technical expertise.

9. The Financial Brand Forum.

Every financial institution looking for a competitive edge needs to attend The Financial Brand Forum, the world’s most elite conference on marketing, CX, data analytics and digital transformation for the banking industry.

The Financial Brand Forum is specifically engineered to help you tackle your biggest branding, marketing and retail challenges, with dozens of strategy sessions, interactive presentations and killer keynotes — four days jam-packed with the latest ideas, insights and innovations in banking.

Join over 2,500+ senior leaders from more than 900+ of the most progressive and respected financial institutions on earth, as the brightest minds in banking give you new tools and teach you the leading-edge best practices that are reshaping financial marketing today.

The best part? This is one marketing investment where your ROI is guaranteed. You simply can’t afford to miss it. In fact, if you don’t learn at least a dozen new ideas that build both your brand and your bottom line, you can have your money back.

So what are you waiting for? Register now!

Learn more about The Financial Brand Forum