With UK households facing another squeeze on their incomes, money will be on everyone’s mind in 2018. The rise in cost-conscious consumers, coupled with more and more disruptive financial services technologies, means that – for some – harvesting new business will be a bigger challenge than ever.
So, with the Big Squeeze upon us, what are your competitors doing to make sure they’re on the winning side? And what changes do you need to make to your marketing strategy to put yourself in pole position for 2018 and beyond?
Although the global economy is outperforming most predictions, the UK is struggling to keep up. Wage growth remains low, despite the lowest unemployment figures since 1975, which means that earnings growth is expected to be just 2.5%, set against 2.7% inflation.
The result of this will mean that there are fewer people, with less money to invest in financial services products, at a time when the market is also being shaken up by the proliferation of Fintech and Intech products.
1. Developing brand allegiance
More and more of these companies are capturing the public’s imagination. Whether you’re saving on a platform like Digit or spending with your finger on Fingopay, disruptive technologies have the potential to become larger than the sum of their parts, by offering a brand experience that delivers to its captive audience an ever-increasing array of products and services.
What starts as a convenient savings app, or payment method, can quickly give rise to mortgages, insurance and pensions products, expertly marketed to an existing customer base within the app itself, or via user segmented e-marketing campaigns.
Consumers often feel far more receptive to these offers, as they are delivered as part of a carefully constructed brand experience that’s a whole world away from more traditional financial services companies. It feels soft-touch; part of a friendly two-way conversation rather than the one-way megaphone marketing of old.
2. The fightback begins
It seems that some traditional financial services companies are looking at their brand and feeling compelled to respond.
In a recent survey, 61% of respondents placed removing friction from the customer journey as the most important trend to focus on in 2018. 72% placed ‘redesigning and enhancing the digital experience for the consumer’ in their top 3 strategic priorities for the year ahead.
It’s no surprise that this is happening just as millennials begin to settle down, buy houses and start families. Despite growing up it seems that 70% of them would still rather visit the dentist than have a conversation with their bank. The brands that bridge this communication gap (and it must be digitally) will be the ones who know how to provide the best user experience whilst adopting the correct tone of voice.
What is your brand saying about you, right now? Combining an accessible brand identity with a seamless user-experience across all consumer touch points might sound more Apple than Amex, but it is crucial to success in today’s FSM world. Make sure you elevate yours by at least a few notches.
3. Getting on top of the tech
Digital technology is another area that’s set for a shake up this year. There are a whole host of updates coming our way that will favour the latest web technology. For example, rumours persist that Google will begin favouring PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) in future search results, over traditional websites. Why? Because they too ‘enhance the user journey’ (that phrase again!)
Genuine ‘Mobile First Indexing’ is also coming our way. Meaning all your digital experiences will now be judged by how well they perform on a smartphone, not a laptop.
There’s no doubt that those who thrive will demonstrate an aptitude for technology and communication that until recently had been the preserve of Silicone Valley’s finest. From how you write your emails to how fast your landing page loads on a 3G connection, these strange and varied skills are the ones you must master to succeed and thrive in 2018 and beyond.