Digital marketing for financial services was defined by lightning-fast adjustments in 2020. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an accelerated need to engage with customers digitally as remote trading blossomed, mobile banking spiked, and customer support moved into living rooms around the globe. And 2021 looks to continue the digital tsunami trend.

If financial institutions want to stay on the cutting edge and keep their customers coming back for more, they have to think more strategically about how they’re reaching customers online through their digital marketing. Companies that do so can expect 2.8 times higher sales growth expectancy.

So, what are the 2021 trends in digital marketing that financial services organizations can expect to dominate the marketplace?

7 Digital Marketing Trends for the Financial Services Industry

Here are a few of the major themes we’ve identified for best-in-class financial services firms to dominate the digital marketing scene in 2021.

1. Omnichannel Digital Marketing

Omnichannel digital marketing means planning and optimizing an always-on communication strategy that is both personalized and effective. You must use tools across the customer lifecycle to create moments of delight using various touch points— social media, email, SMS, and more. The more touch points you use, the greater visibility and greater consumer trust you develop.

However, an effective 2021 omnichannel strategy is not about creating the most touchpoints. Instead, it’s about focusing on the two or three most important channels along the customer journey and creating significant value there. For best-in-class financial services companies, this means using data-driven insights to prioritize channels based on customer preference, issue resolution, basic functionality, and the opportunity to delight your customer.

2021 Trends in Digital Marketing for Financial Services


[Image: McKinsey & Company “Redefine the omnichannel approach: Focus on what truly matters”]

And while the perfect omnichannel experience does not exist, a strategy that’s designed to create and deploy a targeted and customer-centric journey is possible. Here’s how to get started:

  • Focus on mapping your most important customer journeys. For example, journeys for “check my bank balance” might be of lower importance and require less cross-channel effort than journeys focused on “applying for a loan.”
  • Optimize channels that match the pattern of how customers interact with your company as they embark on their journey. Prioritize and build out the functionality of the most common paths and channels first.
  • Cut down silos to create a seamless experience across channels and develop a customer-centric approach as the epicenter of your efforts.

2. Increased Focus on Micro-Moments

According to Think with Google, a “micro-moment” is an instant in time when a prospective customer uses a device (phone, computer, or app) to act on a need to know, go, do, or buy. It’s a fundamental change in consumer behavior that is intent-rich and thus ripe for opportunity. According to IBM, 7 in 10 consumers have shopped in these ‘micro-moments’ at some point, and 35% do so weekly.

To take advantage of this 2021 trend in digital marketing, your financial services business has to meet your customers where they’re at in the marketing funnel. You must be useful and quick—providing instant gratification—when your customers want to talk about something, learn more, see more, or make a purchase.

This might mean:

  • Using marketing technology (MarTech) to better predict consumer needs and their “I want to buy” moments. Or it might mean delivering relevant content directly to where your prospects are online.
  • Employing a chatbot to provide immediate answers during the loan approval process.
  • Optimizing voice search for customers asking basic questions about your industry, company, or area of expertise.
  • Deploying content and email marketing to regularly share useful tips and tricks in preparation for an “I want to do” moment.

3. Greater Personalization

Customers need reasons to trust you and become loyal to your brand. This is especially true in financial services digital marketing, where data collection and money are a large part of the online landscape. So, it should be no surprise that 55% of financial services digital marketing professionals intend to increase their investment in personalized service.

To personalize experiences, financial services firms must create better online content that offers prospects and customers what they want. The idea is to put a person behind your brand that helps customers feel understood and like they are dealing with a friendly face. If you do this, 80% of customers say they are more likely to do business with your company.

The good news is there are multiple ways to personalize your financial services digital marketing to your individual consumer.

  • Send personalized, triggered emails based on consumer behavior (website visits, shopping cart abandonment, advertisement click, request for information, etc.). These emails are 3X more likely to get a positive response than batch-and-blast emails.
  • Use AI to personalize the digital marketing experience through data collection and analysis. Create individualized experiences online, in-app, or in-person based on previous interactions with your brand, search history, and actions taken.
  • Use PPC ad retargeting to put your ads directly in front of customers who have already taken an action that matches your service, product, or knowledge.

4. More SEO

Did you know that 93% of check-cashing consumers, 81% of loans and mortgage consumers, and 54% of tax return preparation consumers did not have one company in mind while searching? If you want your brand to show up on the first page of Google and you want your content to rank for tough niches, then search engine optimization (SEO) is critical.

Google has developed multiple systems to understand what people are searching for and what content best serves their intent. For example, Google knows that someone searching for “insurance premiums” is looking to learn about available providers in their region for a wide range of insurance options—health, car, homeowners, etc. So, to rank well, your content has to be optimized for SEO. This means:

  • Researching and using primary and secondary keywords (key phrases) correctly (not too often or too little).
  • Creating content that is readable, with the correct length and formatting.
  • Optimizing the content based on search intent and clickability.

5. User-Centered Design

Investing in the customer experience results in a 170% increase in ROI within three years. So, it should be no surprise that UX research has increased considerably for the financial services sector. You need an intuitive customer experience on your website and mobile app that is high quality, user-friendly, and easy to navigate.

User-centered design ideas include:

  • Employing apps for easier access to your website and content via mobile devices.
  • Optimizing your website for readability, navigation, and conversion.
  • Taking advantage of opportunities such as web push notifications to remind customers to complete a task, keep up-to-date on payments, and re-engage people who have shown an interest. Twice as many people sign up for web push notifications compared to newsletters.

6. Mobile Experience Optimization

Already, 82% of people consult their phone regarding financial information before choosing a course to go forward. Consumer behavior has evolved to use mobile devices for anything and everything, which is why mobile marketing has never been more important. After all, more than half of all web traffic is now mobile.

There are many ways to optimize the mobile experience as a financial services company. A few 2021 trends in digital marketing for mobile include:

  • Taking advantage of the trend toward contactless payment methods, which 74% of global consumers state they will use after the pandemic.
  • Introducing or upgrading your finance apps to offer new services and programs that match consumer needs.
  • Optimizing your website for mobile web viewing, which means focusing on fast load times, more visual content, and simple menus.

7. Purpose-Driven Content

Content marketing has always been a reliable and powerful way to attract new customers to your website and build relationships. And in 2021, it can help continue to drive long-term value for your business if you invest in content that demonstrates transparency and is attuned to why you exist and whom you are built to service.

As the 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report explains, The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives…and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.” That is purpose-driven content marketing.

Purpose-driven digital marketing for financial services can look like many different things. However, the general idea is to help customers feel more connected to you. Ideas include:

  • Creating more interactive content, such as quizzes, polls, and augmented reality videos, which 91% of buyers are actively searching for.
  • Engaging your audience with user-generated content that includes comments, testimonials, videos, and images directly from your customers and prospects.
  • Developing videos, blogs, white papers, and case studies that put your company mission and purpose center stage.

Financial Services—2021 Digital Marketing Trends and Beyond

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of human connection. That’s why, for banking and financial institutions, a customer-centric mindset has never been more important. Whether you’re trying to increase brand awareness, drive more leads, convert more prospects, or just optimize your sales and marketing funnels, the right digital marketing strategy can offer your customers and your company incredible value.

These 2021 trends in digital marketing are all about improving customer experiences and building brand loyalty through better messaging, easier customer access, and data-driven analytics. These tools can help your financial services institution differentiate itself from the competition and create a competitive advantage that will deliver positive long-term results.