Customers interact with companies differently than ever before. They’re social. They’re mobile. They’re connected.
But even as technology is radically changing customers’ communication preferences, many financial services marketers have remained “antisocial” — slow to adopt new, even not-so-new, relationship-boosting channels. It’s a complex new paradigm to navigate, but by emulating trends in other industries, financial institutions can readily nurture more social — and more successful — customer relationships.
How have consumers changed?
It’s no secret: Today’s consumer is plugged in at all times. From email to mobile, Facebook to Twitter to YouTube, current and coming generations have fewer, if any, connection with more traditional channels of communication. In fact, their preferences are clearly driving the unprecedented growth in the myriad social channels, both established and emerging.
Meanwhile, even as financial marketers clamor for more consumer data, they turn a blind eye to social media — missing out on a crucial touch point, not just for younger consumers, but for multiple generations of consumers.
In fact, a survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that Millennials (ages 16-34) have only a slightly greater propensity to engage in online activities such as rating products and services than non-Millennials (60 percent vs. 46 percent). And a 2012 IBM study showed early technology adopters to be only somewhat more likely than mainstream consumers to contribute user-generated content (90 percent vs. 71 percent), be members of social networking sites (88 percent vs. 73 percent) and use mobile information services (88 percent vs. 57 percent), among other activities.
While it’s no surprise that Millennials are such heavy users of technology and social channels, the revelation is that non-Millennials aren’t far behind. They’re less likely to be early adopters, but they are rapidly finding great value in what Millennials see as hip, cool, trendy or, most important, convenient. And for marketers, that makes social more critical than ever, right now.
How can marketers adapt?
Marketers in other categories have long realized that pulling customer and market data from multiple digital properties (Web analytics, social media, etc.) allows for a whole new level of marketing integration — both on and offline. That varied, encompassing data helps them create more compelling content, build more approachable brands.
Now, it’s time for financial services brands to realize the same successes. To implement strategic social media plans. To meet their diverse customer base where they want to meet — online. To listen, engage in dialogue and not push marketing speak.
It’s time to be social with customers again. They expect it — and will reward the marketers who buck the antisocial industry standard.