Updating a brand strategy can feel like a daunting task—especially for financial services brands, with complicated multi-tier target markets and a more prohibitive regulatory environment for marketing. Yet, combining a few basic qualitative and quantitative strategies into a single document can put an investment services brand or financial services brand strategy on the right path to measure its brand and marketing success.
Qualitative Financial Branding Strategies
Identify Your Aspirational Branding Set
This is one of the most important insights we can gain. It gives us depth into so much more than just preferred brands. These companies don’t have to fall within your industry, it can be better if they don’t.
For example, a company a nostalgic, longstanding financial services firm may aspire to is Coca-Cola because of its reputation and ability to make consumers feel comfortable with their product—it’s all about the experience they have consuming it.
Once you identify your firm’s aspirational brands, the next step is to analyze how those firms were successful in achieving those specific elements in which you admire. Look for best practices to make better decisions when moving forward with your brand’s approach.
Perform Internal Branding and Client Surveys
Questionnaires have stood the test of time and remain as one of the best ways to gauge how your employees view and communicate your brand. Survey questions should provoke each person to think of what they consider the firm’s value proposition is and three to five key characteristics they associate with the brand or communicate outside of the office with friends and family.
Once you gather these responses, compare how much variety in responses you receive. If you find that employees’ value propositions are centered around the same idea, around five to seven keywords, then you’re doing well.
To better understand how your clients perceive your brand, it is important to conduct regular external audits. By having a third party conduct such a process, your clients are more willing to give honest responses on how they receive your brand. In the long run, this allows a much better internal understanding of how your brand is viewed in the market.
Consistency Check Across a Materials Audit
Making sure all materials align is vitally important to a financial services brand. Being able to provide the same emotional connection when holding a brochure versus being on the website is a tough task, but if your materials are all aligned and on-brand, it makes it that much easier. Aside from design, making sure voice, messaging and tone are aligned as well. An easy way to check this is by performing a materials audit across design and messaging.
Analyze Your Key Competitors
We also suggest looking closely at your competitive set. Understanding what your competition has done and is currently doing allows you to learn and stay ahead.
The financial services industry is an overpopulated playground, so it is important that your brand and messaging stand out from your competitors. We recommend analyzing at least 10 of your competitors and see what they are doing and how your financial services firm can stand out and differentiate.
If you feel your colors, messaging and overall brand feel similar to the competition, there may be some re-branding that needs to take place. Any competitive edge you can leverage can help your business development process.
Quantitative Financial Branding Strategies
Analyze and Score Your Marketing Journey
It is important to understand your customer’s journey. Whether you’re selling basic financial services or a sophisticated intuitional investment process, you must understand your customer’s pathway from first exposure to your brand to the final stages of being a customer or even a return customer. It’s important to know the answers to the following questions:
- What pieces of material do they receive?
- How often do you email?
- Is it automated?
Those are just a couple of the baseline questions you’ll need to know when starting your funnel and understanding your buyer’s journey. Take an analytical approach and grade yourself, it will help you iterate and optimize where needed.
Look at Changes in Website Traffic and SEO
Do you know how to understand website traffic and how your SEO is performing? Being able to analyze shifts in site traffic and search engine rankings is a powerful tool in understanding how often your brand is being searched and seen and what is driving that traffic. Viewing them is one thing while speaking on and understanding them provides a value-add some firms can not find themselves. It is important to understand why traffic has increased, how click-through-rates are performing compared to the competition, and where blogs are being served up on a typical Google search.
Keyword ranking is another metric that can be tracked over time—if you establish both brand and name recognition keyword groups, you can then track average rankings in software such as Google Search Console or SEMRush to make sure you’re tracking in a positive direction.
Email Marketing and Advertising Metrics
Most email platforms help you streamline the data and reporting for emails. Email click to open rate is an important metric that tells a lot of the success or failure story upfront. Right away you can see the number of people viewing your email and if it was a success or not. If you’re not completely satisfied with the numbers, A/B testing of subject lines or amount of content is a way to begin identifying what grabs your audiences’ attention, and with this, you can compare the data to see where your sweet spot is. Click-through rates can help determine brand engagement and how much interest your marketing is generating. A good baseline for open rates in financial services is 20% and a click-through rate for many of our investment clients is 3%.
A dashboard or database of key metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), return on investment (ROI) and spend versus sales or assets over time can be straightforward metrics to score your brand and marketing tactics. A baseline metric is ad spend versus profit generated, which can set expectations for future campaigns. Ads can create additional value as well, such as thought leadership and brand awareness.
Tracking Your Social Networking
For financial clients, we see great value in tracking followers and engagement through social channels. For the most part, we focus on Twitter and LinkedIn for B2B financial services. Follower count can be easy to understand data points when analyzing company growth in the big picture, but the engagement metric is usually more important. Are people liking, sharing and talking about your existing material? If not, it may be time to make some adjustments. The more comments, sharing an engagement your material is generating it shows they are more than just a passive audience. They want to engage, give them more content and you’ll be surprised how fast a social presence can grow. Being able to understand the metrics and reports that go along with social networking can be vitally important to set benchmarks and overall brand health.
With these quantitative and qualitative best practices in mind, you’ll be able to analyze your financial services brand strategy and decide on the best course of action for your future!