In 2017, financial marketers cite establishing ROI and budget concerns as top challenges, according to the 2017 Financial Marketing Trends report from the Digital Banking Report. Sixty percent of financial marketers worry about establishing ROI, 53 percent are concerned how much they should allocate to digital marketing channels, and 62 percent wonder how much to spend on marketing technology, according to the report.
While those concerns are hardly new, they remain compelling for financial marketers. However, one piece of good news to emerge from the study is that most financial institutions of every asset size report an increase in their marketing budgets for 2017. Still, bigger budgets alone aren’t enough to help financial marketers overcome challenges and achieve success.
What’s standing in the way?
While the report addresses issues financial marketers perceive as challenges, those factors are often only symptoms of underlying obstacles. What’s standing in the way of financial marketers maximizing the value of those bigger budgets? The Digital Banking Report’s State of Financial Marketing report provides this insight:
- History — Banks are notorious for holding onto legacy systems, whether it’s spreadsheets or marketing strategies. Financial marketing departments can suffer from the same inertia, falling back on legacy systems and organizational structures merely because that’s the way they’ve always done things. Those structures might have been leading edge at one time, but too often in the modern world they simply can’t achieve optimum efficiency and effectiveness. To survive, let alone excel, financial marketers must break away from legacy systems that no longer work.
- Budget — Growing budgets notwithstanding, the Financial Marketing report indicates 46 percent of financial marketers still feel their budgets are inadequate. Many factors can contribute to insufficient budgets, including failure to demonstrate ROI, poorly focused priorities and lack of buy-in from management. Refining the team’s focus and proving ROI are keys to winning support from senior management — and, in correlation, bigger budgets. However, financial marketers with smaller budgets may find themselves moving in circles. They could maximize the potential of their small budgets by harnessing big data to improve efficiency, but without the funding to hire and retain the right staff, their ability to utilize big data can’t meet their needs.
- Insufficient/inadequate internal resources — Headcount limitations are a reality of life for every marketer. What happens when the staff you have lacks the skills you need most and you can’t afford to hire new people with the required skills? While your team might be top-notch, they could also lack the best-in-class skills that are emerging as priorities for every financial institution, such as data scientists, prospect database resources, digital marketing, data management and more.
- Limited access to data and insights — Financial institutions have vast repositories of data, but just because your loan department has a wealth of valuable information on current and prospective account holders, that doesn’t mean they’ll be willing or able to share that information with the marketing team. What’s more, even if they do, will there be someone on the marketing team who can interpret the raw data to glean meaningful insights and create actionable strategies?
When your in-house marketing team does not have best-in-class skills in desired areas, and hiring is off the table, outsourcing can be a solution. To some extent, every marketing team engages in outsourcing. For example, postage is often the biggest single component of direct mail spending, and it’s entirely outsourced to the United States Postal Service. You outsource keywords in SEM to Google, and display advertising gets outsourced to a host of providers.
Outsourcing other aspects of your marketing needs can help resolve multiple challenges, including:
- Capacity issues
- Lack of access to best-in-class systems and processes
- A dearth of skills in key areas of need.
The range of responsibilities and objectives that fall under the purview of marketing is now vast and varied, from strategic (innovation and planning) to tactical (converting leads into sales). Most financial institutions will never have the resources, budget, silo and reputational elements needed to build their own best-in-class marketing organization with team members proficient in every aspect of modern marketing.
As it becomes increasingly more difficult to recruit and retain marketing professionals with high-demand skills, outsourcing has emerged as a cost-effective, highly efficient way to achieve marketing priorities. Each financial institution will need to assess just what aspects of its marketing plan should be outsourced and what can best be handled in-house. Begin by looking at your marketing organization and determining the right structure for your needs. If you’re unsure how to begin, consultants and analysts can help you understand how best to build out your marketing organization quickly.