Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: What Makes Consumers Choose Financial Brands

Consumers trust one source above all others when choosing a financial services firm. Family and friends. That’s the key finding of Inside the Lifecycle Of The Financial Services Consumer, a study by Yes Marketing.

Of the individuals surveyed, 43% rely on those personal references. In contrast, only 13% are swayed by comparison websites like and

Worse, a mere 11% are convinced by traditional marketing, and only 5% are convinced by digital marketing.

Does that mean financial brands are wasting the millions of dollars they pour into marketing?

Hardly. For one thing, brands need to incentivize customers to share with people close to them — that takes marketing. For example, Chase uses individual codes to offer points to customers who refer family and friends.

And customers have strong feelings about the brand marketing to which they are exposed. For 52%, the biggest marketing driver is that the content is relevant to their needs.



The distant second, cited by 15%, is that the content is unique or exciting — i.e., gifs and recommendations to earn credit card points in fun ways.

Third is that the messages are delivered where they want to see them, via email, social, display ads or push notifications. And 9% like to see reviews or customer testimonials.

Even within these limits, there are complications.   

Of those polled, 22% complain that they hear too frequently from companies via email, push notifications, social media and display ads. Younger people are most likely to be irritated.

Of the 18- to-21-year-olds polled, 37% say they are receiving emails too frequently. But 43% say the same thing about display ads.

There are ways around this disdain. Ally targets the younger set with emails that teach them about “the importance of investing aggressively and early as they begin their careers,” the study notes.

How do consumers choose a new financial provider? For 42%, the biggest consideration is how rates and fees compare to those of rival companies. And 22% are sold by the services provided — direct deposit, online bill pay, investment services, mortgage loans, student loons and card loans.

Despite the clamor in the media about privacy, only 13% choose based on trust that the company will protect their information.

Other determinants include proximity of physical branches (10%), ability to manage services via a mobile app (5%), reputation for good customer service (4%) and convenient enrollment or application process (3%).

Similarly, trust and faith in data protection rank far down the list of things that attract loyalty to a financial institution.

The biggest driver—for 43%--is how rates and fees compared to other financial services companies. The distant second is the variety of services available, cited by 19%.

Only 9% list the proximity of physical branches and amenities as an influence. And, despite beliefs to the contrary, the same low percentage care about the trustworthiness of the company.

Going further down the list, 8% apiece are motivated by the quality of customer service and trust in the company to protect their information.

Overall, though, many customers are bogged down by inertia—72% have no plans to switch to a new financial services provider.

Its low rank in promoting loyalty notwithstanding, trustworthiness does seem to be important. In response to another question, 57% listed “comprehensive, up-front information about a company’s services, rates and fees” as their main persuader in establishing trust.

Another 26% are reassured when a company proactively communicates that their information will be secure — say, through fraud prevention services. Finally, 11% say firms earn trust with a seamless enrollment/application process. And 6% cite user-generated content or testimonials.

Yes Marketing surveyed 1,000 consumers who used a financial services company in the past year. 

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