Study: Financial Services Firms Are Fumbling Their Marketing

Financial services firms need to sharpen their marketing, according to Inside the Lifecycle of the Financial Services Consumer, a study released on Thursday by Yes Marketing. Indeed, they are now fumbling it. 

For one thing, 42% of consumers say they rarely, if ever, receive relevant marketing from Finserv companies they have used or are now using. Yet 52% want relevant content. And 22% say they hear too frequently from brands via various channels.

Email seems to be the most popular channel, with 77% saying the frequency is just right. Only 19% say they are emailed too frequently, and 4% feel they are not being emailed enough.

SMS is next, with 71% saying they feel the frequency is just right. But SMS beats email when it comes to not being frequent enough — 11% say this is the case, if you can believe it.  

Push is ranked third, with 70% saying the frequency is just right, and 21% complaining that it’s too frequent. Another 10% say they’re not getting enough messages.



The worst channel is display advertising, with 29% saying there are too many messages and only 64% stating the volume is just right.

Of course, all this depends on the generation. Among Gen Zers — those in the 18-21 age range, 37% say financial services brands send messages too frequently. But that number falls to 24% among 22- to-37-year-olds, and to 22% of those in the 38-52 age category. 

Finally, only 8% of the 53- to-71-year-olds are annoyed with email frequency. Why? It may be that these older folks are more concerned about their financial well being, and are happy to hear from their providers.

But don’t give up on emailing young people. For example, Ally sends targeted emails to young users to teach them why they should aggressively invest at the outset of their careers.

Fears about privacy increase with age. Only 14% of Gen Zers place trust in a company to protect their personal information among their first three choices when selecting an institution, as do 19% of those ages 22-37. But 34% of those in the 38-52 cohort and 47% of 53- to-71-year-olds do place it in the top three. 

Yes Marketing surveyed over 1,000 consumers, and found that 43% first heard of a provider they are now using through friends and family. Not that they switch much — 72% say they’re not even thinking of it.

But let’s say they do decide to make a change. Among the factors that influence them to choose a company are:

  • How rates and fees compare to those of other financial services companies — 42%
  • The variety of services available — e.g., direct deposit, online bill pay, investment services, mortgage loans, student loans, car loans, etc.—22%
  • Trust in the company to protect my information — 13%
  • Proximity of physical branches/amenities (e.g.,ATMs) — 10%
  • Ability to manage services via a mobile app (e.g., pay balances or request credit increases — 5%
  • Reputation for good customer service — 4%
  • Convenient enrollment or application process — 3%

All that said, only 11% are swayed by delivery of messages where they want them — i.e., email, social, display, etc.

One clarification to the above: 42% of the Gen Zers stress ability to use a mobile app. In contrast, only 34% of the 38- to-52-year-olds do the same, and 18% of those in the 53-71 category.

What makes consumers trust a financial services provider? Here are the answers:

  • The company provides enough information about its services, rates and fees up front — 57%
  • The company proactively communicates that my personal information would be secure (e.g., fraud prevention services — 22%
  • There is user-generated content or testimonials available — 6%


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