Optimise your financial services comms - final
Optimise your Financial Services Comms
Trust in media and what audiences read through many of the communication channels that they have traditionally relied upon has scarcely been at a lower ebb, signalling potentially challenging times ahead for PR agencies and corporate communications teams.
In our study of the public's trust in news when "fake news" was a new buzzword in 2017, it was revealed for example that only a third of British consumers trusted social media platforms as a source for news.
The latest data from our DIMENSION 2019 study into key industry trends reveals that 34% of UK consumers* say their opinions of brands are influenced by what they read about them in articles online. This is a tightrope for brands to balance on when it comes to earned media.
However, 64% of consumers in the UK consider brand messages appearing in printed news and articles to be advertising. The same holds true for online news and articles at a slightly lower 57%. Clearly, attempts to disguise a ‘too obvious’ brand message don’t work.
This is cause for concern when only 11% of consumers in the UK say they like advertising generally.
Engaging consumers effectively against the backdrop of these entrenched views can prove a daunting challenge to even the most prominent of brands and companies. But there are opportunities out there for those brands searching for the best way forward, and comms teams have a pivotal role to play.
Building trust and knocking down silos
As an industry we can fall into the trap of treating different communication channels across paid, owned and earned media in their own silos.
But consumers don’t just consider paid media as advertising and nor do they see the silos that we as an industry see from our side of the mirror. Instead, they see explicit brand promotion in a series of altered formats - thus emphasising the importance of a joined up approach to comms.
This is highlighted in our DIMENSION trust index, where we can understand the different channels that consumers trust and how teams can best work together to leverage these in their brand messaging.
Earned media stands out as a reliable source in the trust index. With 51% of respondents trusting the information they seek out in newspaper and magazine articles and 46% trusting company websites, comms teams have a real opportunity to deliver a brand’s message authentically.
With advertising scoring lowest in our trust index, clearly the impact of brand messages is heavily reliant on the channel leveraged. Therefore, marketing and comms teams need to align and together consider the optimum investment across paid, owned and earned media channels to ensure their messages are landing with their target audiences.
Added to this, when the worst happens and brands need to battle against negative headlines, it is important to place greatest emphasis on those channels that are particularly trusted in this context.
Our DIMENSION study reveals that certain offline media forms are particularly trusted – news on TV and video in particular.
Target the most effective financial audiences
For those brands who can leverage the right comms mix to engage consumers the rewards can be great. But it is key to identify the right consumer target in the first place.
For many financial services businesses, targeting those already actively engaged with financial services and in a position to leverage word-of-mouth opportunities is a key priority.
Our most recent Great Britain TGI Consumer Data reveals that 27% of adults (14.3 million people) say they have talked to others about financial services ‘in the last 12 months’, whilst 2% of adults (just under 900,000 people) believe it is ‘very likely’ they can convince others with their views on financial services.
By digging down further, we can discover the characteristics and consumer behaviour of these financial services persuaders and thus how they might most effectively be targeted and engaged.
Our TGI Consumer Data shows they are a third more likely than the average British adult to be male, especially likely to be young – they are 63% more likely to be 25-34 – and 46% more likely to be in the top (A or B) social grades.
Furthermore, those who believe they can convince others with their financial services views are over four times more likely to be interested in financial services advertising (59% of them are, compared to 14% of adults generally), over twice as likely to say they look for profitable ways to spend their money and 67% more likely to say the economic outlook heavily affects their purchasing behaviour.
These financial persuaders are at the cutting edge of almost all things financial. The TGI Consumer Data reveals they are 83% more likely than the average adult to have made contactless payment by a smart device in the last 12 months, 45% more likely to have an ISA and 84% more likely to have given away £250 or more to charity in the past year.
To reach those who believe they can convince others with their financial views, it is key to understand which media channels they are especially likely to use, and see that these channels form an integrated campaign. This group are almost two and a half times more likely to be amongst the top fifth of users of cinema and 85% more likely to be in the top fifth of users of mobile internet.
When it comes to cinema specifically they are 70% more likely than the average adult to say that history films are their favourite type, although overall their favourite movie genre is action and adventure.
Leveraging consumer data like this can mark the difference between a good and a great integrated communications campaign in the financial services sector.
While advertising space doesn't lie with PR and corporate comms teams, understanding consumer behaviour is an important link in breaking down silos between internal teams to create a cohesive story to the end consumer.
Three steps to optimising your comms strategy
We have seen how important it is, against a background of low trust in media and brand communications, to ensure that you draw upon the most impactful and trusted mix of communication channels and adopt a strategically joined-up approach to campaigns across your comms channels.
Beyond this, it is key to pinpoint and engage the right audience by understanding their characteristics, interests, behaviours and media consumption.
To achieve this effectively you need to leverage the right mix of consumer insight sources which complement each other to support a holistic understanding of consumer behaviour through genuinely connected intelligence.
Three key steps for building optimisation in a comms strategy
We can summarise three key steps for optimising your comms strategy and tracking the impact of your communications as follows:
1. Be prepared – make sure you keep abreast of upcoming news and events which you can leverage to better promote your brands. See our Forward Planner service, which provides information on over 250,000 news and events in 140 categories up to 12 months ahead.
2. Understand your audience – ensure campaign efficiency by evaluating exactly which consumer audiences you should be targeting and how best to reach them. Our TGI Consumer Data enables you to understand in granular detail all consumer behaviour and characteristics.
3. Respond quickly – stay on top of events and react as the situation evolves in order to react in control of the narrative. Our media alerts and social analysis service mean you can be confident of always being in control.
*Kantar studies and bases referenced in this report:
Trust in News (2017) - a study of 8,000 consumers across the UK, Brazil, France and the US examining their attitudes to news coverage of politics and elections.
DIMENSION (2019) - a study of 5,000 consumers and 58 industry experts across the UK, France, Brazil, US, China, exploring the key themes and challenges facing the media and comms industry today. Consumer sample was adults aged 18+ who go online through at least two devices (e.g. laptop, tablet, smartphone).
TGI Consumer Data (2019) - a study of 24,000 adults (aged 15+) in Great Britain exploring all aspects of consumer characteristics and behaviour in detail - demographics, attitudes, product use, leisure activities, media consumption.