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How Financial Services Brands Can adapt Their Marketing Strategy To Navigate Tough Times

Written by Wes Parker

Posted on: April 20, 2023

In this uncertain economic climate, it is crucial to ensure that your marketing strategies are flexible and optimised to work in your favour. 

You want to remain competitive and adaptable to constant changes occurring in the marketplace to stay ahead of the curve!

This article will provide top tips from leading industry professionals that spoke on our webinar Marketing Through Uncertainty: How Financial Services Brands Can Adapt To A Changing Market.

We heard from Ian Wood, CMO of Capify, Keith Mowbray who is head of digital at Towergate Insurance, Will Nye Technical Director at Builtvisible, and Wes Co-Founder at DemandMore.

Skew budgets toward the bottom of the funnel but keep your brand-building activity going

One key point discussed was the importance of ensuring that bottom-funnel channels such as paid search and affiliates which see a direct return on investment are maximised, while maintaining brand-building activity if the budget is available to do so.

Les Binets famously created the 60/40 rule where 60% of media should be focused on brand building vs 40% should be spent on performance. During a recession, it’s important to keep spending on brand building as numerous case studies have shown. 

However, when budgets are under heavy pressure and you need to generate short-term sales at an effective CPA skewing more heavily towards performance media can be an effective way to produce short-term results. 

In recessions, it’s also really important to look to maximise the value of the traffic that you’re buying. Two key strategies are;

Focusing on conversion rate optimisation to maximise the value of traffic. This will be an iterative process of gathering both quantitative and qualitative data about how customers interact with your brand. Hypothesising and then devising a range of tests to improve the user experience on your website. 

For a lender for example this may look like testing new funding application journeys to reduce friction. For online investment platforms, this will look at making the signup process more seamless and reducing drop-off.

Another consideration is to increase LifeTime Value (LTV). A few examples would be selling second loans to existing customers. Insurance brands may want to look at cross-selling and upselling such as adding additional cars to insurance policies or adding home insurance policies to car insurance policies for example. Making sure that we really maximise the value from paid traffic. 

Flexibility is also an essential factor in the running of paid search, depending on the portfolio of products that you market expect to see dips and gains that you will need to react to ensure the budget is distributed effectively. 

As customers become more focused on managing where they spend their money shopping behaviors will differ, and customers are more likely to engage in shop-around behavior in relation to insurance. This can be demonstrated below by the changes in search volumes for ‘comparing’ keywords.

This will directly impact your return on investment as people may submit quotes but not complete the purchase. Having a flexible budget for paid search to patch fluctuations in demand and trusting the learning process on paid search will allow for the algorithm to work most effectively. 

Be customer-centric in your messaging and offers

During hard and uncertain times you want to make sure that your marketing content speaks to your customers. Building a sense of trust and sincerity in your messaging.

Personalising marketing messaging through tailored ad copies that empathises with users, and give them proof points for them to build trust and loyalty. Customer retention is an area that needs to be prioritised as consumers look to shop around more.

Try testing out articles and blog posts that provide support during difficult times. Customer reviews and testimonials also build trust in the company and aid customers in making decisions when comparing.

Also understanding your customers and the choices they will have to make is key, identifying affiliate spaces and holding a presence there will aid in your visibility and targeting.

Affiliate marketing has many opportunities in assisting you to reach the right audience as people are likely to compare in order to save money.

Differentiate your service

To stand out from competitors, making sure that your positioning is clearly defined will be very important with budgets under pressure. This will ensure that advertising budgets are targeted as effectively as possible at key segments of the market.

Strong positioning and clear differentiation also serves to help alleviate pressure from consumers shopping around as it lowers the price sensitivity of your offering. 

The best way of thinking about positioning that I’ve come across is not thinking about what you will do, but instead what you won’t do, which segments of the market won’t you advertise to.

Ian talked about this in the context of Capify and how they’re focusing both their messaging and advertising budgets at a clearly defined prospect (SMEs) with a clearly defined problem being that they can’t get finance from a traditional bank as opposed to everybody that may need a business loan.

By specialising in the space they’re able to charge more while reducing the CAC of their advertising.

Google are focusing more on customer reviews, and so should you

With first-hand experience growing in importance in determining Google’s Search quality rankings. Greater focus should be placed on meeting Google’s upgraded concept of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), which is used to evaluate a site’s search quality rating.

Increasing the number of reviews by your customers who have used your service, help build the first hand experience Google is looking for whilst also building trust. Google places strong emphasis on building trust and views it as the most crucial component of E-E-A–T. All other components contribute to building trust.

Engaging in customer questions and support forums can also be impactful in boosting conversions and benefits SEO performance.

Higher E-E-A-T improves the quality rating of websites and having trust platforms for reviews boosts the algorithm to rank your website higher and more frequently.


The key takeaway from this article is to remain agile and be able to adapt in this volatile market state. 

Focus your budgets on driving short-term performance but if you can don’t lose sight of the longer term and invest into band-building activity.

Being customer-centric and differentiating your service will go a long way to help combat that current price sensitivity in the market with more and more consumers moving between providers to get the best deal.

Finally, as Google prioritises reviews more heavily in their search rankings it’s important to put more focus on requesting high-quality reviews from consumers to build trust and deliver ranking increases.