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The 2023 growth marketing report deep dive: Finance edition

Sam Huston
Sam Huston
CSO of Growth, Americas
7 min read
12 October 2023

This year, the financial services industry has had to deal with the complexities of a changing economic environment. Challenges posed by inflation concerns, regulatory changes, and digital transformation have forced financial organizations to reassess their strategies and navigate uncertainty.

In this climate of change, financial services marketing teams play a key role in shaping the industry’s future. They are challenged not only to maintain their competitive edge but also to innovate and adapt to new customer expectations that have changed under the influence of digital experiences and the desire for seamless interaction.

In our annual Growth Marketing Report, DEPT® conducted an extensive survey of 150 marketing leaders within the financial services industry. Our goal was to gain a deeper understanding of how they are managing their organizations in a complex and ever-changing financial landscape. Our research has made a compelling discovery: marketing teams in the financial sector may be missing significant opportunities to increase their brands’ visibility, including by harnessing innovation, data, and customer-centric approaches.

Based on these insights, we have prepared useful tips on how marketing teams can make their financial services organizations stay ahead of the curve and ensure sustainable growth and success. In particular, by investing in a growth marketing approach.

A shake-up for the most regulated marketing

Financial services companies operate in a highly regulated environment where compliance with regulatory standards is non-negotiable. And it would seem that this should make a strategic approach to marketing incredibly important. However, our report reveals that FinServ marketers tend to allocate fewer resources to strategic planning than their counterparts in other growth-oriented industries.

This approach can be risky. After all, understanding the specific nuances of your target audience and their digital behavior is extremely important for marketers. In particular, the ability to quickly and effectively adapt to changes in your audience’s financial decisions, especially during economic downturns, can set your institution apart from others.

Additional challenges that DEPT® has seen FinServ marketers face this year include: 

  • Building trust and fostering connections with audiences by embracing the potential of influencer marketing.
  • Balancing lead volume with lead quality by building a strong CRO program. 
  • Reducing investment in oversaturated channels while remaining equally present across the funnel.
  • Actively introducing AI, VR, and other new media to stand out from the competition.

Embracing growth marketing for future success

To tackle these challenges, it is crucial to adopt a growth marketing approach, which is a blend of performance marketing and brand marketing. While providing a strategic framework for achieving sustainable growth, it also helps in maximizing ROI and delivering exceptional customer experiences. In short, it provides FinServ marketers with the ability to look beyond short-term goals and align marketing strategy with broader business plans.

But it doesn’t look like many marketers are really adopting this approach. In fact, their number has even decreased by as much as 40% compared to last year, according to our report. With over 80% of marketers spending actively in every stage of the funnel and tracking at least one growth metric and one performance metric, only 14% of them are actually activating growth marketing.

Financial services marketers can enhance their strategies and achieve greater success in the next years by focusing on the following five key areas:

1. Implementing a data-driven decision-making process

Our report indicates that 2023 FinServ marketers have reduced their investment in data and analytics from 70% to 48% compared to the previous year. However, leveraging data analytics would allow you to gain deep insights into customer behavior, preferences, and needs. This can help in segmenting your audience and creating highly targeted marketing campaigns. 

Especially paid media ones. Data can reveal which online platforms and channels your target audience frequents the most. By focusing your paid media efforts on these platforms, you can maximize the visibility of your ads. Data will also help you monitor and control advertising costs more effectively, ensuring that the budget is allocated efficiently and producing a positive ROI.

2. Investing in omnichannel

FinServ marketers tend to over-invest in the bottom of the funnel, seeing their paid search and e-commerce activities as indispensable in the current climate. However, such an approach can lead to reduced reach, limited customer insights, and stunted LTV potential. Instead, you could implement an omnichannel marketing approach to reach customers through various platforms, including social media, email marketing, SEM, and more. Multi-channel marketing ensures consistent messaging and branding across all channels to create a cohesive customer experience. And using marketing automation tools could streamline and personalize communications even more.

3. Building trust with content marketing

When thinking about global strategy, FinServ marketers often don’t pay attention to the role that content plays. In fact, only 46% of respondents invested resources in their creative process, compared to 50% last year. But in the highly regulated world of finance, building trust and authority is paramount. And content marketing can actually position financial institutions as industry leaders while building trust among the audiences.

Special focus and investment in SEO will support your content marketing strategy and help achieve long-term visibility in search results. This means that well-optimized content can continue to educate and build awareness over a long period of time, even without ongoing paid promotion. And while SEO encourages a focus on user experience, it will drive your awareness and education to the top of the funnel.

4. Fostering influencer collaboration

One thing to consider is creating content through influencers. Especially in the financial industry, they can become an essential intermediary between a company and its audience. As financial services can often be perceived as impersonal and corporate, influencers can humanize brands by providing a relatable face and voice. They excel in making complex financial topics more accessible and approachable, aligning with the need for educational content in the financial sector.

5. Maximizing marketing efficiency with CRO

As financial organizations often have limited marketing budgets, CRO can ensure that every marketing dollar is used effectively. CRO focuses on improving the user experience and making it easier for customers to complete desired actions, such as opening accounts, applying for loans, or making investments. A better customer experience fosters trust and encourages repeat business. Also, as CRO relies on data analysis and A/B testing, financial marketers can use these insights to refine the strategies, messaging, and user experiences, resulting in higher conversion rates.

Growth marketing ladder: From laggard to disruptor

Growth marketing is an ongoing journey where your brand’s progress is closely tied to your understanding of the audience and the optimal mix for your sales funnel. It requires three growth drivers: strategy and planning, data and analytics, and creativity. However, marketers often limit themselves to only investing in each of the drivers separately without fully implementing them into the whole marketing infrastructure. 

To give marketers insight into their skill at implementing growth marketing, we introduced the Growth Marketing Maturity Index™ (GMMI™), which includes five growth marketing maturity levels from least to most mature: Laggard, Challenger, Performer, Transformer, and Disruptor. Brands that just begin their growth marketing journey would fall into the Laggard category, and Disruptors would be the ones who optimize their marketing efforts with strategy, measurement, and creative.

According to our survey, we can label 2023 as a year moving towards the Disruptor level, as 37% of financial marketers are currently in the Performer category and 41% in the Transformer category. This means they have all the potential to join the 8% of Disruptors next year, especially considering that last year 59% of respondents were Performers or below.

Find out more insights about the extent to which financial marketers are implementing growth marketing in their strategies in our 2023 Growth Marketing Report. Stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving financial industry by creating innovative digital solutions and maintaining the highest compliance standards with the help of our expert team.


CSO of Growth, Americas

Sam Huston