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Consumer Finance in 2013 – Rethinking Your Marketing Strategy

Are you getting the most out of your marketing dollars? Consumer finance companies are in a dog-eat-dog world right now. What used to be solely a relationship-driven business, has become an anonymous game of dollars and cents.

It used to be that a consumer would have to make a multitude of phone calls, or drive from place of place to meet with or talk to a loan officer in order to get a solid estimate. Today, rates and estimates are just a few clicks away. Comparing one finance company to another is as easy as surfing the web. Consumer finance marketers must face the fact that the days of controlling the buying process are gone. Why? Your customers are now defining that journey on their own terms. They’re self-educating online with search, social media, and discussion with their peers— and they only want to talk to you when they’re ready.

Bottom line? It’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.

The buzz term these days is “pull marketing”, an approach that tries to get consumers to contact you on their own terms. While direct mail, direct sales and print advertising don’t need to be eliminated from your marketing mix entirely, you need to accept that most consumers start their research online. Most marketing experts today agree that at least 25 percent of your marketing budget should be allocated to online advertising. This includes your website, search engine marketing, email campaigns, social media, blog posts and list building. While this may scare some of the traditionalists out there, there is good news. It’s usually cheaper and more efficient because many of the lead generation processes can be automated. While the cost of obtaining the initial lead may be expensive (depending on the competitiveness of your industry), the cost of cultivating that lead once it’s in your “pipeline” can cost you pennies or less.

As an online marketer, we refer to the process as “digital drip marketing funnels.” It starts by offering an online consumer something for free, whether it be a rate quote, a consumer guide, a rate calculator, a rate tracker, or a webinar. To receive the free resource, the consumer simply needs to provide you with a few pieces of information and a valid email address. Once you have the email address, you can drop the consumer into a marketing funnel of pre-programmed marketing messages and automate the process of turning that lead into a sale. This proven strategy eliminates the need for costly printing and postage, and most importantly, the “people power” required for managing your growing pipeline. While many traditionalists will argue that this removes the personal touch, it’s time to come to grips with the fact that this is the way consumers shop today.

While it’s certainly possible to set up a “digital drip marketing funnel” on your own, I highly suggest you consult with a qualified online marketing firm to get the ball rolling. Their expertise will prove invaluable in the beginning stages of your campaign and will almost always get you results faster. If your budget doesn’t allow for that additional cost, I suggest you start with one of the many proven software platforms on the market like Hubspot, aweber, Constant Contact or even Sales Force.

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