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‘We’ll see more innovative storytelling tactics’: 2021’s biggest marketing trends in financial services

  • Marketing and growth leaders share their opinions on the most significant marketing trends for 2021.
  • We examine video marketing, cross-channel personalization, increases in online advertising and more.

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‘We’ll see more innovative storytelling tactics’: 2021’s biggest marketing trends in financial services

Tearsheet will explore this topic and others related to marketing, customer acquisition, branding, customer journeys, and more at our upcoming Acquire Conference — all about the growth behind today’s top financial service brands.

Since the onset of the pandemic, marketing strategies have matured to keep up with the evolving needs of financial services. Human connection is at the forefront of marketing tactics this year, as businesses aspire to broaden and hone their relationships with consumers through improved customer service, hyper personalization and video marketing. Tearsheet narrows in on the key marketing trends of 2021. 

Alternate modes of storytelling

Lauren Weinberg is the global head of marketing at Square.

“As COVID continues, I believe we'll see more innovative storytelling tactics. This will help brands more closely align with their customers in order to share relatable and empathetic messaging. With the changing digital landscape, marketers will continue to test new platforms and channels in 2021. Companies should be ready to scale these platforms to find new ways to build connections and engage with their audiences.”

Digital shift

Gia Lee is the co-founder of NinetyEight, a creative advertising agency specializing in Gen Z marketing. 

“One marketing trend is definitely an increase in social media and digital marketing efforts. Just like everything in the pandemic, marketing has shifted to digital. The most effective way to catch people's attention is to be where their attention is at: on their phones. Many in the finance sector will be amping up their social media efforts especially on Instagram. Instagram has also changed in the pandemic -- becoming a tool for education and awareness more than a tool for your personal brand. Thus, financial services will be engaged in conversation beyond the products and services they're selling. Instead, they will be focused on educating consumers on financial literacy and building a community of loyal followers. Posts like infographics and shareable content like tweets and memes are definitely going to take over the conversation this year.”

Humanization of customer service

Selina Meere is the vice president of marketing and business development of Park Place Payments.

“Service, true service that involves a human being on the other end of the line who is responsive and is going to guide you in a way that is best for you or your business. Financial Services - whether it’s personal or business, whether it’s investing, accepting payments, refinancing a home, or anything else money related -- is terrifying for individuals and business owners alike. Having a person, who you can trust while you are making a buying decision and then live customer service during your relationship with the financial product is going to make or break companies as the fintech space evolves. That and bringing women into the money conversation in an intentional way.”


Jackie Mattia is the director of strategy and financial services lead at Movable Ink.

“More than ever before, financial services marketers are focused on increasing cross-channel personalization to drive engagement, conversion, and customer satisfaction. When personalization is successful, it’s extremely profitable. In fact, BCG found that for every $100 billion of assets a bank has, it can increase revenues as much as $300 million by personalizing its customer interactions. 

And, with the rapid growth in mobile adoption -- 200+% increase in usage at its peak in 2020 -- we’re going to see financial services marketers really double down on personalizing the in-app experience. For example, brands will leverage in-app personalization to allow customers to more easily find answers to customer service questions as a way to increase customer satisfaction and reduce call center volume, as well as drive in-app conversions by surfacing personalized offers. On the tech side of things, we’ll see more brands liberating data from legacy systems and replacing them with APIs to allow for better access to real-time customer data, insights, and marketing personalization opportunities.”

Increase in online advertising

Jeff Romero is the co-founder of Octiv Digital, a marketing agency providing SEO, paid advertisements and design. 

“Many financial services providers are projected to increase their spending for online advertising. We saw this shift in 2020 with more and more consumers working online from home. Banks and financial services providers invested budget to improve their digital experiences, ranging from website enhancements to launching new features in mobile apps and using high growth advertising channels like Google Ads, YouTube Ads and Facebook Ads. We'll continue to see more institutions invest in these channels; as more and more people are home and looking at these channels throughout the day, it's vital for banks and financial services representatives to be visible through the form of advertising.”

Consumer trust 

Jeff Jackel is the co-founder and chief strategy officer at automated client care service Client Giant.

“The pandemic and resulting work-from-home culture has created not only physical distance but also relational divides between banking professionals and their clients and strategic partners. These people have built their businesses on the loyalty, trust, and consistency that has forever been earned by spending hours across from clients and partners at conference tables and lunch tables.

So today, while the focus of many in financial services remains on maintaining productivity and efficiency in terms of lead generation and processing, I firmly believe the more vital efforts are those aimed at replicating and strengthening the personal touch that is absent in this environment. This means focusing on those who have already trusted you and helped you build your business -- going deeper with what you have rather than wider with what you do not. The best marketing dollars in these times are spent taking care of and driving an impact with clients and partners who represent limitless opportunities for warm, welcomed, referral business. When the health of the nation improves and the dust settles, people will remember those who showed care and support for them through this time.” 

More use of influencers

Trevor Ford is the head of growth at Yotta Savings

“I expect to see the increased use of influencers as top of funnel user acquisition channels for challenger banks and younger financial service companies. Legacy banking and financial giants have relied on TV and movie megastars to act as spokespeople in commercials. Capital One has Samuel L. Jackson, American Express has Tina Fey, and Chase has Julianna Marguiles, to name a few. Challenger banks have already started to attract and work with big name social media influencers: Step with Charli D’Amelio, Current with David Dobrik, and Yotta with Graham Stephan.  

While unsolicited marketing material may land on deaf ears when delivered directly from a brand, hearing one's favorite online personality list the perks of signing up for an account with a brand directly to their thousands or millions of followers may be the nudge a potential customer needs. We’ve even seen some financial service companies test the waters with celebrity endorsements by purchasing brief brand shoutouts on the site Cameo, splicing the videos into bite-size ads and pushing them across their various advertising channels in an attempt to grab  users' attention and deliver value props from a familiar face.” 


Jennifer Halloran is the head of brand and marketing with MassMutual

“Between shifts in policy with the new administration and ongoing economic policy shifts for COVID relief, we can anticipate shifts in how we do business in the financial services realm. Being prepared, flexible and agile to adopt and pivot in marketing approaches and messaging quickly to align is table stakes.” 

Video Marketing

Matt Bertram is the CEO at digital marketing agency, EWR Digital.

“Video marketing is blowing up right now. Our surveys show that audiences love video content from financial businesses and are demanding more. Video content’s power lies in its ability to capture the attention of potential customers and engage their emotions, all in a clip that might only last 30 seconds. Video marketing is most effective when it’s both entertaining and informative. Good topics for video content include explainer videos where you talk about a product or service, how-to videos which give instructions about a particular product or service, and testimonials where you shine the spotlight on a delighted customer.”

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