New customer acquisition is a challenge for many companies right now, and banks and lenders are no exception. In this analysis, we explore how brands can engage new customers in a time when acquisition is especially challenging.
Now more than ever, it’s critical that financial services firms lean into language experimentation as much as they’ve leaned into displaying empathy. Identifying the words and phrases that work best, and understanding precisely why, will be the compass firms need to unlock new customer acquisition and grow the business. Use these insights to ensure your acquisition campaign language accounts for ever-changing customer preferences.
In order to see how language impacted campaign performance, Persado compared the top-performing emotions used by financial services firms to acquire new customers from March to September 2020 with high performers from August 2019 to February 2020. Interestingly, Safety was the lowest performing emotion in financial services acquisition campaigns during the pandemic and it negatively impacted performance on the aggregate. Since Trust-based language in general, and Safety-focused language in particular, performed well during this time period, this dip in performance is likely due to language fatigue from the overused boilerplate crisis management response “we’re here for you.”
In one web banner campaign promoting mortgage refinancing options to homeowners, that same Safety phrase, “We’re Here For You,” was the lowest-performing headline tested. The winning variations were more focused on value gained — in this case, from taking advantage of the opportunity to lock in historically low interest rates.
For brands that walk the walk when it comes to how they activate Safety, the payoff can be enormous.
Just tapping into Safety passively isn’t enough, especially when it comes to engaging prospects. The more specific Safety language that details just how a brand shows up for their customers resonates more. In one acquisition campaign, the phrase, “We want to help you along each step of the process,” which is a more active application of Safety, won in a client experiment that Persado conducted. For that client, adding specifics about how they help customers resulted in 200% more new leads.
For that client, adding specifics about how they help customers resulted in 200% more new leads.
So the takeaway here is: Don’t just say “we’re here for you”—it can be received as an empty promise and negatively impact your customer acquisition efforts. Remember that prospects haven’t built up a relationship with your brand yet, so “we’re here for you” doesn’t resonate as much as it could to, say, a more established and loyal customer. Say exactly what you’re here to help with in order to position yourself as a trustworthy and reliable financial partner.
Fascination, a top performer in the seven months before COVID-19, now negatively impacts performance. This is on par with our larger social situation — our lives feel on hold right now. There’s uncertainty around embarking on new adventures, like opening a small business or buying a dream home. The very essence of Fascination is “new opportunities,” which is just not engaging prospective customers who are actively avoiding taking on new debt. They want to feel like they’re headed in the right direction with their finances. This is exactly what the emotions of Achievement and Gratification do well.
Susan Li is a Director of Content Intelligence at Persado in New York, researching how messages motivate people and developing innovative content solutions using data.