Four Lessons in Developing Digital Products for Financial Services

by Shaun Miller Codehouse

Financial services firms that choose to build digital products that can help external and internal customers reach their goals faster, will stay relevant for longer, and ultimately win out.

Over the past few years, financial services organisations have invested heavily in technology to improve the service experience and foster brand loyalty within their existing customer base, often to the detriment of their main shop window – their website. Most websites are for the one-way communication of what used to be in a brochure or poster. They might also have a form to get in touch. Some might also sell products.

But as an industry, financial services can do better.

Making the journey easier, and helping customers and potential customers reach their goals, must be the ultimate aim of any financial services marketing function. Marketing teams must refocus and ask, “What are the problems my business is trying to solve for its customers? How can digital be an enabler? How can I create a digital product that creates specific value for customers, my users, and my organisation?”

It’s not easy. It takes a change in how you think. So, to help you kick things off, Codehouse have pulled together four lessons they’ve learned from doing it first hand.

1. Evangelise digital, but not as a channel

Your website is a key marketing channel. It’s your baby. Maybe it was once but a glint in your eye and you’re the one that brought it to life with your agency partner. You’ve seen it grow up, nurtured it, fed it, worried about it. You might even have hired a whole team who are dedicated to looking after it.

In reality though, your website doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the whole business. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that your web platform belongs to the whole business. It’s a powerful piece of kit. You need to start to evangelise the power of your web platform, not your website.

2. Build before they know they need it

What will your users and your customers, internal and external, need five years from now? Will it be sending/receiving money at the touch of a button, real-time collaboration, ordering services with one touch, sharing information easily and securely, viewing products in augmented reality, being able to manipulate data?

Whatever it may be, you need to focus on building “the thing” that creates specific value, before they know they need it.

Trust us. They’ll thank you later.

3. Deliver in phases and remember your goals

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, once said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

When it comes to a digital product, nothing is ever finished, but there is always a goal, or multiple goals, in mind. We find it helpful to following the HEART principle when it comes to goals.

Happiness – do users find the product helpful, fun, and easy to use?

Engagement – do users enjoy the product content and features?

Adoption – do new users see the value in the product or feature?

Retention – do users keep coming back to complete a key action?

Task success – do users find the product quickly, and complete tasks efficiently?

For each one of these goals, you need to constantly measure the signals that show uptake intent and the metrics that indicate success. Change things if they’re not working. Never be afraid to redo “done” features.

4. Create products that are digital

Now, this might seem daft when we’re talking about building a digital product, but what we mean is to start to make a move to providing all products and services via digital. Sell access to your digital tools. Sell users access to data. Provide tools to help others build tools. Become a digital business. The world is moving in this direction, and financial services cannot afford to be left behind.

Financial services marketing teams that choose to rethink their role in the business and build digital products that solve a problem or provide a benefit – for more effective colleagues and happier customers – will find they get better marketing outcomes and look good to the bosses.

It might be time to think about building a digital product…

Shaun Miller recently spoke at the Figaro Digital Marketing Summit, and will also be at the Figaro Digital Financial Services Spotlight on 20 February, talking about the three mistakes most financial services companies make with their website.