The beginning of the year is a great opportunity for financial marketers to reach new audiences who align with different products. While card issuers traditionally see portfolio growth from balance transfer acquisition, our data shows that there are lots of consumers who are shopping around for their next vacation or just ready to make some healthy changes in the new year.  These browsing and buying trends that focus on lifestyle present unique opportunities for brands in the financial services industry. Financial brands can make Q1 2020 marketing efforts successful by understanding how to better reach consumers. To help brands accomplish this, here are two key patterns that offer occasions for financial institutions to reach consumers during their purchase journey.

Time for a vacation

January can often be a daunting time of year for consumers.  For many parts of the country, the weather turns even colder, prompting consumers to start planning their next trip somewhere warm—case in point, in 2018 Rakuten Affiliate helped brands sell over 53,000 resort vacations!  Across several age groups we find that everyone from college students, families to retirees are eager to book their next vacation. Consumers are researching travel, travel deals and cheap vacations in the first quarter of the year. In fact, in 2019 Google Trends shows that the phrase “best travel deals 2019” was most commonly searched between January and March.

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Winter Break in the Northeast – For many schools on the East Coast, kids get a respite from studying with the day off for President’s Day and an extended winter recess.  This is an opportunity to reach out to families who may be looking to travel somewhere warm or visit a theme park or kid-friendly destination.

March is Spring Break month – College students look forward to some time off between classes and exams to recharge during Spring Break.  Whether it is Mexico, Florida or Bahamas, travel is top of mind for this group.  Searches for “cheap spring break” and “spring break deals”’ are highest in January and February and remain at their peak until early March. For card issuers, this is an opportunity to provide 18-21-year-olds with opportunities to responsibly build their credit with cards that offer travel rewards or cash back.

For financial marketers looking to reach potential vacation seekers, consider these digital marketing strategies to help target and acquire new applicants:

  • Increase placements for your Limited Time Offers (LTOs)
  • Double down on travel content sites
  • Diversify the publisher sites you work with so that your brand has a presence on affiliates that attract different groups such as spring breakers and parents
  • Don’t limit your card promotion to just those that are travel related, think about offers that appeal to a consumer who is making a larger investment. Cards that offer cash back, travel branded cards and rewards cards are appealing during this time of year.
  • Think beyond affiliate and layer your campaigns with programmatic display prospecting campaigns to target audiences who have a higher propensity to travel.

New Year New Younew year new you, 2020 marketing strategies, financial institution marketing tips

After a stretch of holiday celebrations and possibly some overindulgence, some may be thinking of ways to get healthy in the new year. January often marks the time that consumers look to adopt healthier habits – whether it is by signing up for a gym, starting a new weight loss regimen, investing in some exercise gear and clothing, or generally eating better. Our US affiliate network saw a 12% lift in H1 2019 over H1 2018 in the Health & Wellness category.

Additionally, those who are looking to bring balance to their lives may also be eager to get their fiscal house in order.  Many consumers are looking to adopt smarter spending habits and investing strategies, and may be seeking balance transfer opportunities to pay down holiday shopping debt.

For financial services marketers, there are opportunities to support these efforts and let consumers know that your brand has cards and products that fit their lifestyle. During Q1, marketers should look to these strategies to help reach consumers during this decision-making cycle:

  • Seek partnerships with brands that support healthy living and healthy lifestyles – There are many opportunities to develop relationships with emerging digitally native brands in the health and wellness space such as meal prep, dieting and fitness classes. Consider creating partnership incentives such as a bill credit for the first month with a re-occurring billing tie in.
  • Work with your publishers to better understand their audiences.  For publishers using Rakuten Marketing’s consumer graph, they can use this data to serve custom offers to consumers who have shopped health and wellness brands in the past or who have simply browsed but not bought yet.
  • Promote card offers that align with the season – Use prospecting and retargeting to deliver the right message to prospective audiences.  Whether it is a balance transfer offer, or an incentive that aligns with a health and wellness initiative, a tailored message will be more likely to convert a customer than one that is evergreen.

Although there are fewer gift giving holidays during first quarter, there are plenty of opportunities for card issuers to reach new audiences. By building marketing strategies that align with consumer browsing and buying trends, financial services marketers will have more ways to meet potential customers during the beginning of the year.

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