Mobile is becoming an increasingly popular way for Canadians to conduct their banking and research insurance needs with Facebook being one of the largest sites people go to for their information, members attending the annual meeting of the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) were told.
Rob Geller, a client partner at Facebook Canada, told the April meeting that 1.86 billion people are on Facebook every month around the world, reading, commenting, viewing, sharing and liking what they read.
Closer to home, 22 million Canadians go on Facebook every single month and 18 million of them click on the mobile site every day, many of them going onto their Facebook newsfeed 14 times a day – basically once an hour every waking hour of the day.
At the same time, 35,000 new businesses set up on Facebook around the world every day, said Geller. People have only to open a business, shoot a video, post it as an ad on Facebook and create an app to start getting people’s attention.
“Facebook is a mission-driven company,” said Geller, whose role is to help companies drive business results by leveraging the Facebook marketing platform. “The app business in Facebook is the engine that fuels it.”
The financial services arena is a natural for people to research, especially when they face life cycle events, such as the birth of a child (life insurance and investments) or buying a new car (property and casualty insurance), he said.
A recent study Ipsos conducted with Facebook surveyed 2,000 Canadians aged 18-54, looking at their attitudes toward mobile banking and other financial services.
Geller said the survey discovered that 79 per cent of Canadians use a mobile device for banking. “What was surprising to me is that the usage of mobile phones to interact with the bank actually increased people’s satisfaction with their financial services organization” regardless of where they live in Canada, their age or their incomes. “It’s all net positive to financial services.”
The survey also indicated that 42 per cent of those surveyed said they feel overwhelmed about all the financial product information out there with their banks. A similar number worried that they’re going to make the wrong decision when buying a financial product.
While seemingly a negative, Facebook said this presents a significant opportunity for financial institutions to educate Canadians by presenting information in a simplified way.
When it comes to property and casualty insurance, other third-party research indicates 70 per cent of people use some form of digital research before buying insurance and the same percentage said they were willing to download using an app from their service provider, said Geller. A third study said 25 per cent of people use their mobile devices exclusively in their research.
As well, 25 per cent said they bought their policies online either on the internet or a mobile device. “That’s surprising because there are not a lot of brokers online in Canada that can facilitate that transaction,” he said.
Disruptors are everywhere
Geller said there are disruptors everywhere, carving off smaller slices of business in the financial services arena. Big companies have supercomputers and have amassed an abundance of client information which they can adapt using analytics to find new and different ways to help grow their businesses.
Companies know that the bulk of Canadians’ time is spent on digital, a situation that is continuing “at an incredible speed,” eclipsing time spent watching television or reading magazines and newspapers as smaller and more mobile communication devices such as smartphones and tablets take over, he said.
Now people are more likely to be involved in virtual reality or drone cameras, said Geller. “It’s a submersible experience. It allows people to share their experiences in new and different ways.”
Even though most people have 20 or more apps on their mobile phones, they spend 86 per cent of their time on just five apps, most of which are interactive as they “discover” rather than “search” for new information, he said.
Companies that use the “funnel approach” collect customer information at every step. Using this technique, ads first pique the interest of consumers to a new product or service even before they realize they want or need it. Consumers then start to research the product and when they decide they want the product will look first at companies that offer the best prices and trial offers. This will give companies the chance to send targeted ads on Facebook to individuals that will appeal to their needs.
As people take these steps, the companies can collect information about customer habits and desires. Facebook then takes that data, makes it anonymous, extrapolates it and helps businesses with targeted communications, depending on age, gender and location.
What the companies are looking for are their best future customers, “the people you care about most on Facebook.” Using existing information, insurance companies, for example, can tell which clients pay their regular premiums on time and using Facebook advertising, try to cross-sell other products the insurer provides.
“Facebook is still the number one digital provider of financial ad information across generations,” said Geller.
He said the Facebook platform has expanded tremendously over the past several years as financial services companies, including investments, wealth management and insurance, concentrate “on outcomes that matter,” such as generating leads.
Geller suggested a series of best practices financial services firms can use on Facebook.
1. Think mobile first: “You are not competing against any one particular financial service, rather you are competing against the sum of expectations that people have about what a mobile experience is all about.” Every day companies can tweak their apps so people can do more on their mobile phones. These firms need to think about the content and the experience they want to give potential customers.
2. Tell better stories: Have content that makes people stop, look and do something as a result of seeing those ads.
3. Take the funnel approach: Start with piquing awareness, then consideration and finally conversion to your product.
4. Make sure you are measuring the right business outcomes: Don’t rely on variables such as proxy metrics, likes, shares and clicks. “Focus on the things that truly drive the business owner.”
5. Play more. Have fun: There are 35,000 new ads on Facebook every single day and companies need to stand out to their potential customers.
“The guidance I provide to you is to take a people-based approach,” said Geller. “Measure real people, using real identities; focus on real business outcomes, things that actually matter to your business – [for example,] whether people actually submitted [information for] a quote.”