The financial services and insurance sector is modernising quickly. 

Despite structural, regulatory and technology hurdles, this group of sectors is driving towards digital transformation, but it’s a formidable challenge, especially for industries that are traditionally cautious in their approach.

How are these companies operating in the Financial Services Industry (FSI) sector approaching digital marketing? What are the key trends, opportunities and sector-specific issues shaping their digital strategies?

We explore these issues in our new Digital Trends in the Financial Services and Insurance Sector report, produced by Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe.

The research is based on a global survey of more than 200 financial services and insurance executives based mainly in North America and Europe.

For more insight, download the full report, but in the meantime here are a few key trends from the survey.

63% of responding companies will be increasing their digital marketing budgets this year

The research suggests that marketers will continue to invest heavily in digital marketing through 2015 and beyond. Almost two-thirds of responding FSI companies said they will be increasing their digital marketing budgets this year, compared to only 6% who said they would be decreasing their budgets.

The average increase in FSI digital marketing budgets for those who will be spending more in 2015 is 21%. 

On average, companies invest just over a third (35%) of their total marketing budgets on digital-related activities but this increases to 43% for European companies. The average for US respondents is 33%.

33% of respondents say that customer experience is their major focus

Customer experience (CX) has emerged as a key priority for many organisations over the last few years, and this is particularly the case for FSI marketers, with one third of respondents saying that customer experience represents the single best opportunity for their company to deliver on their priorities for 2015. 

This percentage is significantly higher than the average percentage across all sectors.

The importance of customer experience is particularly high in the FSI sector, where competition is fierce and consumers are known for switching loyalties if they have a bad experience. 

However, even though high quality customer experiences are a priority for respondents, fewer prioritised customer retention, which should be at least as equally important as customer acquisition. 

This chart shows our respondents’ top priorities.

With consumers criticising the strategy of many banks giving customers the best offers and rates, the fact that only 10% of respondents cited retention as their top priority could reflect negatively on the sector in the eyes of some.

Only 40% identify and track mobile-specific KPIs

There’s evidence of a disconnect between FSI companies’ view of themselves as being mobile-savvy and the reality of being slow to adopt a strategic approach to mobile. 

Getting the basics right seems to be more challenging than you might expect. FSI companies are more than twice as likely as their counterparts across all sectors to say they don’t know what proportion of their traffic comes from mobile (12% compared to 5% across all sectors).

As we drill down, the combined percentage for ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ starts to diminish. Less than half (45%) claim they understand the nuances of how customers use smartphones and tablets differently. 

Fewer still (40%) can track their customers across different devices or track mobile-specific KPIs.

For more insight, download the full report: Digital Trends in the Financial Services and Insurance Sector report.