Study: Most consumers have no clue what financial marketers are talking about

Retail bankers keep trying to reach consumers but often they're not getting their messages through. Common communication faults, like using overly complex terms and putting things in a passive way, can undermine not only understanding but also trust. ROI on websites, marketing, and more will rise when financial marketers pick plain English.

Think Moby Dick is a tough read? For most consumers, a bank website can be much worse.

Research by VisibleThread analyzed almost 5,000 public pages from financial institutions’ websites and concluded that many miss the mark.

The typical U.S. consumer reads at an eighth-grade level. Yet the study found that most of the banks tested publish content that is rated higher. Even the few banks that came in at lower levels had other issues with their communications that reduced their content’s overall readability. Overall, 58% of the content tested doesn’t work for the average consumer. And according to VisibleThread, it’s an industry-wide issue.

Reality Check: People don’t trust what they don’t understand. When a consumer doesn’t understand what you’re saying, that’s seen as a lack of transparency. This is a real problem for an industry built on a bedrock of fiduciary trust.

Financial marketing increasingly relies on data analytics to determine who to target and how to target them. But then comes crafting of the actual message. And that message most often consists of written words.


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