Author: Laura D’Alessandro

With consumers  today presented with more options than ever before, financial services firms are facing fierce competition when attracting and retaining customers. At the same time, the clamor for their attention and business can often overwhelm consumers – they are dealing with an increased demand on their cognitive load, and our brains can only process so much at any one time .

This trend shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, the ongoing expansion in the amount of content and number of platforms that consumers use to better understand how they approach banking, investing and other services is only set to accelerate. So how can we continue to reach customers who are consistently overwhelmed? 

Researchers studying cognitive load theory (CLT) look at how our brains utilize our working memory, and they have gleaned some key insights that financial services marketing teams can leverage when creating content and architecting user experiences.

Our Brain’s Capacity for New Information is Limited. While we may like to think of ourselves as masters of multitasking, it turns out our brains are poorly built for this. At most, researchers think that we can digest three to four new pieces of information at once1. In the eyes of the consumer, the financial services industry is already unnecessarily complicated. So, keep your content simple. Break down key pieces of information into small chunks. Don’t bombard consumers from all angles. This will help your brand to not only break through the noise but also be thoughtful and intentional about how you engage with your target audience.

Marketers: Don’t Divide Attention! Most of the research on CLT focuses on what is called germane load: what happens in the brain when it is not taking in new information but instead processing information into long-term memory2. When we divide our attention during that initial information intake stage, it becomes harder both to digest that information into memory and then recall it. 

So what is the difference between a Roth and traditional IRA? Don’t leave your customers wondering. Instead, provide them with a simplified, streamlined experience. The traditional marketing funnel often exists across multiple platforms and touchpoints, detrimentally raising the ‘signal-to-noise ratio’ for those customers . How then can we provide consumers with one unified experience rather than having them continuously click out to another experience? Ensuring clear navigation and making everything easy to find will help optimize how your offering resonates with customers.

Understanding customers’ cognitive load is the first step towards ensuring your content is inherently more engaging and memorable and integrating these tips into your communication and content strategies can help ensure success. Remember, in the world we live in today, less really is more.

At Capco Studio, we bring together creative services and tech-enabled marketing operations to drive business impact for financial services clients. We specialize in marketing technology simplification among other offerings that can be customized to your organization’s unique needs.