Saving Financial Services in a Fickle Digital Culture

header image

According to a recent survey, more than half of banking executives want to improve their social and mobile channels. However, the same survey revealed that over 50% of consumers did not feel their bank knows them as a customer (TimeTrade). The challenge facing banking executives in 2017 is bigger than just shifting budget towards mobile app development and Facebook strategy, it’s the ability to connect the dots across multiple channels resulting in more accurate and relevant communications between a financial institution and its audience. By taking this ground-up approach to marketing, financial leadership can invest in accurate, impactful marketing that drives brand loyalty now and for years to come.

Start with the data.

Informatica’s Peter Ku recently estimated that the financial services industry spent close to $6 Billion in direct mail credit card offers in 2015 - with an average of 15-20% of these mailers sent in error (incorrect address, child, pet, existing customer, etc.). Not only is inaccurate customer data a measurable financial drain on marketing budget - but the cost of brand perception and the idea that a brand “doesn’t know me” is driven home when an offer arrives for a card or account offer you already possess. As a result, one of the most important investments for financial institutions is that of clean, accurate customer data. This requires consolidation of data across databases, deduplication of suspiciously similar accounts once consolidated and frequent refreshes of customer data. At a minimum, this baseline requirement for all customer data can dramatically reduce wasted spend and deliver proper line of sight into who your customers are and what they really care about.

Use it wisely.

With your data intact, meaningful marketing can begin. A recent Accenture study noted that 45% of customers say they want their banks to locate discounts on purchases of interest. If you know 30% of your customers regularly purchase concert tickets with a card from your bank, can you explore a strategic partnership with a ticketing company like Ace Tickets or StubHub? Now that you have accurate information on your contacts, you can tailor an email, social marketing and potentially direct mail campaign offering this audience a special deal on their next ticket purchase. While these types of partnerships and campaigns require more analysis and partnership development to move into fruition, they are guaranteed to pay off more than the 15-20% of direct mail campaigns that are sent to the family dog.

Smart Cross Channel is Key.

In a 2016 retail predictions report, Sur La Table SVP of Digital, Kevin Ertell noted that he’s never been keen on the term “omni-channel” - “because “omni” means “all.” You don’t have an “all channel strategy,” you don’t want everything the same. (You need to) take advantage of the strength of each channel to give them a better experience.” Returning to the concert partnership example. If you now had a campaign you wanted to market to that 30% of your customers across channels, you might start to draft a strategy that takes into account user expectation, behavior and reach across these channels. For example, you would probably want to cost out a highly targeted social media ad campaign, but avoid LinkedIn as it’s not a place people go to make decisions about entertainment purchases. And email campaign would also make sense, but an in-store print and display campaign could be a waste of resources if this audience doesn’t frequent a branch regularly. It’s this type of ground work that lays the foundation for successful cross-channel marketing.

With every new convenience delivered by the digital age, consumer expectations rise. In 2016, these elevated expectations and desire for digital convenience led to a 14% gain of customers by virtual banks and payment providers (Accenture). In light of this, it is more critical than ever for financial institutions to focus on synthesizing clean data, developing smart partnerships and finely tuning cross-channel campaigns to solidify customer loyalty as we move into 2017. Doing so shows the disgruntled 50% of your audience that you not only know them as a customer - but you value them enough to put some sophisticated, well-organized marketing behind your brand.