In the months following the onset of COVID-19, there’s been a universal experience: the need to use technology to protect our health, whether it’s to enable remote work or to facilitate non-contact services. For financial organizations, this period has signified a tremendous shift from bricks-and-mortar services to digital platforms, creating a push-pull that demanded quick adoption of new tools: The push of needing to remain open and functional without in-person presence, and the pull of customers who needed to connect with their accounts and bank personnel.
The quick transfer to new technology also added fuel to the fire behind marketing’s shift to digital channels. In fact, Deluxe just released a new report, Vision 2021: Building a Marketing Organization That Thrives in a Digital World. There’s a heavier reliance on mobile marketing, social media and updates to organization websites.
However, there’s a catch in this digital-first focus: the danger of investing in what’s worked to date, instead of anticipating what our changed world will demand from financial institutions in the future.
Mistake #1: Under-Investing in Data-Driven Marketing
Marketing budgets are always under attack, and never more than during the first year of COVID-19.
Marketing departments had to account for every penny as the economy ground to a halt, while marketing budgets initially rose. According to the Digital Banking Report’s State of Financial Marketing, sponsored by Deluxe, most financial marketers believe budgets will be reduced in the near future, requiring organizations to do more with less. The only way to succeed despite having fewer dollars to work with is to pre-emptively invest in data and analytics, allowing full understanding of the motivations and needs of customers as their behavior shifted to digital interactions virtually overnight.
Data management and analytics are essential to add a humanized aspect to technology-driven engagement — a facet of digital experiences that customers will increasingly demand.
Is it fair that they want it all: seamless technology, on-demand information and service, and with the satisfaction of a human-like or human-enabled interaction? Not fair, and not easy — but for better or worse, this is what customers will come to expect as AI and other technologies result in a more human-seeming online banking experience. Customers experience this daily in their interactions with top brands like Amazon, on social apps and with digital assistants, so it’s understandable they will come to expect it from their most trusted financial institutions.
Despite the fact that almost half (44%) of respondents in the Vision 2021 report listed Data Management & Analytics as a marketing weakness, organizations are still lagging behind in making this crucial element of marketing a priority. Over half report that their organization remains incapable of integrating predictive analytics or marketing automation — and run the risk of spinning their wheels discussing implementation while other organizations move ahead with the proven advantages of personalization and automation.
Prevent this mistake by:
According to the Digital Banking Report, improving the use of data and analytics is the greatest challenge — meaning it’s the greatest opportunity for far-sighted organizations to jump ahead.
For instance, data-driven marketing can retool an organization’s messaging on a per-customer basis, microtargeting a solution to a consumer or business with the most appropriate message at the most opportune time.
For companies lacking the internal resources or forward momentum to develop this solution for themselves, the key is to partner with a company staffed with specialized expertise to make the most of this sophisticated technology. In the 8th Annual State of Financial Marketing analysis, Jim Marous reports that with 91% of retail customers saying they prefer brands that provide personalized offers and recommendations, there’s no downside to investing in strategies and systems that deliver targeted offers and enhanced experiences.
Mistake #2: Disregarding the Importance of Onboarding and Cross-Selling
Whether an organization is attracting potential customers through thought leadership, content marketing or social media, there’s a moment of engagement that only happens once in a customer journey. Onboarding is a company’s chance to capture essential information while a customer is in “open” mode, starting a conversation that will reveal key insights into their wants and needs.
In addition to providing key data to guide messaging strategy for automated and machine-learning driven communication in the future, this onboarding moment is also the gateway to cross-selling opportunities.
Per the State of Financial Marketing report, “When a prospect or customer visits a particular web page or shows an interest in opening a new account, sending a promotional code or discount via text message may make the difference between closing the sale or missing an opportunity. In addition, using email and other channels to effectively onboard the new customer immediately after they open an account could be the difference between a single-service sale and a multiproduct relationship.”
Despite the obvious need to connect and bring value to a customer — whether it’s a product or service or simply a “meeting them where they are” moment, only 24% of surveyed financial organizations listed onboarding and cross-selling as a marketing strength. This reveals a dramatic under-investment in a crucial marketing touchpoint.
Prevent this mistake by:
Consider digital interactions from an in-person sales perspective. If a customer was in your office, would you ask one question, and upon receiving an answer, end the conversation? Build engagement and loyalty by leveraging digital channels —
from SMS to email onboarding and loyalty blasts. Developing finely tuned triggered marketing campaigns will continue conversations in the digital space, putting control of the pace in your customers’ hands — and the eventual benefits in your bottom line.
Mistake #3: Missing the Low-Hanging Fruit in Personalized Marketing
There’s an abundance of incoming data available — which many compare to drinking from a firehose. As a result, you’d think that relatively simple digital marketing tools to enable, such as A/B testing or personalized web pages, would be in heavy rotation as adoption of digital tools levels out. This would allow marketers to switch from survival to proactive mode.
However, the Vision 2021 report shows that organizations admit that they still have a way to go on these low-cost-of-entry tools: only 34% are currently using A/B testing, and a mere 12% are employing personalized web pages. A simple shift to fine-tuning messages — one that can be automated and iterated to the top performer within a short time period — can dramatically increase the number of qualified leads that your digital marketing attracts.
Simultaneously, by having a carefully nuanced landing experience waiting for those customers in the form of strategic landing pages creates a unique welcome experience, one that makes a potential customer feel like they’ve found the perfect solution for their one-of-a-kind problem.
Prevent this mistake by:
Don’t be afraid to allow digital marketing efforts to fail. As you test, learn and revise messaging through social channels or paid ads, you’ll quickly be able to funnel your spend in the highest-value direction, minimizing your institution’s cost of acquisition.
This smart spend is the first half of the equation: rapid iteration will quickly redirect a customer journey down the perfect path, one that communicates in ways that trigger both short-term action and long-term loyalty. These two cost-effective strategies make a remarkable difference, delivering value almost immediately.
The irony of technology-driven marketing: The more technology empowers customers to remove the human factor from their interactions, the more they seem to react to human-centered enhancements such as personalization and non-sales messaging. Embracing aspects of digital marketing that are less about the immediate sale and more about understanding and connecting with customers on a deeper level will ultimately mean an ongoing relationship built on trust — and the sort of loyalty that will ride out whatever curves the future will throw at banks and credit unions next.