State of Financial Marketing: Pathetic Adoption of Martech Solutions

Financial marketing guide reveals bank and credit union strategies, priorities and challenges. With thousands of different marketing technology solutions available, it’s not surprising that many financial marketers indicated they are overwhelmed, making the adoption of new marketing technologies in banking low. This is unfortunate, since those who use advanced marketing tools are realizing significant ROI.

To provide financial services organizations with the most comprehensive benchmark of key financial marketing trends, the Digital Banking Report continues to field an international survey, sponsored by Deluxe. The resultant report, 2018 Guide to Financial Marketing, provides unparalleled insights into the priorities, challenges, product focus, communication channel use, budgeting allocation and use of digital marketing technologies.

The 90-page report breaks down dozens of trends — who’s doing what, spending more, in which channels and generating results. The full survey analyzes over 30 different parameters and includes 44 charts, segmenting respondents by size and type of organization (national/regional bank, community bank, credit union).

The report shows that the proliferation of advanced marketing technology tools over the past several years has made it much easier for financial marketers to build highly customized, integrated and effective solutions. Unfortunately, the speed of technological change in the marketing sector has four out of five marketing executives feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. Making matters worse, the speed of change is only expected to increase.

According to the 2018 Guide to Financial Marketing, financial marketers today are increasingly opting for multiple providers, integrating a range of tools to build customized marketing solutions. But the utilization of these powerful tools is not the same across the financial services industry. In fact, much of the most advanced technologies used are only being implemented at the largest financial institutions today.

The good news is that the best marketing technologies have never been more accessible, both in terms of ease of implementation as well as cost. And the power of these technologies has never been greater, as organizations increasingly are collecting and integrating consumer insights across multiple functional area.

Key Technology Trends

In our research of financial marketing executives worldwide, we found that marketing teams will be spending more on marketing technology tools in 2018 and beyond, driven by the increasing breadth of tools available and the increasing sophistication of tools, including emerging technologies like augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) as well as AI into the marketing technology matrix.

Because many of the marketing technology solutions achieving ROI in as little as 4-6 months, financial marketers are moving to invest more in technologies with predictive modeling and data management capabilities. We also expect marketers to invest more in martech tools like marketing automation and chatbots that leverage data and AI to better personalize marketing communication.

The result of these trends is that there should be more qualified leads at a lower cost of contact, with more relevant content, better conversion of leads to sales and a more satisfied prospect/customer/member since the communication is more personalized to their immediate needs.

Greater Consumer Demands

As the consumer becomes more comfortable with digital and mobile communication, they increasingly have multiple devices and ways they access them. This reality only increases the need for each marketing touchpoint to be optimized. Prospects are doing more self-education through search and by visiting your website, so technology is needed to help them engage in the right way, with the right message.

That’s why web personalization and predictive recommendations are so important. Web personalization delivers personalized messages, images and offers to select visitors. New technologies can respond to each visitor based on new intent signals appearing in unique ways on the site.

Consumers expect personalization that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend the right content at the right time. They also expect to receive recommendations across your web, mobile and email channels, and in multiple languages.

Finally, with the average consumer checking their mobile device, or multiple mobile devices (phone, tablet, smart watch, etc.) several times a day, financial marketers need to adjust to the reality that mobile rules the customer experience. If you are not adapting your marketing to perform on a mobile device, then you are wasting time and money.

Data Analytics Maturity at Financial Institutions

In 2018, we wanted to get a gauge as to where financial institutions were in their capture and use of data. As might have been expected, the use of data is strongest when we look at traditional applications, such as budget allocation (72% agree or strongly agree that data is used for this purpose), understanding needs and doing basic segmentation (71% and 66% respectively).

More than 50% of organizations also felt comfortable with targeted personalization (61%) and delivering ‘look-alike’ programs (58%). All of these findings were improved from 2017.

Data analytic maturity quickly fell off when firms were asked about marketing automation, journey mapping, predictive analytics and modeling. While these numbers are improved from last year, they still are not high enough given consumer expectations of ‘know me, look out for me, and reward me”.

Prioritization of Advanced Marketing Strategies

When we asked financial marketers about the prioritization of their efforts, we found great alignment with what most industries believe to be the difference between success and failure in the future of marketing. Of greatest importance were strategies such as use of online display ads, content marketing, social media marketing and personalization.

Given the top priorities, it is a bit surprising that advanced analytics, predictive modeling (AI) and CRM systems/marketing automation fell lower in the ranking since these are the foundation of some of the higher priorities. While we found relative alignment across asset categories and types of organizations, the level of commitment was lower for credit unions and smaller organizations and lowest for community banks.

Financial Institution Use of Marketing Platforms

According to the 2018 Guide to Financial Marketing, roughly one in four organizations (24%) currently use some form of marketing automation, with another 29% indicating that they plan to use marketing automation software in the future. The percentage with ‘plans to’ implement marketing automation in the next 12-18 months increased by 8% since 2017. Of concern is the fact that 42% of organizations do not leverage marketing automation (and don’t plan to in the near future).

When we look at the responses by organization size and type of organization, the largest organizations definitely are further ahead in the utilization of marketing automation. By type of organization, the largest banks are most likely to leverage marketing automation, with the credit unions beginning their use. Very few community banks have moved to the use of marketing automation software.

We also inquired into whether organizations are using content marketing systems at this time. As with the questions on marketing automation, the structure was rather loose to avoid concerns around definitions. We were very surprised to learn that almost half of organizations are using some form of content management systems currently, with another 17% planning to have one in the next 12-18 months. Only slightly more than a quarter of the institutions do not have plans to build or buy a content management system.

Similar to content management systems, roughly half (54%) of organizations surveyed have a CRM platform, with another one in five (22%) intending to have a CRM system in place in the next 12-18 months.

Keys to Improving Your Marketing Technology Integration

Here are the key components to improve the digital maturity of your financial services organization. Each of these are scalable and do not require an ‘all-in’ commitment.

1. Hire Tech-Savvy Marketers. This may seem obvious enough, but financial institutions shouldn’t be hiring any new marketing personnel that don’t pass the digital sniff test. There’s a strong correlation between a company’s employees and its level of technological sophistication, meaning that tech-savvy people tend to work at tech-savvy companies, and vice versa.

While you might not have the technological culture you’d like to have today, you can use the people you hire to shape your organization and its strategy. Walker Sands says that companies that hire tech-savvy marketers invariably end up with a more sophisticated tech culture, and not just in marketing … across the entire organization.

2. Involve End Users In The Decision-Making Process. The purchase and management of marketing technology has become democratized, with end business users making decisions about martech more often than a centralized IT department. More marketers at all levels should lead and influence buying decisions.

3. Build an Integrated Best-of-Breed Martech Matrix. In a martech landscape made up increasingly of solutions that integrate well with other tools, marketers will get the most value out of integrated, best-of-breed marketing stacks rather than single-vendor suites. Because integration has become easier, there’s little reason these days to have fragmented stacks that don’t connect the dots between platforms and channels.

4. Consider a Chief Marketing Technologist. While companies benefit from listening to the technology needs of front-line marketers, more organizations are recognizing the need for a senior marketing technologist who can make decisions based on a high-level view of the martech stack. With implementation and integration posing less of a challenge than ever before, the most successful companies will focus on getting the most out of their martech tools through a holistic technology strategy, more training and better-defined KPIs.

As financial services organizations shift to become customer-centric, it is more important than ever that marketing and sales act as a well-coordinated and supportive team. Since the consumer does not differentiate between teams when they interact with your organization, a seamless experience is more important than ever.

According to Marketo, “Sales engagement technology allows marketing and sales to collaborate on a living playbook – that considers the latest messaging and techniques, but also can offer the analytics to know what’s working and what isn’t. Done well, marketers and sales can collaborate on best practices for content messaging strategies and drive more pipeline and revenue.”

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