How Bank Marketers Should Use Storytelling in Internal Communications

Too often, marketing campaign results sit in spreadsheets, lacking strategic context — or the metrics being measured aren’t important to all stakeholders. To increase visibility of Marketing's contribution to growth, bank marketers need to be storytellers. Here are six quick tips to shape the stories.
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Successful storytelling has become increasingly important as marketing and branding become bigger drivers of growth. Historically banks and credit unions have relied on branches to organically acquire new customers, but competition and consumer behaviors have demanded that banks proactively go out and find new customers.

To do this, today’s marketing team must be able to innovate and execute flawlessly in an intensely dynamic landscape, while accounting for each dollar spent.

Successful marketers must be able to quantify business outcomes across every digital or offline touchpoint, and then communicate those results in language others in their institution understands and values.

With that said, many banks and credit unions with branch networks know that measuring the incremental impact of a marketing campaign is challenging. “How do we know the consumer who opened an account wasn’t going to do so anyway?” “Where’s the evidence that marketing the impetus?” The answers to questions like these can guide future decisions on how to spend marketing dollars.

What is Incrementality?:

In marketing, incrementality broadly refers to growth that can be directly attributed to specific marketing efforts above and beyond the existing brand equity.

When it comes to conversions, analysis of incrementality is critical. This is a disciplined and rigorous approach to activation with full visibility into the consumer buying process. This means taking into consideration all potential response and activation channels and designing the campaign to account for them.

Bank Marketers Must Include Context Along with Metrics

Incrementality is the foundation of marketing measurement and can vary widely by product and institution. For example, a bank with significant credit card acquisition may be challenged with credit card incrementality, as the branch channel is likely adept and comfortable selling credit cards. Similarly, a bank with strong organic checking account growth will be challenged to prove that a marketing effort drove new checking accounts.

In both of these cases, disciplined campaign design and a solid measurement plan will be critical to tying the business outcomes to the marketing spend.

Once the campaign has run and results are mature, the challenge for the marketer is to tell the story of its performance and contribution to the business. Too often campaign results sit in spreadsheets, devoid of strategic context, or the importance of the metrics being measured isn’t clear to all the stakeholders.

The 6 Keys to Effective Internal Storytelling

Successful storytelling has become increasingly important as marketing and branding become bigger drivers of growth. Historically banks and credit unions have relied on branches to organically acquire new customers, but competition and consumer behaviors have demanded that banks proactively go out and find new customers. To do this, today’s marketing team must be able to innovate and execute flawlessly in an intensely dynamic landscape, while accounting for each dollar spent.

To increase visibility of marketing’s contribution to growth, marketers need to be storytellers. Here are some quick tips for successful storytelling to others within the bank or credit union — both senior executives and line-of-business managers:

1. Tell them what you set out to learn

  • Define success upfront through empirical objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Identify the behaviors and signals that will be measured.
  • Understand the data and the technical and functional means of capturing the behavior.
  • Articulate the testing hypothesis, its value if successful and the application of the test results to the ongoing program.

2. Show them how the campaign functioned within the marketing tech stack

  • Use visuals to show how the campaign will be executed.
  • Consider developing a visual that demonstrates the response experience.
  • Indicate how martech and adtech influenced the response experience.
  • Share how each outbound channel/touchpoint contributed to the whole.
  • Share how each inbound response channel contributed to the whole.

3. Use visuals to bring results to life

  • Charts and graphs can tell a story of performance over time and can both illuminate and describe trends.
  • Include visuals of the creative in the results story.
  • Develop a standard approach to the story elements so that stakeholders can learn what to expect.

4. Bring the business results into the campaign

  • A marketing effort usually has product, offer, pricing and other components where the accountability is outside marketing. Bringing that perspective into the story broadens the lens and connects the business to the results.
  • Cast the results in the language of the business units—”this campaign generated 1,500 checking accounts, equal to a month’s production in 300 branches.”
  • Avoid channel-specific or overly technical jargon when describing the campaign.
  • Report out on the KPIs that the product team cares about.

5. Tell them what the results mean to the institution

  • Quantify the efficiency gained over time – “at this higher response rate, the program will come in 20% over objective at year end, which translates to 1,000 checking accounts over goal.”
  • Avoid campaign myopia. Share the results in a broader context as a driver of a larger goal, or as component of a broader plan.
  • If the campaign is a part of an ongoing program, show how the campaign results trended with other campaigns.

6. Don’t be afraid of communicating failure

  • Honest interpretation of a test that didn’t work, or identification of a product or offer that underperformed can help the financial institution recalibrate towards something more competitive.
  • Transparency around failed experiments adds credibility when talking about success.
  • Risk-managed failures are to be expected in a bank marketing program with a robust and annualized testing agenda.

How Organizational Maturity Can Affect the Storyline

Banks and credit unions and other financial services players vary widely in terms of analytic advancement. Maturity often hinges on the size of the institution, budgets and available resources. The size of footprint can affect maturity, as well as the focus of the institution.

It’s important for marketers to recognize where they are on the maturity curve and to set objectives that are attainable and aligned with senior leadership’s aspirations. There are steps marketers can take at every level to advance their measurement and analytic capabilities. Below we list them by campaign complexity.

Basic: Single campaigns with few differences in their offers or customer segmentation. Simple first-party data, and possibly some third-party data.

  • Establish champion/challenger testing with control cells in place.
  • Measure incremental effect of marketing through statistical design of experiment.
  • Perform incrementality analysis.
  • Conduct regular campaign and channel reporting.
  • Follow an annual testing agenda.
  • Augment third-party data.

Intermediate: Multichannel, multi-touch campaigns. Some campaign automation in place such as always-on strategies.

  • Optimize campaign based on contact, model and channel.
  • Leverage robust data enhancements and predictive models.
  • Build an integrated measurement platform to activate predictive models.
  • Develop an annual testing agenda to drive optimization and continued program improvement.

Advanced: Focused on customer value-optimized marketing. Synchronized touchpoints and messages that establish a customer journey.

  • Make relevant and timely offers and pursue better engagement and experiences.
  • Present personalized, real-time offers.
  • Perform sophisticated measurements such as multi-touch attribution analysis.

Regardless of a bank or credit union’s marketing maturity, there will be a culture of accountability for each marketing dollar spent. Marketers who build performance narratives with the right KPIs, strategic context, historical comparisons and business impacts are likely to be entrusted by leadership with ongoing budget and resources.

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