Will Bank Marketers Be Replaced By Robots?

The growth in digital channels has left marketing executives vulnerable, where many functions have been reduced to digits on a spreadsheet and campaigns are managed on a dashboard. Has the art of marketing become the science of marketing? Who needs to rely on human judgement and intervention when you've got mathematical algorithms?

Technology is replacing humans across the business spectrum at a faster clips than at any time in history. Positions like postal office clerks, agricultural workers and even florists are fast disappearing according to Forbes. Functions handled by accountants, architects, designers and programmers are being taken over by software programs. Self-driving technology is estimated to put four million cab, Uber, UPS and long-haul truck drivers out of business in the next ten years. Even fast food restaurants, a last resort for many low-skilled employees, are replacing humans with technology.

Marketers will not be immune to this technology takeover. Many of the repetitive functions in modern marketing campaigns are already being performed by automated systems — analyzing audiences, identifying prospects, look-alike targeting, campaign replication, design and message distribution — all without a human anywhere in sight. In some cases, software is even replacing creatives — writers and designers once thought to be untouchable are not. Accelerated by the ever-present push to cut costs and achieve greater efficiencies, banks and credit unions are adopting more and more of these automated and digital martech tools.

In certain situations, automated marketing does a better job than humans ever did. For instance, customer onboarding, a critical marketing function is not managed well at most community institutions. 72% of bank officers think this is an important or very important process, however, a report from Forrester Research found that as much as 50% of revenue is lost in the onboarding process… when managed by humans. A fully-automated system could provide the reliability, speed and consistency not available to harried marketers. Automated systems can manage every aspect of onboarding — from the welcome letter and needs assessment to customized, personalized follow-ups. Once the onboarding system is deployed, it requires minimal supervision; it can run indefinitely, and results are available in real-time.

Reliability and efficiency are also the central arguments for using an automated program for mortgage and consumer loan acquisition. Say a digital marketing program uses paid search, SEO, display ads and web content to generate a flurry of leads. First, the leads could be monitored through web responses and telephone tracking, then they could be then segmented into those requiring a personal callback, or a customized printed piece, or an email response. An automated retargeting campaign could be used to keep in touch with those who haven’t yet submitted an application. Drip mailings can keep prospects warm by customizing messages to their level of knowledge or their stage in the buying journey.

Surveys can also be added to any automated program. They can help bankers closely monitor attitudes and head-off potential problems before reaching crisis proportions.

Key Insight: Look to automated systems for repetitive tasks, improved targeting, reduction of errors and improvements in the customer experience.

Data analytics and greater accountability has pushed marketing deep into the realm of number crunching, where algorithms often replace decision-making and data points replace judgement. It’s could be easy to view ROI analysis as the most important component of marketing… but it’s not.

Marketing is built on consumer behavior — understanding what consumers want and delivering on a promise. Yes, technology will push some marketers out of the industry, but only those who keep their eye on a dashboard instead of the consumer.

Using technology to monitor bottom-line results is important, but technology isn’t enough to create, manage and analyze a strategic marketing plan. Marketing professionals, your job is safe. It’s the pseudo marketers who need to worry.

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