SunTrust Bank on Purpose-Driven Marketing

Technology has disrupted the financial services industry, creating a more multi-channel consumer banking experience. While this poses a challenge, it also creates opportunity for banks to engage customers more effectively and fluidly than ever before. Many clients continue to see value in the personalized and human touch provided by local branches, while others have embraced digital channels for convenience and speed. Banks are having to bridge old and new worlds, while keeping a quality experience intact. And like most major corporations now, consumers want to be loyal to organizations that closely align with their own values.

SunTrust Bank has embraced every single one of these trends with incredible speed and rigor. Their goal is to be available wherever, whenever and however their clients need them, with a dual focus on improving both the digital and brick-and-mortar client experience. SunTrust has become a leader in Customer Experience Management (CXM) by understanding that the future of marketing lies in the marriage of technology and creativity. As an Adobe Experience Cloud customer, they have tapped a full suite of technologies—from analytics and personalization, to advertising and content management—to transform the connection they hold with clients. A consistent and quality experience across every channel from in-branch to mobile, has been coupled with marketing campaigns that advocated for financial confidence.

Bridging branch and digital

Early in their digital transformation journey, SunTrust faced a challenge that many brick-and-mortar businesses were up against: taking an experience that customers were accustomed to in-person and translating that across mobile and desktop Web. With over 1,400 branches in the Southeastern region of the United States, SunTrust had a long history of providing experiences that were personalized and consistent. Bringing this same mentality to digital meant that the marketing organization had to evolve.

Traditional methods of engaging customers would no longer work in this new technology-driven world. It was not enough for SunTrust to go out and find clients—They had to be there before they arrived. Orchestrating experiences at this altitude meant that an aggressive adoption of marketing technology had to be paired with core creative chops. It was the only way to take a one-to-one bank teller experience and scale that broadly to millions of customers on their smartphones and computers.

As Susan Johnson, chief marketing officer at SunTrust put it: “Marketers are now expected to straddle both the right and left sides of the brain. They have to bring together data insights and creativity, to not only evolve the customer experience but evolve the marketing organization as well into being a major growth driver for the business. Delivering a highly personalized banking experience at scale means that the right content has to be served to the right person, at exactly the right time. This is only possible through fully leveraging data and AI capabilities to activate beautiful creative content. Our longstanding partnership with Adobe has empowered us to deliver on this strategy and meet the high bar set by our clients.”

Financial confidence

In 2016, Super Bowl viewers around the world saw the launch of the “OnUp” movement, a national effort to help people move from financial stress to confidence. The inspiration for it came from SunTrust research into financial insecurity in America. More than 80 percent of Americans lay awake at night worrying about money, 40 percent don’t have $2,000 of emergency savings, and one-third have no retirement savings. The kick-off of onUp was a beautiful moment in the brand’s history where the company’s internal purpose of “Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being” informed a purpose-driven marketing platform. Since then, SunTrust has built a community and dialogue around financial confidence. offers free information and resources to educate and equip people to better manage their money. Today, there are more than 4 million onUp participants — people who have taken a step, onward and upward, toward financial confidence. The impact has carried over into growth in traditional metrics of business success, too – deposits, loans, sentiment, loyalty and consideration.

Bank of the future

There is a lot of chatter around the future of banking. While emerging developments have merit and will continue to have impact, the bigger focus moving forward should revolve around brand purpose. While consumers will adopt new technology in due time, they will always embrace organizations that align with their own values. SunTrust has been a great model for what this can look like, where a movement can be championed around a common struggle and delivered through the marketing organization.

SunTrust uses Adobe Experience Cloud and its analytics, personalization, advertising, content management and audience management solutions to become a true Customer Experience Management company. Learn more here.