Four trends every financial marketer needs to know

by Michael Plimsoll

Posted on 07-16-2018

Be hon­est, when it comes to think­ing about busi­ness­es that put cus­tomers first, banks don’t come top of mind. Yes, we occa­sion­al­ly come across a cheer­ful teller at our local branch, but in gen­er­al we view banks as places that store our mon­ey and let us with­draw cash before going to a street food market.

Things have changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the past few years. Chal­lenger banks like Mon­zo and N24, fin­tech start-ups, and spin-offs from estab­lished play­ers are shak­ing up the mar­ket and deliv­er­ing ser­vices that put cus­tomers first. It sounds iron­ic, but new tech­nolo­gies have actu­al­ly made it eas­i­er to deliv­er per­son­alised expe­ri­ences that serve the needs of real people.

Take Switzerland’s Raif­feisen, which is draw­ing on its cus­tomer data to deliv­er a more tai­lored web expe­ri­ence and tar­get peo­ple with the ser­vices they need, in the right place and at the right time. This shift in tac­tic has led to a 300% boost in con­ver­sions, quite the change for a com­pa­ny found­ed in 1899.

The impor­tant take­away from all this is that mar­keters in the finan­cial sec­tor are ready to do things dif­fer­ent­ly. If they want to com­pete with chal­lenges who, as Bar­clays CDO Craig Corte points out, aren’t even banks in some cas­es, they need to move away from the approach that led them to this dif­fi­cult posi­tion in the first place.

Our own research reveals finan­cial mar­keters are focused on four areas for improvement:

Focus 1: Bank­ing on bet­ter cus­tomer experiences

To make an impact with cus­tomers, you need to give them an expe­ri­ence to remem­ber. It doesn’t have to be a big-bang moment – we are talk­ing about finan­cial ser­vices after all – but even an ultra-smooth and con­ve­nient expe­ri­ence will go a long way in delight­ing cus­tomers and keep­ing them loy­al. That’s why more than 35% of finan­cial mar­keters are explor­ing ways to sim­pli­fy their ser­vice, and on mak­ing it more fun and more valuable.

For exam­ple, Bar­clays has set itself the goal of becom­ing the best dig­i­tal bank in South Africa by 2020. The organ­i­sa­tion has reshaped its entire dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences, adapt­ing its mobile app, owned chan­nels, and web­site to the habits of its dig­i­tal customers.

Focus 2: Mak­ing dig­i­tal con­tent work harder

Great con­tent is the secret to build­ing a fan-base, espe­cial­ly on dig­i­tal chan­nels. Con­tent is your brand’s voice and a win­dow into its per­son­al­i­ty. From email and social pro­mo­tion to web copy and dis­play ads, dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions need to grab people’s atten­tion and inspire them to act.

Cus­tomers use a range of touch­points and chan­nels today, and finan­cial orga­ni­za­tions risk miss­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage them if their con­tent strat­e­gy doesn’t cov­er all of these. That’s why orga­ni­za­tions like Loy­alis have digi­tised their online jour­ney across platforms.

Focus 3: Get val­ue from cus­tomer data, and sprin­kle on AI

There’s a direct rela­tion­ship between cus­tomer data and cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Bet­ter data means bet­ter expe­ri­ences. But this only holds true if brands can draw on their data to tru­ly under­stand their audi­ence. Near­ly 40% of finan­cial insti­tu­tions admit they have room to improve and have made it a pri­or­i­ty to mod­ernise their approach to tar­get­ing and per­son­al­i­sa­tion this year.

This also helps inform a brand’s con­tent strat­e­gy. It takes a great deal of time and brain­pow­er to cre­ate amaz­ing con­tent, but unless it’s going to the right peo­ple at the right time most of this invest­ment is wast­ed. Com­pa­nies like BNP Paribas Wealth Man­age­ment use cus­tomer ana­lyt­ics to under­stand which of their dig­i­tal chan­nels are most suc­cess­ful, which allows them to share thou­sands of pieces of con­tent in a more tar­get­ed way across each of these.

The next phase in cus­tomer under­stand­ing is to apply Machine Learn­ing and Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (AI). At the vol­ume and scale that finan­cial ser­vices com­pa­nies col­lect and analyse data, AI algo­rithms are the only way to crunch this infor­ma­tion quick­ly, extract rel­e­vant insights, and turn these into rapid action. That’s why more than 60% of finan­cial ser­vices insti­tu­tions are already using AI, or plan to do so in the next 12 months.

Focus 4: Invest­ing in the right tech­nol­o­gy and skills

There’s no way around this point. It might be tempt­ing to sim­ply invest in an advanced ana­lyt­ics sys­tem and AI with the hopes that this will shake up your entire cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. But change starts at a more fun­da­men­tal lev­el. Lega­cy sys­tems and data siloes are still hold­ing finan­cial organ­i­sa­tions back from work­ing in a uni­fied way.

The gap between top per­form­ers and the rest is widen­ing, and unsur­pris­ing­ly the for­mer are three times more like­ly to have invest­ed in an inte­grat­ed tech­nol­o­gy sys­tem. With data and ideas flow­ing more freely between your teams, the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence you deliv­er is more con­sid­ered and consistent.

Com­pa­nies also need to broad­en the skillset of their mar­ket­ing teams, bring­ing in the tech­nol­o­gy and data exper­tise required to work in a more cus­tomer-cen­tric way. It’s one thing to speed up a few process­es, but there is much more val­ue in using your under­stand­ing of cus­tomers to deliv­er expe­ri­ences that make a real impact.

The finan­cial ser­vices sec­tor is clear­ly com­mit­ted to change, mov­ing from an inside-out approach to cus­tomer ser­vices to one that draws on what cus­tomers actu­al­ly want and need. A bank may nev­er earn the same type of “love” from cus­tomers as their favourite cloth­ing brand or hotel chain, but it can estab­lish itself as a busi­ness that puts peo­ple first. And in a world where so many organ­i­sa­tions still strug­gle in this regard, this is the ulti­mate differentiator.

Topics: Digital Transformation, AI, banking, customer experience, data, digital, financial services, personalisation, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA