Financial services professionals traditionally see their marketing efforts through the lens of the “sales funnel” or “marketing funnel”; it’s been that way for decades. But working within that model could actually cause you to miss out on the majority of a customer’s potential lifetime value—most of which occurs after the initial transaction.
That demands reimagining what’s possible. The upshot? Today’s financial services organizations can boost the lifetime value of every customer through marketing efforts that work not as a funnel, but a flywheel.
The big three problems with bank marketing funnels
Three main problems plague the traditional funnel. First, it’s transaction-focused; the whole premise of the funnel supposes that the marketer’s mission is to convert people who’ve never heard of your brand into customers. And that’s where it ends.
Therein lies the second problem: The funnel offers no insight into how to engage people once they’ve bought something. At that point, they’ve traveled through the funnel—yet may never hear from you again. That’s lamentable because it costs at least five times more to sell to new customers than existing ones.
And finally, the third issue: The marketing funnel leaves gaps customers can fall through. That’s because funnels center on generic personas that don’t quite align with real people. It’s designed to serve as a “close fit” for as many people as possible—which inevitably makes it a terrible fit for many and a waste of time, energy and money for you.
Here’s how the flywheel model of marketing solves those problems.
The flywheel: Marketing takes flight
The flywheel’s basic premise is to engage with customers on an ongoing basis. When you use it, you “attract, engage and amaze” over and over, regardless of whether someone has become a customer.
Thus the flywheel optimizes customer experiences to improve acquisition and retention. It rests on the philosophy that every interaction with a customer—before, during or after a transaction—either builds or erodes trust.
The key to consistently getting those interactions right, time after time, customer after customer, rests in letting customers’ life experiences lead the way.
Of course, top relationship managers at banks understand this premise. But to achieve it at scale, they must apply technology to turn customer data into hyper-relevant communications.
Data and technology, in fact, work as the flywheel’s hub. Think about it: Most financial organizations retain thousands of data points on their customers. Other public and private sources contain thousands more. Together, these points can paint detailed pictures of your customers’ lives—but only if you possess the technology to make sense of them.
When you parse these thousands of data points to automate the delivery of hyper-relevant messaging, you make the leap from financial services provider to trusted advisor.
Anticipate, educate, advise, repeat
Here’s an example of the flywheel in action:
A couple comes in for a loan on their first home; they’re expecting their first child and want a bigger space. You close the loan and make a note in your Marketing Operating System (MOS) about their due date. When the baby is born, your MOS prompts you to reach out with a phone call to congratulate them and offer a consultation about college savings plans.
Impressed you remembered and proactively reached out, they take a step beyond your recommendations and ask advice on other financial decisions. Then when a friend is looking to buy their first home, the couple shares their positive experience and sends them your way.
And so on.
Four flywheel marketing maxims
Success with the bank marketing flywheel involves four actions:
- Anticipate your customers’ needs. Translate data points—such as email views and clicks, account balances and transfers, dates of birth and more—into an understanding of customers’ life events.
- Educate customers about their options. Based on these life events, communicate about relevant products and services.
- Advise customers about their financial lives. Seventy-eight percent of Americans want financial advice from their retail bank. When they get sound advice, they feel more satisfied—and you go from relationship manager to trusted advisor.
- Repeat. Consider every relationship an ongoing relationship.
As you continually amaze your customers, they turn into brand ambassadors and recommend you to their friends and family, which builds the flywheel’s momentum over time.
Parting shot: See it through
If you want to maximize the lifetime value of every customer and consistently win them for life, you must create a stream of excellent experiences. Technology that lets you achieve hyper-relevance at scale makes it all possible.
When you do this, you’ll anticipate your customers’ needs, engage them via helpful educational materials and guide them toward the best option. That, in the end, provides much more mutual benefit than nearsighted funnel vision—even as you open their eyes to a sharper financial vision.
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Sue Woodard is chief customer officer at Total Expert, a company that specializes in integrated, enterprise-level marketing and sales software.