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Making “right audience, right message, right time” a reality


Today, marketers are under pressure to create a premium, personalized experience across a dynamic and growing number of customer channels. The opportunity is immense, but only if you can consistently target the right audience, at the right time with the right message across those channels. If you do, it can help improve the customer experience and perception of your brand – increasing conversion rates and deepening loyalty – while also helping to optimize your marketing spend and performance.

So Many Channels, So Many Customers

It’s never been easier to engage with consumers than it is today. Knowing this, financial institutions, banks and credit unions should strive to offer a healthy mix of most, if not all, the options below with a strong focus on emerging digital channels – to  help target, convert, retain and grow both new and existing account holder relationships:

  • Traditional customer channels: Direct mail, email, print advertising (newspaper/magazine), website, radio, call/service center messaging;
  • Digital customer channels: Social media, mobile apps, mobile chat, mobile advertising, online advertising, targeted TV commercials (addressable TV) and more.                                     

Across these channels, it can be difficult to target the most interested and qualified audience, since what works with one audience may not work with another. To optimize marketing efficiency and performance, financial institutions need a plan. Enter: core data enhancement.

This involves expanding current prospect and customer data to include relevant characteristics that support more precise segmentation. For this, financial institution marketers have plenty of choices. However, many data options are built on the sometimes faulty assumptions that come with behavioral tracking. For instance, online advertising is heavily reliant on behavioral targeting, where a consumer’s interests and intent are based on web pages that a consumer has visited. While it may work well for online retail, it’s not as effective for major financial investments.

To help find their niche audience, financial institution marketers should search for data that offers the ability to anonymously cross-reference wealth estimates, household income measures, credit characteristics and spending trends with consumer buying behavior and product preferences.

Here’s how that can help with cross-channel messaging. Say a financial institution has a basic understanding of consumers, based on browsing history and standard demographics. Next, the institution layers wealth and lifestyle insights on top of its current data to better understand each consumer’s assets, income, spending habits (high spend vs. low spend) and more. Based on these insights, consumers can be grouped into more precise audiences with more relevant and meaningful messages.

For example, it could create a “premium treatment group,” with high assets, income and spending, and a “value treatment group,” with average income and assets. Messaging to the premium treatment group is focused on “solutions that reward loyalty and share of wallet,” while messaging to the value treatment group could promote “new products to fit your budget and build your financial future.”

Create Consistency

Once an audience is segmented, communicate with them using consistent messaging across all customer channels. Imagine a bank sending its premium treatment group a sleek direct mailer promoting the prestige of its financial investment services. At the same time, that group is seeing a stream of TV commercials promoting the bank’s basic safe checking account that helps consumers take charge of their finances. While it may not hurt the bank’s brand, it dilutes the impact of the targeted direct mailer, making it a missed opportunity to connect with a more affluent audience and deepen an existing customer relationship.

Pairing wealth insights with available customer data from cable and satellite television providers could help in this situation. Marketers could use addressable TV to segment viewing audiences and ensure cable customers included in the premium treatment group see TV commercials that promote the bank’s investment services, not checking accounts. The same idea goes for online and mobile advertising, social media and more.

When consumers see a steady, consistent message and tone across all channels, it can help change their view of the financial institution, pushing it to the top of mind for preferred products and services.

Close the Loop

Closed-loop attribution gives marketers insight into the metrics that matter most: their actual goals. This could include tracking conversion profitability, digital spend efficiency, brand impact on revenue, deposit/asset gathering and more. 

Here’s an example of how it could work with an advertising campaign. Once a campaign objective is delineated and the campaign is completed, identify households that did not view ad impressions. The unexposed control group should closely resemble the exposed group in characteristics such as geography, demographics and financial profile. With these two groups identified, marketers can leverage data to monitor campaign results across multiple dimensions, such as geographic area, demographic, segment or channel. This practice allows for more precise targeting in future campaigns.

Using closed-loop attribution, it’s also possible to look at the overlap between two audience groups to adjust key performance indicators (KPIs) for a campaign, or dig even deeper to define an audience on tighter terms to better understand performance. It’s even possible to tie offline data to individuals or households and then use that data to find impressions, in a privacy-safe manner.

In today’s fast-moving marketplace, financial institutions have more options than ever to help create meaningful consumer connections thanks to a myriad of evolving customer channels. The key to success is optimizing current and emerging channels, carving out more precise, qualified consumer segments within those channels and sending those niche audiences more relevant, consistent messages and offers across their preferred mix of channels. What’s more, by closing the loop with actionable performance metrics, financial marketers can continually adjust their campaigns and target audiences within individual channels to help promote stronger alignment, performance and return on investment across all channels.

Mr. Jones is vice president and retail banking leader for Atlanta based Equifax. He can be reached at [email protected].