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Technology and changing customer demands have started to reshape the way banks and financial institutions not only do business, but market their brands, products and services. Has your organization taken the time to understand and adjust to these industry developments and incorporate them into marketing strategy?

Here are 10 key trends that should be on the radar of every bank and financial service marketer:

1.  Customer Engagement is not a passing fadCustomer engagement occurs every day on an offline basis in the branch banking environment.  The challenge is replicating that high-touch, high-quality, face-to-face experience in the online world. Engagement isn’t just the act of personally connecting with your customers, but also how they interact with each other about you. The ability to not only establish, but maintain an engaging relationship with your audience is critical.

2.  Data Integration becomes mission critical. Financial institutions have always been faced with this challenge and were early adopters of the MCIF (Marketing Customer Information File), CIF (Customer Information File), and other capabilities to capture important customer data. Meanwhile, digital channels and data sources such as web analytics and social media continue to grow at an explosive rate, creating new integration challenges and adding complexity to connecting to and managing both online and offline content. Bringing together this new, rich, unstructured content (and sorting it from its origins) will be more crucial than ever to fully understand your customer.

3.  Marketing Analytics is red hot. This data fuels the growth in the importance of marketing analytics. All of these new online conversations and touchpoints are generating a different, unformatted data stream.  The number of people skilled in analyzing this data are difficult to find and, in general, aren’t clamoring to breach the walls of the local financial institution.  Most institutions will need to rely on external partners for these insights, and will big aggressively against competing banks for these progressive resources. As Robert Wollan of Accenture says in CRM Magazine, “Turning data into actionable insights is increasingly essential – and increasingly difficult.”

4.  Social Media Marketing will mature. While the rest of the world has jumped feet first on to the social media bandwagon, banks and other financial institutions have proceeded more cautiously. In fact, some have gone so far as to say that social media is a waste of time for banks and credit unions. We believe that while financial services as an industry will continue to tread carefully, many organizations will start incorporate social media as a key channel a more progressive marketing strategy.

5.  Technology vendors are blurring the distinction between products and services. We’ve all heard about ASPs (Active Server Pages), SAAS (Software As A Service), and taking things “to the cloud.” As technology innovates and expands, so does industry confusion.

6.  Segmentation becomes schizophrenic. Cohorts, personas, or clusters — whatever segmentation methodologies you are currently using (you are, aren’t you?) should be reviewed to ensure that you’re capturing and leveraging the new data that is now available to you. According to a July 2014 report from Pew Research, over 69 million consumers bank online and 81% have done so at least once in the last year. Can you identify these groups in your database and do you incorporate them in your customer and prospect segmentation?

7.  “Touchpoint Attribution” has emerged as the new buzzword. The challenge of allocating sales to a particular communications channel is somewhat easier in the financial services space, because financial institutions simply don’t do as much multichannel marketing as non-financial marketers do.  As multichannel communications usage grows in FIs, this will take on more importance moving forward.

8.  Mobile banking continues to explode. The recent growth in capable smart phones and other platforms (iPhone, Android phones, iPad, etc.) has made banking-on-the-go a reality for more customers. The ability to download an app to a mobile platform rather than relying solely on the web lends at least an illusion of additional security that will aid adoption of this capability.

9.  Privacy wars wage on. For financial institutions, customer privacy remains a point of apprehension.  “Do not track” legislation and other customer privacy concerns are already adding complexity and have slowed the adoption of full social media efforts by banks and other institutions, with some sitting it out until the legal and ethical codes of conduct around data rights and security are fully fleshed out.

10.  “Right Touching” makes sense. Due to security and privacy concerns, multichannel marketing capabilities have been slower to grow in most financial service firms. Phishing scams have made many distrustful of an email from their bank and, outside of the “online only” banks and other FIs, has complicated the rollout of full multichannel capabilities by those institutions entrusted with our financial security. But financial institutions also have a head start in this regard — existing networks of ATMs and online banking help to self-identify users, so the right message can be presented when that channel of choice is used.

Banks and financial institutions are immersed in a tech and customer-driven time of rapid change, and need to keep current and show agility to truly embrace and deliver on consumer and industry demands, remain progressive, and rise above the competition. Close attention to these trends will certainly be to your organization’s benefit.



Martha Bush is VP of Strategy at SIGMA Marketing Insights, with over 20 years experience as lead adviser for SIGMA’s strategic data marketing client partnerships. Learn more about Martha, or connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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