I am asked frequently by clients and students to give an example of the marketer I most admire for using the insights and technology available to them – and I keep returning to Amazon.com. Notwithstanding their sharp elbows with manufacturers and publishers, they create a consumer experience that markets itself. They engage with their customers in meaningful and relevant ways that not only make us come back for more, but have also raised our expectations for all other marketers.
If only the Retail Banking world would take a few lessons…
Recognize Me. Amazon knows who I am at each visit, and they are ready for me. I have been banking with a certain small town bank for decades, but they still don’t know when I walk in the branch, and they certainly don’t know when I hit their website unless I log into my online banking account. Banks should be able to link user data across channels and have more awareness of consumer visits. Face it: “omnichannel marketing” is a myth; no marketer is going to get all the channels to integrate. However, through the use of multichannel marketing databases and some rudimentary tag management, retail banks should be able to link my interest in their emails to my POS and web activity.
Recommend Something Relevant. Amazon not only has the next products I might be interested in waiting for me when I visit, but they also have retargeted ads follow me around the web. Banks can be using “next product to buy” models to offer up the same kind of suggestions for consumers visiting their sites, walking into the branch or even calling their 800-number. This type of analytics has been in-use for many years but banks are slow to bring this from the marketing world into their customer engagement practices.
Offer Something New. Amazon is constantly looking to provide the next new products to their consumers. The banking customer today is just not the same as the customer of two or three years ago. Many expect their banks to serve their needs online first. They may never physically enter a branch if they can help it. They expect banks to simplify their lives (think apps), give them advice about their money (think online financial advisors) and think ahead of them to offer them something they haven’t seen before (forget the toaster oven!). Getting the voice of this new online banking consumer into the heads of senior management will take aggressive research and work by the marketing team.
Make Online Engagement A Priority. Amazon Prime was created as a complete multichannel experience that wraps itself around the consumer and doesn’t let go. Although customer engagement occurs every day in the branch, 90% of U.S. bankers surveyed expected at least a 10% decline in branch numbers over the next year (Celent Research, February 2014). The challenge is replicating in-branch engagement, online. Engagement is not only how you interact with your customers in-person – but how often and how well they interact with you digitally. A recent Gallup Poll asking banking customers if they would consider their bank the next time they needed a product or service found that consideration skyrockets to 83% among customers who are both satisfied and fully engaged online. Getting new customers to use your online and mobile offerings is a critical marketing challenge for banks large and small.
Don’t Bug Me With Irrelevant Information. More than half of the mail and email I get from my own bank is just not that important to me. Amazon makes an impression without making me continually look at products or services or communications that have no interest to me. Using research and analytics to understand what I’m interested in is critical, as is getting permission management right. Customer preferences should be part of the basic customer record. How consumers want to interact with you and the products they might be interested in is what should guide your marketing team.
How to get there? Amazon has a team of data scientists who help get it done. This may seem intimidating to the bank marketer, but marketing analytics are no longer just for Amazon or even “Big Banks” alone. The growing sophistication of the online customer and the explosion of new data are fueling marketing analytics even at the smaller, regional banks.
Building a team with the skills needed to make the most of analytics goes beyond data manipulation and requires marketers to up their game. Attracting talent that can analyze and take action on customer data will be important, and many institutions will need to rely on external partners for these skilled data scientists.
Can your bank marketing be as smart as Amazon’s? Engage your customers by recognizing, recommending, and offering new and relevant products and services and using analytics to understand what will make them come back for more. A fully engaged online customer will stay with you longer and deliver more value to you every time.
Martha Bush is Senior 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.