Econsultancy's Digital Trends in Financial Services and Insurance Report from December 2016 outlines here top priorities for marketers in 2017:
- Targeting and Personalization
- Customer Journey Management
- Content Marketing
Clearly, these three are all connected. They reflect a shift in financial services away from product-centric marketing towards customer-centered marketing. To be customer-centered we must know our prospects and customers and deliver relevant services and experience to them. That means personalized content and services.
But anyone who has wrestled with creating a more personalized Web experience for anonymous visitors (prospects) and creating a personalized omni-channel experience for known customers can speak to the complexity of the task. It challenges even the most mature marketing organization. Then there is financial services, if you know what I mean.
So, is marketing personalization hard? You betcha. How hard? Darn hard.
Personalizing to anonymous users
- Someone follows an organic search result about planning for business continuity in small businesses. When they arrive at the site, they should not only get the content they are after but other small business content as they move through the site.
- A user clicks and reads a series of home and boat safety content on the site. The next time they visit, they should receive more home and boat content and be spared the chore of clicking past enterprise business content that is not relevant.
We want to pick up on signals from people we don’t yet know visiting our Web sites and draw reasonable conclusions about who they are in order to give them the most relevant experience.
The biggest challenge towards personalizing the experience for someone we don’t yet know is deciding the segments that matter to personalize against and what we do to personalize to those segments. So, pretty much the whole thing is a big challenge.
“Other than showing return visitors product categories they already looked at instead of whatever is on sale that day, the strategy for what you do in response to any data point is highly unclear, as soon as you go beyond basics.
So what if you know that I listen to podcasts, work in Manhattan and just got married? Will any of that help you figure out how to best sell me something? Because I am a man, does it mean I like to see other men wearing clothes? Perhaps I’m shopping for my wife. How can you know? Are you going to rely on my returning to the website after showing interest in something, therefore only personalizing for a fraction of visitors?”
Personalizing to customers
We should know a lot about our customers. Many businesses did not establish central data profiles for their customers and are trying to catch up. There is a terrific example where many companies could have set these up ten years ago. The cost of catching up continues to accrue.
The three big challenges of delivering a strong and increasingly personal experience to customers include:
Integrating multiple data sources to establish an always-contemporary view of the customer
“A Forrester report revealed that while 87 percent of CMOs anticipate the need to integrate customer data into their digital strategy over the next four years, only 16 percent currently do so.
So what makes personalization difficult? Data silos pose the biggest obstacle. The fact that customer activity takes place across so many different platforms — social, web, mobile, email, e-commerce and CRM — makes it extraordinarily challenging for marketers to get a single, coherent view of the customer and understand the context of the interaction with the company.”
Just think about the data that would be the most helpful to know to get marketing personalization right:
- All the customer’s sales and service data – what do they own and how have we interacted with them
- Their demographic, geographic and household circumstances – what is the context of their daily lives
- Key life events like moving, college and more – what disruptive changes do they face
- Their stated and behavioral preferences – content, settings, delivery, channels
- Their digital and social channel behavior – what they actually do online
- Their social media profiles – what they say and do online and how influential they may be
That shopping list of data comes from very different stores, so-to-speak. Getting it all together and relating it in a view of the customer that is always growing is, well, hard.
Connecting the experience across channels (e.g. what they receive via email relates to their Web experience)
We all want an “omni-channel” world where we can start a conversation or service transaction with a client via phone or email and have it continue via social or a customer portal. Conceptually, we get it. Let customers determine which channels we communicate with them on. It just isn’t that easy. Using marketing automation tools like Salesforce and Maximyser, we can sync up the email with the Web site. But connecting the call center and social channels are chores unto themselves.
Creating the rules to trigger content and services via all channels to the right customer
When does one prospect receive a specific Web experience? When does a customer receive a sequence of emails in response to some behavior (e.g. they showed an interest in smart home technology and would now benefit from some follow-up information)?
Remember, this is 'marketing automation' and we are trying to develop rules or triggers that cause different content or messages to fire based upon what we know about our visitors. Developing those triggers and monitoring how well they work such that we are not inadvertently annoying customers with irrelevant or poorly-timed content or messages is important and hard. And trigger-based marketing is a bit of a blunt instrument.
"In a trigger campaign, a user’s action (such as a click, email open, pageview, etc) triggers the marketing automation software to perform an action – such as send a specific email or show a specific piece of content. This type of marketing requires a marketing automation tool, like Marketo or Hubspot for instance, that uses this basic set of user information to personalize content....
...A reason that trigger-driven personalization can be ineffective is that the content triggered to the visitor is predefined based a persona they may fit, rather than the actual indications of their wants or needs."
There are plenty of other challenges but these seem to be some of the big ones. Its one thing to acknowledge the obvious - that more personalized experiences will serve customers better. It's another thing to break this down into a practical strategy and start to implement i. That part is hard.