Calling All Data-Driven Markets — Banking Needs You

Take Action Now To Build Skills Around Understanding Data

Rick Hall

July 8, 2020

Data marketing

By Rick Hall | Special To Banking Mid Atlantic

Talk to any banker these days, and the topic of customer acquisition challenges is bound to come up. Growing and differentiating is more difficult than ever — especially with the current rate environment for deposits. Thinking strategically about this conundrum is tedious but crucial.

Data-driven marketing is arguably one of the most critical functions banks need to be leveraging when it comes to new customer acquisition. According to the Boston Consultiong Group, a majority of new bank customers said that a data-driven personalized approach was a major factor in their decision to move to that bank.

In the past, banks could get away with using baseline demographic attributes for targeting prospects and relatively simple product analysis for cross-selling programs to existing customers. These demographics have also been used to measure the efficacy of those programs. But those days have passed, and bankers can no longer ignore the reality of the gig economy.

In today’s digital-first world, bank marketers need to use real-time tools to better understand detailed behaviors to form their acquisition strategies. In recent studies, many digital consumers view banks as simply a place to park money.

Changes In Models

Therefore, the concept of straightforward segmentation — used for years by bankers — has evolved. It has moved from a lifestyle grouping model that includes age, income, and homeownership to a behavioral grouping model that looks at elements such as online subscriptions, affinity affiliations, charitable interests, and virtual payment appetites.

So, is this a “close up shop” moment? Not yet, but it is a serious threat to the future of many institutions.

However, if you take a step back to understand what’s happening in financial culture, you would admit most of the future is out of your control. It’s time to figure out how you are going to catch the right part of the wave that banks can still own: data.

Big data was a buzzword years ago that got a lot of attention, but it only went away in the headlines. No one has solved the underlying issues. Many have just viewed the problem as too big or complex, and they pass it to another part of the organization or rely on a partner to figure it out.

But as marketers, we should know more about customers, markets, and prospects than anyone else in the bank. And that knowledge can drive growth because we have access to behavioral data. When data is structured properly — cleaned, normalized, and analyzed — it gives modern bank marketers more insights than ever.

How to Use Data

Getting data in shape can be done. You just need to know what steps to take to harness it so you can gain the insights buried within.

  1. Identify data sources and make fixes as needed. First, bank marketers need to figure out which data sources they need to analyze, identify the gaps in those data sources, and determine how to fill them. This is a key area where marketing and technology leaders need to build a working relationship. Marketing data progress cannot succeed without support from the technology side, which is charged with maintaining controls and mitigating fraud and risk. Many companies are beginning to understand they are partners in bringing value to their organizations. They bring together data for a clearer vision of customers, which leads to more personal relationships and a better understanding of what customers will need.
  2. Get help building data strategy. Finding partners and tools will help you build your data strategy and gain buy-in from other parts of the institution. This is often where data initiatives get derailed. Once one line of business, such as commercial lending, hears about what you’re trying to do, that group then has a full suite of needs, requirements, and restrictions for what you can do with “its data.”
  3. Figure out the quality of your data. In reality, most core data is flawed because, over decades, processes have allowed manual data entry that no one has cleaned up. Many banks just decided to deploy data standards once the technology for platform automation was available and then archive old signature cards and other records in storage.
  4. Develop a data culture. Help your organization develop a data culture and ensure the work done is scalable, iterative, and flexible. The first step is to define the customer segments you want to target. Then, determine their needs and what it will take to successfully address those markets. You need to understand the data that underlines the segment and why you’re focusing on it

Bank marketers should take action now to build skills around understanding data, how it works, who you can partner with, and how it can be used for your initiatives in 2020 and beyond. This is not a trend that will reverse itself. As the consumer market decides how it wants to do business with you, banks will be better positioned to create real value.

We need to take this opportunity to reposition marketing in financial institutions as the center of fact-based initiatives that demonstrate what your customers want. Building strong banking relationships with customers means that you will still be serving them five to 10 years from now.

Rick Hall is the managing director of the banking and financial services practice at BKM Marketing.

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