Financial services marketing targets one and not all in the digital age

The digital footprint consumers leave behind allows financial firms to customise their relationship with clients ‘to the power of one’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 8:59pm

Banks, insurers, stock brokers and wealth managers in Asia have invested billions of dollars and countless hours during the past few years, bringing their businesses up to speed and into the digital age with new technology and processes to lure new customers and keep existing ones happy.

You can now file insurance claims on the go, authorise stock trades with a scan of your fingerprint, as well as visualise and track all your credit card and account expenses from your mobile phone, tablet and home computer. At every step of the way, digitally savvy customers are leaving footprints: clues about their likes and dislikes, current spending patterns and information on future needs and desires.

Through mobile payments, online banking or electronic stock trading, financial firms have some of the most active interactions with their customers of any industry. As a result, they stand to benefit the most from harvesting those digital crumbs left behind. With all that new technology in place now, they have the tools to garner and analyse that information and offer a truly unique and personal experience. But how?

Marketing has always been about targeting the right person with the right piece of information to offer the right service or sell the right product at the right time. Companies used to segment their audience, for example, a middle-aged man, married or not, football fan, with no kids, or working mother, one child, middle class. But these broad-brush generalisations leave huge room for improvement in today’s world where digitally enabled marketing is disrupting antiquated thinking.

Because of the digital footprint that customers leave behind every day, financial firms can now customise their relationships with clients “to the power of one”. By that, I mean a marketing campaign becomes a series of individual campaigns, each one unique to each client.

To make that happen, firms need to be digital businesses, not just digitally enabled.

Digitally enabled just means you’ve got a few digital bells and whistles. A true digital business leverages technology throughout its operations. In marketing, that would mean using data analytics to target pitches to customers and applying a variety of digital options to reach them, choosing those that work best for each customer. Joe likes WhatsApp messages, but Mary prefers emails, Suzie wants a WeChat message while John prefers a text.

In a highly competitive market where banks and asset managers are battling with e-commerce companies and other fintech start-ups, traditional financial services companies must build a stronger connection with their customers. By leveraging their digital options, they could reduce expensive campaigns on a national scale that target a broad audience, reducing the risk that a potential failure could inflict on marketing budgets. It could also lead to improved customer satisfaction, retention and, ultimately, an increase in revenue and the bottom line.

But these don’t come without risks.

Even as the cost of targeting individuals becomes much lower, the power of that one person to influence change has never been bigger, thanks to the social media age. As banks adapt their messages and the means to reach consumers more directly, on an individual basis, they need to get it right.

Getting the message right has always been important, but it is even more so now as financial services firms micro-target their audience and look to create unique experiences for every single one of them.

Piyush Singh is managing director and financial services lead at Accenture Asia-Pacific and Africa