10 Trends for Financial Services Marketing

1. Customer Engagement is not a passing fad. Customer engagement occurs every day on an offline basis in the branch banking environment. The challenge for those branch-based institutions currently is replicating that level of engagement in the online world. This will remain a key issue in 2011, especially as engagement must be thought of not only in terms of your engaging with your customers, but also with how your customers engage with each other about you. For institutions without an extensive branch network, the challenge is to establish and then maintain an engaging relationship with and by your audience.

2. Data Integration becomes mission critical.Financial institutions have always been faced with this challenge and were early adopters of MCIF (Marketing Customer Information File), CIF (Customer Information File), and other capabilities to bring data about their customers together. However, the explosion of web analytics, social media and other digital channels has created new sources of data with different integration challenges, adding complexity to linking and managing both the online and offline content. Bringing together this new, rich, unstructured content (and sorting it from the chaff) will be more crucial than ever before to get closer to understanding your customer.

3. Marketing Analytics is red hot.This data fuels the growth in the importance of marketing analytics. But the new social conversations are generating a different data stream of unformatted data. 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 compete with most other companies for these resources. As Robert Wollan of Accenture says in the current issue of 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 most banks and credit unions. We think that banks and other financial institutions will remain cautious in 2011, but will begin to more strongly leverage social media as a marketing channel.

5. Technology vendors are blurring the distinction between products and services. ASPs, Software as a service, “To the Cloud.” Expect more technological confusion, not less, in 2011.

6. Segmentation becomes schizophrenic.Cohorts, personas, or clusters — whatever segmentation methodologies you are currently using (you are, aren’t you?) should be reviewed in 2011 to ensure that you’re capturing and leveraging the new data that is now available to you. A recent study by eDigitalResearch and IMRG shows that 65% of people are happy to make bill payments online. Can you identify these groups in your database and do you incorporate them in your customer and prospect segmentation?

7. “Touchpoint Attribution” emerges as the new buzzword for 2011. 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 multi-channel marketing as non-financial marketers do. As multichannel communications usage grows in FIs, this will take on more importance, but as for 2011, we can’t help but ask “Are we there yet?”

8. Mobile marketing explodes. Not so much mobile marketing, but we expect that mobile banking will gain a much stronger foothold in 2011. The recent growth in capable smart phones and other platforms (iPhone, Android phones, iPad, etc.) will make banking-on-the-go a reality for more customers in 2011. 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 heat up. For financial institutions, it won’t so much be “heating up” as it will continue at a full boil. “Do not track” legislation that is being considered will add complexity and slow the adoption of full social media efforts by banks and other institutions in 2011, with some sitting it out until the legislative picture clears.

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.

We’ll be keeping an eye on these trends for financial services marketing as 2011 rolls forward, and we’ll compare notes to see how our projections pan out as the year progresses. What do you think 2011 will bring?

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