To Connect Your Experiences, Connect Your Data.

Financial businesses need to connect. Whether it’s a bank, a wealth management firm, or an insurance company, a finance brand is a part of some of the biggest, most important decisions its customers make. So at the end of the day, a financial company succeeds when it connects — when it builds a strong relationship founded on trust and respect.

In the past, this relationship was a personal one. When a customer bought a house or managed their estate, they came into a branch or an office, they looked their agent in the eyes, and they shook hands.

Today, customers still want to trust their financial institutions, but they don’t want to come into a physical location unless absolutely necessary. Today, customers want to interact with brands on their own terms, across channels, and increasingly on mobile phones. According to the 2017 Adobe Digital Index, mobile visits to top retail banking sites have increased 121 percent since 2014 and now represent 26 percent of all traffic.

Digital is better for financial brands, too. It allows for consistent experiences at scale, something a branch can never deliver. And digital experiences are automatable, which makes them cheaper, repeatable, and more efficient. So at the end of the day, digital gives the best of both worlds. More efficiency — which Is what financial institutions want — and more convenience — which is what customers want.

But going digital creates some real challenges for finance companies.

For one thing, the dominance of digital has opened the door for new competition. A new breed of financial startups have entered the arena — “fintechs” that are designed from the ground up to deliver digitized financial experiences. And perhaps more concerning, tech giants such as Google and Apple, who have deep proficiency in nurturing digital experiences, have started to flex their muscles in the financial space as well. “To open a new account,” says Chris Young, the director of industry strategy over financial services at Adobe, “most customers still go into a bank. After that they never return.”

This is reflected in revenue. According to one Econsultancy report, many financial brands only attribute an average of 31 percent of sales to digital channels. And while the motives for this digital reticence are varied, — maybe customers are sticking with what’s familiar, maybe they still don’t trust certain online transactions — it’s clear that for many financial institutions, digital is letting customers down.

So the pressure is on. To compete, to grow, and to win customer trust, financial companies need to crack the digital nut. They need to design and deliver connected digital experiences that are personal, compelling, and worthy of a customer’s trust.

And the place to start is with data. Delivering a connected experience starts with connected data. By integrating data from all your channels, online and offline, you can develop robust customer profiles that help you delight existing customers and successfully woo new ones.

Financial brands on what has the greatest impact on digital maturity.

Multi-channel analytics combining online and offline data.

A unified customer profile.

Source: Econsultancy

Bringing your data together.

Bpost, a Belgian bank with approximately 11 million customers, wanted to attract new customers and sell a broader portfolio of products to existing customers. But limited and incompatible systems and information made it difficult to generate more leads. At bpost, a single repository of customer information allowed them to integrate existing systems at both bpost and bpost bank and automate marketing campaigns across online and offline channels.

Integrating data from all your channels — online and offline — is the first step to creating the kind of experience that makes this kind of expansion possible. And according to Econsultancy, financial brands who see themselves as leaders in the charge to digital understand how challenging this can be. When asked what they saw as the greatest barriers to delivering personalized experiences, 40 percent responded with the inability to share data across channels. Forty-two percent said it was the inability to identify the same individual across channels.

As challenging as it can be, however, bringing your data from all channels together is a crucial step to winning with digital. It lets finance brands understand customers and accounts across channels so they can develop whole customer profiles, comprehend journeys and touch points, expand their customer base, and provide rich interactions that focus on their customers.

“Building new campaigns is easy now because customer information is in a centralized place. We can deepen customer relationships with a cross-channel campaign tool that automates every customer communication for maximum impact.”

Julien Lebeau
CRM expert, bpost bank

Man holding mobile phone at desk with colorful bursts surrounding him.

Putting your data to work.

The value of integrated data is insight. In combining what you know — the products they’re already using, what they’re researching, how they’re using data, their life stage or financial objective, and so on — you understand what’s driving them, what they want, what they need. The regulatory environment around finance and privacy concerns can make this challenging, but you don’t need sensitive information like balances, income, or age to be effective. The best analytics solutions obfuscate this data anyway.

By connecting the right data, you can create detailed profiles that lead to meaningful interaction between you and your customer. By understanding what motivates each interaction, you can design and deliver personal, connected experiences that give each customer just what they’re looking for.

For example, Scottrade provides investors with right-sized investment products through personalized brokerage services in branches and online and mobile trading. Their devotion to integrated data allows them to build deeper insights into customer segments. Digital marketers and execs use attribution models to see the channel’s potential and where existing investors are coming from, what content they engage with, and what’s driving results.

Portrait image of Michael O'Fallon.

“[We] pull together online and offline information to develop a more complete story of what leads to an account being opened or other activities. Data workbench capabilities give specific marketing activities the credit they deserve.”

Michael O’Fallon
marketing analytics manager, Scottrade

Making data work for you.

Insight leads to action. The purpose of all this integration is to help you orchestrate connected experiences through digital channels that deliver the same — or better — value to both your customers and to you as your offline channels. And it can do this for both existing and new customers.

With a foundation of solid data and robust customer profiles, you can improve customer experiences throughout the journey. For example, by segmenting your customers and prospects based on integrated demographic, behavioral, firmographic, and other kinds of data, you can deliver content that makes sense because it’s based on who they are, where they are, and how they’ve interacted with you in the past. By combining your analytics and your audience management solution, you can deliver offers that address real customer needs and show that you know what they’re looking for.

That’s an experience that builds the kind of trust customers demand from their financial institutions and because it’s delivered through digital channels, it’s scalable, repeatable, and automatable. This is essential because as valuable as nurturing this trust from existing customers is, financial brands need to build this same level of trust with new customers.

For many financial services companies, account quality from digital channels is lower than from offline channels. When you factor in the costs to service these new accounts, their ROI tends to be low as well. By integrating your data you can start creating useful profiles even for these anonymous customers — for example, by starting with site behavioral data and then adding third-party data to fill in the gaps — so you can take advantage of the quantity that digital channels offer, but also focus on quality.

One way many successful finance brands do this is to use algorithmic audience modeling capabilities to take what they know about valuable segments and use that to find all-new “lookalike” audiences with the same potential. This ensures that, while the members of the audience may be anonymous, the offer they’re getting is the one that will most likely lead them to a sale.

For 175 years, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) has helped customers and partners build valuable relationships. Now, to discover lookalikes, D&B evaluates scores of business attributes — including firmographic, predictive, and behavioral attributes they’ve found to be important in those relationships.

Portrait image of Brad White.

“Those attributes do include revenue and industry. But they also include location and behavioral information like the payment history of strategic accounts. It’s utilizing an advanced machine learning system to identify complex relationships in the data that an ordinary list build could never do.”

Brad White
director of statistical consulting, Dun & Bradstreet

Two banker men walking along the side of a river.

Connecting data to connect experiences.

As you develop your strategy to standardize, clean, and merge data into this integrated platform and then create and act on meaningful profiles, consider the following steps:

Align your organization.

Financial services marketers often struggle with who “owns” the customer. For example, if you create profiles by products, an individual could have relationships with several lines of business. But to be successful in creating meaningful customer profiles, you need to unify your data, which means your company needs a unified philosophy around data collection and use. Assign a gatekeeper or team to be responsible for all audience data who can oversee ingestion, usage, and overall governance of all audience data.

Understand your data.

Integrating data involves some knowledge of the data itself. Take the time to understand what data you really need and then identify where it lives, both online and offline, and consider sources of data you may be missing. Make sure you know where all your useful data is coming from — channels, devices, touchpoints, etc. But perhaps more importantly, take the time to understand how these different sets relate to each other. Just because you can bring them together into a common platform doesn’t mean that data from one channel will automatically play well together. A huge part of your task is to understand how diverse data intersect. For example, can they be linked by a common identifier? Also, identify any data sets that may need to be merged or separated for you to act on. For instance, personalization makes use of known profiles, while acquisition acts on unknown ones, so you want to have some plan for how those data sets will be used.

Bring your data together.

Bringing data together in a useful way requires forethought and discipline and strong digital foundation. A crucial part of that foundation is a data management platform (DMP) that ties into your analytics and that can be updated in real time. Once you have your gatekeeper in place and you know what data is in play, the next step is to bring that data into your DMP, and then leverage identity management tools to separate different customer identities.

Create your segments.

Once your data is in the DMP, merge the data sets to combine offline and online, cross-channel and cross-company data attributes to create a holistic view of each customer. Include relevant second- and third-party data that will help you round out the first-person data you’ve collected. With this view in place, you can start digging in to create meaningful segments that will allow you to deliver incredible digital experiences. Keep in mind that the more data you can bring to bear — demographic, firmographic, CRM, third-party, and so on — the more detailed and accurate your segments will be.

Engage existing customers.

With segments in place, you can leverage that data across customer touch points and deliver relevant messages to the right profiles at the right time. Take advantage of technologies like predictive modeling and contribution analysis to use your profiles to anticipate and deliver on your customer’s needs. And as you take action to engage each segment and customer, be sure to layer on your learnings from those actions to continue refining your understanding of those segments and profiles. Then you can use that updated data to optimize your experiences. 

Get new customers.

You can use your integrated data to reach out to potential customers who look like they’ll behave like your most valuable segments. Start by looking for business attributes that define your most valuable accounts. Then, bring in your CRM data and incorporate demographic and firmographic information to find similar accounts. Search third-party data sets to find more people who “look like” your high-value customers. When you’re ready, launch relevant marketing messages to your lookalikes.

Adobe can help.

Connecting to your customers starts with connecting your data, integrating it from all your channels, online and offline. With this integrated data, you can understand what really drives your audiences and then act on those insights to deliver experiences your customers can trust. And Adobe Experience Cloud was designed from the ground up to help you.

Adobe Experience Cloud helps you create integrated experiences with the combined benefits of three clouds — Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Advertising Cloud, and Adobe Analytics Cloud. Adobe Marketing Cloud helps you manage and deliver experiences on any channel. Adobe Advertising Cloud simplifies the delivery of video, display, and search advertising on any screen. And Adobe Analytics Cloud integrates all your audience data for deep insight and customer intelligence. These three offerings are unified by powerful core services that give you access to your customer profiles, centralized assets, powerful tagging, and an ecosystem of partners and developers to extend the value of all our solutions. All this comes together in Adobe Experience Cloud, providing everything you need to orchestrate a great customer experience.

Adobe Digital Index, Interview, May 2017.

“Bpost Bank: Garnering New Customers, Deepening Relationships,” Adobe customer story, 2015.

Chris Young, Adobe, personal interview, February 2, 2017.

Denis Olcay, “3 Tips to Optimize Your Programmatic ABM Strategy in 2017,” Dun & Bradstreet, December 14, 2016.

“Digital Trends in Financial Services and Insurance Sector,” Econsultancy and Adobe, 2016.

“Elsevier finds its one global voice,” Adobe customer story, 2015.

Erin Wright, personal interview, February 2017.