By Barbara Berry, General Manager and VP of Product at Delivra, a CM Group Company
The pandemic has changed many consumer habits, with a far greater reliance on online services being one of the most significant. Consumers now have greater expectations for their remote experiences, which is why it’s vital for banks and credit unions to be able to deliver on those expectations in a smooth way as the pandemic subsides. Even as people go back into banks and stores, their new online savvy will remain. Marketing automation has never been as essential for banks and credit unions as it is now. To provide a good customer experience across multiple channels, banks and credit unions will need to think more about bringing channels together, and a good first step is through marketing automation.
The past year saw record increases in online banking behavior, in a very large part to the COVID-19 crisis. According to recent research by J.D. Power, 35% of consumers increased their use of online banking, on either a laptop or PC, and 30% were using mobile banking more, compared to habits in early 2020. The rapid change in consumer behavior has shown many local banks and credit unions that they need to update their online marketing strategy. Online services proved to be crucial during the pandemic, and banks raced to update mobile apps, email communications and site functionality to keep pace.
J.D. Power also found that after COVID-19, one-third of retail banking customers plan to increase their online and mobile usage for the long term. And, so, financial institutions will need to balance their approach, which requires more flexibility and more centralized insights and decision making. As a result, they must also look at what could have been executed better, communicated more smoothly, or personalized for higher relevance. It will be important to keep the efficiencies of online banking intact but to also optimize the full customer experience for different segments as some people start coming back through the glass door and others rely more on online channels.
Banks and credit unions should audit their marketing technologies to root out outdated digital services and cumbersome processes, for both customers and for the internal teams. For example, do customers need to use separate logins and pin numbers to reach their online accounts or access sensitive email notifications? And for the internal team – how many manual or data entry steps could be streamlined between different technologies to complete a campaign?
Branch or franchise-based organizations have another layer of complexity to review. They must look at the ability for individual branches to access their own customer segments and create their own messaging. Determine if the workflow to create different user permissions or develop new creatives is hindering your marketing strategy. These updates will be increasingly important for consumers who are now both online and in a branch.
Marketing automation can vastly help online financial marketers who need a refresh. The technology in marketing automation manages many operations across numerous channels. Marketing automation has some similarities to ‘CRM’, because it manages all company-customer interactions with a centralized design. This is more organized and easier to use across key channels like the website, email and even the mobile app. Ultimately, having a more seamless experience between channels in a single platform will add both productivity and ease to the marketing process.
And, for many customers who are now used to the personalization they get from shopping on Amazon and brands like Sephora, marketing automation allows for a more personalized consumer experience and the creation of a targeted profile. This will lead to customer satisfaction and retention, because customers will get more relevant messages, such as only sending a mortgage refinancing offer to mortgage holders or homeowners. And, importantly, marketing automation helps streamline the complex permissions and segmentations that are needed by banks and credit unions.
One example of the benefits of marketing automation is with Charles Schwab. Their team decided it was time to upgrade their digital platform and wanted to focus on customer personalization, aligning services and supplying the best information, which, as a result, increased both engagement and productivity. The same can be said for smaller and more regional brands as well. While these brands might need technologies that are right-sized for their needs, they can still benefit tremendously from the same concepts as national brands.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way customers bank for good. The increased preference for online banking has made services like marketing automation essential. While catching up to this virtual shift is necessary to retain customers, it is even better for banks and credit unions to be one step ahead to also attract new customers who have a new appreciation of other offerings, such as 100% digital banks. Adapting to a multichannel mindset and creating a flexible strategy for marketing and communication based on automation will help smaller financial brands grow and adjust to the future.