Posts

Takeaways from the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit 2016

, ,

I recently attended the Digital Marketing Summit in Toronto and was a panelist on the Power Panel: Surmount Barriers to Transform your Omni-channel into a Customer Centric, High Performance Digital Ecosystem. The conference was very educational and a great way to meet industry leaders in the Digital world of Financial Services. Having learned some new perspectives on all things digital, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on two presentations that stood out during the conference.

The Keynote Address by Mitch Joel

The keynote address “Reboot Your Digital Marketing Strategy to Transform Your Brand and Win in the New Landscape” by Mitch Joel, President of Mirum, and author of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT DELETE was the most interesting. His presentation provided me with a different perspective on digital today.

The first was Mitch’s story about Snapchat. Apparently, in Snapchat’s very early days, when it was only about 5 people, Facebook offered to buy it for $3 billion.  Amazingly, Snapchat’s founders turned it down. Snapchat’s size and younger audience demographic was attractive to Facebook, but Mitch explained that Snapchat was quite different from Facebook. Snapchat represented the real world.  In the real world, most conversations are not recorded.

Today, in the ‘virtual world’, what people really want is an in-the-moment experience and to interact in a non-recorded way.  Snapchat, and tools like Slack and Periscope, provide the brevity and genuineness of reacting to something as it happens, just like real life.

Teenagers need unstructured time online without fear of parental criticism, which can easily happen on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat gives younger audiences the freedom of communicating in a private digital environment. Similarly, ‘Periscope’ lets you broadcast live video to the world. Followers can join, comment and “send you hearts in real time”. In the workplace, Slack, a chatting application, has been encroaching on email as a form of business communication. Email is still quite formal but conversely Slack allows for creativity and brainstorming — similar to a face-to-face meeting. Slack imitates that experience better than prescribed emails that most work-forces use.

Apps like Snapchat, Periscope and Slack prompt us, as marketers, to think about ways our own brands can mimic ‘real world’ experiences to connect not only with millennials but also with all of our customers in the ways they connect with each other.

Another interesting tidbit from Mitch was that Amazon bought the gaming channel, Twitch Interactive, in 2014 for almost $1 billion. Twitch is not actually a gaming website but an Internet video channel for “broadcasting and watching people play videogames”.

At first glance this seems like an awkward acquisition, however, Twitch is the fourth-largest source of U.S. Internet traffic, so perhaps $1 billion was worth it.

Mitch’s take away from this acquisition is that companies should obviously be investing in video, but also that thinking differently about your business can sometimes lead to tremendous success. An ecommerce and cloud computing company is leading the way with Amazon Prime video streaming and networks like Twitch. It is now not just about content or channels, but about networks like Netflix and CraveTV. Mitch Joel states that Amazon’s move into networks teaches us a potentially new way for marketers to think. Many brands are hiring journalists and other media types as a way to create more authentic, creative stories. He says that maybe the opportunity is for brands to think about not just creating and publishing content, but more about how to “become their own media network”. Perhaps the future is less about native advertising and more about brands becoming a network with their own studio.

Think about Purina owning a ‘kitty network’ similar to AFV or Elon Musk owning a “sustainability network’ that is all about saving the environment.

Another very interesting comment Mitch made was that the ‘purchase button’ should be everywhere. He mentioned the Best Buy Facebook Page that has a tab titled, “Shop Now”. Mitch says, why drive people back to your website when they should be able to buy right from within Facebook? The Internet strategy of years ago that drove consumers back to their website is slowly dying. This rang particularly true for me because in 2001, I worked for a ‘dot com’ called ePod. ePod had a unique advertising technology, that was way before its time. We called it a ‘website within a website’. We worked with companies like Disney to create an ad unit that would advertise a Disney product in a video, inside an ad unit with a ‘buy now’ or ‘add to cart’ functionality built-in.  Yes, ePod was quite a way before its time.

My final takeaways from Mitch’s presentation were that we, as financial services marketers, need to ensure that we represent real-life. Marketing with flexibility, creativity, authenticity, and kindness. He said those were the keys to developing great businesses.

In a digitally centric world, authenticity and creating and developing real relationships are the keys to success.

Facebook’s Erin Elofson

Erin Elofson, Director of Financial Services at Facebook, sold the benefits of Facebook advertising, but she did it in a very educational way. I have spent a fair bit of time trying to find the secrets to effective Facebook advertising – with some great success – but I always thought that we could do better. Of course, video advertising was lauded as the key to success.

Video on Facebook has exploded, but the most enlightening was Erin’s comments on storytelling and driving people down the purchasing funnel. In hindsight, it is common sense, but Erin’s examples and success stories sent a strong message to the DMFS audience.

If you are a believer in content marketing, then you know that ebooks, case studies and blogs that educate the consumer before asking them to buy are significantly more effective than content that immediately asks people to take action1. Erin says that Facebook advertising should do the same. Campaigns that “sequence” different ads work best. The first ad should tell the brand story. For example, “our community focused bank supports people who lost their homes in Fort McMurray with a 1% mortgage”. The next ad in the “sequence” should provide product information. For example, “our friendly bank will easily transfer your mortgage over from another bank with no penalty”. Only after these two ads have run one after the other, should the message include a call-to-action such as stating the current mortgage rate and inviting the audience to click to apply.  Erin also showed a simple formula for taking existing television or YouTube video ads and paring them back to become effective brand stories in Facebook.

From personal experiences, acting too quickly by asking people to take action immediately, without persuading them down the purchasing funnel through story telling, takes discipline. In a world where CEOs and shareholders are clamoring for quick results to meet quarter-end numbers, it is very tempting to ask prospects immediately to ‘buy-now’. I get many sales calls right after I download a piece of content. We often wrongly assume that if the product is as good as we think it is, or if they are the right target audience, they will buy. And if they don’t buy or click now, they never will. Erin brought American Express to the stage to tell their Facebook advertising story. American Express explained that once they adopted this disciplined approach to Facebook advertising, or ‘story telling’, the results were overwhelmingly positive. Research from Adaptly2, published by Facebook, concurs with the same results:

Among those who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared to those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads, there was an 87% increase in people visiting the landing page and a 56% increase in subscription rates. In addition, they converted at higher rates.

When you think of this approach, it makes total sense. I am on Facebook reading my friends’ updates, looking at their photos, watching funny videos and reading news about a movie star’s dress. Do I really want some stranger telling me to buy their product?  Wouldn’t it be better to see funny videos or moving stories related to the brand to get to know them before I am asked to buy?

“Some advertisers may find it counterintuitive to elongate a campaign as a way to more gradually bring their audience through the purchase funnel, rather than more immediately delivering a call-to-action,” says Adaptly’s CEO, Nikhil Sethi. “But we have proven that this classic brand-building approach it is both effective and efficient, even for direct response advertising.”3

My most memorable brand video on Facebook was the Westjet Christmas Miracle. That doubled my affinity for the airline. My resulting perception is a kind airline that cares about their people and their customers. As a marketer, I am surprised that I would feel that way about a brand solely based on their marketing.

Other themes of the Digital Marketing Financial Summit, were personalization, utilizing data to deliver better customer experiences, omni-channel challenges, using attribution for measuring advertising and more.  Lastly, as a regular conference participant, I was very pleased to see how engaged the attendees were. Attendees had many questions for the presenters. When visiting our booth, they were open to hearing about our products and services rather than just the giveaways we had at the booth.

Conferences like DMFS provide us with the ability to step outside the office to learn, develop relationships, and talk to people in the “real world”.

 

1, 2, 3 Creating More Effective Online Marketing Campaigns.

Omnichannel is the Key to Optimizing Customer Experiences

, ,

What does Omni-channel mean?

Historically, companies were focused on providing customers with the ability to transact in the channel of their choice.  Organizations were organized around channels, and each channel’s department had their own reporting structure and goals.  The departments often encouraged channel competition, but the end result was confused customers who experienced different offers, pricing and processes in each channel.

Omni-channel is a multi-channel approach that provides the customer with aseamless experience, whether they are transacting online, from a desktop or mobile device.

Today, companies are focusing on creating omni-channel experiences to ensure that no matter where the customer is located, or on what device they are interacting with, the experience is the same.

Online, mobile, and social media platforms have enabled customers to not only switch between channels quickly but to also use them simultaneously. It is a regular occurrence to see people in store aisles looking at product reviews and pricing on their mobile while deciding between products on a physical retail store shelf. They are using mobile, in-store advertising, and in-store sales representatives combined to help with their decision making process.

Why Omni-channel?

Unfortunately, there are way too many examples of companies that fail to deliver good omni-channel customer experiences. A few years ago, I called my bank’s 1-800 number to secure a car loan. Everything (or so I thought) was confirmed over the phone.  I faxed in my signed documents, and was told I could go and pick up my cheque at my local branch. I waited in line at the branch only to get to the counter and be told, “Oh no, you cannot just pick up the cheque”. I asked how they could be so disconnected and their response was, “Well, we are not the same as the call centre. We have different rules”.

The result was a very negative experience. I walked away thinking that the bank does not understand me as a customer, and clearly does not realize I have a mortgage, GICs, RRSPs, RESPs, etc… Not only were they at risk of losing my car loan, they now faced the risk of losing my business to one of their competitors.

Having been in digital since the days of Netscape, I am definitely a digital advocate, interacting digitally is my preference. But, there are certainly times when I prefer face-to-face interaction. Human interaction is a vital factor in a positive customer experience even in the digital age.

In fact, a study done by Accenture found that only 36% of customers believe digital channels are better than non-digital forms of interaction. Additionally, 58-73% prefer dealing with humans to get quicker answers, resolution on issues, and to get advice[1].

Omni-channel is the key to optimizing customer experiences statistic

Many studies have found that customers who engage across multiple channels are  more valuable customers. In fact, multi-channel banking customers purchase 1.4 times the products and are 15% more likely than digital-only customers to serve as advocates for their providers.[2]

Digital does not always offer marketers the ability to up-sell or cross-sell based on the customer’s needs. Digital can ‘recommend’ based products you are looking at in real-time. Sometimes, we see up-sells based on our previous buying behavior – but I still get irrelevant Minecraft recommendations because my son and I surf on the same computer. And rarely do I see up-sells and cross-sells based on my ‘stage of life’ or my ‘in the moment’ needs.
The ability to truly understand the customer is lost if their only interaction is online.

Ironically, many companies are also finding that the selling expense associated with digital exceeds the value of their digital investments. The savings from the efficiencies of customers transacting online are often offset by the necessity to offer lower prices through promotions and discounts – to compete in the one click away environment. Rate comparisons or insurance quotes are always 5 seconds away. Digital is further commoditizing financial products; foreign currency exchange, insurance quotes, and loans are available online.

Omni-channel is the key to optimizing customer experiences Statistic

In fact, an Accenture survey found that more than ½ of customers want their bank to proactively recommend products or services that would help them financially. And 55% said it would strongly increase their loyalty to the bank. Many would even pay for budgetary advice.

A simple idea such as the Investment Advisor making notes on a client’s life changes into an omni-channel CRM, could positively impact revenues. The in-branch bank manager would better understand the client and be able to make recommendations and offers of true value to the client.
Barriers to Omni-channel.

Offering proactive digital financial advice and counselling to help clients better manage their financial needs can provide valuable insight and offer huge incremental revenues and increased loyalty.

Barriers to Omni-channel

In order to embrace omni-channel strategies across the organization, companies must first understand the economic benefits of providing customers with the ability to interact seamlessly across channels. The silos need to begin to blend and they must agree that a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experiences will not work.

The story about how my telebanking institution did not communicate with my branch nor have the same rules for picking up my car loan cheque, was probably due to technology and/or the lack of desire to improve their processes. Omni-channel requires a focused customer-first agenda – a strong understanding of customer data and a willingness to change. Barriers include:

  • Inability to provide all divisions with a single view of the customer across channels
  • Inability to understand the customer beyond their buying history
  • Lack of system integration
  • Lack of training, education, processes, and inadequate change management

How to get started

The core of an omni-channel strategy is the ability to understand the customer.  Omni-channel warrants an outside-in view and a mapping of the customer experience from the customer’s perspective. The omni-channel approach puts the customer, not the business units, at the centre.

For financial institutions, a front-end portal or “window” into the back-office, can help bridge the silos. Starting with a single view of the customer, you can direct the client standing in the branch, help the bank manager understand the value of the client, the call centre to appropriately service the client, and give the Financial Advisor a better indication on which products to recommend. A portal is not as big of an undertaking as re-building the back office and it can create and connect personalized digital experiences across the omni-channels.

Considering the customer journey from an omni-channel experience instead of just one department or a branch’s interactions is a start. Understanding customers beyond the personas is the next step to creating fantastic omni-channel customer experiences.

Valerie Jones will be at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit on the Power PanelOmni-channel Surmount Barriers to Transform your Omni-Channel into a Customer Centric, High Performance Digital Ecosystem.   June 2, 2016 at 9:15 AM.

———————

[1]  https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-disconnect-customer-engagement.aspx

[2] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-disruption-banking-north-america-consumer-survey