There’s a classic, albeit dorky, Email Marketing joke where a guy in a suit stands in front of a bar graph and says to another guy in a suit: “Most of our Marketing email isn’t reaching our recipients,” to which the other guy asks: “Did you forget stamps?” Slightly bad joke. Great point. Treating email like direct mail isn’t effective and doesn’t reach customers.
In the past few years, large financial services companies have made unparalleled investments to elevate their tech stacks, personalization engines, and organizational structures in order to create a more frictionless digital customer experience. They’ve invested heavily in the user interfaces of their sites and mobile apps, including the roll-out of numerous Data Visualization tools to help customers understand and manage their finances. In addition to improving offer targeting and delivery, much of this investment was made to drive customers’ adoption of lower-cost digital communication channels and to migrate customers away from costly analog ones.
So, it’s ironic that within many of these same companies, email, which is used as a primary channel to drive site traffic and app downloads, still follows the static creative content and in some cases, multi-month production cycles of its paper predecessor.
With 62% of consumers opted into an email from at least 20 brands (Source: Litmus), it’s tantamount that email mirrors the personalized, visually compelling experiences of a company’s site and app, in order to retain customers’ attention in the inbox.
The Audience Is Waiting
Email is a highly visible channel within Financial Services Marketing. According to Cheetah Digital’s Q4 2018 Email & Mobile Benchmark Report, emails from financial service companies saw an average 44% total open rate versus an all-industry average of 32%. It also remains one of the most cost-effective marketing channels with an average Return On Investment of 38:1. (Source: Litmus).
However, many companies in the vertical still suffer arduous, manual email production processes that rely on batched data processes versus the API-powered, hyper-personalized emails seen in other verticals such as big tech (`a la Amazon), retail and travel.
Customers are also becoming increasingly aware of how their data can and should be powering the better customer experience. According to an Accenture study, 63% of consumers say that their shared data should be used to deliver personalized products and services.
This presents an incredible opportunity for those financial services companies that do deliver 1:1 personalization in email, to meet their customers’ expectations of mutually beneficial data exchange and take center stage. Take this campaign as an example:
Financial services institutions can use platforms like Movable Ink to tap into the same data sources that are powering their sites and rewards hubs to create visual experiences that bring spending insights to life. Customers are greeted by a personalized header image that shows them just how close they are to receiving a welcome offer at the moment of open. The spend analysis and monthly breakdown are updated in real-time, and this campaign also uses location targeting the footer to recommend events in the customer’s area and device targeting to encourage app downloads. Movable Ink even has the ability to automatically translate any points that a customer has accrued into rewards opportunities, encouraging customers to use their points. And there’s good news: getting started doesn’t have to be difficult.
The Marketer’s Dilemma (And Solution!)
Forrester predicts that 2019 is the year financial firms will really hone-in on solutions that digitize operations while improving customer outcomes. When faced with limited headcount and a long waiting line for IT support, what are some ways that financial service marketers can improve their email personalization and process?
- Leverage existing APIs – it’s common to think that you have to build net new APIs to achieve email personalization and cut back on manual production. That may not be the case. Companies typically have numerous easily accessible APIs, either within their own API portals or within their vendors’. Additionally, there are underlying APIs powering a company’s site or app that contain a wealth of data and can be used for email personalization, without having to create new ones from scratch.
- Rapid prototyping – lengthy development phases, followed by lengthy periods of refining solutions before going to market can be a massive resource and budget drain, and often results in sub-optimal products created in a vacuum. Focus on rapid prototyping and testing solutions, and on working with vendors that can support this – your teams and budgets will thank you for it.
- Third-party integrations – look to vendors with diverse third-party integrations that can map easily into your tech stack. Your current or prospective email marketing vendors may already have integrations with other vendors in your tech stack. A regular mapping of the integrations within your vendor ecosystem can often reveal shortcuts to unlocking the data needed for email personalization.
It’s Time to Deliver
Customers are increasingly expecting that financial service companies are able to keep up with companies that are encroaching on the banking space. Think one step further than using your data to segment campaigns. Marketing teams should work to build out a suite of real-time marketing capabilities. The data is there, and customer expectation is there. Financial service brands have to pull their data out of silos to create the personalized, cross-channel experiences their customers crave.