Top Financial Marketing Trends: Is Your Institution Ready for the Future?

Rich Walker August 17th, 2017
Marketing Insights

Financial institutions know there should be a connection between data and marketing goals, but there is plenty of room for improvement in how well they use data to help them achieve their objectives. That’s one of the many conclusions you can draw from the Digital Banking Report’s 2017 Financial Marketing Trends.

The report shows that financial marketers are well aware that effective use of data can help them achieve broader success in all their goals, from customer acquisition and engagement to marketing branches and their brand. However, not all are engaging in the actions that will maximize the data they already have at their disposal.

Sponsored by Deluxe, the sixth installment of the survey, taken in Q1 2017, polled senior executives at nearly 300 global financial institutions, including large national or regional banks, community banks and credit unions, with assets ranging from more than $10 billion to less than $1 billion. The survey found common marketing objectives and shared challenges in leveraging data to help financial institutions achieve their marketing goals.

Marketing goals and product priorities

Fifty-four percent of survey respondents cited cross-sell or improving share-of-wallet as their top marketing objective for the next one to two years. Loan growth was a close second, with 45 percent listing it as a top marketing objective. Thirty-eight percent said increasing adoption of digital channels will be a priority, while 35 percent saw customer/member acquisition as among their top goals. Meanwhile, 31 percent wanted to drive deposits and checking growth.

It’s interesting to note that while cross-sell et al has been the No. 1 priority for the past four years of the survey, increasing adoption of digital channels moved to third place from seventh in 2016. It wasn’t even among the survey choices in 2013. What’s more, large national and regional banks put far more emphasis on growing digital channel adoption than did community banks and credit unions, while credit unions were more interested in cross-sell et al, and community banks focused more on loan growth.

Among the products financial institutions said they would market heavily in 2017, mobile banking solutions were the highest concern for all size institutions. Mortgage loans and refinancing were in second place, credit cards in third, and business banking services and home equity loans/lines were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Current state of analytics

Data should drive decision-making for financial institution marketers as much as it does for C-suite executives. Effective use of analytics can help marketers answer specific questions about how to meet their institution’s marketing goals. Analytics can help financial institutions identify new customers, new opportunities with current customers, products and services that will be relevant to new and existing customers, and the optimum channels for communicating with specific customers and prospects about relevant products and services.

How well are financial institutions already leveraging analytics? The consensus among survey respondents seemed to be they could do much better. The Digital Banking Report survey asked participants to assess how well their institutions did at leveraging data for key objectives, including optimizing and allocating marketing budgets, understanding customer needs and behaviors, segmentation, targeting and personalizing communications, marketing automation, customer journey, predictive analysis, and lookalike modeling.

For all benchmarks, a quarter or less of respondents said they excelled. Audience segmentation garnered the highest percentage of confidence, with a quarter of respondents saying they excelled at leveraging data for segmentation. Interestingly, 10 percent of respondents said they don’t use data for segmentation and have no intention of doing so anytime in the near future. Understanding customer needs and behaviors and optimizing and allocating marketing budgets were also areas where respondents felt fairly confident, with 24 and 22 percent, respectively, saying they excelled.

By far the largest percentage of respondents said they struggle with all benchmarks, with budget optimization/allocation being their chief struggle.


Aligning data use and goals

In prioritizing their efforts, survey respondents gave the most weight to personalization, mobile marketing, content marketing, and cross-channel marketing, the report notes. Yet activities such as data analytics, predictive modeling and marketing automation, which could help financial institutions achieve their greater objectives, earned lower ranking from respondents.

More than half (54 percent) said a capacity to leverage big data was either only somewhat important or not important at all. Additionally, more than a third said predictive modeling wasn’t important to them, and 39 percent viewed it as only somewhat important. Lookalike modeling, which uses defining data about profitable customers to help create data profiles of prospects who mirror those customers, was important to just 16 percent of respondents. Thirty-nine percent felt it was not important at all.

Looking at marketing budgets further reveals the disconnection between what financial institutions want to achieve and what they’re doing to get there. While marketing budgets largely increased across financial institutions of every asset size (with those in the $1 billion-$10 billion range seeing a minor decrease), allocation of spending didn’t always align with strategic goals.

Just 22 percent of marketing budgets go to promote cross-sell and upsell — although cross-sell et al is the No. 1 priority for financial institutions. And although personalization is also a top priority, just under 12 percent of budget allocations support customer experience, which includes personalization.

What does it all mean

Digital Banking Report’s survey shows financial institutions could still do better in using data and analytics to address marketing challenges and goals. Lack of adroit analytics stands in the way of creating the kind of personalized, relevant multi-channel experience consumers demand.

What’s more, the report unveils another area where financial institutions are falling short in leveraging data — assessing and illustrating ROI. Ineffective use of data can hinder financial marketers’ ability to illustrate the value of their digital efforts to decision-makers who hold the purse strings.

This content is accurate at the time of publication and may not be updated.