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Setting personalization expectations within Finance

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The practice of personalization has grown dramatically in recent years, with companies of all shapes and sizes working tirelessly to deliver on an individualized approach to the customer experience. Upon recognizing its potential to influence every aspect of the customer journey, we’ve witnessed industries like eCommerce undergo massive transformations in how they do business to meet the needs and preferences of their shoppers.

Today, the world of finance is at a similar crossroad – while much further down on the maturity curve, marketers in the space know they have to become more customer-centric and digitally-versed if they want to compete. And the opportunities to do so are vast, as indicated in the many stories now being generated about how these institutions should be providing real-time advice to consumers, leveraging AI for the automation of communication, as well as delivering contextual alerts and notifications.

On paper, all of this advice can indeed significantly improve the experience consumers share with financial brands. But I would argue while it might be forward-thinking in nature, giving us a futuristic glimpse into what could be, it fails to recognize the unique barriers faced by FSI companies in implementing such strategies. I’d go even further to say it not only puts an unhealthy amount of pressure on executives and decision makers to prioritize the wrong areas of focus but also completely paralyzes their efforts. 

Overwhelmed by all of the possibilities but not yet modernized enough to employ them, instead of taking a revolutionary approach to personalization, financial institutions should start by first dipping their toes in the water. Following in the footsteps of those in the eCommerce industry only a few short years ago, they can then work their way up the personalization maturity ladder, one rung at a time.

Put one foot in front of the other

The ability to successfully deliver tailored customer interactions on both a small and large scale relies on one crucial thing – data. Financial institutions are rich in this department, but deep issues with data fragmentation from disconnected teams and tools limit what marketers can do with the vast amount of information they have.

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Discover the right low hanging segments

Even for FSI companies who don’t quite have a 360-degree view of the customer, basic segmentation principles can still be applied to improve the visitor’s experience. Using geographic data, demographics, and contextual attributes, financial marketers can align elements on the site such as banners, CTAs, buttons, and notifications to reflect an individual’s region, city, gender, current weather, device type, traffic source, past interests, and more.

Additionally, prospects could be segmented and targeted based on frequency of visits, browsing history, and more by capturing user behavior in secure member areas (while respecting user privacy).

Identifying and targeting the right segments, with the right offers, at the right time, is a step in the right direction that will certainly boost engagement metrics and create an uptick in conversions. This same methodology can also be rolled out in email campaigns.

Tailor messages to match the context

Finance brands ultimately want to improve their overall relevancy through personalization, but don’t realize how much simply providing a consistent experience to consumers matters. Like when an individual arrives at a site from an affiliate link or is referred via a certain marketing campaign – the next interaction should correspond accordingly.  

In these scenarios, being able to identify who the visitor is based on where they came from, welcome them appropriately, and then echo the same messaging that initially caught their attention is critical. This will not only match their expectations but also increase the likelihood of a conversion.

Recommend content throughout the customer journey

Consumers take to the internet when they’ve got questions that need answering, especially when it comes to financial decisions, which can often be hard to navigate. Conditioned to rely on third party sites for their research, there’s a huge opportunity for FSI companies to step up their content efforts and deliver advice, straight from the source. 

Employing the right content recommendation widgets, marketers can surface educational articles, videos, as well as native ads to visitors based on cookie values, business rules, context of the page and more.

Continuously optimize the conversion funnel

Marketers within finance who are entering the field of personalization should become familiar with A/B testing and optimization, as they are key to ensuring every customer is served the best possible experience in order for them to convert. Depending on the desired outcome, FSI brands will want to funnel potential prospects through the various phases of awareness, interest, desire, and action eliminating any obstacles along the way.

For example, if visitors are abandoning the application process, an experiment might be implemented to test whether or not important information being presented further up the page might result in more submissions. Upon reaching statistical significance, the experience could then be optimized further, say, by introducing a link to FAQs or customer service.

There are so many techniques that can lead to enhanced conversions, such as A/B testing forms, landing page design, CTA copy, promotional offers, messaging, push notifications, page functionality, banner creative, and more.

Soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor

Financial institutions may not be able to deliver on the personalization promise today, but if they begin taking even these small steps towards a more tailored customer experience, the results are bound to appreciate over time. Complete transformation will take time and require significant updates be made to how these organizations are structured, operate, along with the ways in which they use technology to collect, analyze, and action data.

Smart investors in personalization who can keep their focus on the long term when others get distracted (and distressed) by shiny objects or short-term goals will see their patience rewarded down the road.

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