Too often, banking providers’ marketing tactics revolve around simply offering cash rewards for opening accounts. One reason for this problem is that many marketers struggle to find and activate the type of data that would allow them to run more personalized campaigns that speak to the specific needs of individual customer segments.

Banks should focus on customer needs, rather than products. And bank marketers need to think about experiences and journeys designed around those needs, using customer data to better understand what customers are seeking and put the right offers in front of customers at the right time.

Reaching new customers and introducing existing customers to new products can be tough, says Brian Knollenberg, VP Insights & Strategy of credit union BECU. Before Knollenberg was with BECU, he worked in retail where “the barrier that you need to cross over to get somebody to buy a pair of socks is really small.” With banking products, the commitment is much higher and the marketing efforts should be more sophisticated.

“In financial services, the barrier for somebody to join is so much higher, because you're moving your whole life with them,” he says. “When you think about these data-driven journeys for transforming banking, you should be thinking about how to take the right pieces of data to encourage them to move to your financial institution. It's a really tough thing. I think that's why there are still these cash incentives.”

In a customer-driven age, banks still run one-size-fits-all campaigns based on monetary incentives rather than customer needs. How can marketers ensure banks stay relevant and evolve from generic cash offers to personalized journeys?


Introducing the Savvier Customer

First, says Annamaria Testani, VP of National Sales at Canada's National Bank Investments, banks need to recognize how savvy their customers are. “You need to be very aware that clients are expecting you to learn quickly, and retain and adapt that information,” she says. “Do the Google thing. That becomes the role model for how you should be building your business. Don't assume your clients are there with you. They now know they have a choice. They also know they can shop.”

Smarter consumers expect banks to deliver a digital experience comparable to the most advanced companies out there, such as Amazon and Facebook. The good news is that consumers are getting more comfortable with sharing information. Accenture found that 67 percent of consumers will share personal data in exchange for faster, easier services.

Marketers can use this data to build campaigns to reach individual consumers rather than broad market segments and adjust those campaigns in real-time based on how the consumer interacts. Marketers will see the opportunity for improved ROI, since the audience is more likely to engage with campaigns that speak to their specific needs.


Building the Better Campaign

Banks are hampered by siloed, legacy systems in which customer information is scattered across the organization. A necessary shift for banks is to centralize that information and enable all departments to share insights — not just biographical information, but data on what products and services the customer uses and needs.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is essential for achieving this vision. CRM is often thought of as a sales tool, but it also allows a marketer to create personalized experiences in their campaigns. Personalization includes real-time offers based on customer location, online-browsing behavior, and interactions with the bank.

According to Accenture, 63 percent of customers say they prefer this kind of personalization. This kind of customer insight can only happen if all of a bank’s departments are sharing info, from loan officers to wealth managers to branch employees. Barriers need to come down within the organization, and CRM can help by connecting systems, processes, and lines of business around the customer.


The Everywhere Bank

Multi-channel experiences are also essential, says Knollenberg. “In your journey, if you see that someone's not interacting with you in the channel that most of us rely on, which is email, you could talk to them in a different channel,” he says. “The nimbleness of execution capability that you get based on your data is really powerful.”

With a CRM platform integrated to core banking systems, marketers will have access to transactional data, customer touchpoints with other lines of business, and data from customer interactions through banking portals. That allows for an astonishing amount of campaign refinement.

So, for example, instead of sending out a generic email blast, marketers can look at people who recently increased their direct deposits and determine who might be a good candidate for financial advice or a premier credit card. Through online browsing data, marketers can see which customers are visiting mortgage websites or searching “best places to live” on publisher websites Based on that information, they’ll know that these customers are probably going to be in the market for a home and can target appropriate ads to them.

The CRM can also connect disparate departments. Marketers can see that a credit-card user has been making a lot of home improvement purchases and suggest a home-equity line of credit. Or if a customer connects with a call center about reducing debt, the service agent will see the customer’s profile on the CRM and can link him to a wealth advisor or personal banker.

Data creates new visibility into the life of a customer. Visibility creates new opportunities that allow the marketer to make offers that are more personalized, timely, and relevant than just the promise of cash. Unhampered by legacy technology, marketers can keep up with changing customer expectations.

“New systems will enable deeper relationships,” says Knollenberg. “I think the tools are all there to make a big impact.”

Learn more about how to meet the expectations of savvier banking customers with the 2017 Connected Banking Customer Report, and discover Salesforce solutions for powering personalized bank marketing at