The Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal that has been all over the news in recent days has brought personal data and personalisation back to the forefront of the minds of marketers. But the issue is not the existence of consumer data itself which people are willing to provide – it’s what brands do with it.
Do the wrong thing, and we have all seen what happens. But customers are demanding personalisation. Brands need to find the right ways to provide it, or risk being left behind.
A study conducted by Accenture last year, which surveyed 33,000 financial services consumers in 18 countries across all generations and incomes, found that 73% of consumers expect personalised products and services in exchange for their data when it comes to investment advice. This figure is lower, but still a significant 63% when it comes to banking and insurance services.
Shockingly, only 52% of financial services brands offer basic levels of personalisation, and 35% offer no personalisation at all. Added to which, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, consumer trust in financial services as an industry is at just 54%.
These numbers should act as a wake-up call to everyone in the industry. There is clearly a gap opening between what consumers want and what financial services companies provide.
Experience as a differentiator
Consumers today might browse your website and products and services in the workplace. They’ll probably head home and resume their research on a tablet or mobile. They might talk to friends or check out independent product or service reviews. They could even download and print out a brochure from your website, or ask for one to be sent through the post. They might then book an appointment with an adviser over the phone or in person, or use your webchat to get more information.
If you can’t provide your customers with the information they seek, quickly and easily, by personalising the journey for them and suggesting products and services that fit with their profile or what they’ve been searching for, then they will inevitably find a competitor who can.
With consumers relying more and more on their digitalexperience as a differentiator, and with such a huge trust gap between financial services companies and their potential customers, it is clear that something needs to change.
Take action. Now.
Delivering digital experiences is a complicated, technical, and ongoing process, but there are a few simple things you can do now that will enhance your customers’ current digital experience with your brand.
Create fictional customers who are representative of the audiences you want to target. Think about your typical prospects and some obvious differentiators – where they’re located, their gender, their age. You can then start to create and model content around these personas, testing what visitors like and what they don’t, what converts and what doesn’t.
Map out your customer journeys
Where could your visitors be in their journey? Are you creating the right kinds of content for all customer-types and all journeys? Are you providing the right content for them at the right time? Is it easy for them to get to the information or products they want? The answers to these questions will help you to define what content you need to produce, and the changes you need to make on your website to make it feel more personal.
Ensure your systems are talking to each other
Especially your website and CRM system. It’s important to know your customers’ past interaction with you, so that you don’t run the risk of, for example, sending an email about investing in a child trust fund to someone who has been searching and downloading information on ways to save for their retirement.
With the right technology at your fingertips, advanced personalisation – delivering the right content to the right customers, at the right time, in the right place, in real-time, across multiple channels – is completely possible.
A focus on investing in new digital experience platforms, in tandem with the right technology partners, will be the key elements in financial services companies being able to deliver an improved digital experience for customers in today’s world.
Huw Waters is head of marketing at digital agency Codehouse.