Financial clients have unique challenges when it comes to testing, optimization and personalization. Christi Terjesen, a principal consultant with Adobe Target Consulting, recently sat down with four Adobe insiders, each providing a glimpse into their processes and best practices for the financial industry. Here’s what they had to say.
Let’s jump right in: what do you see as the greatest digital marketing opportunities facing the financial industry today?
Georgia Frailey, Adobe Optimization Consultant: Definitely personalization, especially in terms of customer relationships deepening. While it’s proving to be a major challenge, at the same time, it’s more and more important for financial institutions to get on board—there’s a huge value in targeting life stages alone, for example.
I agree. Personalization, in a lot of ways, is the one thing your competitors can’t copy since it’s all about your algorithms and back-end. If you’re doing it right you’re upselling, increasing your conversion rates and your competitors should be baffled because they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s powerful.
Georgia: Personalization—and everything you’re saying—is so important to the retention aspect as well. It’s not just about getting new clients but about making your existing ones happy and keeping them happy. It’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than upsell your current ones.
Great point. Taking a step back, when we talk about the financial industry and personalization, what are we talking about? What’s personalized? Is it the value proposition? Your product offerings? The messaging?
Georgia: Yes, all of the above, I would also add that personalization presents opportunities for servicing the customer better. For example, we know everyone wants shortcuts—they’re busy!—so personalization can help us find ways to marry that need to what that consumer is seeing while still delivering strong value.
Melissa Rein, Adobe Optimization Consultant: I think personalization also presents a real opportunity for financial providers to focus on delighting their customers and reminding them of those good experiences they had with you. That paired with relevant offers that make life with you easier is very compelling. A customer opened a checking account—does she want a savings account? He got a new auto loan—maybe recommend autopay? Or a credit card that helps him earn cash back to repay that car loan?
These are all great ideas and make sense for financial service providers. So what’s holding your clients—and the industry itself—back?
Erik Leisch, Adobe Optimization Consultant: One of the biggest challenges I see is the level of privacy the financial industry requires. This can really impact clients’ ability to integrate personalization in a big way.
Georgia: It’s a good point. These privacy restrictions can really impact testing and how it gets done. Financial service providers—even the ones ready to start testing and optimizing—are challenged by all sorts of layers of governance. Then there’s the privacy piece—so much information and key data is private.
So are you seeing customers simply avoid personalization entirely? Or are there some areas they’re more comfortable with than others?
Erik: Truly, it’s about baby steps. We need to closely partner with IT teams to address their concerns.
Christi: In those situations, here’s what I’d suggest: first, be sure you as the marketer are setting a reasonable scope for personalization programs. I know it’s frustrating that you can’t always accomplish everything you’d like to, but it’s setting a solid bar that’s attainable and that you can grow from. Talk to legal and technical and identify what can be done—this will reduce frustration and ensure all efforts are pointed in the same direction.
Second, I’d garner clear alignment across business units—including leadership—for all timelines. If you have to involve legal, compliance, technical and a host of other stakeholders, it might take months. Make sure everyone is clear on that so you can consistently meet internal expectations. It’s possible some hurdles could come down when they hear that timeline—or that a piece of the project could be scrapped entirely.
Melissa: It would be beneficial to test a survey that, literally, asks customers if they’d like the bank to personalize their experiences and go from there. I would be curious how giving a “yes” would ultimately influence website behaviors. Would those customers be more likely to sign up for a credit card? Any other meaningful correlations?
Georgia: It’s a great idea. My clients are very active with personalization efforts—think automated personalization, abandonment retargeting and things like that. I’m personally seeing it being leveraged more and more, including across mobile which is exciting.
Have optimization and personalization efforts been wise investments for your clients?
Georgia: Absolutely. They see great returns on their investments and are much more efficient internally. My clients are also doing more and more mobile testing and see value in focusing on improving the mobile experience.
Melissa: It’s interesting because consumers are using mobile to make financial services product purchasing decisions—it’s key to the process, and not just after they’re a customer. It’s bigger than transferring money and depositing checks via an app. Prospective customers are using mobile for research and to ultimately make their decisions. It’s so integral to the adoption process now.
So if this is all so critical to financial institutions’ success, do you have suggestions for how they can increase the velocity of their Optimization programs? We talked about legal and compliance and, sometimes, guarded tech teams. What have you done to overcome the delays associated?
Christi: I’ve seen clients overcome some of their legal challenges by utilizing Adobe Target Standard WYSIWYG. You can work directly in the tool cutting down on your creative process, then just share URLs to legal and compliance teams so they can view the drafts or samples as needed.
Georgia: It’s definitely a great way to share experiences and mock ups more quickly and easily. The only other thing I would recommend is finding out what LOBs are not currently optimizing; everybody should be! Having more tests at the ready means the potential for greater velocity and more return on investment.
Erik: Recently I started working with a client’s SEM team who uses manual means to target, which is a lot. Because no one is talking and all are so focused on their own pieces they don’t realize the value they could be tapping into. I’ve even seen some companies where marketers and other relevant departments don’t realize they have access to Adobe Target. That always surprises me.
Last question: what would you suggest for financial institutions who are looking to increase or launch a personalization program? Any tips from the trenches?
Melissa: Prepare documentation for legal approval in a way lawyers want to see it. It sounds silly but it can save you a tremendous amount of time. Documentation needs to be legible and ready to go the minute it lands on their desks.
I would also suggest that, if there’s a way to involve external partners and project managers in the conversation when it comes to scoping tests, do that. Find out when there will be freezes and when required content changes are already being implemented. Have a standardized testing process and template library plus check points aligned to each line of business in an organization. And be sure to get clarity from stakeholders on what their goals are and what roadblocks exists so you don’t run into those late in the game —that could derail even the best, most thoughtful personalization initiative.
Thanks so much, Christi, for moderating this roundtable and to Georgia, Melissa and Erik for providing their know-how and insights. It sounds like the financial industry is ripe with personalization opportunities but, at the same time, has some unique challenges from a privacy and testing perspective. It will be interesting to see how best-in-class players overcome these hurdles and integrate optimization in a bigger way in the months ahead.