OPINION: New Realities For Customer Marketing

Effective marketing relies on analytics-driven insights, according to Paul Franks, Director, Financial Services, SAS.


Customer-centricity is the current mantra for financial institutions seeking to compete in a low-growth business environment. Yet the truth is that customer behaviour and expectations have fundamentally changed and the customers they seek to attract and retain are web-savvy, mobile device-dependent, time poor and have access to greater levels of information than ever before. Such behaviour is blurring the traditional lines between direct and mass marketing and driving convergence as both sides of the marketing ecosystem come together in the digital world. If you want to reach today’s customers, you must meet them where they choose to be and you need to personalise messages, tailor offers and engage customers in interactive dialogues that build trust and drive loyalty.

Sophisticated and integrated marketing automation technologies which are easy to use and navigate – and can leverage customer intelligence, optimise interactions across channels and monitor and respond to changes in customer behaviours – are providing these capabilities. Reaching customers is top of mind as is the constant pressure to reduce operating costs for customer acquisition, support and retention. Whilst new business processes are warranted to effect a transition to a customer-centric operating model, technology investment is also critical.

The old times are gone

I heard recently of the desire of one financial institution’s leaders to reinstate the type of banking relationship that was enjoyed by their parents – one based on intimacy and knowledge. The truth is that relationships back then were simpler, the customer was less knowledgeable and more accepting, and competition was virtually non-existent. The time for a romantic vision of customer relationships has passed and we now need to be relevant, valuable and consistent in service delivery. I also prefer a relationship where the balance of power is more evenly shared and acceptance of a default offering is not the accepted way of doing business. Those not meeting this simple premise will become increasingly uncompetitive and be excluded from direct or associated business relationships with their customers.

A convergence of marketing models

Investment in digital marketing continues to grow at a rapid pace at the expense of traditional marketing channels. What is driving such change and what does it mean for marketing and specifically, marketing technology? The world of marketing is being transformed by several key changes ranging from a power shift to media fragmentation, demand for consistent personalised attention across channels and the continued explosion in volumes of available digital data. Each of these trends is pointing to a gradual convergence of direct and mass marketing models. Such convergence is driving the need for a one-to-one marketing model that is customer-centred, interactive, personalised, multi-channel and automated. In this dynamic marketing paradigm, marketers generate unique customer insight and feed this into marketing automation technologies to improve real-time dialogues with customers when and where they choose to engage.

Convergence of itself is meaningless if those best able to influence and respond to customer preferences and expectations are incapable of servicing them. Those financial institutions which are embracing digital marketing and deriving customer insights through integrated marketing automation and advanced analytics technologies are moving the main game from back-of-house to front-of-house where customer interactions occur and service needs are best able to be met. When analytically-driven insight informs the interactions and experiences that customers have with their financial institutions, trust can be built, they can engage in meaningful dialogues and improved business outcomes can be more readily achieved than with traditional approaches.

Automating customer interactions and communication

What is needed to actually manage and deliver multi-channel marketing campaigns and effective one-to-one interactions with customers at any time and all times? Financial institutions are now seeking to adopt and implement automated multi-channel campaign management solutions to deliver highly personalised, integrated and relevant communications across all channels in real-time. For automated multi-channel marketing to be effective, there are three main functional areas that need to be addressed:

  • Customer insight driven by quality customer data and robust customer analytics models
  • Campaign orchestration enabled by robust and reliable campaign management, and campaign optimisation and real-time decision management using analytically driven decision capabilities
  • Accountability and continuous improvement and refinement of marketing processes supported by marketing analytics, scorecards and reporting, budgeting and planning functionality.

New generation marketing automation technologies combine these capabilities within a centralised and fully integrated environment. This is enabled by an analytical decision engine which leverages unique customer insights and manages dialogues during actual customer interactions. Management of these interactions can be performed for both inbound and outbound communications across all customer touch points at any time based on customer demand. This approach to optimising real-time interactions based on analytics can apply to any channel.

Social media and the art of the possible

Analytically driven customer interactions across channels will be the foundation for successful and effective business marketing operations going forward. The next frontier for automated multi-channel marketing harnesses the power of social networks by using tools which integrate, analyse and act on intelligence gleaned from digital channels and professional and consumer-generated social media measures. Such tools segment customers based on social influence and target them based on changes within their social communities. The end result will be richer customer experiences, satisfied customers and increased value. The future for marketing is the strategic CMO operating a marketing function able to identify, support and enable effective, dynamic and interactive customer relationships where genuine intelligence and analytics create sustainable real-time actionable insights at optimal servicing cost. For some, this may seem like a dream. Those who do not grasp this challenge may well find themselves in a nightmare.


Paul Franks, SAS, Customer-centricity, customer behaviour, marketing models, digital marketing, traditional marketing channels, marketing technology
AB+F Online
Article Posted:
June 01, 2013

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