Written by Mark Michaud on April 19, 2016
in Financial Marketing, Strategic Marketing

The reality for banks and credit unions is not lost on their marketing departments – consumers expect the same level of personalization found in industries like hospitality, travel, eCommerce, and digital entertainment. As the demographics of their consumer shifts, FinTech continues to disrupt every area of personal banking, and as branch visits steadily decline, financial services marketers know what they need to do. But how well have they been delivering on their “personalization promise” thus far?

A recent Digital Banking Report paper titled “The Power of Personalization in Banking” sheds light on the “personalization maturity” of more than 300 financial institutions worldwide. The verdict comes straight from the mouths of financial services marketers themselves: They recognize the importance of personalization, but are currently unable to deliver it.


Here we can see that the vast majority of financial services marketers understand the importance of knowing their customer or member’s personal situation. They agree that it is either extremely, very, or somewhat important to provide real-time customized guidance to their members or customers. But when it comes to their ability to do so, institutions of all asset sizes seem to fall short.


Where personalized digital guidance is concerned, the big banks scored the highest, with 22% of marketers at organizations with $50B or more in assets reporting an advanced ability to provide it, with 62% reporting emerging abilities. While this certainly indicates momentum, it also proves that there is still work to be done.

Also evident is the fact that smaller banks and credit unions below the $50B asset mark are simply not ready to deliver on their promises. This group is threatened not only by larger institutions that outpace them with their use of digital technologies, but also FinTech start-ups that provide digital personalization and self-serve technology right out of the gate.


When it comes to the priority of digital strategies, we see that financial services marketers are falling into a classic trap – prioritizing what helps them instead of what helps their customers and members. As we wrote previously, creating a stellar experience can buy your brand enough good will both externally and internally to put larger projects in place that can help with cross-selling. For the increasingly fickle customer and member, seeing digital innovation that only helps their banks or credit unions sell more – but doesn’t improve their experience – can act as the final straw.

For financial services marketers, the first step of recognizing the importance of personalized customer engagement appears to have occurred. The implementation of these programs, however, is still falling short in terms of customer and member expectations. By focusing on digital strategies that develop real relationships with customers and members, and providing the right service and support to build loyalty and advocacy, financial services marketers can finally begin to deliver on their “personalization promise”.

Mark Michaud is a Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy & Research at Ariad Communications.

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