Jon Clarke, CEO of Cyance
In today’s crowded market for financial products and services, attracting attention is tough. 24/7 access to the internet and web-connected devices have changed the way individuals communicate and engage with organisations and each other, making it harder for businesses to identify who prospective customers are and what they will respond to.
In the same way individuals frequently go online to choose a new consumer product or service, rather than walking into a shop or bank, professionals now automatically turn to the web for fast information and peer-to-peer feedback. This makes it more likely that potential business purchases are influenced by forums, LinkedIn discussions and online reviews or whitepapers than promotional brochures or face-to-face contact with sales reps.
As a result of this increase in online engagement and decision-making, finance businesses have begun to turn to digital tools such as machine learning and data analytics, which are now increasingly within the financial reach of even the smallest organisations. With the right technology, companies are able to identify active buyers in their prospect market (typically just 2-5%), intricately analyse their online behaviour and micro-target them with the products or services that they are actively seeking – significantly increasing customer satisfaction and engagement and, in turn, campaign success and sales conversions.
Tuning in to buying signals
Despite the huge potential for online engagement, operating in a highly regulated industry, sales and marketing teams in financial businesses still face the combined challenge of ensuring campaigns are compliant before launch, as well as the complexity of understanding who potential target markets are and how to reach them. When the message does get through to a potential customer, by the time someone responds to a lead, it could already be too late: in the B2B buying journey, Sirius Decisions found that 66% of research takes place before potential buyers have even spoken to a person working for a potential supplier.
All of which points to a pressing need for today’s marketing teams to respond to the changing behaviour of customers and reach target audiences much earlier on in the buying cycle. While this might sound impossible without a crystal ball, adopting a data-driven approach such as behaviour-based marketing (BBM) can help to unlock rich insights which help to identify prospects within key target markets that are actively indicating an intention to buy.
Getting personal with behavioural analysis
Rather than missing out to a competitor, by reaching the right prospects at the right time with tailored, relevant messaging, businesses are far more likely to gain their attention, increasing the likelihood of high-quality leads, valuable conversations and, ultimately, sales conversions.
For modern marketing teams, understanding customer needs and journeys as their focus has increasingly shifted online has made it essential to look adopt more strategic, analytical methods such as BBM. In a nutshell, BBM is a qualitative adopted data approach that enables marketing teams to get more personal and more targeted in campaigns focused around financial products. Its foundations are in buying intent data – the signals that buyers give off during the online research process – i.e. where they are looking at, what they are looking for, where they are searching for it and who they are engaging with about it.
Using a predictive analytics technology platform, BBM identifies and collates buying signals, scanning relevant keywords from tens of thousands of forums, websites, brochures and other downloaded marketing collateral. Armed with this information, marketers can use the platform to analyse online activities and generate strategic insights into buying intent. The information and insights are then used to inform and create relevant content to help the customer based on their individual requirements, converting early interest into a quality lead.
Targeted engagements that drive competitive edge
From niche services to major product launches, achieving a better understanding of who target customers are, what they’re looking for, where they’re looking for it – and where they are in the buying cycle – puts organisations of all sizes in a far stronger position to target and engage customers using the right messaging.
While mass marketing methods will always have their place in marketing communications, as B2B customer expectations and buying journeys evolve, so too must sales and marketing’s approach to engagement. Better-quality leads invariably mean better conversations, more revenue opportunities and a more strategic role for marketing in any go-to-market strategy.
As increased security and confidence brings consumers and B2B customers to the internet for financial decision making, finance businesses will need to achieve a better understanding of their active market and fine-tune their engagements with the customers within it in order to remain relevant. In this fast-changing and competitive environment, the use of behavioural insights and buying intent data could well prove to be a key enabler and, crucially, a key differentiator.