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TECHNOLOGY IS A GAME CHANGER FOR MARKETERS: ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT TOOLS?

By Katie Jameson, Director of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software

 

Marketing in the financial services industry has completely transformed in recent years in response to quick technological advances and rising consumer expectations for streamlined, personalised digital experiences. With 81% of consumer financial research now beginning online and 7 out of 10 people doing their banking digitally, financial institutions find themselves needing to meet their customers where they prefer to engage.

The answer to these rising demands is clear. In order to get in front of your target audience, stand out from the competition with relevant and valuable content, and engage with them to gain their business, you need digital marketing tools and workflows that enhance the customer experience. Furthermore, the technology tools help you, as a marketer, automate manual and laborious tasks like segmenting contact lists, optimising landing pages and email templates, sending out communications, scheduling content, and qualifying leads.

And while technology has proved to be a game changer for marketers, the sheer number of available tools can make anyone’s head spin. How do you know what’s the best fit for your business? What’s worth investing in? What’s essential for business growth and what’s considered “nice to have”?

There is a notable difference between using low-priced technology that tackles basic everyday tasks vs. investing in technology that supports the financial institution’s bottom line and drives ROI. If your MarTech stack is a frankensteined collection of freemium tools that help you get by, seriously consider the long-term impact and whether it truly bolsters the customer experience. While this approach may meet immediate needs, it lacks opportunity for sustainability and growth that digital marketing is designed to achieve. Choosing the right technologies and software vendors help maximise internal resources and set the business up for success in the long run.

How to Identify the Right Tools and Vendors For Your Business

No matter your specific business goals and amount of resources, there are three must-have aspects to look for in a valuable software tool and vendor partner. In order to implement a long-term digital marketing process that meets customer expectations, ask both yourself and potential vendors these questions:

 

  • Scalability: Will the technology scale to meet your needs in the future?
  • Training: How much training will be needed across the organisation? How much support is available?
  • Reporting: Will your chosen platform produce reports that everyone in the business will understand?
  • Integration: How easy is it to integrate your platform with the other MarTech products that you use or may want to use?
  • Future-proofing: What does the vendor’s roadmap for its platform look like, and does it match your company’s goals and ambitions?

 

Now for the question of the moment: What kind of technology tools meet these criteria? The simple and honest answer–marketing automation.

A marketing automation platform is the digital marketing engine of a business, and the biggest impactful step toward enhancing the customer’s digital experience. The robust tool serves as an all-in-one marketing software hub that enables users to develop, launch, track, report, and optimise your campaigns from a single convenient source that integrates with your CRM and other essential marketing and sales tools. The marketing automation solution provides segmentation and personalisation capabilities to help financial marketers understand the distinct behaviours, interests, and needs of your target audience and deliver the experience, services, and recommendations your customers expect.

However, the financial services industry has admittedly been slow on the uptake of implementing this software solution into their digital marketing efforts. According to the 2019 State of Marketing Automation, 27% of marketers in financial services aren’t using any type of digital marketing platform, though 48% are planning to purchase some form of digital marketing software in the next year.

The Distinction Between Marketing Automation Software and Email Service Providers

Both marketing automation software and email service providers fall under the “digital marketing platform”; however, it’s important to establish the difference between the two.

Email marketing platforms enable marketers to grow their contact lists, automate communications, and mass email to their customers and prospects. However, between consumers having higher expectations for personalised communications and inbox service providers (Google, Microsoft, etc.) discouraging the batch-and-blast approach, these email marketing platforms are no longer a long-term and scalable solution.

Marketing automation software, on the other hand, goes far beyond email automation with the introduction of lead generation and personalised customer experiences. This is what ultimately drives results, and with The State of Digital Growth reporting that 87% of financial brands do not have a lead generation powered by marketing automation, there is a massive opportunity to advance your financial brand’s digital marketing maturity ahead of the competition.

Real Numbers, Real Results

When the right technology tools are leveraged, the marketing results speak for themselves and, in turn, drive business growth and sustainability.

For instance, with marketing automation, TruStone Financial Credit Union averages 68.8% open rate on nurturing emails and up to 83.3% for highly-segmented emails. There is a big appetite for personalised information and this kind of sophisticated segmentation creates opportunities for customer interaction that moves them along the buyer journey. Similarly, Tower Federal Credit Union saw a two-three times increase in their open rates, especially in follow-up emails, since implementing marketing automation, which has led to customers starting more loan applications.

AuditFile, the world’s leading provider of cloud-based audit management solutions, achieves conversion rates from trial sign-up to paid customer, three times the industry average of 20-25%, thanks to the experience customers receive through their marketing and while using the software.

Financial marketers already have too many things on their plate to navigate mismatched, short-term software tools, which do not benefit the business’s overarching objectives. It’s time for financial institutions to fully optimise their marketing practices with technology designed to drastically improve effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.

 

About the author:

Katie Jameson is the Director of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software, a leading provider of marketing automation and one of the fastest growing tech companies in North America. She has previously implemented, integrated and executed programmes on a variety of marketing automation platforms at industry leading companies such as Symantec, Paywizard, and ResponseTap.

 

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Technology

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY

Ashish Jain, CEO, Future FX

 

Artificial Intelligence refers to machine intelligence that is programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. For example while writing this article, I am not actually typing it but dictating it out using the microphone and the text is being typed by Microsoft Word itself.

The ideal characteristic of artificial intelligence is to rationalize and take actions to achieve a specified goal.

As technology advances the previous methods of artificial intelligence are taken for granted as new necessities are conjured. For example the computer was one of the most iconic invention of artificial intelligence but now it is considered as mandatory.

Artificial intelligence is continuously evolving and has to evolve. Machines are made in a way that they understand mathematics, linguistic, psychology and many more other terms that are related to human mind.

Artificial intelligence is used in many sectors for example the medical sector. It is used to test drugs and medicines.

We have applications and games which includes chess where the computer plays against us this is also a feature of artificial intelligence. Similarly self driving cars are also an invention of artificial intelligence. These have to be designed very intelligently.

This can also be used in the financial industry to trace and flag activities in banking and finance such as unusual debit card activity or usage and large deposits.

This also helps to estimate the demand supply and prices of the estimates and that makes trading easier.

Earlier, we had to pay a visit to bank on order to deposit a cheque. Then we updated to ATM/Debit Cards and now you can be identified by your retina. Many different sectors have also adapted this method to make actions it more convenient and safe.

Some more examples of artificial intelligence are iPhone’s Siri, Google’s Smart Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Maps, Ride- sharing apps like Uber and Ola, diseases mapping, Automated investing, virtual travel booking, social media monitoring, inter team chat tool, NLP tools, etc.

Artificial intelligence is all around us and playing an active role in our daily lives. Every time we open our Facebook newsfeed, do a Google search, get a product recommendation from Amazon or book a trip online, we are using it immensely.

In the coming years, computers might match or even exceed human intelligence and capabilities on tasks such as decision- making, reasoning and learning, analytics and pattern recognition, visual acuity, speech recognition and language translation.

Smart systems in commodities, vehicles, day to day use objects will save time and effort offering us a more customized and comfortable future.

It will help the medical sector hugely in upgrading the medicines and treatments, inventing new ones which haven’t been found yet and making everyone’s lives more safer and healthier. A large number of data can be collected from person to person about their health and nutrition and thus changes can be made in the lifestyle.

Artificial intelligence will bring changes in the educational system making it more revolutionary and advanced.

Overall, every factor has advantages and disadvantages and artificial intelligence has it’s lot too. Considering all the advantages artificial intelligence will also affect the human decision making power, analyzing and rational thinking, lifestyle etc. It will make people lazier and will affect their creativity. It can also lead to unemployment due to increase in usage of machines.

Like everything has a balance, artificial intelligence needs to be balanced too so that we can enjoy it’s benefits without suffering the negatives.

 

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Finance

COULD COVID-19 BE THE CATALYST FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN FINANCE?

AI

By Simon Bull, Sales Operations & Business Development Manager at Aqilla

 

We are all now living in a new ‘normal’ where working from home is no longer a luxurious ‘perk’ of the job, but an essential. In the case of many organisations, the transition to flexible, remote working was successful, albeit slightly bumpy. But there is one department that has found it more challenging to transition to the required standards of remote working – the finance department.

The finance department often gets left behind when it comes to digital transformation largely because it is so heavily regulated. And because of this, one of the biggest problems the finance teams face is that it’s sensitive data will likely be stored on a hardware server on office premises. If you look at how organisations update their software as they grow, it’s usually the finance department lagging far behind, or sometimes forgotten about altogether. This is because finance has complex requirements that can lead to the attitude of: if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Up until now, most finance teams have overcome the challenges this situation presents, but with the repercussions of the pandemic still very much in play, the complications that go hand-in-hand with on-premise technology have been more noticeable than usual. As a result, COVID-19 is becoming a catalyst for a digital transformation in finance, or more specifically moving finance and accounting software away from traditional on-premise solutions to built-for-cloud services. But what are the advantages of this approach, and what should finance teams be looking for in a built-for-cloud solution?

 

  1. Simon Bull

    Cost: The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach that is the basis of many of today’s cloud computing businesses generally offers customers a convenient monthly pay-as-you-go model. Given that all that users need to access the software is a desktop, laptop or smart device and internet connectivity, they can also save money on the server hardware that has previously sat in the corner of the office. Hint: compare pricing from several potential providers to make sure there are no unexpected extras before signing up.

  2. Service: Good cloud-based providers offer extremely strong levels of customer support and service. It should be very easy to get help quickly and conveniently, and they should be in a position to offer advice, identify problems and fix errors without undue delay. Hint: ask for references from existing customers or look for online reviews to assess their service and support capabilities. Also, carefully check their Service Level Agreement (SLA) to clearly understand where their commitments begin and end.
  3. Security: Established cloud providers offer high levels of security, data protection and backup services as part of their ‘as-a-Service’ package. Customers benefit from the protection afforded by security specialists whose job it is to prevent breaches and keep data completely secure. Hint: Check their security policies and consider talking to existing customers about their security track record.
  4. Compliance: Cloud providers specialising in the finance industry should have compliance at the heart of their product set. Hint: Check with potential providers about their levels of compliance and certification, particularly if you have specialised requirements.
  5. Ease of use: today’s built-for-cloud software services are built for purpose, with many offering a high degree of bespoke capabilities so every user can tailor it to their precise needs. This is in contrast to traditional software packages that can be far less flexible, forcing the user to work in a particular way that might not be ideal. Hint: ask potential providers for an online demonstration to check the way the services work meet your needs.
  6. Performance: In the early days of cloud computing, finance software was too basic for many professionals to consider. Today, there are many entry-level services, while others offer a comprehensive range of capabilities to precisely fit the needs of professional finance departments. Hint: evaluate the range of capabilities offered by a cloud provider, which should include areas such as: extensive analysis, proper periodic management and business calendars, multi-currency, multilingual and multi-company operation, full VAT handling International coding, tax and language flexibility, automatic reconciliation / bank integration, built-in key performance measurement, advanced search, selection and drill-down, document and image scanning. Hint: compare the features of different providers in advance – if anything important is missing, look elsewhere.
  7. Regular updates: Software developers find it much easier to update and improve their services when they are delivered online, and can more effectively keep up with finance best practice and changes to rules and regulations. Many also encourage users to suggest improvements or new features which are then provided to customers at no extra cost. Hint: ask providers about how often they update their software and whether you can suggest improvements.

 

For many businesses, these are compelling reasons to adopt cloud-based finance software services, even in normal circumstances. But considered in the context of the current remote working environment, built-for-cloud finance software can help departments to adapt and capitalise on working from home and match the levels of digital transformation seen across many other key business functions.

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