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.
HOW CHARITIES CAN MEET TOMORROW’S DIGITAL CHALLENGES?
By Steve Georgiou, Business Consultant at Xpedition
Charities are under constant scrutiny for how they handle their finances. Budgets are often squeezed and as a result, it can be hard to justify spending on mediums such as new technology, which aren’t always seen as “necessities.”
And yet, there’s a new generation of workers waiting in the wings who have grown up using technology in all aspects of life. There are also 57% of charity employees who believe the sectors’ development is being hindered by lack of embracing new technology. For those that are willing, a digital strategy has never been more important for a charity’s future outlook.
The Next Generation
Many organisations are not prioritising the technological expectations of today’s younger generation. -. Everything outside of the workplace for the upcoming generation is already technology-driven, including the skills they’re learning right now. It’s already disrupting industries and career plans, and by the time this generation steps into employment, the way we live and work will have become even more advanced.
Competition in the Third Sector has always been on the up. Donation methods have changed, securing funds has never been more competitive, reporting is now a lot more stringent, and the next generation of employees have defined efficient methods of ensuring the organisation they are employed by is not left behind.
For charities that are using legacy financial systems that are often old, outdated and costly to maintain, if they do not take the steps now to digitally transform, they’ll fall further behind. Good governance dictates Charities should be investing in modern technology to support the organisation in both its medium- and long-term digital strategy. Ultimately, Charities want to engage stakeholders and employees, simplify processes, streamline efficiency and guide change – but they cannot do this without investing in modern technology to enable change in this fast-moving digital world we live in.
A Digital Future
In times gone by, financial systems were predominantly used to support the back-office finance function. This has all changed. With advances in technology, such as the latest all-in-one financial management solutions, there are now tangible benefits that add value to the whole organisation.
These tools can strengthen decision making, reduce administration time and provide real-time, accurate reporting, all of which are valuable assets for tomorrow’s demands.
There is a real case to be made for a fully digital third sector using financial technology one which thrives and gives not-for-profits huge benefits:
Data Management and Analysis
The contemporary digital landscape is all about big and beautiful data. Job roles are evolving to cater for the data boom, organisations are now hiring increasing numbers of Data Analysts and Business Analysts. And one of the most significant benefits that the third sector can expect to see by taking on digital methods is greater data transparency.
The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. Data is being transformed into a core asset, one which is being used to tackle charity-wide challenges. Daily admin duties such as data analysis and entry are being taken over more and more by financial management solutions. This not only removes the need for online time-heavy tedious tasks, but also reduces the number of different sources people have to use to find and analyse data.
Whether it is finance, fundraising, HR or anything else, the efforts of the organisation should be in the analysis of the data to make better informed decisions in the best interests of the charity.
Use Cloud to Reduce TCO
The resistance to change and the associated investment have been barriers to digital transformation for charities. Every organisation wants to achieve greater efficiency and free-up further funding for their frontline
Activities, such as maintaining hardware and the disruption of upgrading are all a thing of the past.
From maintenance to mobility, cloud computing can help you to significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). With the cloud, there is no need for onsite hardware or expensive upgrades – you are simply sent a URL for storage. This offers you the flexibility to scale your data storage capacity depending on your needs at the time, avoiding the need for expensive hardware. This on-demand, “pay as you grow” approach avoids hedging your bets on unnecessary data storage. The cloud also has greater mobility, allowing for remote workers to access communications from anywhere, with no further technology needed. Backup and restore can be initiated from any location, using multiple devices, and does not need maintenance – reducing the need for a dedicated IT person.
Consider Digital, before your Charity becomes marginalised.
With a new generation of workers waiting in the wings, and financial management technology that has the power to provide value for all aspects of the organisation, a digital strategy has never been more important for a charity’s financial efforts. They will not settle for a business that is stuck a decade behind due to not embracing change.
COUNTING THE COST OF SILENT CYBER
– Akber Datoo, Founding Partner, D2 Legal Technology
Damaged reputation. Financial loss. Punitive capital adequacy provision. Silent cyber is one of the biggest issues facing the insurance industry. Yet despite the Prudential Regulatory Authority’s (PRA) demands for robust action plans, few firms have put in place the document digitisation required to truly understand the level of risk. Further, it is somewhat ironic that an industry that is predicated on pricing risk, is failing to assess and understand this risk that exists today in its back catalogue. From determining the current silent cyber position to identifying policy wording changes and analysing the legacy book, Akber Datoo, Founding Partner, D2 Legal Technology, highlights the need to digitise policy documents.
Non Affirmative Loss
“Silent Cyber” is the term given to cyber related losses that may/or may not fall under a traditional property and liability policies that were not designed for that purpose.
The concerns of silent cyber have recently come to the fore and the shock waves created by the Mondelez / Zurich Insurance case have reverberated around the market. Whilst publicity may have temporarily abated over the past few months, very few insurance companies have begun to truly address the risk posed by silent cyber. In an industry predicated on strong reputation, the decision by Zurich to reject a claim from a client whose business had been devastated by the NotPetya cyber-attack in 2017 made headlines around the world – not least for citing exclusion for ‘hostile or warlike action in time of peace or war’ by a ’government or sovereign power’.
Yet as the cost of such attacks are being counted, the impact of silent cyber on the industry as a whole is becoming painfully apparent. PCS Global Cyber has recently attributed 90% of the insurance industry’s losses relating to the NotPetya cyber-attack to non-affirmative (silent) cyber, and the rest to affirmative losses.
Certainly, the PRA believes the UK insurance industry can do more to ensure the effective management of affirmative and non-affirmative cyber risk exposures. It has ordered firms to develop an action plan, with clear milestones and dates by which action will be taken.
Despite the cost to the industry, there remains a concerning lack of consistency in terms of risk awareness and planning as well as risk appetite and understanding. The PRA’s own survey in 2018 revealed significant divergence in firms’ views of the potential exposure to silent cyber. Within Marine, Aviation and Transport (MAT), Property and Miscellaneous lines, exposure was rated at anywhere between zero and the full limits.
With PCS Global Cyber believing the cost to the industry of NotPetya associated claims has now exceeded $3 billion, there is ever greater focus on insurance companies’ cyber stress tests. Fears that gross losses could run into the multiples of annual cyber premiums are very real. However, to date such exercises are based on minimal fact: firms lack robust or reliable claims data relating to silent cyber. As a result, models are immature and there is little faith in the resultant capital adequacy calculations. Just how much capital should the regulator demand firms to set aside against possible exposures when the silent cyber risk is so poorly understood?
In addition to the model and assessment demanded by the PRA, firms need to look closely at existing policy documentation to gain better insight into risk. What is the current position? Does wording need to be amended to address silent cyber risk? How can the legacy book be analysed and key data and wording from the contracts extracted to assess the potential silent cyber exposure going forward?
In many ways, the insurance industry is better placed than many for the challenges ahead. Document digitisation has been on the agenda for some time and the industry has already created clause libraries to make it easier for firms to gain access to vetted policy wordings and regularly used clauses. However, the low take-up of these libraries is disappointing. Not only do firms have a somewhat confusing choice – between the Lloyd’s Wording Repository, the IUA (International Underwriting Association) Clauses Document Library and the Xchanging Model Wordings Library, but the checklist structure is not providing the required solution.
Insurance companies and brokers need to better understand how to use these clause libraries within current business models, preferably in tandem with a document generation tool to improve data management. The goal is to create data driven contracts, where documents are drafted based on known outlooks. But to get to that point, firms need to actively embrace document digitisation to gain a better handle over the current risk position and create a foundation for rapidly changing wording to avoid any ambiguity regarding silent cyber. Moreover, we need the link wordings in clause libraries to classified business outcomes, and then derive business intelligence from policy portfolios.
No firm wants to risk the reputational damage associated with refusing a high profile claim – nor endure the huge losses associated with attacks such as NotPetya. With the rise in cyber attacks, this is an issue that has to be addressed immediately: firms need to act now and embrace the opportunity of digitisation strategies within policy documentation to mitigate the potentially devastating silent cyber risk.
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