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Matt Cunard, Sr. Digital Marketer, and Mariah Holmes, Financial Marketing Intern  

Who ultimately owns your brand? Is it the CEO? Maybe the marketing and public relations departments? What about your frontline teller staff? Nope, nope, and nope. The owners of your brand are your customers. Your institution runs on the needs and wants of your customers, and their experiences with your bank play a major role in your mutual success.  

Let me paint you a picture of two banks, each with the intention of providing the best service, but going about it in two different ways.  

Bank A:

  • Teller: “Hello Ms. Smith, how can we help you today?”
  • Customer: “Hi, can you help me set up savings accounts for my three kids?”
  • Teller: “Absolutely, what type of accounts?”  

Bank B:

  • Teller: “Hello Ms. Smith, how can we help you today?”
  • Customer: “Hi, can you help me set up savings accounts for my three kids?”
  • Teller: “Absolutely, so we will need three accounts, one for each of your children. And it looks like your oldest is about to turn 13. We recommend starting them with a checking account as well.”  

Which bank would you rather be? Which bank do you think has more engaged customers? The answer is obviously Bank B because they know their customer better. Your institution already has the information necessary to provide this type of experience for your customers. It’s simply a matter of applying it in the most effective way.  

How do you provide this same type of experience? Data. Not just their age, gender, birthday, street address or other basic demographic data, but a deeper dive into buying habits, banking history and anything on social media that tells you about your customer.  

In a recent Infosys survey, 48 percent of consumers polled said they expect their bank to use their social media accounts and email information to make better suggestions and insights into their banking needs. That means your customers want you to see how many times they are ‘checking in’ at restaurants or airports on their Facebook posts.   Consumer attitudes about data mining  

Finding the relevant and necessary pieces of information to effectively target consumers takes time and critical data analysis, but the result is more relevant marketing. For example, let’s say you notice a customer is constantly checking in at airports and restaurants. You could use this data to then offer them a credit card with great rewards for travel and dining. That’s the power of data creating unique experiences that your customers will not only appreciate, but remember.

Simple demographic data isn’t going to cut it anymore. Customers want to be more than a number on an account sheet, and you want to deliver the best service for them that will bring the highest return on your investment. The best way to accomplish both of those tasks is to use the data you already have combined with the additional information you get from social media, your core processing system and analytics installed on your website.  

You can then use this data to create contextually relevant marketing that fits your customers better than one-size-fits-all messaging. Giving customers options that fit their lifestyle without making them come in and ask proves that you know them and what their needs are. This can boost not just their satisfaction with your bank, but more importantly, customer engagement.  

Data Analysis + Customer-Centric Marketing = Higher Customer Engagement

Gallup’s Retail Banking Study highlights the importance of consumers being engaged with your institution rather than just satisfied with it. The three indications to a consumer that they are past the ‘satisfied’ stage and moving to the ‘engaged’ stage include feelings of:

  • My bank always delivers on what they promise
  • I feel proud to be a customer
  • This is the perfect company for people like me

These are strong feelings for customers to have for their bank. According to the study, fully engaged customers claim to have a ‘strong positive emotional attachment’ with their bank and they may even go so far as to say they love the company (2).  

These people are your bank’s most valuable customers. They will utilize more of your products and services, interact with your bank more often and remain a customer longer than someone who is just satisfied with their bank. And the road to engagement starts with a customer-centric marketing approach informed by data.  

Content strategy consultant TJ McCue said, “If we genuinely ask ‘What’s in it for me?’ on behalf of our customers, then we’ll create content and ideas worth their time". This transformative mindset is what is needed for banks today. Switching from the focus on your business needs and wants, to focusing on the needs and wants of your customers will ultimately result in increased satisfaction for both parties.  

A customer-focused marketing approach combined with data analytics will offer the insight and means needed to provide contextually relevant marketing experience, giving you the opportunity to  increase their engagement. The ability to provide insightful options and enjoyable experiences for your customers informed by data analysis will help your institution to become more than just a bank, but one of their favorite companies. Period.  


Infosys Survey. July 2013. The Financial Brand

Retail Banking Survey. Presented by Anson Vuong, Gallup, at Financial Brand Forum 2016    


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