By Meg Goodman
You don’t have to look back very far to see how much has changed since digital technologies moved—quite literally—into the hands of consumers. It was 2007 when the iPhone was released and Netflix announced it would stream video.
Customer journeys, information consumption habits and long-held assumptions about buying behavior have all been disrupted due to the changing digital landscape. At the forefront of these changing behaviors are technologies, like the smart phone, that have been paving the way for new consumption habits.
The changing digital landscape has also changed the traditional approach to marketing.
Have you adjusted?
When it comes to marketing, it’s not enough to simply meet the needs of consumers. Marketers must also determine what customers are going to want—and predict how technology is going to stay ahead of the curve.
Customer service is a great example. Before social media, call centers and in-person conversations were the main avenues for resolving problems. Today, the same problems can be resolved in a more efficient and timely manner through messaging, apps, social media and the like.
To compete in this new environment, and to succeed in tomorrow’s world, you must be prepared to transform your business. What happens if you don’t? Well, companies like Blockbuster, Vine and Blackberry are leading examples of obsolete companies that failed to adapt to emerging models led by companies like Netflix, Snapchat and Apple.
As a marketing leader, how do you know whether you’re on the right track—focusing on the right technology and basing the necessary changes on consumers’ wants and needs?
Start by asking these six key questions:
- Do you offer a truly optimized mobile experience?
A recent report by the Mercator Advisory Group suggests that 64 percent of U.S. consumers use mobile devices to perform banking activities—this is up from 53 percent in 2016. This same report notes, however, that mobile app use has stalled.
With nearly two-thirds of the population looking first to their phones for banking, how are you optimizing the mobile experience for your customers? Whether it’s an app, an entirely new way to do business online or an online-only experience, looking to mobile to help find solutions for your customers should be a priority.
To determine the needs and wants of your customers, conducting research and understanding customer segments is a critical starting point. The insights you uncover—on both current customers and those you may be losing—can lead you to educated decisions on the type of user experience, content and go-to-market digital approach you should pursue.
It is also important to evaluate up-and-coming mobile-centric companies. Pay attention to what their customers find appealing, particularly the things you don’t offer. Investigate the reasons why customers find these offerings appealing. Don’t underestimate your market, as Blockbuster did.
- Do you view mobile as another channel or as a solution to potential problems your customers are having?
When it comes to marketing, the mobile experience is more than just an app or a digital ad that pops up. Consumer behavior is showing that a mobile-first preference is on the rise.
How can you use this behavior to guide your marketing efforts and provide even more solutions for your customers? Is it time for your bank to rethink its mobile experience?
This is where research comes into play. Determine whether your target customers are doing voice search or type search. Find out how and when they use apps and search. These are all different consumer experiences. Understand your customer journey from the first touch point to the point of becoming a loyal customer, and then incorporate mobile research into that experience.
Coupling emerging technologies with consumer behavior can help guide your approach to marketing. This graphic from Deloitte explains how some are thinking of the banking model of the future.
- Who are your non-traditional competitors?
While traditional banking models are facing a shift in how they do business, non-traditional competitors are already ahead of the game. Social data journalist Gemma Joyce of Brandwatch notes that “fast-moving challenger banks are able to address the quickly changing wants and needs of consumers in ways their established competitors simply aren’t built to do.”
From student loan refinancing options and online-only banks to third-party payment solutions like PayPal & Venmo—and the dawn of cryptocurrency—online-only financing options are on the rise.
Business leaders and marketing leaders alike should be alert to rising opportunities and find ways to capitalize on the technologies of tomorrow. Stay current on what’s happening in other industries as well. As leaders, it is up to you to follow trends, commission the research and understand how your customers’ expectations are changing.
- How do you use new technology (and its data) to your advantage?
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, programmatic advertising, and so many more new, data-driven technologies are available. Are you finding ways to deploy these new technologies to help glean data on your customers and improve your customer experience?
Brands like Netflix and Amazon make personalized recommendations on what users might like to watch or purchase. The end result? It benefits consumers by making their lives easier, just as it does for the marketer. Do you have the capability to do something similar for customers in need of bank product recommendations?
Before diving head first, do your due diligence and thoroughly research vendors that provide AI technology solutions. Good vendors, like good agency partners, will benchmark their KPIs and effectiveness, providing direction as to how you can always improve. Choose partners that rely on human interaction and support analysis to ensure a balance of data and relationships.
- Is new technology at your bank driven by your IT department?
This question is a bit tricky. The answer here should be that new technology is a tool to help the business thrive, not a building block, and not the function of one department.
Dan Newman from Futurum Research recently wrote in Wired Magazine, “The real question should be ‘what should businesses plan to build with these new tools?’ The correct answer is ‘a new company,’ or rather, a new and improved version of yesterday’s company: a stronger, faster, more relevant, more agile, more capable organization.”
Each department within the bank will have its own use for any given technological tool. Therefore they should all work together to make sure they have the kind of tools they need to build their part of the business.
- Does your brand give back?
Although this question is not inherently technology driven, it can help identify how to use technology to build a brand for the future.
There is a growing momentum toward companies that deploy a corporate social responsibility ethic. More and more, Americans are putting their money where their mouths are, supporting organizations that give back to issues they care about.
In a recent survey from Cone Communication, 87 percent of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about. It also found that millennials are more likely than other generations to research the issues a company supports and the extent to which the company contributes. Further, 76 percent would refuse to purchase a product if it went against their beliefs.
What’s important here is that giving back must be built into the fabric of your organization. Or, in other words: authentic. If it’s not, customers will see it as a thinly veiled marketing plan.
What do your customers care about? What do your employees care about? What causes impact your industry? These questions will help you delve further into the best ways you can give back. This is where data come in. Use the data you have to build an organization that your customers believe in.
The landscape has changed and continues to evolve.
It’s not too late to keep up. Bill Gates famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
As marketers, we can adapt to the ways things have shifted while still keeping our eyes on emerging technology. One thing is certain: today’s marketing changes as fast as the new technology that drives it. It is our responsibility to learn how to use it to guide our customers’ journey.
Meg Goodman is the managing director of relationship marketing agency Jacobs & Clevenger. She has brought measurable, data-driven results to a variety of major financial institutions. When she’s not riding her motorcycle, you can connect with Meg on LinkedIn or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.