Financial services businesses need to make greater use of the Cloud to reach, engage, and influence customers

The economic and business disruption caused globally by successive lockdowns and the impact of the pandemic has driven businesses even faster than anticipated towards digital technologies that have given them the agility that has been necessary to survive.

The challenge – and opportunity – now, according to B2B tech marketing and strategy specialists Audienz, is to not only continue that transformation but to do it at scale. The acceleration towards adoption of digital in the financial services industry shows no sign of slowing. And now, the growth in industry-specific cloud ecosystems, like the recently announced Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, is one of the emerging developments to support that digital transformation.

But financial services businesses need to understand how they should be using the Cloud to reach, engage, and influence customers in their decision making, and how these new ecosystems can be used to gain insights, build messaging, and most importantly, how digital can be most effectively used for customer acquisition and engagement.

“It’s timely because the lockdown has also seen an acceleration in consumer use of digital technology,” explains Steve Heuring, Partner at Audienz. “Even as bank branches open up for increased face-to-face customer service, we may find that the preferences of banking customers has now shifted to greater remote and online interaction, especially as the technology to complete these tasks remotely is so widely available and in use. For this reason, as much as others, financial services companies and those that support them need to be ahead of their customers’ curve when it comes to utilizing what the Cloud has to offer.”

Business can use the Cloud to enable customers to access an array of services more efficiently and effectively than ever before. In so doing, they will enhance the customer experience, and utilize data and insights on the customer drawn from technology to more efficiently manage their journey, more effectively target new and repeat customers, while simultaneously improving internal efficiency and productivity.

“Within financial services businesses, this all comes down to knowledge; data and how that is being made available to those that need it across the company,” continues Heuring.

“Too many companies still operate in organizational silos. By using digital technology to make real time data more readily available, sales, marketing and other internal teams will each have a more holistic view of the customer and better access not only to the data but, more importantly, to the insights that can be derived from it. And then the key is how to deploy these insights internally such that they can be used to not only manage one individual customer’s journey but also to inform targeted sales and marketing activity.”

Key to this is using technology to track and optimize results. This begins with a view of your customer’s journey that includes the metrics you use to measure success at each phase. Even if marketing and sales data resides in two different systems, creating a simple overview will keep you on top of what optimizations need to be made to your campaign tactics. When developing campaign reporting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with data, so prioritize the metrics that are most informative and that you can act on.

In many organizations the marketing and sales teams can have different perspectives on the customer journey, even if their objectives are the same. Marketing may view the early phases of the customer journey in an automation platform, but once a marketing lead becomes a sales opportunity it goes into a CRM system where the sales team views the information. This introduces risk because it creates a disconnect between these two teams, both in terms of visibility and in how they operate. It’s critical for the marketing team to know the company’s sales process; to understand sales roles and pipeline stages so that they can design a customer journey that moves from awareness through to purchase. Similarly, the sales team needs to know the history of the lead and have access to as much information as possible about the journey the prospect has taken.

The customer, of course, only has one journey. Creating a customer journey map that covers the entire experience from initial awareness through to purchase can be incredibly useful, particularly if it shows both the customer’s experience alongside the internal perspective on tactics and roles involved across the marketing and sales process.

With research suggesting that digital marketing spend in the US will reach $146 billion by 2023 and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9%1 it is clear the extent to which businesses are using marketing automation tools to help execute targeted, multi-touch campaigns. The ability to measure ROI, reach, click-through rates, and landing page conversions that feed new leads into the marketing funnel have made it a particularly attractive way of monitoring the early phases of a customer’s journey. Financial services businesses that fail to do so risk being left behind as competitors move forward by embracing the technology.

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