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How to find and attract the best customers in a competitive financial market

Marcus—the online consumer bank of Goldman Sachs—attracted $45 billion in deposits and $5 billion in loans in fewer than three years.

Apple is launching a credit card this summer and also provides the technology infrastructure for easy and convenient mobile payments, cash back rewards and financial management tools to its 1.4 billion device users.

Online insurance provider Lemonade has more than 250,000 customers as of late 2018 and has secured a total $180 million in funding.

These new players and more have joined the financial services landscape, and they’re helping themselves to a big piece of the customer pie. That pie’s not getting any larger—how do you make sure you’re still acquiring a sizeable share of your own?

Customer acquisition in financial services is all about getting as many high-value, in-market consumers in the door as possible.

Whether you’re selling deposit accounts, insurance, credit cards, mortgages or any other kind of financial solution, there are two keys to acquisition success:

  1. Find high-value prospects to acquire (e.g. those not only looking to capitalize on an offer, like a $500 bonus or free balance transfer).
  2. Be more useful and relevant to these people.

1. Find high-value prospects to acquire.

Knowing when people are in-market and the right fit for your financial institution requires a holistic view of the consumer, complete with understanding their online and offline behavior and browsing history (the addition of the external data helps validate the timing, the message and the best channels to engage).

Many financial institutions use broad—and often inaccurate—digital audience targeting strategies. This approach often lands you customers that are only looking to take advantage of your promotional offers—which is why new customers are nearly three times more likely to show attrition during the first 90 days of opening an account.

Instead, you can generate quality leads and add accounts without wasting budget by identifying high-value customers that are truly new to your institution and in-market based on known individual signals that they are ready for a particular product or service. You can be confident that these people are actually in need of a new account, mortgage, loan, etc. because you know who they are, what they buy, what they care about and what they like to do online.

You can achieve this level of granularity through good identity management—using digital profiles of real individuals that have had their personally identifiable information (like name, address, email address) removed. This approach allows you to understand key signals and insights about real people (like online browsing behavior and transaction history) without directly tying this information to their real name, email address, direct mail address, etc. You know who they are without ever compromising their personal information.

You can match these people-based profiles to your institution’s ideal customer profile to generate a list of qualified leads by product or service and to identify key lifecycle triggers that may indicate a new financial need.

Let’s meet a fictional customer to illustrate.

Mason is 23 years old, single, makes $50k per year and lives in Seattle. He is looking forward to planning his first vacation since joining the workforce. He has a basic savings account but no credit card. He reads the news online and checks the weather on his Android phone every morning.

Using a privacy-protected profile, his bank is able to identify him as a great prospect for a credit card with travel rewards.

2. Bring more value and relevancy.

Identifying ideal customers to acquire is great, but how do you rise above the noise to get their business?

According to Epsilon research, 77% of consumers say they’re more likely to do business with a financial institution that offers personalized experiences in their brick-and-mortar location. That number jumps to a whopping 89% for brands that offer personalization in their digital experiences (e.g. email, website, mobile app).

And according to BAI, 24% of consumers are looking for a better omnichannel banking experience—but improving the omnichannel experience has not ranked as a top priority for banks.

Your key to winning your institution more business (cutting a bigger slice of the pie) is therefore to deliver a more relevant, personalized experience across all channels.

Let’s visit Mason again.

His bank identified him as an ideal prospect for a credit card with travel rewards. With his privacy-protected profile, they are able to deliver him messaging that offers 2x travel points on purchases and an easy online application and management interface. They reinforce these communications seamlessly with emails, digital ads on his favorite news sites and pop-up ads in his weather app.

It’s all tailored to his triggers and preferred channels, delivering a highly personalized experience.

Prove your ROI

Understanding and tracking these lifecycle triggers will help your institution find the right prospects that are in-market for your solutions and provide them with consistent, relevant messaging across channels—helping you acquire the right people who will provide long-term value and minimize wasted marketing spend.  

But this approach comes with another benefit: complementing your traditional tactics like direct mail and outbound calling with highly targeted digital media is easy to measure and prove clear ROI.  

It’s no longer just about one marketing channel—it’s about understanding and measuring your holistic relationship with your customers across channels.

So, go ahead and grab a nice share of customer pie. Your competitors can have the crumbs.

Check out how this approach can be applied beyond acquisition and across the entire financial lifecycle.