Financial marketing: How to make interactions more relevant to each individual

Why financial marketers can’t deliver on the “personalization promise”


In a highly regulated environment like financial services, providing relevant advertising is a challenge. According to the 2018 Digital Banking Report, 94% of banking firms can’t deliver on the “personalization promise.” And only 22% of the average bank’s budget is dedicated to marketing technology.

This confluence of limited ability to personalize and lack of marketing technology highlights a gap in financial brand marketing: relevance. 2018 research from Epsilon-Conversant showed that customers appreciate it when benefits and incentives are tailored to them, and 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.

So why are financial services so behind on this front? Here, we take a look at the traditional gaps in financial brands’ identity management, how it hinders lifecycle marketing and what they can do to improve relevancy within the guardrails of compliance.

Financial marketers only know consumers as their customers

According to PwC’s 2018 digital banking consumer survey, the number of financial institutions that consumers use increased by 10% between 2016 and 2018. Financial institutions don’t have the full picture of how their customers are spending if the average consumer has multiple credit cards, checking, savings and investment accounts. The problem is that many financial marketers are marketing based on this limited view of each person and using the same methods they’ve deployed for the past 10 years. This can lead to poor customer interactions and missed opportunities for account expansion.

Financial services products are built to support the evolving lifecycle of the customer, but with a fragmented, incomplete view of each individual, it’s not really possible. According to a recent Econsultancy study surveying financial industry leaders, the financial sector considers customer journey optimization significantly more important than other industries (81% for FSI, 69% for other sectors).


The gap is vast between what financial institutions know and what they need to know for more relevant communications across the customer’s lifetime. For example, unless a customer told them directly, a financial institution wouldn’t know that a customer is buying a home for the first time—and therefore creating a great opportunity to discuss mortgaging with the bank and the benefits of keeping all financial transactions in one place.

Without the full picture of each customer, how can financial marketers actually deliver the right messages at the most important moments?

Bringing relevance into lifecycle marketing

Digital marketing in the finance industry often involves large customer segments that don’t understand individuals’ wants, needs and life stages. Lifecycle marketing, however, is built on understanding accurate, persistent communications with customers over time.

Privacy concerns are valid here, but there are numerous privacy-compliant ways to use online signals to determine customer intent or triggering life events, signaling a person’s need for financial services and products.

Online interactions and behaviors are some of the best and most accurate indicators for understanding potential major life changes on an individual level. For example: that same person buying a home for the first time would be looking online at potential listings and searching for guidance on finding the right realtor or buying a home for the first time. These signals allow financial marketers to send them online messages about the benefits of opening a mortgage with their current bank. This can be done in a privacy-protected manner with current technology for financial services. 

Knowing when customers graduate high school or college, when they’re getting married, when they’re buying their first house, when they’re having their first baby, when they’re starting to save for their kids’ future—these are all important components of marketing across the customer lifecycle, but a financial institution needs visibility, scale and reach to accurately deliver these messages at the right time. 

Building an accurate approach to lifecycle management  

If financial brands want to have more relevant marketing to their current and future customers over time, they should consider the following:

  • When it comes to where customers are in their lifecycle, stop guessing and start knowing. Complement first-party data with privacy-protected third-party information to know online activity and known devices, giving marketers a more complete picture of each customer.
  • Understand customers as a segment of one. Segmented messaging becomes one-size-fits-all when segments are too big. It’s possible to know and understand customers (in a privacy-protected way) on an individual level, allowing financial brands to deliver relevant messages during those decision-making moments.
  • Deliver relevant messages at scale. Relevance requires an always-on, always-working approach that only the right marketing technology paired with machine learning can deliver. Knowing the right signals and acting on them when they’re still relevant requires scale that can’t be accomplished in-house.
  • Overall, it’s about being more nimble and proactive. Predetermined seasonality and product pushes don’t take the individual into account. Financial marketers need to adopt a plan that is fluid and flexible—one that works and adjusts messaging with their customers’ wants and needs.

Having accurate, persistent lifecycle management and incorporating that into a marketing strategy is crucial for financial institutions. You need to know where your customers are in their life through the interactions they choose every day. And then be prepared to offer them advice, guidance and help with relevant products and services throughout that journey.

Learn more about how financial services brands can deliver more relevant marketing.