Over the past few years, the topic of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing automation have left many small bank and credit union CEOs feeling uneasy. Given the circumstances these institutions face, this is completely understandable. For many, the prospect of beginning a large scale data project, with limited budget, personnel and resident expertise can keep a senior manager awake at night wondering; what is the best way to begin using member data? If you can test drive a car…why can’t you try out your member data in a low risk/cost manner first; and then decide what your optimal data solution should be?
There are core data companies that offer state of the art analytics products that link real-time to your core and offer many expensive options depending on your objectives. These products provide all the capabilities a small financial institution needs to begin, segmenting members, driving targeted campaigns and synching with a CRM/AMP (automation marketing platform) that will deliver a personalized member experience in real time. The stress comes from the fact you need to make a lot of down the road decisions and it is a big cost for community institutions.
There is a stress free, common sense option available to CEOs who feel the urgency to begin using their institutions data but who don’t want to engage in a high stakes, data strategy gamble.
By taking a data test drive we are suggesting that you utilize the member data and systems you currently have and begin to use it to incrementally improve your marketing and sales efforts. Without purchasing a new expensive analytics package small institutions can identify simple data-driven cross-sell opportunities and begin bringing this capability in-house. For smaller financial institutions that currently do not have a formal cross-sell program, the initial results from the test drive have proven to surpass expectations.
One word of caution, these test drive projects come with a few challenges. These challenges come from the fact that to test drive your member data you have to begin thinking about your marketing and sales efforts in a very different way. At the core of this new perspective your teams needs to begin thinking about “selling members not products.” So, for example, August is no longer home equity lending month, you are now identifying members with similar characteristics that point them to specific financial solutions. It’s called needs based selling.
An example will make the test drive concept clearer. One of the most successful data test drives that we have used is the checking account cross-sell. You can run this campaign with 3 simple steps:
Step 1. Find the person in your IT department that is not intimidated to write report queries from your core system. The qualifying questions to build your data-based member list are:
- Can you give me a list of all members who do not have a checking account?
- Next can you tell me how many of these members have 2 or more non-checking accounts with us?
- Can you tell me how many of these members have a deposit balance greater than $5,000 or loan balance of $50,000?
- Can you export this list in a CSV format with just the name and address so we can send a mail campaign to these members?
Step 2. Now that you have identified your target group and the product you are going to sell them; how will you position the offer? Remember these members have 2+ accounts and a sizable balance so it is not a big leap for them to open a checking account. They already have a strong affinity for your institution, so don’t feel the need to give away a lot of free stuff.
One possible media idea is to send a series of postcards to your targeted group of members. They are impactful, and help you to focus on member segments and not just one-and-done mail campaigns. Make sure you have a clear articulation of your value proposition and a strong call to action.
Step 3. Coordinate the campaign with your branch staff. The roles of marketing and branch sales are most effective when they work closely together. The primary responsibility of marketing (in addition to being the brand police) is to drive traffic into your branches. The branch sales people need to understand the expectations created for members by the marketing campaign. Consistent messaging through the entire campaign process improves the ability of member facing personnel to open new accounts.
A written notice to branch personnel is a great first step, but a sales meeting with role playing is more effective to help branch personnel better understand your campaign messaging. You can even create special point of sales materials that have the same look and feel as the original mailer/postcard. This continuity helps members remember what first sparked their response to your campaign.
When you have completed all three steps, there is one more thing you need to do; the post campaign analysis. There are two types of feedback that will help you to quantify and understand your results.
The first is to create a simple response analysis. You can take the file that was exported for the campaign and match it against a list of all new accounts over the past 12 weeks since the campaign was launched. This can be a simple process; match the two files (new account list and the campaign list from Step 1) and look at the duplicates. These are your cross-sold members. Make sure your new account list has the date the account was opened, starting balance and account type. Your metrics can focus on, accounts opened per member, deposits generated (average/member and campaign total), Marketing ROI and any additional non-checking accounts opened as a result of your campaign.
The second is to debrief with some of your member facing associates. Small focus groups work well. This is a more qualitative read on what members thought of your campaign; was the offer clear? What could have made the campaign more effective?
A successful campaign is the result of strong marketing – to drive members into the branch – and effective branch associates who can close the sale. It’s a team effort.
The small community based financial institutions that begin using data this way discover the best practices for using member data to achieve their growth and revenue goals. After test driving several data marketing campaigns smaller institutions can be more confident about their requirements when it comes time to purchasing their expensive member data marketing platform.