‘Digital experience trumps brand’: why finance marketers need to leave psychographics behind

While creatives have historically flaunted the timeless efficacy of their branding-led strategies, industry voices have begun to proclaim the outdated utility of branding. Even in strongly relationship-based industries such as wealth management and banking, the digital touchpoints customers have appear to be making the difference between winners and losers.

Investment in brand building has long been upheld as the key to forming trust with consumers, particularly in the financial services industry.

Evan Rollins, co-founder at Drumline Digital.

Given that psychographics are a significant tenet of the brand-building ecosystem, it’s useful to examine if their stagnant nature truly still holds up in a digital world.

Evan Rollins, co-founder of Drumline Digital, is adamant digital experience has become the lynchpin of where customers join, leave and switch.

“A persona is a collection of signals, and those signals can be translated into a qualitative, emotional view of a person. It’s a view of their needs and wants which can be translated to a consumers’ behaviours. It can be translated to their purchasing patterns, or their brand affinities. What I’m saying is; those signals can be measured and they can often be measured using digital behaviours,” Rollins said.

“I think when people say creative, they usually mean assets and ads, whereas I think you need to be creative in all elements of CX. Having a creative experience is part of that, but branding is much less of that. And so a CX driven growth strategy, which is where finance is going anyway, is based around meeting people where their needs are in a moment when you can best meet their needs. They’re most responsive to that.”

Rollins notes banks and financial institutions need to be swift in the uptake of a DX-oriented strategy, which encompasses analysis of granular behavioural analytics based on how consumers interact with digital touchpoints.

A marketing strategy that prioritises CX/DX is fundamentally “about identifying what customers’ needs are. Being responsive to their moment to moment behaviours and offering something that’s going to be a perfect match for what they’re looking for in that moment in time.”

Pragmatically, Rollins advises businesses and marketers to focus more on optimising their digital product and the organic ‘advertising’ opportunities an interface offers as opposed to continuous investment in brand campaigns and advertisements.

“Businesses don’t need to be spending ad dollars because they can spend product dollars. So if I’m in an app, and I get a unique experience to me in the app that comes with a push notification to my phone, that’s basically an ad. It could be for another product the business offers, but they’re not paying for the ad. So you can think about the scalability of increasing your footprint. In that sense, you are moving the advertising cost from the equation.”

“That company doesn’t need to invest as much in acquisition because each customer lasts longer and has higher retention,” Rollins said.

Leveraging behavioural analytics to fuel a data-driven marketing strategy

Interrogating CX behavioural data is critical for financial institutions in particular to “grow a customer’s overall profitability and share wallet”.

“The CX that we’re talking about here is identifying where in your digital ecosystem people are already touching. What does a touch in that ecosystem mean in terms of their intent? It’s about then providing an opportunity for them to action on that intent, straight away,” Rollins said.

“A really easy case study is, if I’m saving money, you can see in my savings tracker that I’m depositing money every single week in my bank account. I set a goal for a home deposit as soon as I’ve hit my target, you give me an offer for a home loan. That is that process in action for my behaviours that I’ve given to you digitally: setting goals in my app, checking every week, I’m tracking to it, measuring my savings as it relates to that total amount, and then giving me the offer in the application that I’m using in my mobile when I’m ready to see it.”

[click to enlarge]

“Everyone has Google analytics. Google analytics is really basic, but if you look at Google under the hood, and you looked at some of the more complicated things you can do with it – like looking at the raw data that’s being compiled through big query – you be able to see an individual and follow that individual’s path as they click a button, visit a page, visit a product, hover on a tile and eventually make a purchase.

“By combining that data altogether in a highly granular way, you can pick any analyst and they can tell you a lot about the initial customer behaviour instead of needing to go to a data science team or buy a million dollar SaaS product. It is all at your fingertips already. You just need to have a little bit of know how and know where to start.”

Rollins notes that many financial institutions aren’t going much deeper than leveraging transactional data that already exists in an easily accessible database, which prohibits them from comprehensively ‘interrogating’ the available digital behavioural data.

“Most analytics teams are used to working in big data stacks. So if you go to an analytics team at a bank, usually they have a core database. If you ask the analytics team, ‘can you tell me about my customer’s behaviours?’ They’ll tell you about transactions, because that’s in the database. They don’t talk about the digital behaviours that exist, but they have the skillset to interrogate that data. It’s just about looking at the behavioural data that exists about people and inferring what they need from it,” he said.

The fading relevance of personas

Josie Colson, head of marketing at Adatree, a fintech firm that helps organisations utilise Open Banking and CDR, notes that marketers need to move on from historical reliance on creative. Colson also addresses the menacing reality of screen scraping and data scraping, which can occur when businesses seek to collate a voluminous amount of consumer data in an unethical way.

Josie Colson, Head of Marketing at Adatree.

“There was the Royal Commission into banking and finance where we realised there was a lot of mistreatment of consumer data. The Treasury started looking at what was happening with data overseas, and they understood that there’s some real benefits to open banking. CDR is essentially just a regulation that stipulates that data of a consumer belongs entirely to the consumer and should be dictated by the consumer as to who has access to that. That starts with banking data,” Colson said.

Colson advises businesses to avoid such unethical methods of data collection, noting early use cases of CDR that can drastically streamline processes in the digital experience for customers.

The exhaustive advantages of examining DX-related data over persona-led strategies are affirmed by Colson, who notes that “personas are great about giving you a high level view, and importantly, they inform the emotionality behind a customer. But ultimately, that’s an abstract idea you’ve created about your customers.”

“Psychographics is putting a group of people together and assuming they all behave the same way.”

“There’s really nothing better than getting a service that looks and feels genuinely tailored to your personal needs. And you can do that with real, live data in a way that – if product developers and technologists in these organisations are smart – actually really feels personalised.”

Colson notes that agencies are understandably hesitant to adopt a primarily data-led DX strategy.

“We love our own fluff. I love my writing – absolutely. And I’d much rather spend time writing a beautiful article that emulates the emotion in the brand of my business as opposed to sifting through data to find a smarter way to get in front of my consumer. It doesn’t change the fact that option B is way more effective.”

If marketers opt to stay behind, they may be easily usurped by their competitors who are leveraging the insights from behavioural analytics and CDR.

“If your competitor is able to isolate exactly what it is you need in that moment of your life and provide you with a product before they know they need it. And you’re relying on slow marketing that’s like, ‘I think cause you look like this on Facebook, I’ll give you this ad and see if it sticks’.  The accuracy between the two is a chasm when you compare it.

“I would almost compare this to the last big change in the landmark of marketing, which was social. They’ll miss out on remaining current and relevant. They will lose the ability to speak to their audience the way their competitors are doing. They will be speaking to audiences as generalisations rather than as individuals.

“I do think marketers should be working to understand it as soon as they can. They need to become data marketers yesterday, because their competitors are.”

Evan Rollins is a panelist at Mumbrella’s upcoming Finance Marketing Summit. Alongside Frazer Adnam, Ariane Miller and Clea Baker, he will be discussing ‘Unlocking Behavioural Data to Capture the Moments that Matter’. The summit takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney, this Thursday 11th August. Book your ticket here today.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.