Experience Is Everything: How Financial Marketers Leverage Analytics to Make Better Digital Experiences

Even before the world was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, most industries were seeing customer interactions shift from in-person and telephone to digital. The pandemic has accelerated this trend, and financial institutions are no exception. When it comes to attracting, retaining, and serving clients, the creation of efficient, effective digital experiences is more important than ever. And the foundation of any digital strategy is built on a mastery of marketing analytics. 

In a recent study published by eMarketer, 73% of consumers reported themselves more likely to access digital banking services online in April 2020 as a result of the pandemic. This shift to digital platforms has led the financial services industry to increase its digital advertising spend by 9.7% in 2020, with projected spend reaching $19.62 billion. For those dollars to deliver results, however, financial marketers will need to enhance their ability to leverage marketing analytics to optimize campaigns and build better, more efficient digital experiences to capture and retain these new users. 

For financial institutions, success in digital means focusing on conversion optimization across all channels. Product managers need analytics to guide them as they build, measure, analyze, and refine digital experiences that not only obtain new customers and members but also improve retention rates by delivering customers the services they need as directly as possible. Analytics help marketers to determine what content, messages, and targeted promotions will attract new customers and deepen relationships with existing customers. They also provide insight that can be used to build better forms and applications, reduce friction, curb abandonment, and drive higher conversion rates. 

To help financial marketers begin to leverage marketing analytics, Empirical Path has distilled some of the key insights we gained from working with clients across industries, as well as our deep relationships with clients in the financial services sector. Here are a few important opportunities to consider when optimizing digital experiences for your customers and members: 

Cross-Device and Cross-Property Tracking

Most financial services have a longer-than-average consideration cycle, so it’s likely that your potential customers will be researching your products and services across multiple devices. That’s why it’s critical to be able to identify and track users as they migrate from mobile devices to desktop, ensuring that they receive the right messages and promotions in the right sequence to create the optimal conditions for conversion. The latest rollout of Google Analytics 4 brings with it significant enhancements to cross-device attribution that makes it easier to trace users across lengthy sales cycles using a blend of user login, Google Signals, and device IDs. 

It’s equally important that financial marketers be equipped to view users’ data holistically across all properties. As product teams roll out new and enhanced mobile apps to complement existing online services, it’s critical to be able to track and aggregate identified user data across both mobile apps and the web. Users that begin their journey on the web should be able to complete a seamless process on mobile or vice versa. This entire journey should be mappable so that more comprehensive and efficient user experiences can be created over time. Siloing user data risks creating wildly divergent experiences on web and mobile applications that can frustrate consumers and lead to churn. 

Segmentation and Attribution

Understanding a long path to purchase requires careful attention to attribution. All external links should be tracked using UTM codes, including social media, targeted emails, paid and organic search, and advertising creatives. Differentiating between all your external links and tracking link-specific traffic will help your team to ascertain which messages and channels are driving the users to visit your pages and which pages and content are most attractive to them once they arrive. Marketers should focus on building an attribution model that best reflects their most likely path to purchase. For services with longer consideration paths, it may be advantageous to pursue a multitouch model to derive additional insight about which messages are most influential to the purchase process and which lower-consideration services may benefit from a more direct model, such as simple last-touch. Empirical Path’s attribution specialist, Lachlan Brown, can help you to build a model that best fits your business and customers

Although it’s critical to understand how users arrive on your pages, it’s equally important to understand who those users are. Financial services are highly personal and vary widely depending on the consumer’s circumstances and life-stage. Recent graduates in their first jobs need radically different services than older customers who are in the latter stages of retirement or even estate planning. Segmenting your audience by key traits and demographic characteristics allows you to deliver the right messages to the right audiences and reduce waste. Teenagers will likely be unmoved by home loan products in the same way that seniors most likely won’t need student loans. Tying this demographic data into your internal personalization software and CMS tools will allow you to create more relevant experiences that extend all the way from consumers’ first contact with your ad to their time on your site. 

Testing and Optimization 

Building new digital experiences means developing pages of new content, forms, and calls to action as well as building new customer journey funnels to drive potential consumers from consideration to conversion. But with a flood of new potential customers comes new sets of needs and preferences that marketers may not anticipate. It’s critical for digital teams to build up the tools and tactics necessary not just to assemble new content but also to constantly improve it through testing and optimization. 

In its simplest form, this could involve A/B testing two or more options for headline copy or content to see whether there is a meaningful difference in performance. To find the optimal combination needed to produce results, more complex products and services may require applying a multivariate testing model (MVT) to test not only which content and copy works best alone but also to see how various pieces of content work together. Some combinations of content and CTA may be more potent than others, and MVT allows marketers to test a wide variety of combinations to quickly land on the most effective versions of each piece of content. Of course, none of this is possible without capturing informative analytics that reflects performance as well as progress toward a set of decisive marketing goals. 

Data Export and Transformation

Capturing the right data is key, but it’s equally important to be able to export, manipulate, and transform that data across a variety of tools and platforms. The latest edition of Google Analytics provides some assistance in this area, making exports to popular data warehouses like BigQuery simpler and more efficient. Google offers a host of tools for capturing and interpreting data, but it’s often necessary to combine data sets and perform complex calculations — two functions that are not easily completed within the Google Analytics environment. 

Once web analytics are exported, they can be more easily integrated with other forms of marketing-adjacent data, including profitability and performance statistics and pricing data, as well as the product of other business analysis tools. This will enable digital teams to perform critical calculations like mean and standard deviations, which can help marketers build probabilistic models to guide future campaigns. 

The Big Picture

Digital experience is only going to become more central to the delivery of financial services. Building a great digital experience is the key to attracting customers during the current crisis and to retaining them into the future as services across every industry become more integrated and digital. Analytics provide marketers and digital product teams with the insights to give customers what they want, meet their expectations, and anticipate their future needs. As a flood of new finance industry customers adopts digital tools and services for the first time, some of the existing assumptions about customer needs will need to be updated to reflect the needs of these new audiences. Analytics is an essential tool to do this. Fortunately, Empirical Path is ready to help. Contact us today to speak with a measurement expert.

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