Adobe’s recent report “Managing Anonymous and Authenticated Experiences Across the Customer Lifecycle” explored the boundaries and obstacles of personalisation in authenticated and unauthenticated user states within the financial services sector. The white paper suggested that focusing on the experience, rather than specific targeted information or product, placed less reliance on personally identifiable information and knowing exactly who the user is and what they have done in the past. So worry less about thinking how and where you can shoehorn their name into the context of a page and more about the wider content or experience.
Why isn’t everyone doing it then? Why aren’t more businesses able to deliver a personalised multi-channel experience? The same Adobe report highlighted that 63% of consumers are unresponsive to out-of-context messages. Yet, the same report also quoted Christopher Young, Adobe’s director of financial services strategy, who said: “Many financial services companies can’t identify the same individual across these channels, much less deliver personalised offers.”
Change Is Slow And Difficult
Why is this? Why are financial services, in particular, so slow to get on the targeting and personalisation movement? Where’s the Amazon of the financial services world? Many of the ingredients are there—the technology and capability certainly are. Yes, there are quite a few pieces of the puzzle to collect to achieve that true multichannel panacea, but it is achievable. Plus value and results can be delivered along the way.
Most financial services businesses also have the benefit of having a huge amount of data and insight on their customers, so they are certainly not lacking in the knowledge department. Matched with the fact those customers often need to interact and authenticate on those digital services on a fairly frequent basis, it would seem the stage is set. However, change seems slow and difficult. Regulation is often highlighted as the reason—the lack of ability to make a personalised recommendation based on a profile. There is also the fear of getting it wrong. Presenting the wrong product or idea in retail scenario has sometimes comical outcomes at worse—the stakes are much higher for financial services.
To solve this and to make progress, the financial services industry, in particular, must focus on the experience, by helping customers and potential customers have a journey that is easy—using the data, knowledge, and insight as a force for good. It’s about creating a great experience and developing the relationship with new and existing users. After all, as Adobe’s report also highlighted, the world has moved on, it’s no longer about mass print and broadcast marketing. It’s, therefore, not the businesses with the largest number of customers or names on a contact list that will prosper. It’s the businesses who are closest to their customers and most embedded in their daily digital lives that will succeed in the future. You can only do that by having an in-depth understanding of users, but then, most importantly, using that understanding to deliver a better user experience.
Earn People’s Trust
With the help of the media, I’m sure the subject of data privacy and personalisation on the web conjures up images of some kind of NASA mission control, with a room full of people all analysing and discussing the detailed private life and behaviours of an individual. To be fair, being “stalked” around the internet with banners containing recently viewed products probably doesn’t do much to help that image. But that’s, obviously, not the reality, and, often, the actual real-world identity of someone is of little interest, if not completely irrelevant, to digital marketers.
Either way, that’s not the public’s perception, and digital businesses have a lot of work to do to earn people’s trust. How? It starts with understanding personalisation is a two-way street, a relationship with give and take. Marketers must work harder to ensure users are experiencing real value from the data they are handing over or implicitly feeding businesses. We must better inform and demonstrate to users of our websites and digital platforms the benefit to them of the information we collect and how we use it. I’m not talking from a GDPR disclosure stance, I’m talking about a much more positive and constructive education piece. One that shows them that businesses can use the information they have to deliver a much richer user experience—one that’s faster, leaner, relevant, and rewarding.
We must remember that users constantly seek a better experience, and this can be achieved through personalisation and targeting. But, by this, I don’t mean seeing banner x rather than banner y but, instead, seeing an entirely more appropriate experience, one that reflects their level of knowledge or confidence on a certain subject, one that may simplify an entire UI based around them and their needs. Personalisation of digital platforms needs to focus much more on the experience, than just selling product. Deliver the improved experience, and then engagement, loyalty, and, thus, that much-desired conversion will come.