A few years ago the marketing team of South Africa’s Standard Bank began to question the effectiveness of its online advertising and how it measured return on investment from these activities. The result was a journey that has seen data analytics and insights become a cornerstone for marketing and start to permeate the rest of the organisation.
Standard Bank has a heritage of over 154 years, with an on-the-ground presence in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It operates as three business units: Personal & Business Banking, Corporate & Investment Banking and Wealth - Liberty.
Sagren Pather is executive head - digital, direct marketing and marketing analytics for Standard Bank Group, a role that covers all business areas and 20 countries.
At Adobe Summit EMEA 2017 he’ll be talking about the bank’s use of web analytics to become more customer-centric in the session on “How to build a customer-focused experience business in FSI”. (Click here to register—please note that Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company). CMO.com caught up with him to find out more about what he’s going to discuss.
Pather: In 2012 we started saying to ourselves, “Digital marketing is meant to be the most measurable advertising medium. Are we being effective about it? Do we actually know what we don’t know and what we do know? Are we confident we understand how customers are engaging with us on our online platforms?”
There always been a research and insights team in marketing and the various business areas have MIS and transactional data analytics. In marketing, we were using some of the research data, the insight data, and the socioeconomic and macroeconomic environments to inform our decisions, but there was not much in terms of customer behaviour informing what we were doing. When we embarked on the measurement journey, we hadn’t been tracking any of the websites or campaigns to effectively identify their success.
We also had specialist agencies per discipline, each reporting what they were buying in terms of their media type, rather than their effectiveness in bringing the customer into the destination and causing them to take a desired action.
Also at that stage we started pushing the idea that the website is our online branch. We were spending all this media money bringing people to this online branch, but we didn’t know how many, and we weren’t doing anything with them. We weren’t generating enough leads as this was not a key KPI. Plus most activity was acquisition-driven, and there was very little focus on retaining and servicing customers.
CMO.com: What was your first step?
Pather: We first ramped up the implementation and standardisation of tagging in late 2013, and we started seeing big trends. We found we had an average of 11 million customers a year generating almost 50 million visits, and the majority were shooting off directly into our transactional platform. We had bounce rates of 67%, 68%, which told us our content and journey wasn’t effective enough.
It was at this point a huge priority was placed on driving an analytics, measurement and optimisation project.
We also needed to understand whether the people working in the organisation are ready for web analytics? Did they even know what it does, what it means? And how are we going to get them to adopt it?
And then the third piece was around governance. What is the governance around tagging standards, having the agencies report in a single manner against a single converting event and unifying the terminology used?
So we started running adoption programmes. I started within my own team in digital marketing and extended it to our agencies. So we were able to begin to unify the analytics, unify the reporting, and unify the messaging for optimisation.
CMO.com: Where are you now?
Pather: In 2012, we had three or four people actively using analytics, and those were the tech guys who had implemented the software. As of December 2016, we had over 200 active users in the analytics platform. Interest in analytics has really grown, and it’s driving the business questions that we need. We’re able to tell our Digital Banking business exactly which products are generating leads. We’re able to understand seasonality. And we’ve started building our media, our content, and our messaging around this and it more contextual for potential and existing customers.
In two years, we’ve increased revenue from our online branch by 300%, and that’s caused the executives to take notice of the valuable opportunity our online branch can bring.
And we’re no longer just trying to see how many online customers we’ve got. We’re actively going out and hunting the right customers, understanding and using behaviours to bring people into the environment.
CMO.com: And you’ve just taken on responsibility for marketing analytics?
Pather: So far, web analytics for the ecommerce journey has just been in South Africa. But in my role I’ve been tasked to build out a marketing analytics framework and do adoption programmes through all 20 countries and business units in the organisation.
It’s also allowed me to get closer to the customer insights and analytics team and start getting real customer data and transactional data. How do we start optimising in near-real time? How do we integrate propensity modelling and do messaging and offers on the fly, or customised or personalised messaging?
CMO.com: What’s next?
Pather: All we ever wanted to know was whether our media was performing acceptably. And it’s just taken on a life of its own. As well as reporting in to marketing, I now report into the digital banking environment, which is completely run by business and powered by IT. Digital Analytics has earned marketing a seat at the business table. It’s become the cornerstone of what we do as an organisation, and also of the marketing environment, where data and insights-driven marketing has become critical in how we engage and service our customers. It will enable how we do retention activity, how we surprise and delight and how we deliver a personalised experience.
My ultimate goal is to speak to a customer as a segment of one. As a customer, I don’t have to love banking, but I need my bank to understand my individual needs and cater to them in a way that is suited to me and my lifestyle. And that’s what being data-driven is helping us do for our customers.