Top 10 steps to using data to drive meaningful member journeys

Today’s consumers expect communications to be specific to their individual situation. A one-size-fits-all cookie cutter approach is no longer accepted … and as financial institutions, we do not get a pass on this. Members know we have large amounts of information on them and expect that we will use it to communicate with them as individuals. To accomplish this hyper-specific member journey, we must unlock this individualized data to automatically reach each member with the right message at the right time, all the time. Here are 10 steps to help you drive a more meaningful member journey.

Get the Whole Picture: Sometimes in life, we are forced to make decisions without all the information. But given the option, more information is better. All too often, financial marketers approach data in this way. We use data just from core banking systems to drive marketing, painting an incomplete picture. It’s not uncommon for banks to have dozens of systems containing significant amounts of unique member information (i.e., mortgage, credit card, debit card, home banking, wealth, trust, insurance, mobile, etc.) An effective data strategy includes a complete view of the member. Without it, problems will follow.

Don’t Look Foolish: Having a complete picture of your member household means you won’t be at risk of asking a member to open a product, only to have them say, “I’ve had that with you for years!”

Model for Opportunities: Not looking foolish is important, but it doesn’t inspire greatness. Data allows you to project what financial products people have and their likely pre-disposition. Building models of this nature is accomplished through simply cross-referencing the purchases of any number of off the shelf cross-sales models, or even more robust transaction modeling solutions. Regardless of which strategy best fits your budget and goals, leveraging data in this way enables you to make more compelling offers to your members, relevant to their unique situation.

Stay on Pace: To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.” If you don’t monitor your members every day, they could leave you. Ingesting and reviewing data on a monthly basis is so last century. To truly anticipate member needs and present meaningful suggestions, you must continually monitor member activities on a daily basis at the very least. This continual process of monitoring major and more nuanced changes in member behavior is the key to relevance.

Drive Automation: With a complete picture of your members, one that is continually updated and modeled for opportunities, you can accurately drive automated marketing through email, text, digital, and direct marketing channels. In other words, your data never sleeps. It’s constantly monitoring a change in member behavior to kick-off a unique journey based upon what is currently going on in that member’s financial life, not because back in December you decided June was the right time to talk about debit cards.

Include Variability: Leveraging data is more than building a better list. Drive the data down into the marketing itself to speak to each individual member based upon their specific situation and location on their unique financial journey.

Deliver a Hyper-Specific Member Journey: Speaking of journeys … today, successful financial institutions have hundreds of potential messages queued up and waiting for a member to do something, not do something … or maybe even think about doing something. Whatever elements can be captured in a data feed can be used to kick-off a series of dynamic conversations unique to that specific member’s current situation.

Understand the Impact of Multiple Channels: What if you knew which marketing channel delivered the best results? Would that impact how you allocated your resources? Does text do better than email? Does email perform better than direct mail? What if you used several channels together to “touch” your members in different ways at different times? According to a 2021 Marquis study of the banking industry, with nearly one million real-world unique marketing touches—direct mail working in concert with email outperformed email alone by 129.2%. Using both channels deliver an exponential effect as response rate more than doubles.

Know Your Results: Using data to drive your marketing allows you to use the same refreshed information to track your results. Did the member have the product or use the service before? Are they now using it for the first time? If so, there is a direct response to your marketing. No more guessing your effectiveness. You will know dollar-for-dollar what you contribute to your institution’s bottom line.

Increase Your Marketing Budget and Influence: When you can prove your results and show the impact of your marketing efforts, expanding marketing efforts becomes a good business decision. Touchy-feely marketing stuff aside, banking is a business. When you can show your results in terms of dollars to the bottom line rather than likes on your Facebook page, it makes good business sense to do more of what’s working.

Whether you take on these 10 steps all at once, or build up to it over time, the important thing is to start incorporating them into your marketing strategy. This, in turn, will lead to greater engagement and retention. As a credit union, you have all the data you need to reach your members with the right message at the right time. It’s up to you to leverage it and take your members on the journey they’re expecting.