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What’s in a name? Why personalisation matters

Unlocking value
By Nick Hinds, Global Head of Marketing and Communications

According to a recent Accenture report, Put Your Trust In Hyper-Relevance, 33% of B2B customers who abandoned a business relationship did so because there was little or no personalisation.

Further, it stated that less than a quarter (22%) of clients feel their suppliers tailor experiences to them. This report covered all B2B sectors, but from reams of anecdotal as well as quantifiable research, we already know that financial services is one of the worst culprits.

Fortunately, there is also plenty of evidence to support change and commercial banks are in the best position to bring it about. On the one hand, there is data. Lots of it. Essential to successful personalisation, a source of rich, contextual data creates personalisation with the critical element of added value. On the other, there is a communication opportunity here. Commercial banks, like their retail cousins, have many occasions and channels where they can legitimately reach out to their customers. The only challenge today is that commercial banks aren’t making enough of either.

Making use of data to provide genuine insight

In the consumer space, challenger brands such as Atom and Monzo have identified how to add value to the most pedestrian of banking interactions – the statement. Instead of a simple list of transactions, these banks are using their access to data to create nuggets of advice based on the context of those transactions. Is the consumer over-spending in a particular area? Are they at risk of running out of cash by the month’s end?

These personal insights are creating added value for consumers built on a standard communications task and can easily translate into the commercial banking space. How are employees using their corporate cards? Are they failing to make use of any affiliated benefits such as card-related discounts? Is there an irregular pattern or spike in spending? Has spending with one brand seen a gradual increase over time?

These are all valuable points of information that a finance director would be glad of. But so few corporate banking providers supply them. Lloyds Bank identified that service was the prime consideration factor for Financial Directors and based a direct mail campaign around it, encouraging these FDs to compare the potential service offerings of Lloyds against their current providers. Having been voted the banking brand ‘Best for Service for 11 years running, the company felt it had the edge in this space.

The mailshot included a checklist that mirrored the attributes from the Finance Directors’ Excellence Awards and included some of the banks’ own USPs. It encouraged 176 clients to switch providers, 352% above target. Typically, only 4% of FDs switch banks each year, citing the hassle involved as a reason not to. Overall, Lloyds’ campaign encouraged 707 SME FDs to switch banks, taking the brand’s new business wins to 280% above target.

Rethinking targeting

There is a tendency for marketers in both the B2B and B2C spaces to separate marketing communication and customer communication; to distinguish between a message and service delivery. In truly personalised communications that add value, the boundaries blur. It also mitigates the need for extraneous – and often pointless – marketing communications. Business2Community found that 49% of executives receive irrelevant emails daily. What if you could get your point across in the middle of relevant emails?

Of course, it’s vital to maintain transparency. Increasing regulation, such as GDPR, is in place to make sure customers are aware when they’re being marketed to and that they have a clear way to opt out. However, adding value to the service proposition through personalisation means the product markets itself.

Enhancing the standard communications that come with card issuing, for example, turns a mechanical interaction into a valuable one. Highlighting particular benefits to the user’s business (card affiliate discounts, insurances, quick payment terms/extended invoicing periods) builds trust and relationships.

Ultimately, personalisation is about more than getting the name right on the mail merge. Used well, it both reduces the need for superfluous messaging while deepening relationships, reducing churn and even attracting more clients. Getting personal is much more than a tactic, it drives value to the heart of commercial banking.