Julia Manoukian

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May 17, 2018

How To Scale Event Success in Financial Services Marketing: A Proven Framework

Julia Manoukian

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In the digital age, first to market doesn’t mean as much as first to scale with stability. In the financial services industry, that dynamic is playing out in how well competing firms apply their customer data to deliver consistent consumer experiences and ultimately put on more profitable events.

With a lack of actionable data from sponsorships and experiential activations,  financial service marketing leaders struggle to measure ROI from their efforts.  Watch our latest webinar, "How To Boost & Measure Sponsorship Results In  Finserv: Two Case Studies," and learn how senior marketing executives from  GEICO and ATB Financial use data to improve sponsorship results across all  channels.

While many financial services firms have advanced event planning teams, digital marketing groups, and CRM systems, few firms are able to see clearly how all three fit together to create the optimal experience for their customers.

The Invisible Customer

Lack of visibility into the customer experience has been a challenge for leaders in every industry, but it has been especially true in finance.

The leaders of financial firms are responsible for making hard decisions and plotting out long-term strategy without a sense of what is actually happening at the branch level. The time lag between marketing planning and activation reporting is too spread out and there used to be no technological infrastructure to attribute success rates to individual activities or events.

In the past, this was an acceptable loss because everyone had to operate under those conditions, but digital innovation has set off massive shake-ups in the industry in terms of speed and competition.

As Fintech providers have turned up the heat on customer expectations, holding onto customers is becoming as much of a challenge as attracting them in the first place. Consider the fact that only 40 percent of customers say their banks understand their needs adequately. That’s one of the reasons why a third of millennial bank customers said they would be open to switching banks in the next 90 days if the right offer came along.

Winning financial services partners are working harder to discover what customers need and designing solutions around them.

Working from standard P&L statements and monthly reports, executives can see that they are pouring money into branch openings and community sponsorships, but what they need to see is how well that money is working for them. Like a responsible portfolio manager, a financial services leader must judiciously allocate funds in the optimal arrangement to achieve specific goals. That’s impossible without the best data.

Today, the most successful financial firms have been able to generate more leads and verify positive ROI tracking data from community-based initiatives and sponsorships. This has proven to be a pathway for them to justify bigger budgets and expanding their experiential marketing spend with confidence.

Terry Andryo, Director of Community Initiatives, Reputation and Brand at ATB Financial, says it best: “It really starts with ‘Know Your Strategy’… You really can’t get a meaningful ROI measurement unless you have clearly stated your objectives at the beginning.” 

3 Steps in Measuring Event Success at Scale

The best software for managing successful events centralizes data as it decentralizes control. What that means is that each component of the organization should be empowered by digital tech to do whatever it does best.

From a practical standpoint, corporate needs to retain control over the strategy, messaging and quality of the main marketing assets. That provides consistency in the customer experience and decreases reputational risk to the brand. After the event is over, corporate needs to retain control of the collected data on results so there is a single source of truth on performance and guidance on where to allocate funds in the next round.

In the middle of the plan, all the control over what happens in the field belongs in the hands of those on the front lines, delivering excellence in customer experience. These best practices have been used in-market by leading organizations such as ATB. 

Below is an abbreviated three-step process used by Andryo and the XM team at ATB, as well as other brands such as Allstate and TD:

Step 1: Corporate leadership oversees the development of new campaigns, events and material for regional activations (e.g. lead generation contests, branch/advice events, local sponsorships and digital kiosks).

Step 2: At the branch level, these events come alive as software personalizes events and targets ideal customer personas. The branch deploys on-brand marketing materials to promote the events and send out localized messages. During the event, mobile devices and cloud-based software gather performance metrics in real time while social media posts expand the reach and impact of the event.

Step 3: Post-event, the branch generates performance tracking reports, segregate lead data generated by the event, and seamlessly folds all updates back to corporate CRM for data analysis and iterative improvements.

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(Click to enlarge)

The above KPIs will help you gain insight into what's working and what's not and how to better benchmark success at every point in the funnel. 

While each step is important, the insights generated in step 3 are where the true magic happens to drive business change.   

“We couldn’t continue to do things the traditional way any more,” says Jim Weber, the CMO of Comerica, in an SAS interview about his digital transformation initiative. “We needed the ability to go in and mine the data, take insight to another level, and find the opportunities. In the banking industry, looking at things like householding and superhouseholding – these things change how the customer interacts with the bank. It impacts the customer experience.”

Why Customers Stay

If you don’t measure what’s working, you’ll never really know how to improve. Making assumptions based on incomplete data, such as online metrics and automated systems, is that you will only know what choices the customer has made without understanding how they came to make their decisions.

For example, data that simply records a new account initiation is far less valuable than insights from a face-to-face interaction at a branch event, which can tell you how to serve the customer better with a basket of personalized financial services.

Fortunately, both the data and the technology are already in place that can make this a reality for most financial services firms. All they need is a platform that can put all of their actionable data to work in planning, building, personalizing and measuring the success of live marketing events at scale – including trade shows, community events, registrations, branch openings, advisor events, sponsorships and other original concepts.

Centralize your data, decentralize your control at these events to create a stronger, more memorable customer experience. In the end, it's the experience, not the services, that attracts the best customers and provides them with a good reason to stay.

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