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The Power of Personalized Content


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Published May 4, 2017 · Updated September 4, 2018

The Power of Personalized Content

This article originally was published on ABA Bank Marketing.

Consider these three channels where financial services brands can boost marketing ROI.

Financial marketers are at a crossroads. Today’s consumers almost never have to step foot in a bank and can even apply for a mortgage in minutes right from their smartphone.

Digital marketing has also undergone massive disruption. Consumers tune out mass marketing that doesn’t provide personal and relevant value. Armed with data and enabled by technology, brands are therefore investing more in one-to-one marketing to win and retain customers.

Despite these changes, financial marketers continue to spend billions annually. EMarketer projects that financial services’ digital marketing spend in the U.S. will reach $9.42 billion this year, up 12.6%.

With these market realities come opportunities to create personalized messages that focus on the needs of customers wherever they are. Here are three channels and some specific tactics around personalized content that can boost financial marketing ROI.

1. Brand Website

Marketers have so many ways to reach customers that it’s easy to overlook the most fundamental content hub for any brand—its website. While core website sections may remain static for the best user experience, there are many ways financial marketers can personalize onsite content.

Financial brands have two kinds of website/online visitors that they can target with personalized content.

  • Unidentified visitors – where the brand only knows about their behavior on the site (where they visited, what they clicked, etc.)
  • Identified visitors – where the visitor provided some kind of identification (email address, filled out a form, logged into an internet banking site)

The goals of personalized onsite content are consistent with other marketing channels. First is to drive incremental revenues from existing customers through upselling. This is important as it can cost up to 8x more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. The second goal is of course to gain new customers.

Personalizing onsite content at scale in real time requires massive amounts of data, which is where web analytics, tag management, and data management technology come into play. This allows marketers to get very granular about specific behaviors of website visitors—and then use that information to provide the most relevant and personalized content for each customer or prospect. This data collection and analysis is best achieved through a fully integrated marketing technology stack. Here are some ways financial marketers can implement personalized content for onsite campaigns.

  • Display personalized loan and mortgage offers (rates and other parameters) based on visitor browsing history and audience segment data gathered by web analytics, CRM, offline data, transactional systems, and other sources.
  • Display personalized offers to return site visitors based on browsing history. If a visitor was browsing real estate insurance, upon return to the website, the entire homepage could be personalized to highlight the most suitable insurance offers.
  • Display personalized lead capture forms and pop-ups based on audience segment. This could include product suggestions personalized to a customer’s needs. It could even save them money (a better credit card based on spending, a lower mortgage APR based on current rates).
content personalization in email marketing

2. Email Marketing

Email continues to lead all direct marketing channels in ROI and conversions. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email yields a 4,300% ROI for U.S. businesses. Additionally, personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%, according to Aberdeen Group. Financial marketers have a lot of options for delivering personalized content that maximizes results from this high-performing channel.

As with onsite content personalization, the technology available for marketers to deliver real-time personalized content has come a long way. Today there are software companies that provide technology that use a combination of tracking pixels, web browsing/behavioral analytics, geo-location, API integrations, web cropping, and other tactics to deliver hyper-personalized content that even changes at the moment of open.

Here are some ideas for implementing personalized content into emails:

  • Retail banking – Banks could send emails with personalized product offers based on a customer’s browsing history. To further integrate digital and physical banking, marketers can use geo-location based on IP addresses to deliver an email that contains special product offers and highlights the closest bank location to the customer when he or she opens the email (whether at home, work, or out and about on mobile).
  • Online stock brokerage – Today’s brokerage clients want up-to-the second stock prices they can act on based on their personal preferences. Email can be used to present stock tickers and to personalize content such as broker information (personal notes, images, contact info, etc.) that can be integrated into email based on audience segments.
  • Mortgage/credit card – Personalization for loans and credit cards can include something as basic as the applicant’s name in email to personalized APR information and offers based on the audience segment.

3. In-App Marketing

There’s been an explosion of B2C mobile apps across many sectors, and financial services are no exception. Mobile banking apps are being used more as the go-to place to conduct everyday banking. However, app retention is a challenge with a reported one in four people abandoning a mobile app after one use.

As with other channels, personalized content and messages can help mitigate this. Successful personalized in-app marketing requires the use of data and insights into customer behavior. Timing is everything with mobile app marketing, so financial marketers need to use in-depth analytics in order to understand the right time to make the right offer all based on user segments.

Financial marketers do have one advantage in that it’s assumed those people who download a banking app are already customers—but beyond basic checking of balances or making mobile deposits, personalized content can drive upsells and sales off new products.

Here are some ways to use personalized content with in-app marketing messages.

  • Personalize content in welcome messages after the customer first downloads the mobile banking app. This could all be pulled from data entered during the app sign up process or existing customer data. Follow up messages could be sent based on the initial app usage.
  • Personalize the look of the app dashboard after the customer logs in. If the customer has previously browsed particular products like loans, insurance, or mortgages, his or her app dashboard can adjust to highlight specific products or offers based on this history.
  • Personalize in-app messages or push notifications with special products offers based on the customer’s geo-location. The message can reflect that the offer only applies to the nearest bank branch, which based on the customer’s location is what triggers the message.
content personalization and data security

The elephant in the room with financial services marketing is data privacy and security.

Financial services is already a highly-regulated industry with things like Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and the Consumer Protection Act from 2010 aimed at stemming unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts by financial services brands. More recently, Congress voted to overturn data privacy regulations that restricted telecoms and ISPs from selling customer data to third-party marketers and advertisers.

Within the regulatory landscape, one of the most important considerations is for financial services brands to keep tight control and security of their first party data—whether coming through a website, email marketing, or a mobile app.

Data is necessary to provide personalized content, but customers must also have peace of mind when it comes to their privacy. Finding the right balance for personalizing content while abiding by regulations is something financial marketers must stay on top of.

With the right strategy for personalizing content across multiple channels, financial marketers can both provide the best possible customer experiences and also boost ROI.


Maciej Zawadziński

Advisory Board Member at Piwik PRO

A serial entrepreneur and angel investor with a background in AdTech, MarTech and online privacy. Over the last 15 years, Maciej has built and scaled several enterprise SaaS and services companies, including Piwik PRO. As the CEO of Piwik PRO, he grew the company from €0 to €10M ARR. He is currently focused on Next New Ventures, an operator-backed fund that invests in entrepreneurs and brings deep expertise in scaling global B2B SaaS products and IT services companies.

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