Most database marketing could be described as ‘product-centric’. Although communications are ‘personalised’ with the customer’s details and may reference previous transactions or preferences, the marketing programme is primarily driven by the organisation’s internal sales structure and targets. Much marketing spend is wasted, because offers are sent when they may not be particularly relevant to a customer. Where an organization has multiple product teams, this can also lead to duplication of effort, wasted budget, and ‘over-solicitation’ of the most valuable customers.
Our client wanted to test a different approach, and asked the question: how much more effective would our marketing be if communications were triggered by customer behaviour or by events relevant to that customer? They asked Brightsource to pilot the new approach, and devise a workflow that would enable the bank to respond quickly to a customer event, with an offer tailored specifically to that event.
The pilot scheme used a stream of ‘branch leads’ where the objective was to get the customer to call or visit their local branch. The communication would be triggered by a range of events, such as a declined cash withdrawal at an ATM, or a customer using a credit card to withdraw cash. Brightsource built a data workflow that took weekly data feeds and dynamically built a communication which varied according to which of 7 triggers had occurred. It was overlaid by the customer’s credit profile, and also which branch their account was linked to. The letter and envelope were designed to look and feel as though they had come from the local branch manager’s desk: the copy in the letter gave directions to the branch, for example, and the outer envelope had a stamp which was cancelled by a local frank.
Step-change in effectiveness
Although the communication appeared simple – a letter from your local branch manager – there were potentially thousands of permutations, but all of them triggered by a customer action. The result was a step change in effectiveness. The number of branch contacts and product sales increased 10 fold compared to the previous approach. And although the unit production cost of each letter increased slightly, the overall spend decreased dramatically because far fewer communications were mailed.
The pilot scheme has been so successful that the approach is now being rolled out across other product areas and is seen as the key ‘enabler’ of the new ‘customer centric’ marketing strategy. The next stage is to deliver a fully automated workflow that works ‘lights out’ from overnight data feeds – offering almost unlimited potential messaging permutations driven by both life and transactional events, with full colour variability, and a near ‘real-time’ response to the customer.