Amidst the disruption in the financial services sector, marketers are struggling to better anticipate, react to, and capture opportunities. Facing these internal and external pressures, their marketing teams are expected to adapt to change, gain new customers, and provide excellent service to those they already have. In response, several financial service companies such as Citi, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and Scottrade have been rebuilding themselves to address new market realities. They have adopted agile marketing practices to be more adaptable and customer-focused in their strategies and actions. Why? Because agile marketing helps marketers put the consumer at the center of business strategy, and deliver on their needs and expectations quickly, consistently, and efficiently.
Agile helps marketers achieve greater performance through three key practices:
1. Outcome-focused, Empowered Teams
Customers experience a company across siloes and functions. They expect a seamless customer experience, yet most organizations are not structured to deliver a consistent experience. Agile marketing structures teams to break down cross functional barriers and to focus across function on commercial outcomes. Cross functional teams are empowered to work together to solve problems, experiment, and test and learn to improve the customer experience and ultimately, achieve goals and objectives. In essence, teams are given a problem to solve and are accountable for the “how” of solving it. They self-determine how to use the team’s time and resources to maximize value for the customer. With leadership support, they are empowered to experiment and trusted to act without the hurdle of bureaucratic red tape. When the goals and priorities are shared, clear, and attainable – the team is given the keys to get there, and feels more accountable because they drove themselves.
This shift to collaborative, jointly accountable teams drives improvement in culture, motivation, and satisfaction among employees. A recent CMG client describes her team as having completely transformed to a more collaborative, empowered, and integrated team. “They’ve embraced a lot of additional responsibility. Because they own certain things, they drive them differently than they would otherwise. It forces them to look at the business purpose of what they’re doing. Generally speaking, it makes them smarter.”
2. A Strong Customer Focus
One of the biggest challenges for many financial companies is to be customer centric. While 61% of financial companies consider a customer-centric business model very important, only 20% feel prepared for it. Agile marketing puts the customer at the center of strategy by driving decision-making and prioritization based on the impact to the customer experience and building in flexibility to adjust and iterate based on actual customer motivations, behavior, and responses. Agile marketing delivers value through disciplined focus on the quality of the customer experience and understanding what it takes to deliver personalized communication that helps move customers through the buying journey.
Agile marketing starts with the customer front and center with a discovery process defining personas, customer journey, and how to best influence a customer to take the next step. These data-driven insights become the backbone of the work to grow segments, achieve marketing KPIs, and set priorities that drive value for the customer and the business. Data is used to assure that marketing efforts will meet (or anticipate) the customer need at each touch point along the buying journey. The financial services sector is one of the most data-rich, and the migration to digital creates a large amount of customer interaction and behavior data. By using data to understand the customer better—and learning how they change over time—banks can close the gap in perception that exists today.
3. Rapid Learning Cycles
Agile methodologies, operating in short-term cycles (“sprints”), can help give marketing organizations the structure and discipline to test their hypotheses about the customer experience and really understand how to optimize their decision journey. Each sprint is a learning opportunity where you revisit your priorities, plan your work, execute, and review learnings to help inform the next sprint. Agile centers on learning. At the end of each sprint is a sprint review to discuss what you have learned about the customer and your marketing performance, and a sprint retrospective to discuss how to get better in how you work together. The goals from each sprint should be to determine what insight would help you make better decisions, better use of spend (etc.), and to test in those areas. Mapping your buying journey and identifying tests along the continuum will help you more effectively acquire and retain customers. The real results of market tests will help build both meaningful performance and customer relationships.
- Improve Performance with Agile
Agile marketing will help financial services improve their marketing ROI via more effective measurement, conversion, and retention. Ultimately, the value of agile marketing in a financial services environment is to more easily identify and stop the market activities that aren’t working, and do more of what is working. The iterative nature of the learning cycles focuses teams on getting better over time, measuring results, and making adjustments. It helps align cross functional teams on clear priorities to ensure that they don’t lose sight of long-term objectives.
Agile marketing will enable financial services companies to convert and retain more customers with nominal changes to their budgets. As regulatory pressures continue to constrain profitability, agile marketing offers a new way to achieve greater commercial outcomes. A recent survey of financial executives by Broadbridge cited the increased pressure on the sector for efficiencies and cost-savings, “Many of the biggest opportunities for cost-savings now lie in the back and middle offices, where banks can introduce new technology, automate procedures, and reengineer processes.” Agile for Marketing is just one of the ways that marketing can contribute through greater productivity and an impact on the bottom line.
To learn more about improving performance, check out CMG’s Agile for Marketing Operating System.