Striking the right balance with a push/pull strategy
At any given time, a customer or prospect is interacting with your brand on three levels – Social Local Mobile (SoLoMo). As customers’ expectations and experiences become more sophisticated with the help of technology, omni-channel marketing that anticipates the customer’s path to purchase in their own moments of truth becomes the foundation of the acquisition strategy; not a seasonal sales or push cycle. In an omni-channel world, the concept of “personalisation” should be more than a just a title we give to a tactical “push” sales opportunity.
Customer acquisition and cross-sell is a core focus for marketing in financial services. Marketing teams are often structured in product silos, with strategies relying predominantly on a push style of direct marketing, such as developing customer communications with a sales call-to-action, as well as banker and consultant scripts, and critical paths to purchase via social and content channels with “buy now” buttons. The Kellogg Institute’s title Kellogg on Marketing suggests that in a multi-tier distribution organisation there is a role for both push and pull strategies. Simplistically, anything that is sales focused is considered “push” and any activity that is marketing focused is considered a “pull” approach.
There are complexities in relying solely on push or pull tactics, which is why it’s necessary to pursue a strategy that accommodates both. From a responsible marketer’s perspective, the customer experience is paramount and accountability is at the fore. Pull channels are more difficult to measure in terms of attribution, and increasingly there is a do-or-die expectation that pull activity, like a content program, can yield high conversions. It’s not that simple. Particularly in a complex category like financial services that relies on customers to make life impacting decisions that are high investment (time and/or money) and high consideration, within campaign timeframes.
There are complexities in relying solely on push or pull tactics, which is why it’s necessary to pursue a strategy that accommodates both.
Find brands that have found balance
A classic financial services push/pull hybrid example is American Express. Their pull strategy is built on their loyalty platform, Membership Rewards. The push component, Amex Connect, is based on the ‘spend a little to save a little’ customer mentality, with monthly offers requiring the card holder to register to take advantage of travel, dining, retail and entertainment discounts, in addition to earning rewards. Additionally, Amex have cleverly and successfully managed to win over small business merchants with their dedicated “shop small” program, reminding cardmembers via push marketing eDMs, and at the point of sale that Amex is accepted at local independent retailers, increasing their merchant acceptance footprint at the same time.
Mashreq Bank in the UAE has taken this concept a step further using beacon technology to provide its customers with contextual offers as they go about their everyday life. In an example of implementing a SoLoMo strategy using a pull approach, and understanding that banking parity makes it easy for customers to bank elsewhere, TD Bank tailored personalised content based on 100 New York City neighbourhood locations to build on the proposition of making the bank more local and more human in its customers’ eyes.
A customer journey on their path to purchase can take an iterative number of turns and twists. In leveraging customer insights, analytics and patterns, we could, all things being equal, predict a customer’s next move, and we are getting closer to being able to pre-empt it.
For marketers, the challenge lies in establishing an appropriate pull and push ratio; leveraging personalisation with a SoLoMo approach that considers customer preferences, customer moments of truth, and technology enablements like geo-location beacons. These must be functional within the constraints of existing legacy systems, data security and customer privacy, all the while ensuring the brand story is skillfully woven into the marketing mix. An effective combination of push and pull tactics in a strategy can drive ROI for business, by mapping the customer to relevant products. Now, if only we could solve for absolute attribution…