5 Steps To Traversing The Digitization Of Marketing Operations In The Financial Sector
Saurav Basu is founder & president at Exavalu empowering digital transformation within insurance, financial services & healthcare industries
Connecting with the right audience at the right time and with the right message is the primary goal of any marketing team. With the majority of the world’s population online, the way businesses connect with their audiences is changing drastically.
However, the financial industry has fallen behind in this changing landscape. The evolution in customer behavior and demands, the rising competition with fintech startups, and the fragmentary regulatory limitations have made traditional marketing operations redundant and costly. To survive in the current era of marketing, financial service providers need to have modern digital marketing processes and strategies in place.
As a business transformation consultant, leader and entrepreneur, I’ve been part of numerous marketing transformation initiatives taken on by financial organizations. The single phenomenon I’ve repeatedly witnessed is how beginning with the right process can simplify the complex digital transformation journey. To successfully overhaul existing marketing operations, the right process begins with the right mindset.
1. Assessing The Current State
Starting the digital marketing transformation with just a future vision and new technology is not ideal. To ensure a strong foundation for future marketing operations, financial businesses need to start with a thorough current-state assessment and an inventory of their existing processes, tools and technologies.
A systematic examination of your current marketing operations should reveal the problem areas that are preventing business growth. This first step can help you identify basic gaps and gain deeper insights into your financial business’s problem areas before moving to the next stage of transformation.
2. Defining Future Goals
Since this is the stage where stakeholders will determine future business goals, the second stage requires a lot more strategizing. It is a crucial step in the marketing transformation process, as business goals directly affect the marketing approach.
Successful marketing requires an alignment between both business goals and marketing goals. Once the business goals have been clarified, you can define your marketing goals. A mainstay approach is the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound objectives. Using this simple approach, you can specify marketing goals that are not too ambitious but are beneficial and relevant to the business.
3. Gap Analysis And Roadmap Creation
The purpose of gap analysis is to compare the current state of the business against the future vision and establish a roadmap to address areas that need attention. The process, however, needs to provide answers that go beyond the questions of, “What changes are needed?” and “When the changes are needed?” To successfully determine the value of transformation and the method of change, business leaders need to understand why the changes are needed in the first place.
Evaluating the current state with your defined future goals can reveal where the current process is failing. These process failures cause gaps that prevent the marketing team from delivering the desired results. Business stakeholders can utilize checklists or more sophisticated scoring systems to review the marketing processes and gain an understanding of which processes are failing, why they are failing, what changes are needed to improve the process and the time frame within which they need to implement the change.
Gap analysis is a collaborative task, and cross-functional stakeholders in the business, along with the marketing team, must be part of it. Once the marketing gaps are acknowledged, fully defined and understood, you and your team can create a roadmap with relevant solutions and technology, prioritized according to what your business requires the most.
4. Choosing The Right Technology Stack
The huge number of emerging technologies and MarTech solutions in the marketplace make it difficult to choose simple, integrated solutions. Effective MarTech solutions should be able to automate the most basic of tasks, free up team members’ time and provide an aggregate return on investment (ROI). Some of the foundational tools and technologies that you’ll need to decide on at this stage include:
• A customer relationship management system (CRM).
• A content management system (CMS).
• Email marketing tools.
• Data analytics and reporting tools.
• SEO tools.
The single most important aspect that a marketing transformation leader must consider at this stage is their existing technologies. Updating and overhauling existing technologies often reduces the number of resources you’ll need. Combining your existing technological framework with new and relevant solutions can effectively boost marketing operations for the future.
5. Putting Data At The Center Of Transformation
This last stage is more akin to a general guideline that applies to almost all digital transformation initiatives. With data at the center of the process, a financial organization can drive more precise changes to its marketing efforts in ways that will impact its business positively.
In traditional marketing, data is used more for reporting and analytics. In digital marketing, however, data plays a much larger role. It enables operating model optimization in real time, generating predictive intelligence and enhancing the overall quality and security of marketing operations. Placing data as the central focal point enables you to understand your target customers. This kind of in-depth insight into customer behaviors, requirements and retention trends helps optimize marketing strategies accurately.
Digital transformation in any aspect of your business is a matter of both organizational and technological change. By thinking digital-first, financial business leaders can better connect with their customers, keep pace with the dynamic changes in the market and emerge as frontrunners.