Why commercial banks and asset managers need to adopt an Account-Based-Experience (ABX) mindset

Financial services are rethinking digital engagements. B2B decision-makers embrace digital self-service because it’s no longer a supporting element of sales but a critical enabler.

When it first started, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the financial services industry to make rapid changes to the way it serviced customers. For example, many financial organizations quickly implemented online forms to proactively support their customer needs, while keeping people safe at home. After responding and reacting to those immediate needs, financial services firms are now busy rethinking and adapting to a new and predominantly digital economy.

Corporate and commercial banking executives, asset managers, and other institutional or B2B firms are facing even greater changes, which brings both challenges and opportunities. Those firms are looking to reimagine their customer interactions, including rethinking branch visits, sales meetings, and conferences. As B2B decision-makers embrace remote human interaction or digital self-service, digital is no longer only a supporting element of the sales cycle but a critical enabler.

The Digital Strategy Group at Adobe, a team of individuals that help customers develop and execute on their customer experience management strategy, has identified four themes that financial firms can use now to evaluate readiness and support future B2B digital acceleration.


Content — Create once, reuse often

Many financial services firms regularly produce financial content ranging from market commentary to financial education to business competencies and capabilities, but often they struggle to fully leverage these assets at scale. Whilst this content is generated to create touchpoints with prospects and customers, firms often rely on the customer to discover relevant content rather than proactively delivering content based on individual customer needs.

For example, one of the UK’s major commercial banks created a sector page for retail and CPG clients, rich with content to help future segmentation and personalisation activities. Nevertheless, the bank used these content assets solely on the specific sector capabilities page without a clear journey to lead customers there. The result — only 8 percent of the visitors to the site ended up viewing this high-quality content. In another case, a leading commercial bank positioned great videos with educational content on social media, but none of these assets could be found on its own site, leading to poor engagement on site compare to social that led to the unnecessary creation of new assets.

There are two primary reasons for this disjointed approach to content distribution within financial services firms. The first is little coordination between business areas and the internal marketing teams or third-party agencies that create and distribute content. The second, is the challenge to manage assets under a single repository and position them as part of cohesive journeys on different channels. In many cases, these two challenges lead to the use of content as a “destination” rather than an asset. In the context of digital-led lead-gen and nurturing, investing and scaling content consistently across channels is critical for more engaging and personalised account-based programs.

Firms’ ability to use assets across multiple channels can reduce the cost of creating multiple assets while improving brand perception. Managed efficiently, with a regular publishing cadence, content can be made more accessible to drive personalised experiences, and ultimately deepen engagement and lead nurturing.

Personalise at different touchpoints

The ability to deliver relevant action-oriented experiences as part of the B2B decision making journey was prioritised by financial services even before COVID-19 impacted our world. This has become even more urgent as B2B buyers look to research, understand and educate themselves through self-serve digital channels. Some financial services firms employ relatively basic content personalisation models (e.g., geography-based) and incorporate content recommendation on articles. A few have started to rollout A/B testing and leverage more behavioral based personalisation. A few have started to implement “next-best-action” assets and CTAs based on content consumed by the user.

For example, Natwest, one of the major banks in the UK, is using behavioral attribution, such as page views and content consumption, to optimise its commercial banking website with targeted content and directional CTAs. By combining retargeting on-site with email campaigns, Natwest follows up with customers in near real time to drive the completion of customer goals. In turn, these activities support more lead generation and future sales. Currently, Natwest is one of the only financial services firms to use common tactics used in the retail banking sector across their commercial banking websites.

Going forward, more advanced personalisation can be further scaled across multiple channels, using second- and third-party data to enrich understanding and offerings to the customer. For example, financial asset management companies are partnering with broker dealers to target advisors with content that is related to specific segments based on interest. Other financial firms partner with providers such as Bombora, Dunn & Bradstreet or DemandBase, to help identify and target specific accounts.

Measure and optimise

Financial services firms are looking to differentiate by understanding and aligning to customer expectations with the appropriate content and next best actions or CTAs. Firms can achieve this through clear content insights and performance measurement across every customer touchpoint.

While many commercial banks and asset managers collect basic web data from owned websites to understand average engagement metrics, there is a huge opportunity to develop this practice to improve performance. Firms can uncover further value from measurement and optimisation by collecting data across different channels and segments and even incorporate feedback from sales to develop a more detailed customer view.

HSBC, for example, is using insights and reports from various channels as well as feedback from sales to inform both content and product development. Advanced players move to predict future outcomes and refine segments based on the information collected, building out profiles at the individual and account level. The insights collected can then feed into a lead management engine to further refine content and orchestrate campaigns at scale.


Manage leads across journeys

One of the main challenges for B2B financial services is developing a strategy to enable, manage and streamline lead nurturing in a progressive, journey-based fashion. Many commercial banks and asset managers must integrate and clean data sources (e.g., CRM, DemandBase) to create a GDPR compliant, single source of truth. The challenge is to properly unite, organise, and activate customer profiles, intent data, and engagement models. An integrated insights center managed by a business intelligence COE is the first step to gain control over different sources of data from multiple channels. After creating the foundation for managing leads, firms can use different content assets and activate experiences to those accounts. The last stage is scaling those activities and informing relationship managers in real-time. For example, Charles Schwab managed to enhance data integrity, inbound lead generation, and web engagement to support relatively long sale cycles for its investment advisors. Establishing demand generation expertise helped the firm realize immediate results: $1.1 billion in asset value contributed to the sales pipeline and help in closing deals representing more than $100 million of net new assets were just some of the impressive figures.

Transforming the B2B experience

Technology, manufacturing, and other B2B firms have adapted to the “consumerisation” of buyer behavior online by orchestrating digital journeys to personalise the end-to-end account experience. By adopting the practices outlined in the four areas above and using existing digital capabilities from other parts of the business (such as retail banking), financial services firms can start cultivating prospects at scale and in real-time. In a relatively short time, firms can transform their marketing programs from traditional and siloed activities to coordinated multichannel lead gen and nurturing programs supported by digital. These strategies used together can set a foundation for closer organisational alignment between sales and marketing, and help firms convey value and gain trust with accounts during these turbulent times.

Thank you to Simon Murray for contributing to this article.