Banks have a treasure of data about their customers that, by all accounts, mostly goes to waste.
But, in at least one niche, this is about to change.
Some companies that provide personal financial management technology to banks are incorporating a new cross-sell engine—which makes it easy to deliver very targeted offers.
Want to promote a credit card? Serve up a banner ad to only those customers who have a credit card elsewhere at a higher interest rate.
Eager for more boat loans? Select customers who have used their credit or debit card at a marina or a bait shop.
“I haven’t seen anything that could be this targeted before,” says Brad Strothkamp, a Forrester analyst who looked over what Intuit Financial Services began offering in May to the 400 banks and credit unions that use its FinanceWorks. He described the new functionality as exciting and innovative.
The startup Geezeo has a similar offering, now being deployed at the $1.4 billion-asset First Mariner Bank in Baltimore and a handful of credit unions.
The lure for consumers who use PFM is the ability to see all of their finances in one place. They can aggregate accounts from different financial institutions, to get an overview of how much money they have, how much they spend each month and how much they owe.
The spending is automatically categorized—from clothing to restaurants—and shown in pie charts. Handy tools allow for creating budgets, setting up alerts and bill reminders, and establishing goals.
“To have that level of detail and granularity in the system for marketing efforts, to me, was a selling point,” says Steve Kruskamp, e-commerce marketing manager at First Mariner, which expects to begin offering PFM to its customers in June. “We don’t have that capability with anything else.”
Particularly attractive is the ability to parse information about accounts a customer has elsewhere, he says.
Setting up a marketing campaign can take just minutes. Banks input the criteria for who should see an offer and type in the message they want to deliver.
Variables could include, for example, age, geographic area, spending behavior or goals. Or the focus could be customers who do business with a specific competitor or have certain types of accounts elsewhere.
The ads appear to customers only when they are using the PFM website.
To protect privacy, financial institutions never see the names of customers who are the target of a particular campaign.
Both Intuit and Geezeo give a summary of the campaign after it gets underway, showing the number of times overall that an ad appeared on screen and how many clicks it received.
Geezeo also shows, when a campaign is created, the number of customers who fit the selected criteria.
The two companies say marketers can change the criteria at any time if they decide too many, or too few, customers are being targeted.
They also say it is not apparent to customers that an ad is based on a scan of their personal information.
“They may get uncomfortable if we put, ‘Hey, Mark, we can save you money,’” says Mark Shulman, a senior product manager for Intuit.
Marc DeCastro, a research manager for IDC Financial Insights, agrees that people can get “creeped out” when a company seems overly familiar with their finances. So being less obvious is smart.