Financial Data Science Best Practices to Increase ROI
Every brand, regardless of industry, should be asking these three questions:
- Who are my target customers?
- How do I reach them?
- And where do I find more like them?
For the answers, take a deep dive into your data—all the information you acquire, maintain and use to market your financial institution’s services. Before you do, it’s important to understand the different types of data you can collect and work with:
- First-party data is collected by your company when a customer engages with you (transactions, products they purchase, email address, when they visited your website).
- Second-party data is first-party data that is shared between organizations that are in partnership with each other. It’s often a smaller group with specific or shared interests and behaviors.
- Third-party data is purchased through another company and gives you more information about your current customers or helps you precisely target a new audience.
With third-party cookies disappearing in 2023, now is the time to consider how data, especially first- and third-party data, plays a key role in your marketing efforts going forward. Many companies rely heavily on third-party data to increase their ROI using personalized ads and tailored marketing messages. But when it comes to first-party data, the mining and maintenance processes might need a little housekeeping.
Marketers within financial organizations need to collect accurate data to make sure their marketing efforts are effective and the strategies they put in place lead them to the results they expect. However, accurate data isn’t a guarantee. Experian found that on average, about 30% of data is inaccurate. Customers might switch jobs, change addresses or even enter their information incorrectly as they do business with you. And yet this information is vital for you to understand who your customers are and how you should segment them to increase retention and revenue.
Setting up a form on your website isn’t the final step in collecting first-party data. It’s an ongoing process that needs consistent attention and prompt action.
Follow our step-by-step guide to help you begin capturing transactional data to strategize improvements for your financial institution’s ROI.
1. Understand what you want from your data
To begin, you’ll want to ask yourself why. Why are you gathering data in the first place? When you identify your why, you’re also pinpointing your business goals. Why are you asking your customer to share more details with you? So you can better understand them and provide the best experience to keep them as happy customers—not to mention create personalized marketing campaigns. While that’s a broad overview of what data can do for you, it’s the starting point to this process. Once you find these answers, you can dig deeper and consider what else data can help you accomplish, such as:
- Share valuable information or resources with customers based on their wants or needs (consider their occupation, area code, gender, age, etc.)
- Identify who your biggest competitors are and why your customers chose you
- Make customers feel safe and secure by being transparent about what information you’re gathering, how you’re obtaining it and where it will be stored or shared
- Analyze your data so you can organize your contacts while seeing if there are any gaps in the market you could be tapping into
- Understand customer patterns so you can predict what they want next from you, and create relevant products and services catered to them
The next time you’re discussing upcoming goals for the next quarter or year, be sure your team is asking how transactional first-party data can help.
2. Cleanup your first party-data
When you first think of cleaning up your data, you might start to feel a headache coming on as you imagine what a manual process that could be. Luckily, there are tools at your disposal that will help you organize and automate along the way.
First, you’ll want to look at these categories within your CRM: Duplicate data, outdated data, non-compliant data, incomplete data and inaccurate data. Starting with duplicates is an easy way to eliminate unnecessary contacts that are taking up space.
Next, it’s time to standardize data into correct fields and ensure formatting is consistent for each. Standard fields, like first name, last name, email, phone number, etc., need to be in their own columns and displayed in the same way for each category. You can use built-in data validation functions within a spreadsheet editor or choose a data cleaning tool to do some of the heavy lifting.
Now you’ll need to update existing or missing data by cross checking other databases using a data cleaning service or tool. You can do this by separating your contact lists based on what data is outdated and using the data cleaner to fill in the gaps with the most up-to-date information.
Keeping your data clean is a necessary, ongoing process to prevent your marketing initiatives from going to waste. The best way to verify your data and make sure it’s always fresh is to have monthly or quarterly mini data cleanings so you’re not overwhelmed with a large amount of inaccurate data.
3. Capturing customer data
Once your data is clean and organized, you’ll need to implement best practices for capturing data as a company-wide process. Whether someone on your team is updating a customer record or a client is signing up for email updates, all new or updated information should use the standardized formatting you established during cleanup. Even something as simple as using hyphens or parentheses when entering a phone number can cause small issues down the road. Typically, your CRM can help you clearly communicate what is expected in form fields by showing an example of what’s expected.
Another helpful tip is to have your team check for duplicates before they create a new contact record. Following the standardized process is key to making sure errors don’t occur and that your marketing and sales dollars are actively aiming to convert real, target customers in your system.
Lastly, when mining customer data, make sure you know what data you’re asking for and go back to your why. You want the right data from your ideal customers, and asking too many questions means they might leave and not submit any data at all. This is where your customer experience and journey comes in. Always keeping the customer’s perception and needs in mind as you gather data gives them a better brand experience with you as their preferred financial institution.
4. Using data in your marketing campaigns
When you connect data from all channels and sources, you’ll begin seeing your customer’s journey: How they first came to your website, what form they used to subscribe to your email, which CTA they clicked on to apply for a credit card, when they used your mobile app for their banking needs. This gives a complete view of each customer, and when the data is correct, you can create marketing campaigns to align with business goals.
Data allows you to segment your subscribers and customers, optimize your messaging to be relevant and guide customers toward a conversion point. A unique brand experience is what motivates customers to take action and choose you over the competition. Whether it’s a smaller email nurture series to drive more loan applications, or creating business objectives for the year ahead, data is always a component to planning your strategy.
But it’s not enough to clean and capture data. The best thing you can do for your financial institution is draw actionable conclusions and predictions that drive marketing decisions and campaigns.
5. Maintain healthy data
Once you’ve cleaned, organized, and leveraged your data for marketing decisions, be sure to set monthly or quarterly reminders to check in on your data, especially as it grows. Your customer base and subscriber lists aren’t stagnant, so your data maintenance shouldn’t be either. Using your project management system or data tools to consistently check in is vital to your CRM’s health. And that’s the key: Consistency. Regularly updating outdated or missing data means maintenance is a quick process, not a big project that could take weeks or months to complete.
It’s no surprise that data cleansing is the longer, more in depth part of this process. While keeping data clean and maintaining its accuracy isn’t easy work, it’s essential to your marketing team’s success. And developing a strategy as soon as possible to tackle the collection and cleanup will help you start off on the right foot. For more marketing advice, industry trends and updates, subscribe to our newsletter.
Emma Alexander is DS+CO’s content manager and email strategist.