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Q&A with industry expert on digital credit marketing

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As lenders seek to enhance their credit marketing strategies this year, they are increasingly questioning how to split their budgets between digital, direct mail and beyond. What is the ideal media mix to reach consumers in 2017? And is the solution different in the financial services space?

Scott Gordon, Experian’s senior director of digital credit marketing, recently tackled some of the tough questions financial services marketers are posing. Here are his responses:

Q: We live in a world where consumers are receiving hundreds of messages and offers on a daily basis. How can financial services companies stand out and capture the attention of the customers they wish to engage with relevant offers?

A: When it comes to the optimal marketing media mix, there is no “silver bullet.”  It varies from product to product.

The current post-campaign analysis is showing us that consumers react positively to coordinated multi-channel messaging. We’ve seen studies showing that marketers can see up to a 30% lift in sales by combining email with social media, for example.  This makes sense, when you look at how consumers engage through devices. We are no longer a single channel culture; we check Facebook while watching TV, listen to podcasts while checking our email, etc.

Consequently, marketers have had to adapt their campaign strategies accordingly – and this starts with the organizational structure. Far too often we see silo’ed groups responsible for disparate media verticals. For example, a company may have a direct mail group and a digital marketing team, and then (in extreme cases) outsource television to one agency group and social media to another.

Aligning these groups and breaking down the barriers between the groups is a critical first step toward building a true multi-channel campaign strategy. This includes addressing budget concerns that are inherent with a culture where the size of a budget is tied to job security and corporate status. Aligning campaigns and finding the perfect cross channel market mix is much easier once you’ve broken down internal barriers and encouraged marketing collaboration.

Q: What are some of the new best practices financial companies must embrace in 2017 in order to improve their marketing efforts?

A: Thanks to tremendous efforts from industry leaders,  we can now utilize regulated data with the same proficiency that they’ve been executing campaigns using non-regulated data. This presents unique challenges, as the industry races to get up-to-speed on new capabilities,  take best-in-breed practices and apply them to the world of regulated campaigns. We’re seeing tremendous demand to combine programmatic advertising with people-based advertising, with cross-channel campaigns spanning mobile, video, social, and addressable TV.

Measurement and analytics must play a large part in these strategies. While the industry hasn’t achieved true cross-channel measurement to identify a consumer’s path to purchase across multiple devices,  it’s getting closer, thanks to technology advances.

Q: Is direct mail dead? How should financial marketers be using direct mail in 2017? How can it best be combined with digital?

A: Direct mail is certainly not dead. It has its place among a media mix that continues to grow as new advertising technologies come to market and are adopted by consumers.

Will direct mail’s influence diminish in the future? Possibly. At Experian, we are focused on making sure that our advertisers can reach consumers where they spend time, when they are most receptive to receiving messages, and most importantly in a cost-effective manner. So no matter where consumers shift their focus in the future, we’ll be able to support comprehensive targeted advertising campaigns.

How can digital be best combined with direct mail?  We’ve seen encouraging results in retargeting direct mail with digital credit marketing like email and display. With that said, we haven’t seen a silver bullet solution, and we’re still advising our clients to put a heavy focus toward “test and learn” in concert with comprehensive campaign measurement and analytics protocols.

Q: What are the advantages to serving up a firm offer of credit to a consumer in a digital format? Are consumers ready to embrace this type of delivery in the financial services space?

A: The advantages of serving up a firm offer of credit to a consumer in a digital format are similar to those benefits for “traditional” digital marketing. Lower cost, more measurement capabilities, and greater flexibility to optimize campaigns are just some of the benefits.

Early indications show that consumers are very receptive to digital credit marketing offers. It provides them with offers in the channels in which they spend time, in a  consumer friendly manner which offers them numerous paths in which they can have a voice in the messages that they receive.

Q: Some say digital credit marketing should largely be directed to Millennials? Do you think other generations are ready to embrace this type of digital messaging?

A: We don’t view digital credit marketing as an exclusive offering just for Millennials. It is a holistic consumer offering – applicable to all generations as our parents and grandparents make the move to new channels such as addressable TV and social media.

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