Understanding Marketing Delivery Channels to Provide the Optimal Cardholder Experience

By: Kenna Smith, VP, Advisors Plus Marketing Operations, PSCU

Times are changing quickly in B2C marketing for the financial industry. New approaches and terms are surfacing on a regular basis. Over the past year, the drive has been even greater as financial institutions (FIs) look to service their cardholders safely and consistently across all cardholder-facing channels. As the industry shifts, so does the terminology, which is key to understanding which channel your FI occupies today so you can effectively plan for the future.

Currently, there are four primary types that help outline where your FI stands from a marketing channel delivery perspective:

  1. Single Channel – Starting with direct mail and print, this strategy has been around since the beginning of marketing as we know it.
  2. Multichannel – Incorporating digital channels into cardholder touchpoints and being able to reach to your clients across a multitude of channels. The implementation of digital channels has allowed businesses to expand their reach to clients, with the most commonly used channels being email and direct mail. This is often done in parallel and is typically more of a manual process. However, we are seeing increased automation as organizations move towards integration.
  3. Omni-channel – Connecting channels to deliver a seamless consistent branded experience from one channel to the next during an interaction. This is the next major progression in how FIs will reach their cardholders. Data is a key aspect to achieving omni-channel, in which the transition from manual to automation occurs and enables every user click or tap to be tracked through a centralized data source. This drives interaction by meeting the cardholder where they are in their journey.
  4. Opti-channel – Leveraging data and even more automation to connect to the cardholder in the channel they prefer during the task at hand. This is a new term to the industry. Once omni-channel is achieved, the final step is optimizing the data to align across all channels while offering a consistent experience. Opti-channel is not a one-stop shop – it will need your vendors and processors to generate a centralized data source to provide the “meeting your cardholder where they are” experience.

Most financial institutions are somewhere between multi- and omni-channel. One could argue that even larger FIs have not fully achieved opti-channel capabilities. As you start your journey to understand how you will deliver the ultimate cardholder experience, remember that all of the product and data partnerships you have in place will need to be included in the conversation. You’ll also need to consider how to integrate your cardholder-facing products and services (i.e. contact center resources, mobile, online banking, website, fraud and online applications).

To reach the optimal level of service, no product can go unaddressed in this process. Only then can you connect the data to interact consistently across all channels, thereby delivering the optimal cardholder experience.

Kenna Smith is vice president of marketing operations for PSCU’s Advisors Plus Consulting. In this role, she oversees B2C marketing and operations for Advisors Plus. Smith has over 25 years of product and operations experience in the financial services industry.