In today’s ever changing economy, consumers are constantly being presented with new products, ideas and ways of thinking much due to disruption with developing technologies and digital properties. Digital disruption has been affecting businesses, leaving what were once stable companies behind and creating new opportunities for others. If you don’t adapt you’re left in the dust.

As marketers, we try to not see it as disruption, but rather digital transformation. Why “transformation”? Because it takes time to ultimately change areas of a business processes and procedures for the better.

Digital transformation can be defined as the use of technology to radically improve and enhance an offering or process. Within the financial services industry, we have seen profound transformation in recent years. Clients expectations and how they interact with firms have certainly changed with the increase of access to online investment information.

One noticeable change in recent year’s was the introduction of robo-advisors to the financial services industry. In doing so it has disrupted the industry and has forced firms to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to new technology. Robo-advisors have lowered the barrier of entry for consumers, enabling them to invest in ways they weren’t able to before. They also have removing the human element and have taxed the industry by challenging the “service” aspect of financial services.

Robo-advisors are just one of the ways financial firms are approaching digital transformation. In this article we will cover some of the other ways technology and digital best practices can transform your firm.

Embracing Digital Transformation  

Transitioning your firm to a new digital strategy doesn’t mean you need to change your core business proposition or the pillars your company was founded on. There are ways that subtle changes can improve efficiency of organizational day-to-day tasks as well as your bottom line.  You can start by reviewing and analyzing organizational activities, offerings and competencies. Here are some examples of achievable digital transformation.

Integrate System Silos

Breaking down silos between systems and solutions and becoming more agile within your organization should be a priority. Doing so can vastly impact teams’ productivity and efficiency, while allowing for a more concise and robust data feed. With that said, integration is an ongoing pain point for firms of all sizes. Different departments often use various solutions to achieve the same goal, making it difficult to optimize productivity and scalability.

We recommend that you make an audit of your technology solutions and the departments that use them. What are the key objectives for each solution? What do the departments hope to achieve? If there are certain solutions performing the same function can they be consolidated?

We suggest starting off by evaluating one system at a time. For instance, is your Content Management System (CMS) currently integrated with your Content Distribution Systems or Email Service Provider (ESP). After analyzing all the integrations for one system move to the next solution. Is your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution integrated with your ESP? If so what information is being passed back and forth between the two? You can then start integrating your CRM and CMS… and so on.

Firms of all sizes sit along the spectrum of where they stand with integration. While many firms have technologies which are easily integrated, few have been successful at removing all silos. It’s a frightening yet thrilling opportunity, and fortunately colleagues throughout the industry are experiencing the same challenges as you. We are encouraged and excited by the ongoing progress made each year for a more cohesive and connected digital marketing program.

Dive Deeper into Analytics

We live in a data-crazed world, where an enormous amount of data is available at our fingertips but not many know how to find it. But where do you begin?

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help steer you in the right direction on how to better leverage data to your advantage. Research within the systems you have implemented to see what training and certifications they offer, then expand your knowledge by acquiring other certifications such as i.e. Google Analytics certification.  

The more informed we are, the better we can act and empower our strategy for future campaigns, segmentation and even content creation.

One suggestion is to start by taking the reports that you are already producing and ask yourself what you are missing. Can you be using more actionable insights and is the data being shared? From there, look into the different dashboards and reports you are able to generate to display metrics and analytics from each platform. Once your dashboards are set-up data can be frequently analyzed, exported, and shared with management or stakeholders on an automatic and recurring basis.

After you have pulled everything you can from one system, see if you can add the data to another system. A key success metric in bringing data together and having a clear strategy on where you want the data to live. There should be one golden source that all your data feeds to. This can either be a business intelligence system, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or a platform like StoneShot. Whichever you choose be sure all departments and teams are in agreement.

Automate for Optimization

No one likes working on tedious or repetitive tasks. Fortunately we work in a time where such tasks can be minimized, if not eliminated, for most business practices.  

Think about the communications you send when hosting an event; invitations, reminders and follow-ups emails are some just to name a few. Based on clear defined logic, this can all be automated ahead of time. “Set it and forget it” should be at the forefront of your event planning. Then you are able to report throughout the process and return to the other more important aspects of your role. The list of possibilities for these sort of workflows and automation can go on and on…  

In addition to automated actions, try to better understand your users’ preferences, behaviors and investments. Define a strategy that enters the client or prospect into an automated workflow if they invest in a new strategy, or hit a certain engagement level. With automation it is key to move one level deeper after fully completing and analyzing the previous level of automation starting with scheduled, to action, to behavior based journeys. This allows you to set more simple triggers at the beginning of the project and add more complex triggers once you are comfortable with your results.

Automation has provided opportunities to lessen our burden by allowing us to easily create complex workflow and strategies to achieve business goals. Let’s work smarter rather than harder.

Empower Lead Generation

As marketers we are living in an exciting time where after many years we are finally able to better calculate ROI of marketing practises. That alone is incentive for us to push the limits on discovering what we are capable of achieving. Lead management is a critical area that closely ties marketing to sales and ultimately can create a trail of first touch point to the point of sale affecting the bottom line.

The way to do this is by associating all of our efforts and content content to an ultimate goal, but more importantly back to sales. Each touch-point needs to be monitored and reported to inform sales of engagement within the CRM.

Notifications can be triggered when a certain KPI has been met, and overall lead scores should rise and fall as engagement increases and decreases from users. By understanding when and how clients and prospects are interacting with certain campaigns and content, we can better serve their needs and bring them closer to what they are looking for.

By connecting all systems to your CRM with logic to automatically push and pull data between systems on a recurring basis you will be able to see who is moving through the sales and marketing funnel and which efforts have helped further engage your prospects. This will inform sales to take action to optimize their outreach and better develop your strategy.

Plan Your Transformation

Many firms often struggle putting together a cohesive strategy and clearly defined requirements to implement change. We recommend allocating 30% of your project timeline to planning out the initiative as noted by Project Management Institute (PMI). While this may seem like an exorbitant amount of time, it ensures that all use and edge cases have been thought through, all stakeholders are informed, and that the necessary mindset and process changes are widely understood throughout your organization. Without the proper planning on the onset, you run the risk of scope creep, not meeting deadlines and having unclear or missed business requirements.

By working with a company that understands that the process change is often more difficult than the product change, especially within a regulated industry such as finance, you can be confident that all areas of the change will be taken into account. Embrace the possibilities of digital transformation and begin to evolve your processes for a more effective workplace.