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James Robert Lay:
Greetings and hello. I am James Robert Lay and welcome to episode 206 of the Banking on Digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the inside digital growth series, where I James Robert Lay your digital anthropologist, commit to continue to coach and guide you, your financial brand, your FinTech along your digital growth journey as you continue to commit to guide people beyond financial stress in the communities that you serve towards a bigger, better, and brighter future.

James Robert Lay:
In today's episode of inside digital growth, we are going to dive into the proverbial mailbox into the podcast inbox, where we've been getting some really good questions from listeners that my team has curated and grouped up into a specific area of focus to provide you with clarity. And before we get too far, if you do have a question that you would like to get answered on an upcoming podcast episode, text your question to 415-579-3002, and my team will make sure that I get that question to answer for you in an upcoming podcast.

James Robert Lay:
Let's go ahead and jump into today's questions, framed around how your financial brand or FinTech can look towards a future with limited to no access to third party data. Think this future is not real? Well, we've been tracking the demise of third party data since 2017, and I've covered it a few times on previous episodes. I've also written prolifically around it, but we've been getting some good questions as of late that I'd like to talk through today to provide you with even more clarity to guide you forward, to empower you to maximize your future digital growth potential in a world without access to third party data. So with that context in mind, let's unpack the first question that takes a step back, looking into the history of third party data. As a listener ask, a very simple yet very powerful question that we must first start with today and build on from there.

James Robert Lay:
The listener asked how have banks historically used third party data? Well, financial brands have historically used third party data in marketing for specific audiences, targeting specific audiences. And a deeper example of this is we'll say lookalike data that allowed a financial brand or a FinTech to target a group of account holders or potential account holders with profiles similar to those that they are already doing banking with. However, there have been compliance issues over the years with lookalike third party data, especially with ads that promoted a specific product or an offer around lending. And one of the best ways to steer clear of any tricky lookalike issues that could trip up financial brands was for them to use third party lookalike data, to target more broadly, to stay away from specific lending offers, but to target more broadly with ads, primarily framed around just creating brand awareness.

James Robert Lay:
Now, in addition, third party data historically came internally for that matter, it came through data feed integrations into platforms like PFM, personal financial management platforms that filtered in third party account data, third party transaction data. And while there was a gold mine of opportunity, for sure, the challenge with third party PFM data was actually getting people to add third party accounts into the PFM platform, and then use that PFM on a regular and a consistent basis. Finally, and really even on a more simplistic scale, third party data from ESPs or email service providers like Gmail, Apple mail provided insight into marketing teams of who's opening, clicking, or interacting with emails that they were sending to account holders or prospects from a platform like a SalesForce or a HubSpot or a Marketo or a MailChimp.

James Robert Lay:
So those are some contextual frameworks that we'll use to guide the remaining insights that I share going forward, starting with question number two, as a listener ask, what does the dwindling accessibility to third party data, for example, through Google's elimination of cookies, mean for our bank? Well, I'm glad you're thinking about this, and I'm glad you're asking this question because up to 90% of all display ad impressions will have no user or device identifier attached to them if there is no substitution for third party cookies going forward. That means for financial brands to target ads at scale in a cookieless world, they're going to need to commit to adopt a portfolio approach, to add placement that provides a path to target ads without having a clear user or device identifier.

James Robert Lay:
The biggest pain financial brands are not aware of I would say is what's going on in the inbox thanks to the iOS 15 update. And without getting too deep or too technical, some of the biggest email marketing features financial brand marketing or sales teams are going to lose include a few that I want to note here. Number one, not knowing who opens your emails, and this is going to impact either A digital sales or B account based marketing strategies.

James Robert Lay:
Another challenge when not having insight into who is opening or clicking into the email inbox is not being able to accurately track email open rates, which at the end of the day, open rates are just a vanity metric, but that's going to impact being able to send follow up emails based upon an opened or an unopened status, typically tied into a marketing automation workflow.

James Robert Lay:
And then finally, we're going to see challenges of no longer being able to run AB tests anymore because AB tests are tied to what typically open rates based upon an email subject line. So those are going to be some of the limitations that we experience when third party data goes, the way of the dinosaur

James Robert Lay:
I want to unpack question number three from a listener who wonders, what can our credit union do to transition or wean ourselves off of third party data. Four simple things. Number one, SEO is going to see a new golden age. As a result marketing teams really need to start thinking about how they can transform themselves into internal content publishing teams to fuel the production of content, both for SEO purposes number one, and then number two, the nurturing of leads through first party data, which we'll get to here in a bit.

James Robert Lay:
Number two, get technologies in place to start collecting first party data. That is a priority. If you are not doing that now, then get this on the roadmap to start. You must start collecting first party data. And then from there begin to develop proactive evergreen content and automation assets, four key product lines that are triggered by first party data insights.

James Robert Lay:
Number three, start viewing your email databases as a strategic asset that does in fact carry a monetary value, just like a physical branch location. For example, according to some research from Shopify, the value of an email contact, the value of a single email rose from $16 in 2019 to $33 in 2020, thanks in part to COVID and I expect and really predict to see the value of an email contact continue to rise in the coming years, thanks to the demise of digital ads and some of the challenges in social media, where you are going to have to continue to pay to play to promote your content by accessing the audiences owned by others. And for this reason, this is why it is imperative to make ongoing email acquisition and reengagement of unengaged emails, a strategic priority for marketing, sales, and yes, even service teams.

James Robert Lay:
Now, this might sound a little bit contradicting based upon the iOS 15 update that is going to limit email access, the ability to track email data. And I also predict that we'll see Google do the same thing with Gmail, and we'll see Microsoft do the same thing with Outlook. But when thinking about email acquisition here, this is not email acquisition for the case of sending more emails. This is email acquisition framed around the case attract first party data for improved ad targeting and content distribution going forward into the future.

James Robert Lay:
I also want to make a point here that it is important to go beyond thinking about email acquisition from an old world model of quote unquote audience building. And listen, I am guilty for this. I would say for years I was coaching and recommending and guiding around building audiences. But my thinking on this has shifted greatly post COVID because audience building, that thinking is so rooted in one to many broadcast messaging communication. And this is where we can start to think of email acquisition as quote unquote, community building, where communication, digital communication becomes more of like a dialogue. Because it is through the dialogue, it is through the discourse, it is through the discussion that insights can be gained and taken action off of when associated with the first party data found within a digital community that our financial brand or FinTech owns.

James Robert Lay:
As we start to wrap up, I want to move on to question number four, as a listener ask, what can community banks do to replace third party data if it truly is going away? Where are the new data opportunities we should be thinking about? Well, in cookieless world, email and mobile numbers have the potential to become the new universal unique identifier or the UUI when it comes to data collection. And that data collection along with the association of first party data is what is going to be tied back to these unique universal identifiers i.e. Email and mobile numbers. Once again, this is why I'm advocating for the collection of email addresses even though we might lose access to data in the email inbox.

James Robert Lay:
And the greatest low hanging fruit, truly just waiting to be picked for the vast majority of financial brands and FinTechs is first party data coming off of your public facing website. For example, what pages are people looking at? What products are they interested in? You know that. You know that from the first party data tied back to an email address. And when we know that, when you know that all of this insight, all of this information can be used for good to make proactive offers, to provide them with guidance, to help guide them forward on their own financial journey. This can be done through email automation and AI algorithms, but it can also be done from a human to human context by empowering sales and service teams with data coming off the website, tied back to an account holder so that whenever someone is having a conversation on the sales team or the service team with an account holder, they can ask leading or probing questions into what is going on in that person's life. So it's turning insight into action.

James Robert Lay:
As always this has been a lot of fun, and I really do appreciate the questions that we get from you, the dear listener. I love these questions because they really do help to keep me on my toes. They really challenge me to think even more deeply about what is on your mind so that I can come back and provide you with some additional perspective to guide you on your own journey of growth. So if you are thinking about a digital marketing sales or leadership question that you'd like to gain clarity to, that you'd like to get some insight around text that question right now to 415-579-30092. And I do look forward to answering it for you on an upcoming podcast episode. Until next time, and as always be well, do good and make your bed.

Brief Summary of Episode #206

2022 marks the beginning of the end for the controversial marketing tool that is the internet cookie.

Financial brands have relied on this data-mining tool for years, but now that it’s going away how can they accommodate for the loss of this goldmine of information?

In this episode of our Inside Digital Growth series, I break down the historical context of third-party data and what its demise means for the future of digital transformation.

I answer several questions from you, the dear listener, about what the death of cookies means for banks and credit unions in the long term.

Without having a clear path for targeting ads, financial brands will need to adopt a broader approach to marketing.

Optimizing SEO will be a top priority going forward. Marketing will have to challenge themselves to produce top-tier content to attract prospective clients.

So, what else can financial institutions do to smoothly transition into a cookieless world?

They must seek opportunities for first-party outreach.

Through dialogue and discourse, we can gain insight into our customer’s needs. By making mental deposits through direct interaction, we can make strides in digital growth.

And that, my friends, is a far sweeter reward than any cookie — virtual or home baked.

 

Key Insights and Takeaways

  • What dwindling accessibility of third-party data means for banks (5:48)
  • How financial brands can transition away from third-party data (8:31)
  • New data-mining opportunities FIs should be looking for (13:15)

Notable Quotables to Share