6 financial institutions getting personalization right

In this article:

  1. Personalization in banking and financial services
  2. Investors Community Bank uses a CRM to implement one-to-one marketing
  3. Credit Union of Texas uses look-a-like models to personalize
  4. GM Financial utilizes email preference centers
  5. Ally Bank segments by age
  6. American Express sends customers personalized videos
  7. Edward Jones Investments uses personalization to increase app downloads


A McKinsey study found that personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5 to 15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30%1. Financial marketers know they can’t afford to skip customizing their marketing program. Yet, to be successful, it takes more than including a first name in an email campaign. Personalization needs to be a full-scale omnichannel initiative, that follows customers throughout their buying journey. When done right, personalized messaging can enhance the customer experience and increase engagement and retention by delivering relevant messaging that serves customers’ current needs.

Customers expect personalization from finance companies

A recent survey by Salesforce found that two-thirds of today’s customers expect their financial institution to understand their unique needs and expectations and over half (52%) expect offers to always be personalized.2 To accomplish this, banks and credit unions will need to use in-depth customer data to anticipate needs.

Image via the The Financial Brand

Financial institutions have the data to fuel personalization but are hesitant to use it

The Financial Brand surveyed over 150 banks and credit unions and found that 84% of all respondents identified proactive engagement and delivering personalized guidance as key goals. Yet nearly 75% of survey respondents lack confidence in their ability as a company to personalize engagement and less than 20% say they are doing a good job at personalization at all.3

Image via the Financial Brand

Case studies

While using data to personalize marketing strategy can be daunting, there are many FinServ companies doing this effectively. Here are six unique case studies of financial brands using personalization to drive customer satisfaction and increase the efficiency of their marketing programs.

1. Investors Community Bank uses a CRM to implement one-to-one marketing

Investors Community Bank wanted to use hyper-personalization to connect with their various segments – retail, business, and farm customers. Laura Wiegert, SVP of Marketing for Investors Community Bank, explained, “Our goal is to deliver an exceptional customer experience, and what better experience to deliver than a personalized experience?” She continued, “Based on data, we understand who you are, and we can help make things easy for you. That’s what personalization is all about and what financial institutions must do. People don’t want to be lumped into a group. ‘You need to know who I am,’ they say, ‘not me as a Millennial or me as a Boomer.”4

Community banks are in a unique situation, as they can get to know their customers on a personal level more easily than a multi-national conglomerate. However, that knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate seamlessly into personalized marketing campaigns. The data needs to be stored in a CRM and continuously updated. The bank plans to implement a full CRM system in 2022. The new system will integrate their sales pipeline, loan origination systems, email, and social media to give them a single view of the customer.

Wiegert says once the CRM is in place, the bank can use personalization for their targeted product offers, personalized financial education, and digital onboarding. Wiegert is also looking forward to using the CRM system to prove the ROI of personalization beyond basic click-through and open rate metrics. “We’ll be able to say, ‘We sent a targeted email. This person opened it, clicked on our call to action, subscribed to our blog, and now has just opened a checking account with us.”5

2. Credit Union of Texas uses look-a-like models to personalize

The Credit Union of Texas integrated third-party data into their CRM to learn more about their website visitors and enhance their lookalike modeling to better personalize their messaging. The credit union invested in segment-specific data to customize outreach for both returning visitors and acquisition targets.

The credit union wanted to focus on personalizing their website’s “hero banner” which they were able to do using returning visitor and lookalike data.

When users visit the credit union website and fill out a form, that data gets pushed into their CRM for lead tracking. Then third-party data provider takes the information provided by the visitor, and enhances and matches the information. After that, an audience profile is created based on this information; this information drives what the visitor sees on the page. The personalized page showed different CTAs based on where the prospect was in their buying journey. The updates to the pages helped guide the customer as to what the next steps were if they were interested in learning more or purchasing the product.

The results – a 300% increase in home equity and mortgage applications, a 20% increase in auto loan leads, a 15 million growth in total submitted loan leads in just the first month.6

The Credit Union of Texas is able to personalize CTAs on the back-end to help guide leads through the buyers journey.

3. GM Financial utilizes email preference centers

Subscriber preference centers are another way to personalize communications and keep customers loyal through better message relevance and frequency. Campaign Monitor’s survey found that 60% of consumers will unsubscribe from an email list because of too frequent communications.7 GM Financial provides an email preference center to give their customers an easy way to control which types of messages they receive and to gather important insights into which products their subscribers prefer.

4. Ally Bank segments by age

Ally Bank, the completely online banking service, personalizes their campaigns by age. Using smart tools and dynamic content modules, financial institutions can deliver the right content to their customers as they reach certain milestones – like buying their first car or home, saving for their children’s college tuition, or preparing for retirement. If you’re targeting urban 20-year-olds with content about buying their first house, for example, you might come across as out of touch with their needs. Ally Bank sends targeted emails to younger users to teach them about the importance of investing aggressively and early as they begin their careers.

5. American Express sends customers personalized videos to increase engagement

Personalization is a key part of American Express’ business model, for both B2B and B2C customers. Harry Mole, Director of Marketing at American Express UK stated, “We’re empowering much deeper personalization at a company level.”8 For their B2C customers, this commitment to personalization took the form of personalized videos that accompanied credit card statements every month. The video helps customers learn new ways to manage their account, shares financial tips and tricks as well as newly available rewards, to help consumers maximize the benefits of their American Express account.

Since American Express started to emphasize personalization, they have seen a 3X increase in marketing conversion rates and a 6X reduction in the cost of acquiring new customers.9

6. Edward Jones Investments uses personalization to increase app downloads

Investment company, Edward Jones, provides a mobile app to allow customers to easily access their account and investment information. They designed the app to be secure, convenience and user friendly. However, they needed to effectively convey the benefits of the app to their customers to drive downloads.


Edward Jones decided that an email campaign would be the best way to incentivize app downloads, increase engagement, and tout the app’s advanced security features.


To make their email campaign relevant to its recipients, Edward Jones needed to identify app users and non-users. The messaging for app users highlighted different ways people can get the most out of the app – such as using it to track investments, deposit checks without visiting a branch, transfer funds, etc.

Those who had not yet downloaded the app received messaging about the secure, one-touch access that provides easy access to banking customers but is designed for maximum data security. Highlighting the safety of consumer data is an effective angle – a recent Data Axle survey found that 88% of consumers are concerned about the privacy of their data.

The results – Edward Jones saw a 4X increase in app downloads and a 3.3% click rate.10


For more unique ways to use data to strengthen your marketing program, download our whitepaper, “The finance industry’s guide to marketing data.”

Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.