Fintech marketers are adopting the power of AI to inform and propel brand experience. Find out how AI affects every stage of customer engagement from marketing to offering personalised services, and improving event experiences.
Banks have had a tough time over the last decade. Though the financial effects of the crash of 2008 are slowly fading away, more subtle problems persist. One of these is the widespread perception of financial services brands as aloof, and disconnected from the needs and lives of their customers.
Given this, it is no surprise that the Fintech start-up sector is booming: one forecast suggests that the compound annual growth rate of the sector will top 74.16% from 2019 through 2025. In this context, many people are trying to predict the future of fintech. There is little agreement about this, with some suggesting that the growth in cryptocurrency will transform the sector, and others that more ‘traditional’ services such as insurance will see the most growth.
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There is one prediction, though, on which most experts agree: AI technologies are (and will) transform the industry. A survey by Mediant, for instance, puts AI and Machine Learning as the innovation that will have the largest impact on Fintech in the next five years.
Many brands are already using artificial intelligence to build better customer experiences. IDC predicts that global spending on cognitive systems will reach $31.3 billion by 2019, and Accenture found that AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 and boost labour productivity by 40%.
In short, Fintech and AI seem like a perfect fit for each other. In this article, we’ll explore how Fintech marketers are adopting the power of AI to inform and propel brand experience. This can be done at every stage of customer engagement: marketing, offering personalised services, and improving event experiences.
The use of AI in marketing is motivated by something of a crisis in the industry. People are getting better at avoiding ads they don’t want to see. Millions of ads are ignored every hour by consumers, record numbers are using adblocking technology to cut out unwanted noise and evidence is mounting that people crave meaningful experiences, not marketing speak.
AI offers a way to potentially reduce this problem, because it can precisely target ads. ‘This is linked to the unique ability of AI to understand and interact with individuals in a highly personal manner based on a deep knowledge and understanding of their unique attributes, not just the ones brands think they know based solely on demographics and surface data, Stephen Upstone, CEO of LoopMe, told Forbes. Ultimately, AI can help to continually optimise marketing, because these systems can make suggestions based on what actually works following holistic analysis, rather than on what brands think they ‘know’ about their marketing strategies.
When it comes to the Fintech industry, AI has two huge advantages. One is scalability: Fintech offerings typically require large numbers of customers in order to reach profitability, and this requires conducting large marketing campaigns on limited budgets. The other is that the finance industry suffers, more than most other industries, from a perception that it is out of touch with the needs of its customers. AI-driven marketing can relieve this problem by pushing ads that are truly personalised and relevant.
Personalisation of customer experience should not stop at marketing, however. ‘AI has a role to play at every step of the journey and every stage of the funnel’, says Celine Saturnino, Chief Commercial Officer at Total Media, and as a result AI is also transforming every stage of the customer experience by allowing Fintech companies to offer personalised services.
In fact, personalisation is one of the reasons why the Fintech industry is growing so rapidly. Millennials, in particular, increasingly want a personal experience from brands, and AI technologies can greatly improve the agility of Fintech brands to offer truly bespoke services to this key demographic.
Ideally, the development of new products and marketing should be integrated into a seamless workflow. When used correctly, AI can help in both processes: providing insights into the way that customers are using services, then targeting marketing to core demographics, and finally tracking which campaigns resonate with which audiences.
Chatbots and Personal Assistants
A more extreme example of the personalisation in the Fintech industry is to provide customers with personal assistants driven by AI technologies. Chatbots, for instance, have been around for a while, but have huge advantages in the Fintech sector.
This is because financial services are generally very complex, and as a result the UIs developed for financial apps and services tend to quickly become complex. AI technology can help to reduce this complexity by offering customers a personalised interface. According to Jeff Orr, the research director at ABI Research: ‘The value might be in customer satisfaction, in training methodologies or in systems of deployment; but the overall benefit is clear’, AI-driven interfaces ‘create a new way for brands to engage with audiences’.
A more advanced use of AI technologies in Fintech is to provide financial planning tools for customers. Several large banks have been building intelligent bots to help their customers plan their finances, and the ease of use of modern AI interfaces mean that even smaller companies can now start to do the same. These bots can help customers save money, plan their next big purchase, or even make large investment decisions all at the convenience of the customer.
Improving Event Experiences
Fintech marketers use events to a greater degree than other sectors because they know that events and experiences provide a powerful platform from which to launch AI applications. The reason for this is that Fintech startups typically need to gather start-up capital quickly, and inviting potential investors to an event is a highly effective way of engaging with them. Secondly, events can help to connect Fintech companies with their customers, and thereby dispel the problematic perception that financial companies do not understand their audience.
When it comes to events, AI can help in a number of key ways. The first is in improving customer experience. Chatbots can be used as registration assistants, for example, allowing guests to easily register for an event and find the information they need. They can also be used to make suggestions to guests regarding networking opportunities, allowing guests who share particular interests to find each other without working the room.
For event planners and marketers, AI can also be used to ease the workload of organising a large event. Integrating AI into marketing strategies can greatly improve their efficacy: up to a 20% uplift according to Saturnino. Chatbots, by responding to guest queries on your behalf, can free you up to focus on more critical aspects of your event. AI techs can also monitor footfall and feed live sentiment analysis from your event, allowing you to be agile and make adaptations in realtime plus compile metrics that will greatly improve your ability to plan future events.
The Dangers of AI
For all of these reasons, utilisation of AI in the Fintech sector is likely to continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. There is, however, a ceiling. Whilst many customers value the speed and efficiency of chatbots and other AI-driven interfaces, they also value human interaction. This means that the over-use of AI technologies comes with a risk: that companies will accidentally create a perception that they are distant and robotic.
For this reason, some in the AI community have argued that we should start to think about AI not as a replacement for human contact, but as an accompaniment to it. Mickey McManus, a pioneer in the field of collaborative innovation, pervasive computing, human-centered design and education, recently posted a YouTube video in which he explored this idea. ‘We need to explore the idea of humans and machines playing together like jazz improvisation’, he said, where machines do the things they are good at, like metrics and prediction, but in a way that allows space for the inherently human qualities of passion, improvisation, and empathy.
Brand Image and AI
AI is transforming marketing across almost all sectors, but has particular advantages for Fintech brands. These technologies can help Fintech marketers to target more relevant and timely marketing, allow start-ups to develop personalised products, and connect with their customers via personal assistants and events.
The ideas above all focus on what could be called the ‘behind-the-scenes’ applications of AI: helping customers to plan their finances, targeting them with relevant messaging, or simply making your events more streamlined. However, there is also a subtler advantage of using AI in branding: make a show of it. Embracing new and exciting technologies is an effective way of signalling your brand values, and demonstrating to your customers that you are a company willing to embrace innovation and progress while empowering them.
One of the best ways of doing this is to integrate AI into your events. Interactive, AI-driven activities that engage with audiences typically draw huge crowds at product launches, annual conferences, or trade shows, and can be a powerful signal to potential customers that your brand is both innovative and at the cutting edge of technology.
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