Is Card-Linked Marketing Good For Your Image?

There is an interesting trend afoot right now in the credit and banking business.  Banks, which have long been at the epicenter of business, are looking at how they can leverage that role to generate more business. And aside from FDIC backing and a monetary system that requires people to bank, they have two things no other organization can boast quite as much: trust and access.

While there has been a backlash against banking in the recent fallouts from massive economic collapse and restructuring of the U.S. economy, fundamentally even the staunchest opponents of “big banking” are putting their money somewhere and sleeping well at night. They know, gripe as they may, that their money is safe and the bank they have it with isn’t able to do anything with it.

Now take into consideration the rise of debit and banking cards, which now are the main vehicle of payment for the majority of Americans. They’re used for gas, food, clothes, and so on. They’re used online, in real life, and over the phone. And the banking industry and credit card processing industry has been happy so far with the processing fees they get. However, with the growth of organizations like Square, banks are rethinking this stance and are realizing two important things that could impact us all.

We’ve known for awhile that being in the transaction funnel makes for a good opportunity to earn points or to give back or earn rewards, etcetera. But now, the banks and card companies are going a step further in the sales funnel by using card-linked partnerships that could make them a marketing hub as well.

With card-linked marketing, banks are partnering with retailers to push targeted offers based on your purchase history—that robust paper trail that’s linked to your bank accounts. This may sound like an enticing data partnership to marketers looking to use data to drive their messaging.  It’s a great way to improve the customer experience and frankly, to piggyback on the data segmentation work that banks have already done.

But consumers—especially in a time where privacy is such an issue—might have a different opinion. Think about it as a consumer: How do you feel about your bank, the keeper of your life’s earnings, using your spending habits as bait to create lucrative business partnerships? Do you feel like a pawn, or is that just the way big business works?

No matter which side of the fence you fall on, rest assured there are consumers in both camps. And that means brands should be cautious about rushing into these relationships, lest they become creepy by association. Because while there may not be consumer pressures on banks to perform in this area, consumers definitely hold brands to high standards when it comes to customer experience, and the creep-factor kind of ruins your swag.

Mike Caccavale is CEO of Pluris Marketing and an expert in cross-channel offer optimization.

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