SunTrust Banks on First-Rate CX

Client: SunTrust Banks Inc.
Vendor: Adobe Marketing Cloud
Personalize the brand’s online experience using data to make it highly relevant to both current customers and prospects


The Aim: Why speculate about what your customers want if you can use analytics to know for sure? Seems simple enough, but tapping customer data is more than just sensible, it’s a responsibility—one SunTrust Banks takes very seriously.

“It’s the value of actually looking at data and hard facts versus just guessing at it, and then using that information to further personalize,” says Dave Wright, VP and digital analytics manager at SunTrust. “And we know that personalization helps greatly with reaching existing clients and broadening our reach to new prospects.”

That’s especially true in the financial services sphere, where personalized experiences are de rigueur, customer data is sacrosanct, and privacy is highly prized. It’s why SunTrust decided to invest in a relationship with Adobe and its Marketing Cloud suite of products.

“Financial services has access to a lot of data on their customers, so they have to walk a fine line,” says Drew Burns, senior product marketing manager of Adobe’s digital marketing business unit. “The partnership you have with your customers defines what the best practices are for you—it’s about not crossing into the creepy zone by using the right information at the right time.”

The Solution: Adobe helps SunTrust comfortably walk that line by providing tools the brand can use to study its customers’ online behavior and optimize accordingly. Pre-Adobe, SunTrust did some light tracking work on its website, but SiteCatalyst, Adobe’s real-time Web analytics tool, allows the bank to delve further.

In one salient example, SunTrust ran a report on all its different product pages using SiteCatalyst, looking specifically at the average number of reloads per page. Wright and his team noticed right away that one page in the crowd was an “outlier” with an unusually high reload rate.

“Upon inspection of the actual page itself, we saw there was a call-to-action button—but when you clicked on it, all it did was simply reload the page,” Wright says. “We didn’t know about it before and it would’ve been really hard to discover without analytics; but with Adobe, we were able to identify it and fix it so the page performed as it was originally designed to.”

The bank also uses Adobe’s Test&Target tool to run A/B and multivariate tests to optimize its website layout, messaging, and creative. When a current SunTrust customer comes to the website, it doesn’t make sense for that person to see the same information as a prospect. That’s where Test&Target comes in.

While the majority of traffic to comes from existing clients logging in at predictable times—typically on payday or at the end of the month—there are also other segments browsing the website for SunTrust products and services.

“By identifying and knowing that general blend of traffic, we’re then able to use those learnings and put the data into motion,” Wright says. “Is this person a prospect or is this person an existing customer? Based on just those two segments, we’re automatically able to target our banner advertising based on who they are.”

The benefit of seamless analytics is the power to target effectively without going overboard, says Adobe’s Burns.

“When visitors come to a site, they’re actually sharing quite a bit of data about themselves, but it’s a great thing because it allows you to [be] very predictive while they remain highly anonymous,” Burns says. “You can tell if someone comes to your site from an ad and what the messaging was in that ad, or what the specific search term was they used or if they clicked through an email—and then adapt and personalize the content you show based on that information.”

SunTrust also uses an automated attribution model to optimize its channel segmentation and spot the biggest traffic drivers and converters within a specified campaign. For example, the bank used to conduct the bulk of its credit card application campaigns via direct mail; now it analyzes how mail, email, and paid search fit into the mix to determine the most effective campaign methods for initial outreach and follow-up.

“In that way we’re able to make smart decisions around the right mix of drivers and where to allocate budget, perhaps to other places, to get the best ROI,” Wright says.

The Back End: One advantage Burns has experienced with Adobe Marketing Cloud is faster decision making due to the marketing solution service’s real-time dashboards and clear data visualization.

“It’s easier now for marketers to use technology to react to the trends they’re seeing, based on revenue goals, and make decisions in real time,” Burns says. “Marketers are then able to justify their creative approaches and go back to the creative team and say, ‘We need to go in this direction or that direction, because look how this is performing and here’s the proof.’”

The Results: The click-through rate on SunTrust’s homepage banners shot up by more than 50% once the bank began serving up more personalized content on its homepage.

SunTrust was also able to improve conversion on a credit card application landing page by 47% after using SiteCatalyst to optimize its call-to-action button. According to SunTrust, its new data-focused approach has also enabled the brand to optimize its overall cross-channel spend.

The Takeaway: Sometimes, improving customer experience online can be as easy as fixing a call-to-action button—but it’s also very much about organization, strategy, and continual planning and iteration. Organizations need to be ever mindful of their data, Wright says.

“With all the talk about Big Data, the number of datapoints and metrics available to marketers is nearly unlimited, so you have to be smart and own and understand the data you collect,” Wright says. “Don’t just collect everything and dump it into a massive data somewhere—do things the smart way.”

It’s the only way to guarantee success, Wright says, adding, “Customers are expecting an experience that’s relevant to them. With data we can provide that experience.”

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