December 23, 2013

PNC Bank has launched its first digital-only marketing campaign that leverages customer behavioral data to promote the bank’s Virtual Wallet. The bank hopes to boost Virtual Wallet adoption within specific customer segments that typically consume a large amount of digital content with targeted ads that speak to their financial needs, says Tom Kunz, senior vice president of PNC financial services.

“To us this is a natural evolution of how we need to do business. Customers are going to digital media. We have to do these things to be relevant to them,” Kunz notes. “We need to use data to reach a segment audience with cost-effective acquisition.”

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With that goal in mind, the bank began gathering data from a number of inputs to define and understand the segments that the campaign would target. The bank built a new data management platform to sit on top of the Virtual Wallet website to track customer traffic and behaviors, says Brian Lantz, SVP of digital marketing at PNC. The bank also looked at customers’ online shopping habits and partnered with Hears Media to gain additional insight into customers’ lifestyles, such as their magazine subscriptions, Lantz adds.

After putting all of that data together the campaign started by focusing its efforts on two customer segments: millennials and housewives. “The choices we make are different based on lifestyle, demographics, etc. The Virtual Wallet has components that are relevant to both of these segments, and both of them spend a lot of time consuming digital content,” Kunz explains.

To appeal to these two segments, the campaign created Youtube videos based on characters, named “Dave” and “Sara,” that each segment could relate to. It also highlighted certain elements of the digital wallet that would interest customers in those segments, such as bill payment or credit cards.

“Once we find a customer that fits a segment, we sequentially message that customer with a story through Facebook and Twitter ads. The characters may resonate with the customer, and it can help create buzz if they ‘like’ the videos,” says Lantz.

The bank said that it is not willing to divulge how the campaign, which began earlier this year, has resulted in an upswing of Virtual Wallet adoption among PNC customers for competitive reasons. But the campaign has been successful enough that the bank has decided to move forward with its second phase, which will involve targeting new customer segments. Later on the campaign will enter a third phase focused around deeper data mining, according to Lantz.

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...