Channeling the Customer
Of course, the obvious link between this kind of customer performance and the online channel is interactivity. Sovereign Bank uses its Web site to collect data from customer interactions that it can combine with other types of research to tailor communications and offerings to customers' needs.
But the most interesting aspect of Sovereign Bank's Web site—which was relaunched in January 2004 and applauded by Forrester Research that same year as setting industry best practices—is the detailed customer analysis the online marketing team conducted to redesign the Web site as the first of the bank's customer-centric channels.
Improving Customer Insight
A persona, as defined by Avenue A Razorfish's Director of User Experience Shannon Ford in the white paper, "Creating Quality Personas," is an "archetypal representation of an actual user group whose members share similar needs and goals." As such, a persona describes key behaviors that someone who fits into a particular persona would have, such as how he or she gathers information or makes a purchasing decision. These core behaviors, values and other attributes help the marketer better determine not only how to frame the content it provides customers but how to present this content. Ford writes, "Achieving deeper insight into the drivers behind user behavior with the quality persona development is the first step in harnessing the ability to influence that behavior in order to achieve business goals."
Several years of database research and analysis went into developing the four personas Sovereign Bank uses to guide its every online move for customers who fit into one of these groups, says Doran-Collins. (Customers who don't fit into one of the personas, as well as prospects, receive a less customized Web site experience.) Finished two years ago, these personas were created using customer information on file from its four main customer segments, as well as geographic, demographic and psychograpic data from San Diego, Calif.-based Claritas, and data gained from its online trending activities.