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Opinion

Right call

 

Many financial institutions no longer want to harass random people over the phone – people whose numbers they’ve picked off a vast database of names. Instead, they want to refocus their energy and spending on talking to the “right customer” – the person who is in the market for their products and can meet their basic eligibility criteria.

UAE financial institutions are now demanding that their digital marketing investments pour into targeting the “right” audience. And more and more publishers are adapting to this change and moving their business model to facilitate the trend. So, why the switch in direction? After all, the traditional display banner CPM (cost-per-mille or cost-per-thousand) advertising model has worked so far, hasn’t it? Perhaps. But while your banner has been viewed 1,000 times and is generating a decent click-through-rate (CTR), are customers just clicking out of curiosity with no intention of taking it further?

UAE banks and insurance providers are now more focused on the Return on Investment (ROI) they get out of their marketing spend. With over 50 banks in the UAE slugging it out for the same customers, how they reach those customers has to be cost-effective. And more importantly, it has to secure results.

The right digital marketing package offers measurability – meaning it is possible to identify what works and what doesn’t and a provider quickly knows whether its product stands out in the market. This is why paying for a customer who is at the shopping stage and in the market for a product banks providers to offer has become extremely valuable as they increasingly demand tangible returns on their investment. They want performance-based approaches –   channels through they can track conversions and, that’s exactly what the CPL (cost-per-lead) model offers, allowing banks and insurance providers to only pay to speak to the right customer.

As an example of a CPL model-based publisher, Souqalmal.com offers customers searching the site for banking or insurance products the opportunity to request a call back from a chosen provider. Before they make that request, though, customers have the ability to compare all existing products in the market and understand fees, charges and more importantly, eligibility criteria.  Once a call back request is submitted, the site first checks the customer’s basic eligibility for the product in which he or she is interested. When the bank does call back, it is talking to the “right customer”, someone who wants to hear from them and is suitable and qualified for their product offering.

For the myriad of websites now offering CPL in the Emirates, it’s a simple, cost-effective acquisition channel for the financial institutions, as it provides actual customers that want to engage directly with them. When the alternative is a random list of numbers that invariably results in unhappy consumers being spammed for something they don’t want, you can see why the trend has emerged.

However, this is not necessarily the answer to all the providers’ marketing woes. Our partners, for example, currently experience a conversion rate of between 5 percent to 13 percent. This figure varies among the providers, as it is highly dependent on the bank or insurer’s ability to call back the customer, the competitiveness of the product and other criteria put in place (for example, “is your employer an approved company?”).

To put it simply, moving towards a CPL model can only work if the sales person making the call back to the interested customer has the ability to close the sale and if the product is as advertised.

 

 

Ambareen Musa is CEO and founder of Souqalmal.com (Souq al Mal is Arabic for ‘money market’), a Middle East-based comparison website for more than 2,800 retail banking, telecoms, insurance and education products offered by various providers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

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