Citi seeks to take digital lead

13 August 2012

NEW YORK: Citi, the financial services group, is ramping up its digital capabilities in areas like data analytics, marketing and social listening, disciplines where banks have not always been early adopters.

In the 40 countries where it boasts a consumer-facing presence, Citi has overhauled its existing systems in fields from content management to big data and determining the payback from marketing.

"First of all, we have to be a digital company," Michelle Peluso, Citi's global consumer chief marketing and internet officer, told Forbes. "Changing the way we think about data, how we measure effectiveness; that's critical, I think, to great digital companies."

Alongside enhancing its internal processes, the firm has also attempted to provide a "great experience" to users of channels from the fixed-line web, tablets and smartphones. "It has to be streamlined, it has to be a lot purer and simpler," Peluso said.

"Each device serves a purpose," she added. "[Tablet users] want to explore and understand; that's different to what they want to do on their mobile device," said Peluso.

With regard to marketing, Citi has taken an increasingly targeted approach, heavily weighting expenditure towards roughly 25 publishers, a model yielding certain tangible benefits.

"We have very demanding relationships in return, where we can say, 'Look, we want to add content to this conversation; we want to add contextualisation to this.' We can do that when we have concentrated buying," said Peluso.

An additional element of Citi's digital drive pertains to social listening. Every month, there are 450k to 500k online conversations about financial services firms in the US, approximately 180k of which mention Citi.

"The most important thing is great listening. What marketers' dream wouldn't be to understand what people are saying at the dinner table about them in a consistent way," she said. "It should completely replace focus groups ... you are getting real, authentic feedback," said Peluso.

Alongside providing Citi with the chance to respond to consumer questions and problems via sites like Twitter and Facebook, the insights drawn from this activity can then be incorporated into its business decisions.

Citi has also allowed customers using its Thank You loyalty cards to pool their "points" on Facebook and jointly acquire gifts, tickets, and so on. "You need to have assets that are inherently social [and] that are really strategic to you," said Peluso.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff