How FIS untangled complexity and drove marketing efficiency for Loyalty Solutions via Eloqua

By Chuck Leddy

Mike Comey is the Head of Adoption Marketing for Loyalty Solutions at FIS, a Fortune 500 fintech company with about 55,000 employees operating in 200 locations throughout the world. FIS serves customers in 3 main areas: (1) merchant solutions, helping merchants process payments from customers; (2) banking solutions, helping banks with core processing, ATM networks, loyalty programs, and more; (3) capital markets, which means investing and financial transactions. Comey and his team at FIS (about 5 marketers) work to help banks promote and implement loyalty programs (giving bank customers points, merchandise, and/or cash back for using bank-issued credit/debit cards). Mike shared his Eloqua success story at a recent meeting of an (Virtual) Eloqua Users Group, hosted by Sojourn’s Karin “KP” Pindle, Senior Marketing Automation & Strategy Consultant.

On the marketing challenges FIS faced

The FIS flagship loyalty product is the program of choice for over 3,000 financial institutions. If the scale wasn’t big enough, these loyalty programs also present massive operational complexities. As Comey explains it, “we do all the back-end from the scoring of the transactions, awarding the points, allowing for all the redemption channels and enabling our institutional clients to customize the programs as they see fit.”

All the different program components add a great deal of complexity to what Comey’s team has to do in terms of dynamic content, program communication, and how they display program offerings. And since the end users of the programs are the clients of banks, FIS constantly confronts the need for accuracy and precision with information. “We’ve got a strong obligation to ensure we don’t make mistakes, and that we don’t display information that a cardholder shouldn’t see, “ says Comey, “our job is therefore quite complex and time-consuming as far as marketing challenges go.”

Finally, Comey’s team is tasked with promoting the different redemption channels, communicating to cardholders what rewards (i.e., merchandise,  travel, etc.) are available to them. All of it represents a massively complicated challenge.

How the FIS team deployed Eloqua and won an award

Before deploying Eloqua in 2016, Comey’s team was using a rudimentary email platform. “We’d send about four emails per month and had virtually no customer segmentation. It was just very clunky, hard to use, and very slow,” explains Comey. “So when we launched Eloqua, it was life-changing. We were able to better manage all the complexities in our programs, but also open up new possibilities for how we reach out to cardholders, with different types of messaging and ways we track and analyze data.”

The early gains FIS saw using Eloqua were so strong that the company won a Markie award in 2017 for rapid transformation. As Comey says, “We had lots of energy and we just built, built, built,” which led to its own set of problems.” 

Confronting “the monster” 

Unfortunately, FIS was creating a monster as it grew its utilization of Eloqua. “We were using these three main pieces — canvases, segments, and emails — to try to account for all the complexity we have,” says Comey. “We would create different canvases based on email content and based on bank clients that have different program offerings. Sometimes we’d create a different canvas for different product types or we’d do a lot of triggered emails. So if a cardholder has a certain transaction, then that would trigger a certain type of email.” FIS also developed customer segments using Eloqua. “We would try to do some sophisticated marketing segmenting around customer attributes and propensities,” says Comey. 

Every time FIS faced an obstacle or hurdle, it would simply “build, build, build”  something new to overcome that challenge in the short-term. But it was done ad hoc, not in any systematic and standardized way. “Unfortunately, we weren’t operating with any efficiencies and we weren’t thinking holistically,” says Comey. “We would just take every problem and create a new canvas, a segment for it. And over time we’d created a monster.” What really changed the focus for Comey was when he started losing marketers from his team due to burn out and exhaustion, largely caused by managing the monster. 

“The amount of time we were spending on Eloqua was just overwhelming,” says Comey. “We’ve got such a complex product so the learning curve for team members is a big challenge here. Being able to learn Eloqua is another challenge. When our people started leaving, we just knew we needed to change something.”

Taming the monster: FIS works with Sojourn to develop solutions

Comey reached out to Sojourn with one question: “how can we unravel this monster so that we’re not doing all this repetitive work that’s exhausting our people?” Sojourn analyzed the issue and developed a solution that helped FIS get away from all the one-off, ad hoc work it had been creating — and instead begin working more systematically, in standardized ways that would scale. 

For example, Sojourn analyzed all the canvases and segments FIS had created and then worked to reduce them in number (by standardizing them). As a result, FIS was able to move from having 120 promotional canvases down to just a single monthly canvas.  “That single change saved us over 600 hours per year, just on the canvas side,” says Comey. When it came to segments, it was a similar story. FIS had 107 different segments in 2019, but Sojourn helped FIS bring that down to just 16, saving FIS even more time and work. Regarding emails, Sojourn helped FIS “trim the time it took for us to create each email from six and a half hours down to less than two,” says Comey.

In total, Sojourn helped Comey’s small team save some 3,000 hours, reducing its workload dramatically. “Every hour that we spend doing operational work is an hour that’s not spent analyzing data, finding new ideas, and coming up with creative new campaigns,” says Comey. “I cannot emphasize enough how much Sojourn has helped make our operations more efficient,  so that we’re actually maximizing what we’re getting out of Eloqua.” FIS has allocated a lot of resources into its use of Eloqua — between the platform itself, the team hours, the vendors — “and we’ve got to ensure that we’re maximizing every dollar we spend,” says Comey. “Sojourn is helping us do exactly that.”

Today, Comey’s team has more time for analyzing and leveraging data, as well as doing creative and high-level/strategic work. “We’ve also gained more time to think about how we can leverage Eloqua even more,” Comey says. “Being able to save a combined 3000 hours has been transformational for my team here at FIS.”

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