IBM EMM helps Singapore bank increase marketing revenue while building customer loyalty

Competition for customers in retail banking has never been fiercer, especially in the fast-paced markets of southeast Asia. OCBC Bank, one of the largest banks in the Singapore-Malaysia market, is winning the business and loyalty of fickle customers with personalized marketing interactions at every touchpoint, driving cross-sell and building long-term profitable relationships.


OCBC Bank was realizing sub-optimal results from its generic mass marketing campaigns, losing out on revenue opportunities and compromising its position in the highly competitive southeast Asia banking market.


OCBC, the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, is reaping the rewards of a multi-year transformation into a customer-centric retail bank with the IBM Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) suite. OCBC has evolved from generic marketing to coordinated, personalized marketing interactions across 10 communications channels and touchpoints including email, call centers, branches, ATMs, direct mail, text messages and 3G mobile banking.

Relevance and timeliness delivers ROI

Running IBM EMM solutions atop a sophisticated analytics infrastructure, OCBC is more precisely targeting customers based on their activity, with double- and triple-digit increases in key metrics since the program began in 2005. OCBC achieved return on investment (ROI) on its IBM EMM implementation within 18 months.

OCBC is averaging double-digit increases in cross-sell conversion with IBM marketing solutions, with conversion as high as 40 percent for some campaigns. Revenue driven by marketing has seen percentage increases in the triple digits. The number of leads deployed is up 417 percent, while campaign cycle times have been reduced 40 percent. The bank has also increased its overall marketing productivity and upped the number of campaigns it runs to 1,200 a year—12 times more than it did before IBM EMM was installed.

“It’s all about relevance and timeliness,” said Donald MacDonald, head of OCBC Group Customer Analytics & Decisioning (GCAD). “IBM EMM helps us to be a lot more productive, so that our processes are optimized and we can go from conceptualization to execution in a day. The secret to our success is that we can do a lot more marketing activity that is much more granular and a lot better targeted.”

Besides winning customers, OCBC is winning recognition as a leader in data-driven marketing from such third parties as The Asian Banker. The research consultancy ranked OCBC’s customer analytics capabilities #1 among 14 regional banks in 2010, a validation of OCBC’s success through what MacDonald calls a “phased transformation” towards interactive marketing optimization.

Innovations in real-time inbound marketing

Building on its core event-based marketing infrastructure, OCBC has recently introduced innovative real-time inbound marketing into its entire branch network with IBM Interact, a solution in the IBM EMM suite. The real-time inbound marketing engine supports a new installation of large touch-screen monitors in branches so that customers opening an account view information along with the salesperson.

Towards the end of the face-to-face interaction, the monitor displays an IBM Interact cross-sell offer based on inputs captured during the session and historical data. “If you look at the research, 70 percent of the cross-sell potential in the lifetime of a customer happens in the first 90 days after they open an account,” MacDonald said. “We’re really focusing on making it a great interaction and introducing a relevant, but subtle cross-sell as it’s the best time to engage the customer.”

Increasing customer centricity with event-based marketing

OCBC’s event-based marketing strategy is driven by a data warehouse that tracks customer activity across branch, call center, online and other channels. That data is mined daily to detect unusual activity, based on a large number of predefined customer states such as large transactions, decreasing spend frequency and first rewards redemption.

IBM Opportunity Detection, a solution in the EMM suite, uses that behavioral data to trigger an automated offer or personal interaction with the customer—for example, an automated travel insurance offer to a customer making a travel visa or luggage transaction or a phone call to a customer making a large deposit. Various campaigns focus on every aspect of the long-term customer lifecycle, from acquisition to onboarding to retention.

Automated, lights-out daily lead generation has improved the productivity of OCBC’s 30-person GCAD team, enabling marketers to pursue value-added initiatives that drive revenue and strengthen relationships, rather than slow and costly processes of piecing together customer data to implement campaigns.

Besides product-related cross-sell, OCBC also leverages the IBM platform for event-based servicing to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty while reducing churn. For example, IBM enables OCBC to alert credit card applicants via email and text that their credit card fees have been proactively waived. Such proactive interaction has contributed to an increase in customer satisfaction while reducing call center inquiries.

Fast and flexible email and digital messaging

Meanwhile, OCBC is taking advantage of the speed and flexibility of IBM eMessage to support many of its email campaigns, including daily in-house emails for new customer onboarding. eMessage is more cost-effective for smaller campaigns than a third-party email service provider (ESP), and offers greater speed for urgent communications.

For instance, during a system outage, OCBC used eMessage to communicate the problem and an apology to customers within about two hours—far faster than would have been possible with an ESP. “We were able to get SMSs and emails out to customers within a couple of hours with IBM eMessage, and that brought a lot of positive feedback,” MacDonald said.


OCBC’s revenue driven by marketing has seen a triple-digit increase since the IBM implementation; the bank has increased its number of campaigns 12-fold and its cross-sell conversion by a double-digit percentage.

“It’s all about relevance and timeliness. IBM EMM helps us to be a lot more productive, so that our processes are optimized and we can go from conceptualization to execution in a day. The secret to our success is that we can do a lot more marketing activity that is much more granular and a lot better targeted.”

Donald MacDonald

Head of Group Customer Analytics & Decisioning, OCBC Bank


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IBM Enterprise Marketing Management