How Chime is activating data to communicate with customers

The fintech company adopted a warehouse-first approach to drive personalization and insights across channels.

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Financial services tech company Chime is digitally mature due to the security and regulatory compliance required in the sector. However, when looking at CDPs and other high-end solutions to boost their data capabilities, the company opted for a simpler data activation platform or “composable” CDP instead of a traditional CDP.

“We know personalization matters,” said Natalie Miles, Chime’s head of marketing technology and personalization, at The MarTech Conference. “We needed to deliver more one-to-one personalized experiences. The blocker quickly becomes data activation because without all of that rich customer and behavioral data, you can’t power those one-to-one engaging member experiences.”

New products and changing customers

Chime issues Visa debit cards and provides credit-building programs and other services to those living paycheck-to-paycheck. They do so without charging fees to their members. To remain competitive in a marketplace that includes 80% of Americans, Chime’s marketing team is charged with developing new products and go-to-market strategies.

“This push towards offering more products and features means we also have to have the ability to make sure our experience isn’t one-size-fits-all,” said Miles. 

She added, “What you may have come to Chime previously for might be evolving, and the use case you need to solve for may vary depending on the person.”

Data activation platform

Chime decided to implement a data activation platform from Hightouch instead of a traditional CDP. Hightouch’s platform activates data directly from the data warehouse while traditional CDPs store and manage data in a separate location. The data activation platform also connects to CRMs, email platforms and other tools where customer data is activated to drive personalized messaging.

Composable CDP Diagram
Image: Hightouch.

“We went on the CDP journey and we were looking at a lot of traditional off-the-shelf CDP’s where there were a lot of limitations,” said Miles.

Chime balked at the event-volume pricing for many CDPs, which made scaling up personalization too costly.

A CDPs implementation time — up to six months — was also not ideal for Chime. Chime’s marketers wanted to activate personalization quickly.

And they wanted to keep the data warehouse as the single source of truth, instead of adding a CDP as the source of truth for marketing, while other departments in the org worked off of the data warehouse.

“Data portability and security was a really big factor for us as well, being in a heavily regulated space,” Miles said.

Dig deeper: What is a CDP and how does it give marketers the coveted “single view” of their customers?

Paid advertising and one-to-one messaging

The first use case for Chime’s new activation platform was paid advertising. The team wanted to use customer data to target the right consumers with the right message while keeping ad spend low.

“We needed to be smarter about who we’re acquiring, and acquiring them more cheaply,” said Miles. “A big part of that requires first-party data passed back to these ad-bidding platforms to do things like better bid optimization.”

Data is also activated through the Hightouch platform to send personalized emails and push notifications to drive retention.

Down the road, Chime is also planning to use the platform to activate data for support teams in customer service.

“I don’t see this strictly as a marketing tool,” said Miles. “I don’t think marketing is the end-all-be-all when it comes to creating a powerful, meaningful member experience. Things like your support teams — you can empower them with data to deliver a better support experience. There are a whole host of use cases for us to delve into.”

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About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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