How social and digital are helping Western Union's brand mission

Financial services company's CMO shares its new brand strategy, the role of social in listening to the customer, and digital disruption

Diane Scott
Diane Scott

It’s not easy keeping a 160-year-old brand invigorated, especially when that brand plays in a market as hotly contested as financial services. But for global money transfer service, Western Union, new concepts and technologies such as social media and the mobile Internet have been readily harnessed to expand its core mission of moving money around the world.

The company today operates in more than 200 countries from over 500,000 retail locations and 100,000 ATMs and kiosks, as well as integrating directly with bank accounts and mobile wallet applications.

Much of its work is in facilitating payments between family members, such as expatriate workers in one country sending money to relatives in another. Recent years have delivered huge growth from emerging markets, which has been made possible in part through their rapid uptake of social and mobile technology.

“We are servicing everything from big developers to huge NGOs like Save the Children, who are trying to get money to the borders of Syria,” says Diane Scott, Western Union’s chief marketing officer. “And for all of it, the voice of the customer has always been very inherent to what we do. And that voice of customer is about how we take the friction out of cross-border money movements.”

Scott is fascinated by the human aspects of working in marketing for a company that operates in so many corners of the world. While she says it is easy to spot the differences between how markets and territories operate, it is the similarities that can yield the greatest insights.

“And that to me is when you get to human truths, which is honestly the bigger and more powerful breakthrough stuff, which gets exciting,” she says.

Some of that thinking is represented in Western Union’s new branding campaign, based around the brand as ‘WU’, which is being promoted through digital channels.

“When you are 160 years young, the one thing you find is that people think they know your brand, when actually they really might not,” Scott says. “For us, at the core we’re about moving money for better. And what we wanted to do was bring a bold and fresh approach about how that brand could be viewed that really went to our next audiences – not just the people who know us very well - so talking more to those more digital or tech savvy audiences.”

Social momentum

The rapid uptake of mobile technology in Asia and Africa in particular has presented new channels for customers to transact, and for Western Union to market to them.

The company has successfully adopted social media as a means of keeping engaged with clients in between their transactions, which might take place between six to 12 times each year. Earlier this decade, the company had a few hundred thousand followers, but that number has swelled to more than 6.5 million.

The social strategy has been based around the concept that many of Western Union’s core customers are what it labels ‘dual belongers’, where their heart and home belongs in two places at once.

“By understanding that and why people send money, you begin to really unpack the emotive side of what they are doing,” Scott says. “Social and mobile have been great avenues to allow us to really tap that insight with our customers. It has opened up whole new avenues for us to be able to communicate in these in-between times and really connect with them.”

As a result, Scott says engagement scores for Western Union are well over 8 per cent globally, rising to 10 per cent for its diaspora-based communities.

“Most global financial institutions are well under 1 per cent, so it begins to show that our customers are wanting and willing to engage with us in different ways than they might be with their traditional financial institutions,” she says. “Mobile and social are like the best friends you could imagine for Western Union for customer segments because they allow us to do so much more.”

Western Union has also deployed a new loyalty program, called My WU, to more than 80 countries and territories, which includes a mobile portal.

“The amount of people that actually access the program through their mobile device is upwards of 40 per cent,” Scott says. “People are really engaging to a tremendous extend, and are spending a lot more time with the program, which means we usually have higher returns.”

Disrupting yourself

With such a massive distribution network and customer base, Scott see great opportunity for Western Union to make greater use of its data assets, and is using Cloudera Hadoop to mine for insights within its customer data.

It’s a long way from a company that began its life in the 19th century sending telegraphs across the United States.

“What we found is true leaders actually disrupt themselves,” Scott says. “And we are a brand that has done that since the beginning of time. When I look at how we have expanded from being a cash retail business to now servicing small and large businesses around the globe, into accounts and cash and mobile wallets, we have been disrupting ourselves for quite some time in a really good way - it is to continue to meet the customer’s needs to create a more frictionless world for cross border money movement, which isn’t easy.”

More on social media marketing

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Maintaining trust in a sceptical world: The power of brand trust

The faith people have in brands creates opportunity for those brands to become trusted advisors. In turn, this builds success by increasing the brand’s profile, letting it broaden its product offering and driving stronger customer loyalty.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

When growth stalls: How to boost growth in large organisations

The push to start new businesses continues. In Q1 2017, the number of seed and angel deals increased by 1.4 per cent compared to Q1 2016.

Con Frantzeskos

CEO, Penso

Why we need diversity in marketing

​When we read articles about the need for increased diversity in marketing land, it is often through the lens of gender.

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

We all know that digital marketing in order to promote a brand, products and services is by the use of electronic media. The evolution of...

Helaina Berry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Interesting insight, well explained and the examples are just apt.Thanks for sharing!

FreshMindIdeas

The politics of branding - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

When the world that we live in floods with gigabytes of content every day, we have to learn to be selective about it. Such educational we...

Paulina Cameron

ADMA launches education program to tackle viewability, ad fraud and brand safety

Read more

Hi, i am an Aistralian ALK patient, been on xalkori dec 13 to oct 15 and achieved remission of disease, since been on Ceritinib until no...

gary packer

Pfizer Australia adopts AI-powered digital analyst tool for sales and marketing decision making

Read more

Hi James, shouldn't marketers also be focusing on collecting and utilizing up to date first-party profiling data on customers so that mes...

Tom

3 ways customer data can increase online sales conversion

Read more

Latest Podcast

Getting Intimate with CX Ep 5: Tammy Marshall, founder, The B Hive

How much of customer experience is having the foresight to know what those individuals might like, versus asking them? In Episode 5 of this new podcast series, BrandHook MD, Pip Stocks, talks with Tammy Marshall about the importance of asking your customers questions, how consistency plays a role in engagement, but how the unexpected adds extra value.

More podcasts

Sign in