3 Marketing Strategy Secrets From Capital One and Equinox 🤐

Top Marketers’ Guide to Approaching Omnichannel, CX and First-Party Data

On June 2, Simon Data hosted our first Beyond the Click event, where we gathered marketers from the world’s most iconic brands for a virtual, fireside chat-style discussion. Joining us was Katya Andresen, Senior Vice President of Card Customer Experience for Capital One, and Seth Solomons, former CMO of Equinox and now CEO of Eastlake Advisory Group. 

Together, Katya and Seth shared some of their insights and perspectives on marketing leadership and the challenges faced by today’s B2C marketers in building data-driven experiences

Click here to view the event recording, or read on to see our takeaways from their discussion. 


Takeaway 1: Why Marketers Need To Go Deeper

A frictionless experience is a basic mandate in today’s world… But In order to drive a differentiated brand experience, marketers need to address the deeper needs, desires and motivations of their customers.

There’s a huge difference between a basic, run of the mill marketing experience and one that’s truly customer centric. And the people who are the most aware of this are our customers, of course. A customer-centric experience starts and ends with your customer’s needs. Staying in tune with their needs and motivations on a deeper level can help you craft an effective marketing strategy. 

At Equinox, for instance, the team is aligned around the vision of empowering self betterment for their customers. Helping people reach their full potential through their membership journey at Equinox became their marketing team’s organizing principle for content and journeys.

“The first 30 days of a journey were critical to figuring out the strategy for the customer to stay with us,” said Seth. “The next 90 days reinforced that, and after that, the experience was one in which they could be their best self. The journeys need to be informed by the strategy, and most importantly you need to make things that people love from a content standpoint… That really differentiates you from any other brand and experience standpoint.”

In short, you need to really get to know your customers. Put yourself in their shoes to uncover their motivations, needs, and from that, identify creative opportunities in your experience to meet those needs. This isn’t a one-and-done activity, it’s an on-going  process in which you work to provide an experience for your customers that deepens their relationship with your brand.


Takeaway 2: Putting “Omnichannel” In Context

Omnichannel is the gold standard, but the way you approach it depends on your business, your goals, values, and your customer’s needs.

Capitol One’s version of omnichannel brings their digital-first customer experience strategy into the real world of physical banking. 

Capital One leads with a unique digital experience that also informs their brick and mortar experience. “We want to bring everything to your fingertips so you can do everything you need to do, in the moment, when you need to do it,” said Katya. “So when you’re out shopping and your card gets declined because of fraud detection, you’re going to want to be able to take care of that right away with a text message. A lot of our delivery with our marketing, our servicing, our different value-added experiences, are digital.” 

While the company’s goal is to reimagine banking so customers don’t have to go to a physical branch for everything, this effort actually led Capital One to take a different approach to its branch experiences. 

In 2018, the company announced the launch of Capital One Cafes in some of its key markets. These cafes are a hybrid of a coffee shop and bank branch. The cafes provide customers a place where they can work, gather and –if necessary, but not required– sit with their banker and talk about their finances. 

In doing so, the company responded to a major pain point among customers – stuffy, impersonal banking – and responded by cutting back on traditional branches and opening sleek financial cafes.  

While omnichannel might not look the same for every business, successful “hybridization” of the digital and personal builds the foundation for a streamlined omnichannel experience. Identify your company’s vision for its customer experience, values and goals, and make those clear throughout each channel.

When it comes to building your omnichannel strategy, your business might not require  a major overhaul to its physical experience as Capital One – you may get more value from connecting other touchpoints or channels. Regardless, your  omnichannel strategy should begin with deep analysis of consumer needs, and evaluating every experience or touch point through that lens. From there, you’ll be able to identify the areas where an omnichannel strategy would add value to the overall experience, while keeping in mind the trade off between level of effort and potential impact.


Takeaway 3: Navigating The First Party Future

In the wake of the end of third-party cookies, brands need to to maximize their access to first party data.

The end of cookies is a scary prospect. After all, most of us have relied on third-party data for the bulk of our marketing efforts. However, being forced to change to a first-party data system can actually present a huge opportunity for your business – if you’re prepared for it.

At Equinox, understanding people and not cookies is the start to a really smart strategy. “At Equinox, we created our own Equinox ID, and that would be what we use to resolve identity for our current and prospective members when we saw them in different environments,” said Seth. “We weren’t so reliant on any single cookie, but on the resolution of the personal ID wherever they were so that we could understand who they were, how and where they engaged with us, and what stage of the journey they were in.”

Not all industries are created equal when it comes to identity. Equinox was almost a fully closed loop, so they had it easier compared to many brands . But if you take Equinox’s approach and start with people and identify those people based on what you know, you’ll already be ahead of the game when the cookie crumbles. 

Katya also resonated with this, saying “our own first party data is the most important data we have, and the most important differentiator we have. It sounds really obvious, but how many of us feel great about how accessible our first party data is, and how we’re putting all the things we know in one place so we know how to act upon it?”

The takeaway here is that while the death of cookies may be imminent, a first party data strategy offers much more long term value to brands.



To hear more detailed insights from Katya and Seth on how to elevate your B2C marketing, access the full recording of Beyond the Click.

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