What? Step up marketing efforts when the economy is tanking? It may be the best time. With a well-designed message, your credit union can stand out in a once-cluttered field laid barren by those with less moxie. And when you've got something members want, they'll pay attention – perhaps more so when money is tight.
But gearing up marketing during a downturn needn't break the budget. A smart strategy is to market via the Internet, especially by email – a bargain compared with most other channels. Email resolves the age-old tension between trying to reach a broader audience, yet target messages with greater precision. Using the email addresses you have collected, you can consistently target large and small segments of your members at well-timed intervals. Affordably.
Some of the greatest innovations have occurred during economic slumps. (Interest-bearing checking – a creative response to the high interest rates of the '70s – comes to mind.) Consider the approach of Northwest Federal Credit Union in Herndon, Va.
Case Study: Timing is everything
When the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates for the fifth time in March, Northwest Federal Credit Union (Herndon, Va.) took action, passing the rate reduction on to its members. The Credit Union cut its new auto rates and offered car loans for as low as 3.50 percent. The message: “NWFCU has slashed our new auto and lease rates.”
Within days of the Fed's move, the credit union rolled out the promotion in its branches and website while the media was still buzzing. NWFCU decided to concentrate on the Internet channel it had been growing since 2000 and queued up a “special offers” email alert. The credit union carefully crafted the email, ran the template through its email spam checker, to give it the best shot at reaching the member, and then sent it to the 32,000 email addresses it had gathered to announce the change. View the email here .
Over the first four days, almost 8,000 members opened the email and read their credit union's offer. Just under 2,000 clicked-through to one of the four links in the message to learn more about it on the NWFCU website. “Then something good happened,” said Gerrianne Burks, president/CEO of the Credit Union. “The email promotion did exactly what it was supposed to do: raise awareness and bring members to our website. It also resulted in $1.4 million dollars in new loans in less than a week and was definitely worth the effort.”
But what if using collected email addresses upsets members, who might feel they're being spammed? When surveyed, most say they want to hear more about what's new at their credit unions, as well as offers that pertain to them.
“We never want our communications to be perceived as spam; therefore, we only send to those members who have opted to receive special offers from us,” said Burks. “And we knew using our collected email addresses was the fastest, most cost-effective way to reach a third of our membership.”
"What happened with the 32,000 emails sent from NWFCU? Burks said, “believe it or not, only 35 members out of 32,000 emails (.1%) clicked on the unsubscribe link to avoid future emails from us.”
Making 1-to-1 marketing a reality.
Finely tailored emails with important credit union information and unsubscribe capabilities are the key to successful growth. With DigitalMailer's email technology, NWFCU gleaned even more information for the next round of offers. The software was able to tell the Credit Union which members opened the email, which members clicked on the four links and which members eventually applied for loans. Each report makes it easier for NWFCU to continue to target only those members who were “in market” and expressed an interest in this special offer.
One-to-one marketing is grabbing attention today, but the premise behind it is as old as the credit union movement: It's simply personalized attention to members' unique needs. Now, with new eMarketing channels, enhanced digital technology and a little creative copywriting, you can ensure the personal touch that gets the right offer to the right member at the right time. So, go ahead and pull out the marketing stops! You can learn more about marketing during a recession, by checking out an interesting post on the BNET blog .
DigitalMailer, Inc. combines its technology know-how and online communication tools to create an affordable way for clients to drive profitable growth. For more information, contact DigitalMailer at (866) 994-4900, go to www.digitalmailer.com .
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Ron Daly is President/CEO of DigitalMailer, Inc., an e-Marketing firm that provides clients the power to reach their customers across multiple digital channels.