As marketing channels diversify and the ability for the average member to see a given advertisement splinters, progressive credit unions increasingly turn to technology.
Tools such as video hosting and cloud-based campaign management are now being deployed to help distinguish, compete and thrive in a market that’s getting more crowded with financial services options and marketing messages from all directions.
Here’s how four credit unions are doing just that.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
National Institutes of Health Federal Credit Union ($561.6M, Rockville, MD) has a TIP charter, which allows single-sponsor credit unions to serve all employees in a specific trade, industry, or profession within a defined geographic area. The credit union is eligible to serve individuals in the health care and biomedical industries in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia.
“We don’t have, nor will we ever have, branches where all 40,000 of our members work or live,” says Steve Levin, vice president of marketing and business development at the credit union.
CU QUICK FACTS
National Institutes of health federal credit Union
data as of 3.31.15
HQ: Rockville, MD
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: -0.83%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 19.97%
Because of this, NIHFCU invests heavily into its online and mobile banking products and likes to stay as technologically current as it can. It was one of the first to offer Apple Pay after its initial release in October 2014. That’s a necessary part of doing business and providing its busy members with convenient access to their money, especially those in the health care industry.
“The nature of the folks we are trying to reach is that they are often on call 24/7,” Levin says. “Many don’t have the traditional 9-to-5 jobs. We have to provide our members easy access regardless if they are at work or on the road or working off-hours.”
To learn more about its members, especially those who aren’t always able to transact in-branch, three years ago, NIH implemented a service called Micronotes, a digital marketing software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that the credit union uses to deepen relationships with current members through its online banking channel.
The nature of the folks we are trying to reach is that they are on call 24/7. They don’t have the traditional 9-to-5 jobs.
Micronotes displays messages on the side of NIHFCU’s online banking homepage in an unobtrusive block, sectioned off from the rest of the page. Displayed messages are generally questions, often written by Levin himself, and depending on the answers, a member may receive several variations of follow up questions, usually ending after three.
“These are supposed to be quick so that they aren’t intrusive to what the person is trying to do in online banking,” Levin says.
NIHFCU aims to produce leads with these interview questions; to see if, for example, the member is in the market for a car or home equity line. But it will also publish what Levin calls “promotional” questions that aren’t product specific. An example of which might be, “True or False: 0% financing is always the best deal when looking for a car.” An answer either way will trigger explanatory text to educate the member, rather than trying to hard-sell a car loan during the member's online banking session.
Though specific engagement rates were not disclosed, Levin indicated that it is contributing favorably to lead generation and reports no compliants from members concerning the use of this technology within online banking. He adds that it's not solely a cross-selling strategy but a way to maintain a dialogue with the member while gaining additional market insight.
“It’s a complimentary technology to stay in front of our members,” the NIHFCU marketing chief says.
Put It In My Video
Video gives credit union marketers another touch point from which to communicate with members and potential members. Virginia Credit Union ($2.7B, Richmond, VA) has made it a focus in the past two years to increase its investment in video.
In October 2014, VACU started using video hosting and analytic tools from Wistia, spending just hundreds of dollars a year instead of the thousands of dollars a month it had been spending on what Todd Feldman, vice president of marketing, calls “a very large enterprise solution” that also wasn’t as fast, flexible, or easy to use.
CU QUICK FACTS
Virginia credit union
data as of 3.31.15
HQ: Richmond, VA
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 4.05%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 14.46%
VACU posts videos on its Facebook, YouTube, and core credit union webpages. Topics include financial education through its My Financial Story series, online and mobile banking explanatory guides, and member testimonials.
“From a brand perspective,” Feldman says, “we want to build confidence with our members. Using video to teach financial education or engage members to share stories through video has proven powerful for us.”
The credit union has an on-site editing suite where videos are written, shot, and edited, as well as a multimedia producer who helps production stay to a regular release schedule of videos.
To determine the impact each video has, Feldman and his team at VACU look at variables including views, time spent watching, and completion rate, which hovers around 60%, the credit union’s goal. Feldman also wants to know what the video viewers do next. Currently, the credit union is testing different strategies to get members to click to other videos or to other parts of its website, including adding links into videos that serve as a kind of call to action for additional content or information.
“What do they do after the watch?” Feldman asks. “Did they take an action such as viewing a product page that is related to the video or, if they are looking at the testimonial videos, are they joining the credit union or visiting our brand page for a deeper understanding of what the credit union is about? Through our use of analytic tools, we can measure what our traffic from videos is doing on our site and make improvements as needed.”
One of the best practices in successful video production and use, Feldman offers, is to set realistic expectations around metrics and to test until an institution finds what works for its objectives. Certainly, that’s what VACU has done. While they’re still learning how to measure the influence of video in membership acquisitions, loan applications, and account openings, it all comes back to the objective of each specific video.
“Have a clear purpose in mind,” Feldman says.
Next: Data Mining And The Retail 'Wow' Factor »
Data Mining To Manage Marketing Campaigns
In May 2013, BCU ($2.2B, Vernon Hills, IL) switched over to Adobe Campaign, a cloud-based solution that’s less Marketing Customer Information File (MCIF) than cross-channel campaign management tool. BCU wanted something directly integrated with its already robust data warehouse that would actually manage the distribution of emails, as well as the distribution of information to its print vendor and outbound call center; it wanted this not only in batches, but for real-time triggered outbound marketing campaigns.
“As we get a new piece of data on a particular member we wanted a tool that would recognize changes on this member’s account,” says John Sahagian, vice president of marketing at the suburban Chicago credit union. “As a result we’re going to kick off an email to them, or we’re going to put them on a list to be called by our call center, or we’re going to send a request to our print vendor to send something in the mail to them.
CU QUICK FACTS
data as of 3.31.15
HQ: Vernon Hills, IL
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 9.49%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 12.86%
Seven years ago, BCU created a central data warehouse, where more than two dozen systems constantly funnel information. When the credit union considered switching to Adobe Campaign, it didn’t have to worry about building out any individual data integrations from multiple systems, because that was already in place. The Adobe system taps into the warehouse to leverage its data, while also receiving data feeds from outside sources such as the credit bureaus and MGIC.
BCU is able to program the system to flag members who meet certain criteria. Once flagged, a triggering event compels the system to kick off one of 30 particular campaigns the credit union has set to run continuously and send out small-batch, relevant, and timely campaigns.
For example, if a BCU mortgage originator makes a credit bureau inquiry on a member, the system will be notified and send out an email about the credit union’s real estate services or share a financial wellness article on the benefits of a shorter-term mortgage. If the credit union doesn’t have an email address for the member on file, it will send direct mail.
“It shouldn’t be something as deliberate as to say, ‘Hey, we noticed that you have an inquiry on your credit,’” Sahagian says. “That’s a little spooky. We’re just trying to make sure we’re on their radar.”
After this initial contact, BCU will follow up with the member and eventually tailor its messaging to more explicitly sell products.
BCU tracks each campaign to know when campaigns for specific members are triggered as well as what pieces of information are sent out. To determine success, the system will track how much members interacted with the content sent to them through a high-level scorecard that lists different trigger campaigns on a monthly basis. Additionally, it knows when, for example, the member applied for a mortgage and when that application was approved and funded.
It shouldn’t be something as deliberate as to say, ‘Hey, we noticed that you have an inquiry on your credit.’ That’s a little spooky. We’re just trying to make sure we’re on their radar.
This system has improved both the scale and the depth of BCU’s marketing campaigns. As of May, the credit union had sent out 45 to 50 campaigns in 2015, each of which can have anywhere from four to 12 different segments. It’s allowed the credit union to produce more targeted campaigns as well. Though Sahagian was unable to provide statistics from BCU’s marketing campaigns before Adobe Campaign, he said of the change: “Before, we could do one large, two-segment campaign, but that would take a lot of effort because it was manual. Now we can do more and be more targeted in what we’re doing.”
In the future, the BCU marketing vice president adds, he’d like to be able to extend outbound marketing efforts into push notifications on the credit union’s mobile app as well as through SMS messaging. In addition, inbound marketing is one of the credit unions’ main focuses this year.
“When someone approaches us through one of our channels,” Sahagian says, “that channel is able to reference back to the marketing intelligence we have to say what, based on what we know about this person, should be the next thing we talk to them about?”
The Member Experience As Marketing
Companies such as Apple, Bass Pro Shops, and Under Armour are, among other things, known for their retail experiences. Each store is designed to totally immerse the customer in a certain culture. These retail experiences serve as a marketing tool as these companies differentiate themselves from competitors by “creating this ‘wow’ factor,” says Lynn Gregory, senior vice president of marketing and member services at Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union ($378.7M, Baltimore, MD).
Gregory says JHFCU aims to accomplish the same with its new online banking platform. “The member’s experience is all a part of marketing,” says Gregory. “We’re trying to get to the point where we make banking easy.”
CU QUICK FACTS
JOHNS hopkins federal Credit Union
data as of 3.31.15
HQ: Baltimore, MD
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 1.66%%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 2.15%
The credit union converted to Connect in January of 2012 after a nearly year-long search and proposal process, wanting a provider that would be more adaptable to the needs of the institution; specifically, this meant adding more relevant credit union-owned features — not adding, for example, a Turbo Tax extension.
“I want someone to be able to make a mortgage payment, an extra mortgage payment, a late mortgage payment,” Gregory says. “I want to facilitate more things that members are going to do with us. I don’t need a link to tax software unless other transactions are already completed.”
Gregory sees the channel as a place to facilitate as many transactions as possible, as easily as possible. That means adding new capabilities and hiring a full-time user experience specialist to oversee the institution’s relationship with Connect and all the online banking projects currently in the works.
Since connecting with Connect, JHFCU has integrated loan applications through its online banking — including adding DocuSign electronic signature capabilities — and now offers mobile remote deposit capture.
Going forward, the credit union would like to add a way for members to dispute transactions, create a better fraud alert system, and build online account opening that allows members to enroll in online banking simultaneously. Small upgrades, maybe, but all important for the credit union to build a better member experience.
“It’s not always the ‘wow’ features,” Gregory says. “Sometimes it’s the little things.”
Though it’s difficult to quantify the impact online banking has in marketing or awareness, especially when compared to brick-and-mortar, Gregory sees the value in continually improving the channel, including reducing cost.
“If you don’t have it,” Gregory says, “you’re not even in the game.”