Low Cost Member Email Service Works for SECU

Credit unions seeking an easy, inexpensive way to start an email marketing newsletter to members may find the method used by State Employees Credit Union, Lansing, Michigan an interesting option.


A bare bones version of email marketing works just fine for members of State Employees Credit Union, Lansing Michigan, said David Carson, the credit union's E-commerce development specialist.

"We looked at a few programs and packages, and I decided to try this simple one, called b-central, offered by Microsoft, because it's inexpensive, yet flexible and upgradeable. Before we bought a bigger application to run in-house, we wanted to try things out and see how members liked it."
They like it just fine, said Carson, judging by the rising number of members signing up to receive Email news from SECU. "Members don't want a lot of junk or Spam in their mailbox," Carson said. "And with b-central, we're able to narrow things down and give members only what they ask for; they decide what they get."

B-central costs $270 per year, or $30 per month on the installment plan, (for 10,000 mailings) so cost isn't really an impediment, laughed Carson. "I think it's a great way for any size credit union to start sending targeted marketing information to members. And because the information we ask of them is minimal, it's fast." For an additional $40, twenty thousand more emails can be sent.

From SECU's Web site, (www.secu.org) members can click on an icon inviting them to join the CU's email list. They supply an address and can select to receive news on rates, seminars, product promotions and Web site updates. Gender information is optional, (but most members supply it, said Carson). They are asked if they have a checking account, what their age group is and if they use the Internet banking program.
Carson sends members an email that has several brief descriptions and links. "Not everyone may be interested in the full contents of a newsletter. So sending a snapshot with a link lets them click through to whatever they are interested in," he said. It also provides a way to track the number of "click throughs" to see what members are reading. SECU started the email program in December, and already 600 members are signed up. In February, Carson sent over 1100 emails (a total of all separate categories and the newsletter). While that's small number compared to SECU's total membership of 74,000 members (assets are $530 million) Carson believes it's just starting to catch on and has no plans to change to something more complex.

"This gives us everything we need right now, and it can grow. And it's not real time consuming. All you have to do is have something of value to send out. Then you can evaluate the results," Carson said.




March 25, 2002



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