Putting the Virtual Toolbox to Use

Having put the online tools in place, CUs are now shifting gears and using existing technology to increase loans, revenue and member value. Here is how CUs are expanding the strategic contact point they have created while making the virtual tools work for them…




Putting the "Virtual Toolbox" to Use

Having put the online tools in place, CUs are now shifting gears and using existing technology to increase loans, revenue and member value. Here is how CUs are expanding the strategic contact point they have created while making the virtual tools work for them….

What is a "Virtual Toolbox"?

Virtual toolboxes vary by CU but usually consist of these online services: a web site, eStatements, eLerts, eSurveys, online banking, bill pay and online applications & forms. The one strategic thread that runs through most of these tools is a member’s email address. Having this address increases interactivity between a CU and its member; however, gaining the member’s permission to use their email has always been a challenge facing credit unions.

Creating an Integrated Communication Strategy

Virtual tools, like eStatements and eLerts, are successful vehicles for gaining a member’s permission to use their addresses for communication. An integrated communication strategy focuses on online tools and email addresses to create opportunities to sell products and create competitive advantages. Today’s tools have helped members establish an "e" comfort level and allowed the credit union to become an "invited guest" in the member’s email box. When a CU deploys as many tools as possible it creates entry points to members along the technology path and lets the member choose their "e" comfort level (i.e. they might be willing to use eLerts but not online banking). In deploying tools that create these entry points they;

  • Chase 100% of their members;
  • Fill some of the voids inherent in other Internet products
  • Expand the strategic contact point;
  • "Grow" the member into the next technology step; and
  • Generate additional revenue

CUs using Internet tools as part of a web strategy have found that they are successfully creating a strategic contact point to inform and interact with their members. In addition, they have been able to increase business and generate additional revenue by "pulling" members to their web site for information, "targeted" offers and electronic delivery of products. Most tools are reducing "per transaction" costs, enhancing interactivity and delivering products and services 24/7.

Strategic Example & Results

Northwest Services LLC and NWFCU recently partnered to send a joint email campaign to members announcing the CUSO’s new web site. They sent an offer to over 18,000 email addresses they had on file from eStatements with the following results:

  • 2,100 additional visitors came to the CUSO’s web site (11.7%);
  • 234 new sign-ups for monthly eNewsletter (11.1% of the visitors);
  • 300+ members signed up for at least one eLert (14.2% of the visitors);
    • New product elerts increased from 0 to 254
    • Helpful tips elerts increased from 0 to 239
    • Information on investments elerts increased from 0 to 227

"Where Do I Go From Here?" -- Evolution of an eService Strategy

eStatements will continue to be one of the major strategic contact points between a CU and its member. Realizing this, "early adopting" CUs that launched PDF statements based on cost-savings alone, are looking to switch eStatement providers to take advantage of improved eStatement technology and product enhancements as their contracts expire. They are seeking ways to recapture the lost marketing opportunities in the original products, collect and use members’ email addresses to communicate more regularly. As eStatement contracts are coming up for renewal, early adopter CUs are starting to:

  • Convert PDF products to HTML products to gain a new look and interactivity with their members;
  • Replace generic eStatement notifications with tailored, custom notifications delivered by digital communication specialists;
  • Add online enrollment services;
  • Add check images to their eStatements;
  • Add targeted marketing modules that use MCIF data; and
  • Make e-statements available to both online banking and non-online banking members to achieve higher adoption rates.

The "Virtual Toolbox" Series

Our recent series of articles focused on the virtual tools deployed by CUs ranging from $75 million Prince Georges Employees FCU (www.pgefcu.org) to $1.2 billion NWFCU (www.northwestfcu.org).

eLerts: Creating a Wow for your Member

e-Mail: Do CUs want to be Just Like Spammers?

RequesteChecks: An eStatement Member Benefit That Increases Adoption

eSurveys: Marketing on the Internet – Before Talking, Listen

DigitalMailer has authored FREE reports about each of these "virtual tools" and made them available on our website. To receive a FREE copy of the report ? Electronic Messaging Tips for e-Mail Success" click on the report icon or send an email to info@digitalmailer.com and we will process your request.

To subscribe to our E-mail newsletter that shares resources, industry trends, best practices and valuable lessons learned from credit unions and financial service providers, click on the icon or the link below: http://www.digitalmailer.com/newsletter.html

DigitalMailer is a digital communication company with products such as e-Lerts, eSurveys and eStatements that assist credit unions in gaining a strategic business advantage via the Internet. Please contact Ron Daly rdaly@digitalmailer.com or Greg Crandell gcrandell@digitalmailer.com for additional information or to share your ideas and comments.

© 2004 DMI




April 19, 2004


  • As you say, the biggest challenge is getting the member's permission to market to the e-mail address. Some advice there would help.
  • Timely