Meaningful Messages: 4 Ways To Market To Credit Unions

Credit unions are an audience unlike any other, so keep these considerations in mind to craft more effective messaging.

 
 

Know your audience. It’s a fundamental marketing concept that makes all the difference between campaigns that rake in leads and campaigns that fall flat.

No outreach — neither the most cleverly written email nor the flashiest banner ad — will reach its goal until it covers that base.

The first thing to understand about credit unions is that they’re a different audience — even when compared to other institutions in the financial services space. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity.

On the one hand, there’s a lot to learn. But on the other hand, knowing the nuances of the movement makes it easier to craft communications that truly resonate.

To get started, here are four things to keep in mind when marketing to credit unions.

Focus Messaging On Members

As non-profit cooperatives, credit unions focus on delivering value to their members.

This means classic marketing messages such as “we’ll save you time” and “we’ll make you more profitable” make a bigger impact when put into the context of how doing so will improve the financial well-being of members. For products and services that aren’t member-facing, it helps to dig deeper and think about how the benefits ultimately tie back to members.

Here’s an example:

  • Original message: Our software reduces paid man hours, thus improving your bottom line.
  • Credit union message: Our software reduces paid man hours, freeing up money for increased member dividends.

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The Credit Union Industry Is Thriving

Credit unions are performing better than banks in many key areas, and quarterly performance data shows that.

Deposits at credit unions are growing at 6.8% annually, compared with 4% at banks. On the lending side, third quarter 2017 loan growth was 10.6% at credit unions versus 3.5% at banks. The average member relationship at credit unions has increased for 20 consecutive quarters and reached $18,195 as of Sept. 30, 2017.

The industry, and many credit unions within it, are in a good place. But there are still those that are not. And that means segmentation based on performance is crucial. Credit unions not keeping up with the industry’s growth requires different messaging from those that are thriving.

Executives At Smaller Shops Think Tactically And Strategically

Think C-suite executives focus strictly on high-level strategy? Many do, but high-ranking executives at smaller credit unions often take on the burden of day-to-day tasks, too. For example, the chief marketing officer of a small credit union might also monitor the cooperative's social media accounts.

Why is that important? Because small credit unions comprise a huge piece of the industry. The National Credit Union Administration considers credit unions with less than $100 million in assets "small." As of third quarter, that included 4,170 of the industry's 5,764 total institutions — or 72% of U.S. credit unions.

When crafting messages for decision-makers at smaller credit unions, keep in mind that how a solution helps with day-to-day tasks can resonate just as much as how it benefits strategy.

Watch Out For Spam Filters

According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing generates the best ROI of any outreach channel — $38 for every $1 spent. However, credit unions have strong spam filters to protect against fraud, and marketing messages that aren’t carefully crafted can get tangled up in these filters.

To ensure a message sails through to the inbox:

  • Avoid spam words. Use words like "free," "mortgage," and "credit" sparingly. These are the kinds of words that spam filters love to hate. It’s best to avoid them when possible.
  • Stick to one image file per email. Spammers like to use multiple images in an email, and mimicking this tactic can easily get a message flagged. Include one image file, maximum, per email. If a message requires more than one image, use HTML images instead.
  • Figure out SPF and DKIM configurations. SPF helps servers prevent spam by verifying a sender’s IP address. DKIM is a signature that determines whether an email came from the identified sender. Both are vital to getting through spam filters. Find more detail here.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything that makes credit unions a distinct, special audience. But, it’s a good starting point for creating messages that resonate with credit union decision-makers.

 
 

March 9, 2021


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