The Importance Of Getting Names Right

Credit unions can be more effective in marketing if they get personal with their messages.


The world is getting more wired everyday, making it harder to disconnect from digital communication. American mobile phone ownership will grow to 121 million households — or 88% of the United States households — by the end of 2012, according to the Tower Group. Another study suggests almost half of those phones are email and web-enabled smartphones. Add to that the explosion of people using iPads and tablets, and the number of access points and connectivity options become staggering.

I am one of the wired individuals. My nightly routine after dinner is to check my personal and business email on my iPhone or iPad. Last night, I found 13 new emails since I last checked before dinner. First thing I did was hit the edit button, quickly scanning the from and subject lines, along with previewing the first three lines of each email without opening them. I deleted eight of the 13 messages. Why? My name is Ron. Any email greeting me as Ronald is instantly deleted. They don’t know me and are simply not important to me.

Later that evening, someone calls to speak to Mrs. Dolly. I know there’s no “i” or “e” in the name Daly, but it’s pronounced Day-Lee. The mispronounced name is an instant signal that the caller is no one that anyone in our house cares to talk to.

So what is your routine? What makes you think your members are different than you or me?

Don't Be Part Of All The Noise

The use of smartphones has exploded for both business and personal use, leaving credit union marketers keenly interested in how to best use this technology to reach members. But because so many advertisers still follow a broadcast approach, people tune out most of the communications they receive — up to some 5,000 ads a day, according to Yankelovich Monitor, which tracks social trends and marketing implications.

Consumers want and prefer offers and notices tailored to their interests. That means credit unions need to stop sending identical promotional offers to all members and start tailoring messages toward individual recipients. Data-mining tools allow marketers to know a lot about consumers, letting them design personalized messages addressing specific needs and interests.  

As easy as it is to shotgun messages, some credit unions are shifting toward one-to-one communication. Two credit union examples come to mind: Northwest Federal Credit Union ($2.3B, Herndon, VA) and Belvoir Federal Credit Union ($297.7M, Woodbridge, VA).

Northwest FCU recently deployed an ad engine that drives banners, images, and content based on products and services that their members currently don’t have with the credit union. The ad engine is connected to eStatements and soon will be connected to online banking, mobile banking, mobile apps and even certain areas of NWFCU’s website.

Each time the ad engine identifies a member online, it presents a targeted advertisement based on the next product or service that member should be interested in. Products can be ranked based on profitability to the credit union, and messages can be tailored to existing products the member currently has or for products they might use based on the actions of similar members.

Belvoir FCU decided to reshape and personalize its eMarketing approach, reaching out to members that had available lines of credit on their existing home equity lines. The credit union created one email template that took personalized information from each Home Equity Line and switched out various aspects of the email campaign. Based on the level of credit available, the image was switched out to show items that the credit could be used for, such as cars, boats, vacations, renovations, and even second homes.

The content was also switched to include the member’s first name and the exact dollar amount of credit available. Belvoir FCU’s Automatic Relationship Builder email engine set up the ads and delivered them with individualized messages. Your credit union can ensure that personal touch — getting the right offer to the right member at the right time — with new eMarketing channels, enhanced digital technologies that improve MCIF systems’ ability to pinpoint member activities, and a little creative copywriting.

Make It Personal: Getting Started

Lack of personalization — or having the wrong personalization — is rapidly becoming a filter for individuals to delete or emotionally unsubscribe from your messages. It’s critical that the person on the other end of your digital communication feel like you know them.

One company that does this remarkably well is BMW. I own one, and every single email I receive from BMW has my correct name and the image of the exact model and color of car that I own. Not a picture of a car — a picture of my car.

So how hard is it to drive your messaging toward one-to-one communication? Easier than you think, especially with the data you have and the technology capable of using it. Take BMW’s personalization example above. The last time I looked, a loan application includes the year, make, and model for the vehicle needing funding. And I’ll bet it includes the color, too. By simply getting that information into the right email system or ad engine, you can personalize future communication about that vehicle’s loan.

Opening data, any data, for event-driven marketing allows your credit union to position messages as if they were being sent to a best friend. These steps can get you there:

Form a work team. A one-to-one strategy is only as good as the commitment by marketing, IT and business development to make it work. Create a work team, led by your credit union’s eMarketing expert, to ensure all are on the same page and have the authority to move forward.

Build a good database. As with any eMarketing program, you need to collect, update and use information personal to each relationship — a member’s nickname, birth date, email addresses, cell and home phone numbers, children names, college, etc.

Select the right technology. Make sure you have the necessary e-tools to start driving your marketing toward targeted, one-to-one messaging. State-of-the-art email engines and MCIF databases are a great start.

Allow broader access to MCIF data. Ad Engine Technology can do some pretty amazing things when it’s fine-tuned with actual information on individual members. Information locked inside a core or a traditional MCIF system is underutilized if it isn’t shared outside these silos.

To create an effective marketing outreach — and, more significantly, to grab members’ attention — make the shift toward targeted, one-to-one marketing. These days, members expect us to communicate to their felt needs. If your marketing messages aren’t personal, they’re likely irrelevant.