The numbers from December 2010 research by Pew Research Center make the case: The time for eStrategy is now.
- The vast majority of all adults are online – 95% of those are ages 18-33, which may not surprise anyone, but what about 76% of those ages 56-64?
- And even 30% of adults over age 74 are online, as well. No matter the age group, online activities are significant – and online banking ranks high among them.
- Nearly everyone has a cell phone; and among all adults who have them, 72% send or receive text messages, 34% send or receive email, and 38% access the Internet.
- Some may love it, some may hate it, but a large majority of adults – 62% – communicate daily using email.
Credit unions can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to eStrategy. As members grow more familiar with technology, their expectations are shifting. Today, they want faster, easier and on-the-go access. If their credit unions can’t keep pace, members will find other financial institutions that can.
And if one of a credit union’s goals is to attract and retain younger members – by far the most tech-savvy segment of consumers – developing an eStrategy must be part of its plan.
An effective eStrategy consists of more than providing online banking services, email alerts and a Facebook page. It’s an integrated approach for all online applications, which includes increasing service quality and member convenience using programs with current technologies and allowing for targeted opportunities.
An eStrategy also focuses on growing less dependent on branch networks and more dependent on two-way, personalized communication.
Here how to start developing an eStrategy at your credit union:
- Establish your eStrategy direction. What outcomes are you looking to achieve? Membership growth? Cutting costs? Eliminating paper? Fewer branches? Determine your eStrategy goals and devise a plan to address them.
- Elevate the “e” role at your credit union. Create an upper-level management position to oversee eStrategy and manage the efforts with company-wide objectives. Separate the processes of traditional marketing and e-marketing – they often rely on different skill sets and techniques.
- Build and confirm your contact lists. Assign someone the key responsibility of updating member contact lists, making sure email addresses and phone numbers stay accurate. Identify your members’ preferred methods of contact, so you can reach out to them when and where they want.
- Upgrade your tools and functions. Make your credit union e-friendly. Update your website and digital marketing policies to reflect members’ switch to mobile banking. Eliminate PDF downloads of online forms. Find a digital firm that understands and can help you employ targeting software to send messages to finely selected groups instead of shotgun email campaigns. And ensure your website works on the smaller screens of mobile devices.
A comprehensive eStrategy consists of several components, among them digital branch operations, mobile services, online communications, website content/process, email outreach and social media.
Done right, it can help manage both your online presence and your online business – leveraging technology to reduce costs, deepen relationships and grow your bottom line.
Stop sitting on the fence and start making a comprehensive eStrategy part of your credit union’s focus.
Ron Daly is president/CEO of DigitalMailer in Herndon, Va.