Digital Channels Now the Norm to Expand Outreach
If you want to apply technology to your marketing efforts, don't figure that's just the job of the marketing department.
That's the word from the $76 million St. Cloud Federal Credit Union in Sartell, Minn., which has plans to introduce in 2014 online services including mobile banking, mobile deposit, membership application, loan payments and account to account transfers.
A key driver is an effort to attract young members from Generation Y, born in the 1980s and 1990s, who expect their financial institution to offer the technology they embrace so eagerly, according to the credit union.
“If we’re not online, we don't exist,” Duane Otremba, vice president of marketing, said. “We’re not thinking in terms of just the marketing department because the whole organization is a marketing organization. It involves everyone on the front line, working with members. I’m sure it's more important at that level than any brochures we can put out or billboards or advertising. It requires member education, and that's done on a one-to-one basis.”
A popular school district calendar from Cy-Fair Credit Union is now available as an app.
It also demands reaching out to those young members electronically, Otremba said. For instance, an e-mail goes out alerting them the credit union now offers mobile banking. While some experts say a 2% to 4% response rate is good, some of SCFCU's e-mails have been scoring a 20% to 35% response, Otremba said. An e-mail touting ID theft recovery service and credit monitoring on checking accounts garnered a 35% open rate.
Is there a challenge in deploying technology?
“Security,” Alyce Justin, executive vice president at SCFCU, quickly responded. “We can't control what they (members) do. It comes down to the end user; if they don't put a code on their phone and they lose their phone. The Target data breach was huge. Now, people are listening.”
Mobile deposit offers an example of how eager people are to use technology. It's only been available for a month at SCFCU and hasn't really been marketed yet, according to the credit union. However, people are searching online to find financial institutions that offer mobile deposit or other services they want and they also prefer apps they can download, not browser-based access.
As for the return on investment, Otremba and Justin said they’re taking a very long-term look that includes simply offering the technology members want.
Dean Nolan, vice president of product and marketing at analytic service firm Saylent Technologies in Franklin, Mass., said getting a credit union to commit to investing in technology can be a challenge.
“A lot of them are conservative, and are reluctant to invest in something unless there's a guaranteed return,” Nolan explained. “When you’re dealing with marketing, you can't say, ‘it will be this exact number.’ One way to measure ROI is on a specific program level. For example, one of our credit unions focused on a program to increase card portfolio usage. A member could earn a $20 or $40 gas card depending on how much they spent.”
Saylent measured the results right at the end of that campaign to see how many people took advantage of it and then at three, six, nine and 12-month increments. The firm found that the program's ROI was 408% over the year and the average balance per card increased 156%.
A St. Cloud FCU e-mail touting ID theft recovery and credit monitoring drew a 35% open rate.
Nolan said a credit union not only wants to get a lift during the program, it also wants to encourage a behavior change that yields long-term benefit. So there are two questions he hears all the time: How do I get my data? How do I make it actionable?
“When you invest in a complete solution, it's not only going to generate insights, but take those insights and make them actionable to marketing campaigns and developing relationship products,” Nolan stressed.
Don't let size stop you, he continued. It makes sense to large credit unions with a large staff to bring the tools in-house and run them. Small credit unions may hesitate but vendors like Saylent can run programs for them.
Nolan also noted that during the Target breach, credit unions were able to use transactional information to identify members who had shopped at Target, notify them immediately, and advise them that their old card was being replaced with a new one.
Dan Chaney at FI-Mobile, a mobile product and service provider in Austin, Texas, suggested a credit union's willingness to apply technology to marketing depends more on corporate culture than asset size.
“A lot of it has to do with the influence of marketing at the organization,” he said. “Members are looking for certain things. They’re hopefully communicating with the financial institution about what they want, and the financial institution is responding.”
Chaney added, “The demographic that is growing – and we’re able to show this – is a younger demographic that will shop for what kind of mobile presence the financial institution offers. It's all about user experience.”
From the credit union's perspective, there's growing emphasis on analytics and being able to track all aspects of a marketing campaign including how many people are visiting and from what geographic area to what is the click-through and conversion rates.
Chaney said a key concern is the loyalty rate. Eighty-three percent of all apps in general that are downloaded are used once, he pointed out. The credit union wants to know how many members who downloaded an app are repeat users.
Getting people to adapt and adjust can be a challenge, agreed Brett Wooden, senior vice president of marketing and innovation at the $182 million Cy-Fair Credit Union in Houston.
One way the credit union is addressing the challenge involves a very popular academic calendar, Wooden said. The school district, with 22,000 employees, is Cy-Fair's largest single employee group. Each year, the credit union offers a calendar listing significant dates on the school schedule. Those dates often change as the year progresses. Instead of reprinting the calendar, Cy-Fair now offers it as an app.
One of Saylent Technologies' credit union clients used technology to measure card portfolio usage.
“What's beautiful about this is it is credit union branded, but it allows us to put in updated information. It allows us to market through the app, and to issue push notification if, for example, the credit union is closed due to weather. The app is fully integrated with all mobile devices,” Wooden explained.
The calendar makes bottom-line sense, he said. Over time it's expected to pay for itself because, instead of creating recurring printing costs, the app is basically a one-time expense.
Cy-Fair President/CEO Cameron Dickey noted technology often seems expensive and a credit union has to select which technology to adopt.
“But I would argue mobile technology is not actually that expensive,” Dickey said. “We can leverage the cooperative credit union environment. We have developed this in such a way that we can easily put in another brand and logo and resell this to other credit unions.”
Another way of introducing members to technology involves iPad training at the branches to acquaint members with options such as remote deposit capture. Credit union representatives can also open an account, initiate a loan application and provide other services at a member's place of business or home.
“We’re not only doing it for the benefit of our financial products, but to make our members’ lives better,” Wooden said.