5 Marketing Must-Haves for 2015 Run the Gamut
As credit unions across the country gear up for another year of new marketing campaigns, CU Times asked experts what the top marketing trends in the credit union industry will be in 2015. The experts also offered marketing advice, tips and ideas.
Digital Advertising Dominates
Credit union marketing professionals expect to see credit unions shift more dollars from traditional advertising to digital advertising.
Bo McDonald, president of Your Marketing Co. in Greenville, S.C., said he's had to hire more employees to keep up with the digital advertising demands from his cooperative clients.
“We’re allocating a lot of media dollars into digital advertising,” he said. “A lot of money has come out of traditional radio and gone into Pandora [web radio]. And a lot of money has come out from billboards and other traditional media and into online remarketing.”
However, he said some credit union clients also continue to get strong results using traditional marketing channels.
“Traditional media is by no means dead,” McDonald said. “We have a credit union that successfully uses traditional radio at its main driver of traffic. It really comes down to specific markets and the marketing messages.”
While many credit union marketers are expected to invest more of their marketing dollars into digital marketing, the big question often heard is how much they should spend in digital, James Robert Lay, president of the Pasadena, Texas-based consulting firm CU Grow, said.
Because consumers, particularly millennials, are increasing their use of digital channels for banking transactions, Lay said he believes credit unions should invest at least one third of their marketing budget in digital.
Making Digital Investments
Mark Arnold, a branding and marketing consultant at On the Mark Strategies in Carrollton, Texas, said credit unions invest more than $2 million to open a new branch and call it an asset, but they spend less than $20,000 for marketing on their website and call it an expense.
“Your members visit and spend more time on your website than any branch you have, so why are credit unions not investing more in their websites?” he asked.
Arnold said he believes that will change in 2015 because a website is the central point of any credit union's digital marketing strategy. He expects more cooperatives to evolve their sites from glorified online brochures into a sales tool that can capture what members and non-members are looking at on the site. Credit unions could then use that information to pitch content that consumers need to help them make purchasing decisions. One of the most effective ways to deliver that content is email despite annual predictions of the death of email.
“Everything that I am reading is that people are still more likely to respond to email than any other type of promotion offer that you have,” Arnold said.
Indeed, a McKinsey & Co. study found that email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media.
Ninety-one percent of U.S. consumers still use email daily, according to McKinsey. Additionally, nearly 45% of all marketing emails are opened on a mobile device.
Predicting What Members Want
Attempting to predict what products and services members and non-members will want next has traditionally been a hit or miss proposition. However, recent advancements in software products around the compilation of big data, or pulling consumer information from various databases, and then utilizing predictive analytic solutions, are now enabling financial institutions to anticipate the next product or service their customers are most likely to buy.
Alan Bergstrom, chief marketing officer for the $526 million Community Choice Credit Union in Farmington Hills, Mich., said he expects more credit unions will be leveraging big data, or psychographics, as well as predictive analytical solutions in 2015.
“While I worked at the CUNA Mutual Group we were very quickly moving toward big data and predictive analytics to be able to fine tune and customize our messages,” he said. “In the past, the standard approach was to take a [demographic] data base and market a product or service to members on a data base who didn't have a product or service with the credit union. That is going away.”
Demographic data explains who the member is based on age, gender, education, income and marital status. But psychographics, which pulls information about consumers from a variety of databases, can explain why consumers buy. Psychographics classifies people based on psychological and lifestyle traits such as attitudes, habits, interests and opinions.
Psychographics can help credit unions define their target markets, enable the credit union to establish a distinctive brand and allow employees to clearly communicate and deliver that brand value to members, Matt Purvis, a brand and marketing consultant in Eugene, Ore., explained.
“Many institutions resist this essential step, feeling that by establishing precise bulls-eye – even multiple targets – too many consumers will be left out of play,” Purvis said.
Making It Real With Video Marketing
Bergstrom also foresees that more credit unions will use video marketing to tell their story in 2015.
“There are a number of social media platforms that are capable of supporting video content, and I think consumers are more and more comfortable engaging with video content,” he said. “I think in 2015 we are going to see more credit union video content from a marketing perspective and from a brand-building perspective.”
More than 188 million Americans watched 52 billion videos by the end of 2013. That is projected to increase by more than 201 million by 2017, according to Invodo, a visual content company in Austin, Texas. Moreover, in October 2014, YouTube revealed more than half of all video views originated from mobile devices, which taps into a younger audience of consumers.
But in today's marketplace, it's not enough to post run-of-the-mill videos such as television commercials on YouTube or member testimonials on Facebook.
“People are responding to video that contains some element of emotion that engages them,” Bergstrom explained.
What Bergstrom sees emerging among large companies is “storymonials,” which is telling the story about the brand and how it affects or engages the lives of customers.
The Latino Market Is Calling
Last year, President Obama initiated executive orders that would allow nearly five million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants to continue living in the U.S.
John Andrade, CEO of Andrade Communicators and Lionel Sosa, founder of Sosa & Sosa Consultation and Design, said the president's new policy represents a huge opportunity for credit unions. Both companies based in San Antonio collaborate on credit union marketing projects.
“These are acculturated upwardly mobile, family-oriented, hard-working Latinos, which makes them a natural fit for credit unions,” Sosa said.
Though serving the undocumented Hispanic market has been met recently with controversy in the credit union industry, Andrade and Sosa said they believe the overall social and political awareness of immigration issues will lead some cooperatives to step up their marketing messages to attract new Hispanic members.
Coopera, a Hispanic market solutions company in Des Moines, Iowa, announced in early January a national campaign with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in New York to reach unbanked and underbanked immigrants in the U.S. with credit union products and services linked to immigration and legalization efforts.”