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Members signing up for new accounts is just the beginning at NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union.The Alexandria, Va.-based credit union has teamed up with DigitalMailer to launch an e-mail marketing strategy designed to not only deepen member relationships from the start but help grow its bottom line.“This summer our member survey revealed that 27% of our members prefer to receive messages via e-mail,” said NARFE Premier Marketing Director Jessica Dederer. “With our widespread field of membership, traditional marketing wasn’t the right fit to get the message out about our convenient, value-added services.”According to DigitalMailer Executive Vice President Greg Crandell, the oldest and biggest misperception about e-mail marketing is that it will be viewed by members as spam.“When was the last time you saw spam in your inbox?” asked Crandell. “The filters have so improved that is hardly an issue today. The key is not to e-mail members that don’t want to receive e-mails from your credit union. Members want to know what is going on at their credit union relative to topics their interested in, and e-mail is the least intrusive, lowest cost way to deliver the information they want and need.”He added that unlike direct mailings, there is a greater longevity for e-mail messages because many members tend to keep them in their inboxes to review at a later date.With a strong member e-mail collection process already in place and wanting to do something different, Dederer decided to use DigitalMailer’s Automated Relationship Builder, an automatic e-mail marketing program.The ARB synchronizes a credit union’s data with a certified e-mail engine to automatically deliver personalized e-mails based on individual profiles at timed intervals. The system also manages e-mail lists for bad and duplicate addresses and collects delivery and open-rate data. Given a recent report that found financial institutions have 90 days to 120 days to deepen relationships with new members, Dederer concentrated her efforts on new members.“We were careful to target members who had existing relationships with us and made sure the messages were meaningful,” said Dederer.As part of the new member initiative, the $130 million credit union developed an e-mail series of seven messages, each highlighting one of its key benefits or services. To make the greatest impact, Dederer kept the messages simple, used similar design elements and delivered them at a slow and steady pace. In addition, to capitalize on the first few months of membership, NARFE Premier’s membership committee makes welcome phone calls at two weeks and at 60 days after joining.“The calls are not to push products but to really welcome the new members and see if they had any questions,” said Dederer. “So if they signed up for online banking, we’d remind them how to change their password, for example. For us, it is a way to demonstrate our more personal approach to service and that we’re here to help. The e-mail messages are another way to reinforce that.”Over a three-month period this summer, the e-mail series was sent to 282 new members. Among the members receiving the e-mails, 52 added at least one new product or service as a result of the campaign. The total number of deposit accounts grew 24%, with total deposit balances increasing $428,611. In addition, the number of loan accounts grew 190%.“After the first series, we saw an increase in members stating they were extremely satisfied with our service. I’d like to think our new on-boarding process has helped contribute to that upward trend,” said Dederer. “This has also helped build awareness and educate our members about our services.”Gearing up for the launch of the second series of e-mail messages, she added that it has also been a boon to her marketing budget’s bottom line.“This helped trim our marketing budget by 40%, and we are looking at finishing the year spending 50% less,” said Dederer. “It’s a win-win for everyone. We save money and are still able to deliver the same message with better results while reaching our members the way they want.”–[email protected]

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