3 Easy Ways for Credit Unions to Get Started with Marketing Automation

This post originally appeared in CU Insight.

You’ve probably heard of marketing automation, and you may already be dabbling in it. But chances are, the prospect of implementing a comprehensive marketing automation strategy makes you feel overwhelmed. You’re not alone. According to the Digital Growth Institute, more than two-thirds of banks and credit unions don’t currently take advantage of automated marketing technology.

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to go all in all at once. These community banks and credit unions are starting small when it comes to marketing automation, but already they are seeing impressive results. Here’s how you can, too:

1. Begin building and segmenting your email list by leveraging in-person events

A personal touchpoint with a prospective member is a huge opportunity—don’t let it go to waste! Truity Credit Union asks attendees at informational events fill out questionnaires, and the credit union uses this data to segment its lists based on interest in various financial services. Truity then sends out customized email campaigns based on a prospect’s self-reported interests. Before, Truity’s emails had an 18 to 25 percent open rate, but after implementing a marketing automation strategy, open rates jumped up to 36 percent and have been as high as 54 percent.

Credit card applications have also skyrocketed. Kyle Dahlgren, Assistant VP of E-commerce at Truity explains, “We did pretty well with those in the past, but now they’re sensational… The first week we went live, we were flooded with hundreds of new credit card applications. That’s a good problem to have.”

2. Incentivize website visitors to give you their email address 

If you don’t have a way to follow up with prospects, your marketing automation efforts will not go very far. BNB Bank’s recently launched website doesn’t offer online account opening or loan applications, but it still gives prospective customers a clear next step from its product pages—that is, to speak with a banker or lender. A streamlined form then captures only the critical information while providing valuable insights to the bank on the specific products or services the prospect is interested in. Not only do prospects who fill out the form have an opportunity to experience an in-person touchpoint with the bank, but the bank’s integrated marketing automation tool can now deliver content that speaks directly to their areas of interest.

Consider other reasons a prospect might provide you with an email address and incorporate the relevant tools or forms into your site. Perhaps you can develop helpful content, like a home-buying or car-buying guide, to be delivered via email, or perhaps an online scheduling tool for branch appointments can help to capture critical information. You could even have some fun with a financial fitness quiz or online poll.

3. Send triggered email series to welcome new customers or members

Of course, marketing automation shouldn’t stop when a prospect becomes a customer—in fact, at this point, nurturing the relationship becomes all the more critical. While “welcome series” for new customers are nothing new, surprisingly few financial institutions have an active onboarding campaign in place.

First Tech Federal Credit Union has created an award-winning onboarding experience for new members during their first month of membership. The campaign combines emails introducing members to First Tech’s values and mission with offline actions such as scheduling follow-up phone calls to further nurture the relationship.

With this campaign, First Tech has increased the number of members who opened a checking account by almost 20 percent, and the credit union has created similar improvement in other categories, including enrollment in direct deposit, use of e-statements, average deposits, and use of online banking. First Tech’s marketing team considers marketing automation something of a “secret weapon” for delivering the right communications at the right time.

Many credit unions believe that the success of marketing automation hinges on investing in the right software. It’s an important piece of the puzzle, to be sure, but whichever tool you use, the real magic of marketing automation lies in collecting and leveraging the relevant information. Communications and repetitive tasks might now be automated, but that doesn’t mean they should be on autopilot. Instead of “setting it and forgetting it,” the key to success is to start small, consistently monitor your results, adapt your approach, and work toward your next goal.

Hannah talking on the phone