Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where do you go from here, Credit Unions?

By Margie Church

Unless you've been stranded on a desert island without connectivity to America for the past six weeks, you know all about November 5. A grassroots movement that credit unions were slow to embrace, Bank Transfer Day took off without them, leaving some racing to ride the wave of free publicity it created. 

In case you missed these eye-opening results:
  • Approximately 650,000 people have joined credit unions since September 29. This equates to more new members in October than in all of 2010.

  • Credit unions realized approximately $4.5 billion in new deposits through October.

  • 40,000 new memberships were opened on November 5, and

  • Credit unions saw $80 million in new share accounts,1 and

  • Credit unions originated $90 million in new loans.1

We may never discern what portion of this growth was motivated by Bank Transfer Day versus consumer anger about new fees and big bank arrogance. What matters is that Americans reacted, and credit unions were the big benefactors.

History has proven that Americans are fond of grassroots movements. And Bank of America likely smelled a grass fire when it cancelled its plans to institute the debit card user fee. But we all know big banks aren't going to go quietly into the sunset, licking their wounds, having finally learned not to mess with the Average Joe. They, and other banks, will find ways to increase existing fees and introduce new ways to get what they're always after – bigger profits for themselves.

Credit unions are sure to see an uptick in new business as long as this topic is kept in front of consumers. What can you do? Pick the low-lying fruit. Deepen your relationship with members by contacting them with another relevant and timely message now. 

Free checking is only one way credit unions save their members money every month. At this time of year, everyone seems to be cash-strapped. Boost your members' budgets by offering your lower-interest rate credit card. Tantalize them with savings examples when they transfer higher-rate balances. To those members who already have one of your credit cards, offer a great rate on a personal loan to help pay off holiday expenses or plan a winter get-away.

As we close out 2011, and look forward to next year, we have one piece of advice: full steam ahead.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing exclusively serves the U.S. credit union market. We provide excellent, turnkey or a' la carte creative services at a great value. Click to learn more.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No fee? Still flee?

by Margie Church

Bank of America's decision to drop its proposed debit card user fee has me wondering how credit unions will respond. The tremendous amount of negative national press has given Bank of America a black eye, yet it's given credit unions invaluable positive press. For free.  Some credit unions rushed to the unique opportunities presented by the user fee boondoggle and the Bank Transfer Day. They're communicating with members and rattling the chains of banks in their communities. 

Is your credit union going to take its "ball" and go home now, feeling the game is over? Or will you keep the pressure on to deepen relationships with your members and increase rolls because you're a better alternative?

The economy is slowly stabilizing. Consumers are cautiously spending, but they are spending. A new Bloomberg report stated this year, debit card spending in the U.S. increased 23 percent to $97 billion, and worldwide, debit card spending increased 35 percent to $62 billion. Credit card spending worldwide rose 21 percent to $469 billion from $389 billion a year earlier.* Holiday promotions are everywhere. Auto manufacturers are offering fantastic incentives to clear out 2011 inventories and they're promoting their luxury new models. Interest rates are rock-bottom low on auto loans. Many of you are promoting amazing new HELOC programs. These are all perfect ways to bring your relevant, timely, and personal messages to members and prospects alike.  Email is an inexpensive, fast way to be in touch even at year-end when budgets are spent or nearly so.
Some credit union officials have been fretting that those leaving big banks might be unprofitable members. Perhaps credit unions shouldn't be too quick to embrace them. Huh? If these people really were unprofitable, Bank of America, and others like them, would have found a different, quieter way to get rid of them long before now.** And we don't perceive these banks as the good guys just because they decided not to stick it to their clients. They just cried "uncle." Their greed will drive them to find another, less public, way to get the cash sooner or later.

Keep the heat on. Be the financial hero your community needs.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing exclusively serves the U.S. credit union market. We provide excellent, turnkey or a' la carte creative services at a great value.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Email Marketing Effective, Inexpensive

By Margie Church

Has your credit union abandoned or embraced email marketing? Since 2007, the number of retail email messages has grown 61%; it achieved a 16% increase in 2010 alone. The economics of email marketing in a down economy could certainly be part of the reason for the jump. The advent of smartphones and electronic tablets also could be contributors.

A July 2011, MailerMailer survey revealed that open rates have increased in banking and marketing, while all the other surveyed industries declined. Open rates have climbed each year to a 12.8% open rate in these two industries, too. Banking also had a 2.9% overall click rate, some of the highest in the industries surveyed. Plus, banking emails sent to 25-499 recipients, for example, had the highest click rate of 14.8%.*

That last sentence is critically important.

We believe that using data modeling to target your message is an important key to a campaign's success. Data modeling helps ensure the recipient is highly qualified and/or highly likely to respond the way you want. By using MCIF or Data Systems information, you may end up sending fewer pieces than you expected, but if the recipients are the most qualified to accept/act on your offer, isn't that more worthwhile? 

Use electronic marketing tools
Some credit unions say their members don't like email marketing, or electronic response tools such as PURLs and QR codes. We believe there will always be a portion of your membership that prefers print. It's one reason why we subscribe to a cross-channel marketing philosophy.   

But we believe totally dismissing electronic marketing is a mistake.

Revealing statistics
If members truly don't prefer electronic communications, then why is mobile banking gaining such momentum and acceptance?  In 2010, approximately 17.8 million customers used mobile banking, according to data from TowerGroup, a financial services research firm. That figure is expected to jump to 27.4 million customers in 2011. By 2013, it's predicted that 53.1 million consumers will adopt mobile banking. 

Electronic communication isn't coming. It's here and growing FAST.

        91% of the U.S. population uses a mobile device. (CTIA, 2010)
        420 million smartphones are expected to sell in 2011. That's 28% of the mobile handset market. The figure is predicted to rise to over 1 billion in 2016, comprising half the market. (IMS Research, 2011)
        23% of the U.S. population uses a smartphone. (Frank N. Magid Associates, 2010).
        97% of U.S. households use email. (e-Dialog, 2010)
        82% of smartphone users check and send email with their device. (Google, April 2011)
        Mobile's share of all opened email was 16% in March 2011, an 81% rise from October 2010. (Return Path, March 2011)

Email Campaigns: Inexpensive, Excellent Reporting
By the time you've paid for your print collateral creative, the cost to convert a piece to email can literally be pennies per address. That's right. Pennies. One auto loan can easily cover the costs of the email campaign. 

Hot and warm leads are so easy to capture with email campaigns. You'll have the email address of those who opened, clicked through the message, and you'll even know how many times they read. Choose a reporting system that manages unsubscribers for you, too. When email is combined with a PURL for responses, you're able to efficiently capture a lot of information about your membership's behavior. Over time, using email marketing repeatedly provides you a profile of your most receptive email users. There's a valuable marketing tool your credit union can use.

Gen X and Y are using their smartphones and tablets for email, banking, and so much more. Aren't these people the future of your credit union? Consumers are looking for better alternatives to big bank greed. We know that budgets are slim by this time of year. Email is an effective tactic you can use right now to keep your message in front of members.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing exclusively serves the U.S. credit union market. We provide excellent, turnkey or a' la carte creative services at a great value.