Originally published on CUInsight.com
How do you connect with members? Phone? E-mail? In-person? Carrier pigeon? Owl?
Each have their drawbacks, especially the pigeons, since they’re extinct. Who answers their phone anymore, and we all get so much e-mail, standing out is challenging. Not every member visits your branches, and without a letter from Hogwarts, they wouldn’t even know about the owls!
Through my work with credit unions, the medium most favored tends to be e-mail. It’s cheap, relatively easy, and can reach a wide swath of the membership. There are pretty large downsides, though. Many people receive hundreds of messages a day, then there’s the spam. Getting noticed, read, and clicked is a major victory. Despite these challenges, e-mail still makes sense. Just not as the only thing. Here’s where we listen to your marketing team and diversify engagement.
Let Me Just Check This Alert
What communication medium does nearly everyone read promptly, then act upon? Ding ding. You can go check that message…I’ll wait. Yes, text messages. Be they iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or good-old SMS (that’s the green bubble for iPhone readers), they get read. How can your credit union take advantage for member communication without “spamming”?
As you may know, there are some regulations governing phone number usage (TCPA). You can send a single service notification, but future messages require additional opt-in. There’s more to it, yet with that as a starting point, it sure doesn’t sound like a useful engagement strategy. Or is it? I know where I’m going…to get some opt-ins!
Why Text Members?
Let me back up for just a moment. Why bother texting members? Case studies found recipients of SMS reminders or calls to action acted at a much higher rate than those sent paper notices, phone calls, and e-mails. So if you want to spur members to action, there’s no more effective way than through text. But it has to be relevant. Otherwise, you’re the spam. How do we set the member expectation of hearing from their credit union?
- Display your SMS number prominently in branches and online.
- Encourage members in all interactions that if they, “Want more from their CU to add xxx-xxx-xxxx to their contacts!”
- Are you more likely to read a message from a random phone number or one which has a contact name linked?
- Place a widget on your website for members to opt-in their mobile number.
- Upon mobile banking sign-in, ask if members have their phone number in their profile.
- Provide a vCard download on website (mobile and desktop) so members can add the CU contact information in one click or tap.
- Recognize it’s their credit union
- Opt-in to receive specific messaging (which has a pre-defined maximum number of texts sent per week/month)
- Find value in the messaging,
then it can become a valuable outreach strategy.
Of course, this is only for non-secure marketing and service messages. If only there were some way to continue the conversation on that phone…
Two-Way Texting & More
Turns out, that marketing text isn’t the only thing you can do. A company called Shastic developed Elle, a two-way texting platform for credit unions. What does this enable? Well, for one, your member can answer that text. And your team can respond. It’s like a chat. In a text. Ok, it is a chat. This means your marketing out is now using the same channel as support in. With the ability to easily share documents and other information with your members. And you’re now a 24/7 operation beyond online banking.
Not all your members use that channel (though a huge portion do). And it’s about being ubiquitously available. So, keep your Twitter account active for answering public and DM (direct message) requests. Then, there’s the newest player on the block (for iOS users): Business Chat for iMessage. A few small companies are starting with it now…you know, like Wells Fargo. This platform already supports the exchange of money (ie. buying stuff) using your Apple Pay(or Apple Pay Cash) account (which, if you’re promoting, can absolutely be your cards!).
So with all these options, let’s get texting!