Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: outreach

LOL, Emoji, Checking Promotion: Texting As Credit Union Member Engagement?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

How do you connect with members? Phone? E-mail? In-person? Carrier pigeon? Owl?

White Owl
This is not Hedwig.

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

iMessage Logo
Image source: Wikimedia

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.

If members:

  1. Recognize it’s their credit union
  2. Opt-in to receive specific messaging (which has a pre-defined maximum number of texts sent per week/month)
  3. 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!

Be Where Your Members Are

For the month of June, all posts will pertain to your website and how it can serve as springboard for your growth. Don’t underestimate this first impression!

“Look, there in the mural, just above the dragonfly! The wings form the Mickey ears!”

My Disney trips have always been unique. Since a young age, I was one of the Hidden Mickey hunters. If the term is new to you, that’s alright; you now count as “nearly everyone”. In a clever choice of design, Disney Imagineers added tiny Mickey Mouse ears (the three circles) into various attractions. This was part of the culture since the earliest parks, so if you look closely, every ride has at least one Hidden Mickey to find. Feel free to ask about my favorites. Right now, I’m particularly fond of the Conservation Station mural in Animal Kingdom (I’ve never seen so many in one place!).

Disney has never confirmed the existence of these Hidden Mickeys, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. They don’t have to; I know they exist. In fact, an entire cottage industry of websites and books devoted to cataloging every last one speaks for itself. I was giddy when, on this past visit, while searching for a few myself, I saw a fellow couple hunting down their own. Instant bond formed. We identified a few Mickeys together, then parted ways to resume our independent journeys.

Hidden Mickeys add a layer of excitement to the parks. It’s a little thing only a small group of us recognize. Sure, millions of people pass through Spaceship Earth, but how many notice the too-perfectly-arranged coffee stains on the 1800s desk? I’ve seen it dozens of times, yet still make a point to identify it every visit. Disney and I have a special bond; just a few more of her secrets are visible.

How about your members? Most of them likely pass through your website with nary a glance at anything but that Log In To Home Banking link. Preliminary surveys of credit unions just like yours say over 90% of site visitors do nothing but log in. And you have that whole site!

Connect with members where they are. Disney put some of their Hidden Mickeys on the lines, a place you may find yourself often. Why not represent your priority services behind the log-in, along with their home banking? Just a simple banner, nothing intrusive.

I go on excursions to find new Hidden Mickeys and often find new parts of the theme park or ride I would not have seen otherwise. Give your members a reason to explore your website! A small giveaway based on collecting scavenger hunt answers throughout your site will promote new voyages. Integrate your social media team; it’s one thing to spread a hashtag on the wider Internet, another to guide members through your own products and services.

Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing about members discussing their latest Hidden CU Clues in the lobby!

Image: Me at Country Bear Jamboree, Magic Kingdom (I looked for Hidden Mickeys there too!)

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