Not everyone is ready to saddle up the digital marketing monster

The fun and easy way to dip a toe into digital marketing

We understand that every credit union is at a different place in their digital marketing journey. Not everyone is ready to saddle up the digital marketing monster and thunder off into the e-sunset.

Especially if your time is limited and your budget is even more limited.

But if you ARE interested in knowing a bit more about the digital marketing monster, we recommend you start the easy way – through email marketing.

By starting first with email – a solution you already know something about – you’ll begin to learn your way around, you’ll be able to do some experimenting, and heck, you’ll probably even get some results to show your boss. And you’ll be much better prepared to expand your digital marketing efforts as you gain experience.

Most of the major email companies (Constant Contact, Emma, MailChimp, etc.) offer solutions that are almost like “light” versions of CRM software. Beyond simply tracking “opens” and “clicks” on emails, you can also personalize, test subject lines, segment groups, send polls, link to events, and much, much more.

Plus they don’t require a long-term contract, or cost a fortune to try.

When our clients have asked our opinion on which email company to use, we usually recommend Mailchimp. They offer a free level where you can manage a list of up to 2,000 contacts and send up to 12,000 emails a month. That’s plenty to get started and learn your way around basic email, and when you’re ready to go further with digital marketing, their costs are pretty reasonable.

Best of all, they’re the most transparent about how to use their product, with plenty of helpful online resources when you have questions.

But picking an email company is just the beginning. To make things easier, we’ve put together this  step-by-step guide to turning email into a digital marketing platform:

1. Decide what you’re going to market

What are you promoting currently, and what would be a good fit for an email campaign? You want something specific, easy to understand, and where there’s an easy, immediate specific action members can take. For example, a skip-a-pay program with a secure online form on a landing page could work well.

Things like a mortgage campaign or an e-newsletter probably aren’t ideal email starters; there’s no clear call to action or immediate payoff for the credit union, or taking action is a lot more involved than a quick online form. Email is a great platform for this type of marketing, but you’d need more of an automated long-term nurturing campaign. Save that for later.

2. Generate an experimental list

Hopefully, you have current email addresses for most of your members. You’ll need to export a list from your MCIF or systems based on whatever criteria fit your product. You could also pick about 1,000 people at random. You’ll need a CSV (a standard text data format you can export from Excel) with email, first name, and last name. Here’s more info on importing your list.

3. A little tech talk first

So that members will trust that your emails are actually coming from the credit union, you should set up Custom Domain Authentication. This gives Mailchimp permission to send emails on your behalf. This involves a heavy dose of technical acronyms (adding DKIM and SPF info to DNS, oh my), so get in touch with your tech and website folks to set this up using these instructions.

4. Start building your email

Again, Mailchimp has a fantastic guide and lots of templates, so I won’t rehash it. This is the fun part. Enjoy!

                  But before you hit “send”…

5. Pay close attention to your message and call to action

  • Is it crystal clear what you want people to do, what will happen, and how they will benefit?
  • Are you making a strong, easily understandable offer?
  • Is it easy for people to respond immediately?
  • At the same time, don’t use a hard sell. Make sure the email is informative and interesting.
  • And keep it short. Very short.

6. Build a landing page

An “Apply Now” link straight to your 400 question car loan app isn’t clear, easy or helpful. Most people aren’t going to be ready to apply right this second, so your landing page for something like a car loan campaign should include more of the resources people might need, like current rates, a loan calculator, a quick “more info” form if they have questions, links to blog articles on getting the best price on used cars, etc.

In other words, there’s ideally more than one action a visitor might take. You’ll need to be able to measure success by other forms of engagement.

You’ll also want to make sure your landing page is trackable; the easiest way is to make sure it has a unique URL, so you know that visitors to this page came from this specific campaign and you can track time on page, behavior, etc. in your site’s Analytics.

7. Make sure everyone’s ready

This seems simple, but it’s often overlooked: make sure people involved in fulfillment or responding to your email campaign are ready, and understand when there’s an email campaign going out.

Okay, now press send.

Next: evaluate, remix, and experiment!

After you hit “send”, log in to Mailchimp over the next several days and see how it’s doing. Yes, a small percentage of “unsubscribes” is normal, especially if they haven’t gotten email from you before; try not to get too despondent over these.

Meanwhile, set up the followup; you can’t send just one email and forget about it. Follow up with another offer after a week or two. If the offer is expiring, send another email a few days before. Try sending one headline to half your list, and a different headline to the other half.

Track results. Experiment with options. Remix to see what works even better.

The results will tell you what is working and what isn’t. And before you know it, you’ll be on your way to becoming a Digital Marketing pro!