Play nice now, and you may get more playdates in the future.

Before trying “latest and greatest” in marketing tech…

Credit union marketers are being bombarded with so many options for the “latest and greatest” in marketing tech (marketing automation, AI, personalization, big data, chatbots, biometrics and more), that it’s hard to keep up. But we certainly pay attention. After all, the “next big thing” is always fascinating, isn’t it? Especially when it is wrapped in shiny new packaging.

Well, most of us at iDiz share that same fascination. After all, we need to stay out in front of this stuff for our clients, so knowing where to recommend investments of time and effort is pretty important.

So we held a lively office discussion on marketing tech for credit unions, and here are (essentially) the points that arose, ranging from the new and shiny to more practical advice:

Now is the time to play nice with our future robot overlords.

When it comes to SEO, credit unions need think of their website as a set of resources, providing answers for members and potential members when they want it. Even better, this focus on content will ideally position you for when most people will have a bot butler (think Alexa, Siri, or Google Home) that not only finds answers to their questions (how do I get a mortgage, what’s the most dependable electric cars for under $__K, how do I get a better deal on my credit card, etc.), but also serves as guardian of their privacy, protecting their human from unwanted ads everywhere they go online. Play nice now (add more useful answers to your content), and you may be invited for more playdates in the future.

Facebook is probably the only entity that knows more about your members than you do.

If we had to pick a “next big thing” for CUs, it might be Facebook’s ability to home in on very tight targets. You can build campaigns for “look-alike” custom audiences based on the emails of current members that match your target market. Their pricing isn’t outrageous (yet), but it will still take a strategy and investment of time. Combine that with what your CU already knows about your members, and it could be a great way to grow membership.

Get the basics right before trying the latest digital options.

Regardless of how exciting the “latest and greatest” marketing tech sounds, we don’t see many CUs ready to use these capabilities yet. Because too many could still use help improving their home banking and their websites. It’s still amazing how many sites are not mobile-friendly, have problems with accessibility, suffer from lousy SEO results, or have little or no connection to the CUs brand.

Once you have the basics right, remember there is still no single “do-it-all” option.

We’ve seen the most success when clients pick a few things they can do well, and commit the resources and time to do it right. They also stayed true to the awareness/consideration/decision buyer’s journey (help an audience notice you, then gradually get them familiar with what you offer, before you ask for the loan/ask them to join), and used multiple channels, combining traditional media with digital.

Your digital/media/product mix will be unique for your credit union.

Digital works best when combined with offline and traditional media. One or our clients does a lot of blogging (content marketing) combined with constant personal community events and outreach. They’ve released several unusual and innovative new loan products to create buzz and position them as the lender of choice. Another client does quite a bit of outreach on Facebook, and is starting to put more resources that way and move into actual advertising on Facebook, in addition to email. Yet another has recently doubled down on content (“blogging with more purpose”, you might say) and is getting more serious about SEO for key products, along with expanding a very robust email marketing program and even doing more A/B testing.

Things do seem to be improving.

It seems there’s been a certain maturation in digital marketing at CUs, a little less tendency to flit from one “next big thing” to another. CUs are also starting to get a handle on the amount of time and effort required, realizing there’s no such thing as “click and forget” — no matter how much gets automated.

Set aside some time and money to experiment with new things.

Everyone could stand to do more A/B type testing. It’s easy to set up on most platforms, but it does require more time and creative work/$$, so it often gets skipped.

Kent Dicken

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