Having a great digital product and experience is a noteworthy achievement. But if your marketing strategy isn’t meeting your financial institution’s needs, potential members may be left in the dark as to what you have to offer.
Luckily, there are many options financial institutions can explore to let their communities know what they can do for them and their money.
To help credit unions along their marketing journey, Narmi Product Marketing Manager Audrey Song joined EmpowerFi President Kelly Hellickson and Martin Communications Account Director Matt Caylor for the 2022 Evoke Marketing Conference. Sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group and CrossState Credit Union Association, this conference tackled all the creative, innovative ways financial institutions can tap into their markets through everything from social media to storytelling.
While this conference was specifically aimed at credit unions, community banks can also pick up valuable tips on the discipline of marketing and connecting with a wide variety of audiences.
Here are some key takeaways covered by the panel of marketing professionals:
Just like products themselves, the way of talking about products has to reflect your member base. What may work for one population may turn off another, and knowing which tactics are the most engaging for your target audience is crucial for meeting all of your members where they are.
While some people may feel at home on newer apps like TikTok and Instagram, others may prefer to communicate via email or phone call. Martin Communications Account Director Matt Cayor explains that while the urge to dive into the latest communications tool is tempting, marketers should first consider its relevance to their specific audience: “We in the marketing world see bright and shiny toys very regularly, but that doesn't mean you should pick up that bright and shiny toy and play with it right away. When you're looking at things like TikTok, make sure it fits your local community.”
One point all of the panelists agreed on is that just because some marketing channels are available today doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be explored. With so many options, it’s worth looking into those channels and seeing if they’re a good fit for your institution.
Narmi Product Manager Audrey Song explains the different approaches financial institutions take to the many communications options available. “Some would argue to choose your channels appropriately, and others think you have to be everywhere, depending on the industry that you're in and how much you want to scale,” she says. “We at Narmi like to be everywhere and get in front of every channel, whether it be through videos, social media, or email marketing.” She also notes that thanks to digital, options like virtual conferences, webinars, and meetups are accessible even to smaller-scale banks and credit unions as a way to reach their customers and members.
On the other hand, EmpowerFi President Kelly Hellickson points out that while digital has seemingly infinite possibilities, there’s a whole world outside of computers and devices to consider as well. “Five years ago, it was digital, digital, digital, but since COVID, I think a lot of folks are experiencing digital and especially email fatigue,” she says. “So we do a lot with series mailers and infusing print media into the ecosystem we build for our clients.” Essentially, a crated ,multi-channel approach might be the best outreach strategy for your credit union.
Knowing who your audience is and how they operate and communicate is crucial, but first, that information has to be accessed. That’s where data comes in, and it’s why collecting and analyzing data is so crucial to reacting in near real-time to customer and member trends. “It's super important that your CRM data is connecting with your marketing platforms,” Matt says. “You need to be collecting your first party data. You may not have a way to intake it right now into your marketing platform, but you need to be looking at those kinds of solutions.”
And once the data is collected, arranging it into usable patterns is the next step. “Harness it. Aggregate it, get it into one spot, one location, and then catalog and comb through it. Assess it,” says Kelly. “We can even personify your membership, segment it, and categorize it based on behavior. Behavior plays a really big role and that's something that credit unions now have access to.”
A tool like Narmi Analytics is one such way financial institutions can harness the power of data to meet their customers’ needs based on real-world feedback. Narmi Analytics helps sort and track their data to make informed decisions regarding products, marketing, and communication. “It’s really the meat and potatoes of how you're going to intelligently market to someone,” Audrey explains. “What are their transactions? How are they engaging with their mobile banking app? What are they spending money on? All of that information is aggregated into an analytics platform.”
The best way a financial institution’s marketing team can understand what their customers and members are dealing with is to experience the same thing. “What is your experience like? If it's not good, that's a problem and maybe it’s worth considering partnering with your digital teams to revamp that experience,” Audrey says. “You're trying to drive traffic to your website to open accounts and to drive new memberships. No matter how much marketing you put towards these efforts, if people are getting to your digital front door but not making it through, that’s a huge red flag.”
Kelly echoes the sentiment. “We have a client who just applied for an auto loan, and he said it was the most painful experience he’s ever been through. So it is a marketer's issue to solve,” she says. “Experiencing the process through your member's eyes is something that, if you're not doing, you really should be.”
If you find the digital experience lacking, whether it’s account opening or otherwise, immediate action is needed to improve things. And that requires the marketing team and digital team or partner to act in synchronization to create the perfect user experience. But marketing has to be the driver, stresses Audrey: “Some might argue that this is a digital issue, but it is a marketing issue.”