Picture of Allie Aitken Written by Allie Aitken
on November 23, 2020

In our most recent post, we talked about the evolving attitudes of credit unions towards digital adoption and the challenges they face to digitize at the rapid pace forced upon them by COVID-19.

One thing is certain, if credit unions want to expand their membership reach and compete against community banks and bigger banks, they’ll need to compete on services and digital experiences. Read on for the strategies that we’re seeing leading marketing agencies use to help their credit union clients do just this.

1: Top agencies put themselves in the driver’s seat

Instead of taking a back seat, or simply executing, leading marketing agencies position themselves as active strategists. An agency’s first task is to better understand the specific business needs of their credit union client (e.g. if the credit union is succeeding to acquire members but having high churn). From there, top agencies identify any untapped opportunities that the credit union is not currently capitalizing on—whether that opportunity is to improve the loan experience, do more cross-selling, or something else. Presenting their findings and ideas to the credit union is always done proactively, with the aim of getting the client thinking outside of the box.


2: They leverage data like never before

Credit unions usually need help gathering and interpreting both first-party and third-party data in order to personalize their member/credit union customer interactions. Credit unions often have the first party data in their possession, but sometimes don’t know what to do with it in order to develop marketing and communications strategies that will get them better results. Or they might have it, but not be able to access it easily and dynamically. The agency’s role is to connect their clients with the tech platforms that can facilitate this. Then, credit unions and agencies can jointly figure out what data they need, and can build out campaigns around that. Rather than sending generic offers out, who wouldn't want to use their data to identify members with a high propensity to leave and then focus on strategies to retain them?


3: They explore leading-edge digital technologies

Before an agency can help a client catch up, they first must become more digitally savvy themselves. We’re seeing some leading agencies doing this through the introduction of new roles, hiring employees who specialize in marketing operations and are responsible for the technology and processes that are now required to execute on a digital marketing strategy, for example. The emphasis on technical knowledge that’s being required of agencies is also being supported through cross-pollination amongst teams. For example, many agencies are now inviting their data analysts to not only sit in on marketing meetings (instead of just IT meetings), but to actually become part of the marketing teams. Similarly, in some cases, we’re seeing that top agencies are partnering or even acquiring smaller, specialty digital agencies in order to be able to offer the capabilities of the smaller agency.


4: They leverage multiple channels

Pre-COVID, agencies were focused on helping credit unions with their in-branch, direct mail, and email marketing campaigns. Today, agencies are migrating marketing campaigns to other channels: either self-serve (OLB, apps, chatbots, etc.), or digital methods of allowing customers personalized contact with branch personnel, such as video banking. These days, there’s an equal focus on acquisition and retention campaigns, with an aim of appealing to the younger generation. With this in mind, agencies are moving beyond the purchasing of mailing lists for direct mail, to new focuses on geofencing digital campaigns and gathering online reviews.


5: They’re going after the low-hanging fruit

In today’s uncertain economic landscape, savvy agencies are guiding their credit union clients through a process of seeking out specific examples of low-hanging fruitmeaning easy ways to increase revenue and client retention. It's a hard time to revamp processes or to make infrastructure investments. But it's a good time to automate as many processes as possible, so that they can build on those processes later. By finding ways to automate data synchronization, agencies are helping credit unions to put into place campaigns that automate standard key processes, such as member onboarding.


A new way forward

It’s critical that agencies that work with credit unions and community banks understand that they can’t just rest on their laurels, waiting for the pandemic to pass us by. Now is not the time to remain stuck in an era of billboards, busses, bench advertising, pamphlets, and lobby donuts. It’s a great time for credit unions to make big changes, and test things that customers would normally be resistant to.


One example we’ve seen was with our client Numerica Credit Union. They set up a virtual lobby manager at one of their central Washington branches to help minimize face-to-face exposure. Members who visit the branch are greeted and guided by a live person working remotely nearby. Now that’s thinking outside the box!


The good news is that we’re seeing marketing agencies stepping it up and becoming more competitive in the digital space. Offering creative solutions to help their credit union clients maximize their profitability is a must at this time. 


At Prisma, we’ve partnered with marketing agencies and helped them tap into new revenue streams by giving them access to credit union data, enabling segmented campaigns through one central location, and boosting bandwidth for the number of campaigns that can be run at a given time. In a nutshell, we can help unleash your marketing capabilities, and minimize your learning curve in the new paradigm. 

Sounds interesting? Book a call with us to learn more.


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