Digital marketing as we know it is on its last legs, and it’s up to credit union marketers to start preparing now for the big opportunity this presents. It’s only a matter of time before changes being implemented by tech giants upend the focus of digital marketing. Credit unions, as trusted educators and partners, however, are particularly well-suited to make use of this change.
The cookies are going stale
In 2019, Mozilla and Apple both announced that they would be ending support for third-party tracking cookies. In January of this year, Google put a two-year expiration date on its support of third-party cookies. Within the next few years, just about every major browser will also close the loopholes that allow marketers to get around these changes. Because they rely on tracking cookies, this all means that digital marketing based on targeting, retargeting, display advertising, and behavioral marketing will all be shifting significantly.
Members didn’t want the cookies anyway
According to DemandMetric’s 2019 research, even those individuals who don’t yet block cookie-based ads still want something else. 70% of people prefer to learn about an organization through non-advertising content. It’s the classic game of advertising cat-and-mouse… when a platform gets too packed with ads, content consumers go elsewhere, and the advertising eventually follows. The difference today is that the internet isn’t going anywhere, but how we interact with it is changing.
For credit unions, these changes have two big impacts. We’ll need to dig deep into our own data to engage existing members differently, and focus on executing a strong integrated content strategy to attract new members.
A new recipe for member engagement
Even though third-party tracking data is being limited, first-party data will (for now) still be allowed in digital marketing. As a financial institution, you have access to a massive amount of first-party data, all connected to specific members and households. If you have not yet ensured that you have that data structured in a way you can access it, now is the time to start. Behavioral marketing is going to be the name of the game here — building out if/then triggers based on how your members behave.
Is an indirect member 3 months away from paying off their car loan? Why not encourage them to set up a savings account for vehicle maintenance and deposit what their payment would have been? Is it March of a 17 or 18-year old member’s school year? How about sending them information on keeping their accounts at your CU, even if they move away for college or to explore the world?
Even better, start the conversations with your Compliance department now about if you can upload the email addresses of these members to digital advertising outlets to target ads to them using your first-party data, instead of third-party tracking. At the same time, ensure that your frontline team all has access to this information and a way to quickly understand it, so they can start these conversations with members naturally.
Non-cookie content rules acquisition
All this behavioral data is great for members you already have data on, but how about those bank customers in your market that really need to experience the credit union difference? According to one 2020 survey, 70% of all marketing professionals are already increasing their investment in content marketing — and for good reason. Content marketing provides information and names your credit union as a trusted resource, which means that when people have financial questions, they already know who to approach for answers.
It’s an opportunity credit unions haven’t been taking full advantage of. While 93% of marketers across industries report that they have at least thought about an integrated content strategy, over 50% of financial marketers say that it’s not really on their radar. Additionally, financial institutions report doing more “ad hoc” content creation than the average business.
In other words, we know content is important, but feel like we don’t have the resources or time to make the best use of it. Credit unions have a huge advantage here, though. One of the seven cooperative principles is education, after all, and as a not-for-profit organization, we’ve instantly got more credibility. Just about every credit union is already creating something that could be the basis of a content marketing strategy.
Rather than trying to build an integrated content plan from scratch, most credit unions can start by mining the articles, blogs, videos, classes, letters, conversations, or even just office discussions that already exist in their (digital or in-person) hallways, and using that content on their social media, websites, and existing distribution outlets. Once you’ve started that wheel rolling, it’s much easier to build content marketing partnerships, add additional paid outlets, or pitch your content to new outlets.
Long live digital outlets
The death of the third-party tracking cookie has been a long time coming, and won’t happen quickly. Members and potential members, however, are savvy. It’s likely that long before the cookie is officially as dead as Adobe Flash-based websites, smart marketers will move their efforts away from marketing tactics that rely on those cookies. With a wealth of data at our fingertips and a cooperative business model that naturally encourages content that just needs to be captured, rather than created from scratch, credit unions have a big opportunity to make the best of this shift.