Next generation members: Acquisition, retention and engagement

How does a financial institution go about attracting a young, ambitious, socially engaged individual when “banking” isn’t exactly considered sexy? Simple. Throw an Instagram filter on it. Ok so perhaps not literally, but figuratively, read on to find out how you can add that next generation flare to member acquisition, retention, and engagement.

Parental Influence

According to, both Millennials and parents are most receptive to personalized marketing when it comes to banking products. In fact, a July survey conducted by Harris Poll determined that 67% of Millennials (ages 18-34) who have a bank account would be willing to see a personalized ad from their bank to help them reach their personal financial goals for life events. The same question was asked of consumers with and without children, resulting in 67% of consumers with children wanting messages tailored to their financial needs. Only 46% of those without children said the same. What does this mean? This means that both Millennials and their parents are more receptive to your messages than other consumers. If you personalize and design your communications specifically for this generation and their parents, you’re more likely to attract and retain these valuable youth accounts that can develop into profitable borrowing households.

Relevant Content

Now that you know who to target, what exactly do you show them? Your content marketing strategy can be built to suit this target audience by focusing on lifestyle needs. Take a closer look at your members who fit into this segment and do a psychographic analysis. Where do they shop? What do they eat? What is their biggest fear? What do they do for fun? Now build your content (social media, blog posts, newsletter, etc.) around the results. Here’s an example: Parents of millennials are often clueless when it comes to the latest social media channels and features. Try segmenting your e-newsletter and include an article for parents such as “Teens and Social Media”. Remember, not all content has to be financial in nature. The more value you provide to this segment, the more engaged they will become.

Recapture Opportunities

When good old fashioned “join now” marketing just isn’t cutting it, loan recapture opportunities are a great way to attract a younger audience. All too often gen-y consumers are being taken advantage of when it comes to rates and terms. What better way to gain trust and acquire young new members than to recapture those products with better rates or terms. But the opportunity doesn’t end there. Once you’ve recaptured these loans, make the most of this opportunity by providing value via content, future offers, frictionless experience, and ongoing communication.

Lifestyle Products

Today’s youth are all about lifestyle. Whether they’re hipsters, young parents, bachelor/bachelorettes, or entrepreneurs, this generation promotes their lifestyle choices on social media, in social situations, and every day interactions, and they expect products and communications to be personalized and relevant to their evolving lives. Does your product suite consist of checking, savings, money market, certificate, and a few general loan offerings? Sure, that’s consistent with most financial institutions product offerings. But most financial institutions aren’t great at attracting this next generation. Offering traditional products to non-traditional consumers can hinder your ability to deepen member relationships. Gear your products toward lifestyle situations and allow consumers to personalize their products and level of interaction with you based on their current life situation, and you may discover a more loyal, engaged, and younger member-base.

Frictionless Banking Experience

The evolution of online banking and payment solutions has changed the face of the banking industry, yet so many credit unions remain behind the 8-ball when it comes to delivering a frictionless experience for members and potential members. If you sat down tomorrow and mapped out your credit union’s user experience from first click to opened account, how many friction points would you encounter? Can a non-member click on your Facebook ad for an auto loan, open their membership, apply for the loan and close the loan all from the comfort of their computer or mobile device in one seamless experience? If not, I recommend taking a look at your overall digital experience from the consumer standpoint. For Millennials, it’s all too easy to click that little red X on their browser or the home button on their iPhone and forget about applying for that loan all together, moving on to USAA, Simple, or SoFi, who can meet their needs effortlessly.

Unique Career Opportunities

What do millennials want more than a memorable lifestyle? A unique career that doesn’t involve retail, restaurants or bartending. The one thing this generation has to offer as potential employees that other generations don’t; something to prove. So often in banking, new hires are chosen based on their ability to count cash, balance a drawer, and follow procedures, and not on their personality, willingness to learn, and ability to manage multiple priorities. It’s our job, as credit unions who want to remain relevant, to hire these young consumers and make them our advocates, our spokespeople. Once you have these quality young employees, do your best to retain them, empower them, and promote them as advocates. Christopher Morris, Director of Communications for the National Credit Union Foundation offers some tips, “When young employees clearly understand the credit union difference, they move from employees to ambassadors for your organization. One easy way to do that is to help them develop an ‘elevator speech’ to ensure all your staff can articulate the credit union difference in 30 seconds or less. Other strategies include writing and telling your credit union story, making the cooperative principles visible for all staff, incorporating the credit union difference into staff training and new employee orientation.”

Hilary Reed

Hilary Reed

Hilary Reed, founder of EmpowerFi, is an innovative thought-leader who has been involved in various aspects of strategic sales and marketing for 15 years. Her career began in 2000 when ... Web: Details