Relevance: The credit union opportunity

The total number of credit unions has dropped consistently since 2011 – but the number of credit union members continues to increase. Why?  And where is the opportunity here for increasing member engagement even further?

The credit unions’ member-centric culture, with a targeted focus on service, is paying off, particularly when connecting with consumers disillusioned by big bank hard sales tactics. Rather than trying to force-fit members into their quarterly sales goals, credit union employees can play an active, advisory role in members’ lives – and be genuinely relevant.

In an online, digitally-enhanced but often disconnected-feeling world, people are attracted to the feeling and benefits of membership. That’s a powerful edge for credit unions, and building on it represents an opportunity to compete more effectively against big bank budgets and competitive fintechs.

The Relevance Opportunity

Building on the trust and attention members feel, while enhancing communications to be more relevant and personalized, will create deeper, mutually profitable relationships.  And while many credit unions don’t have the resources to compete with big banks, they can deliver an even better experience — on members’ terms — if they prioritize accessing their data and acting on their customer insights.

Data: Action is the Key

Last year, US institutions spent over $20 billion on data and analytics solutions. Unfortunately, far too much of it never gets past presentations and conference rooms, falling victim to analysis paralysis, implementation challenges or budget restraint. We devote an enormous amount of effort to data, research, process and committees – and not enough on action.  The banking industry is no exception, investing heavily only to find themselves awash in customer data that just seems to float away.

According to the OnApproach/Best Innovation Group 2018 survey of Credit Union Data Analytics and Decisioning Trends, just over half of responding credit unions revealed they had budgets in place for data analytics, and 45 percent of those CUs plan to spend less than $100,000 on such tools this year. Roughly one-third of respondents will spend more than $200,000, while 15 percent will spend more than $500,000.

Knowing they don’t have budget to waste for the results they want, credit unions have the opportunity to capitalize on the strong member relationships they already have by acting on the insights available to them through rich membership data. By continually building their relevance in members’ lives with timely advice and services that match members’ real-life needs, members will begin to look to their financial institution as a friend – naturally increasing engagement.

5 Relevancy Rules for Credit Union Marketing

How do credit unions know the best direction to take once they have resolved to access and act on their membership data?  What should guide their actions? Here are five relevancy rules to help stay on track:

  1. Current members are more important than the next new member.
  2. Each member has their own need — find it.
  3. Members want your help. Give it or they will find someone who will.
  4. Knowing their name is important; knowing their need is more important.
  5. Membership engagement isn’t a campaign; it’s a mindset.

To embrace relevancy and personalization, these rules should guide the credit union at every level. Delivering the right message at the right time – when a member really needs it – is what will keep them onboard.

Credit unions can create vivid experiences that make a difference in peoples’ lives.  And that’s the crux of the relevance opportunity. Getting creative with data, acting on it, is how credit unions can leverage the power of membership to create highly valued relationships that stand up to big banks, tech start-ups and flashy apps alike.

Laura Costello

Laura Costello

Laura Costello is the Director of Marketing at Saylent, a fintech that interprets data so financial institutions can better understand their members and discover opportunities for growth. She joined in ... Details