How do you connect with members? Phone? E-mail? In-person? Carrier pigeon? Owl?
Each have their drawbacks, especially the pigeons, since they’re extinct. Who answers their phone anymore, and we all get so much e-mail, standing out is challenging. Not every member visits your branches, and without a letter from Hogwarts, they wouldn’t even know about the owls!
Through my work with credit unions, the medium most favored tends to be e-mail. It’s cheap, relatively easy, and can reach a wide swath of the membership. There are pretty large downsides, though. Many people receive hundreds of messages a day, then there’s the spam. Getting noticed, read, and clicked is a major victory. Despite these challenges, e-mail still makes sense. Just not as the only thing. Here’s where we listen to your marketing team and diversify engagement.
What communication medium does nearly everyone read promptly, then act upon? Ding ding. You can go check that message…I’ll wait. Yes, text messages. Be they iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or good-old SMS (that’s the green bubble for iPhone readers), they get read. How can your credit union take advantage for member communication without “spamming”?
As you may know, there are some regulations governing phone number usage. You can send a single service notification, but future messages require additional opt-in. There’s more to it, yet with that as a starting point, it sure doesn’t sound like a useful engagement strategy. So, let’s get some opt-ins!
Let me back up for just a moment. Why bother texting members? Case studies found recipients of SMS reminders or calls to action acted at a much higher rate than those sent paper notices, phone calls, and e-mails. So if you want to spur members to action, there’s no more effective way than through text. But it has to be relevant. Otherwise, you’re the spam. How do we set the member expectation of hearing from their credit union?
- Display your SMS number prominently in branches and online.
Encourage members in all interactions that if they, “Want more from their CU to add xxx-xxx-xxxx to their contacts!”
- Are you more likely to read a message from a random phone number or one which has a contact name linked?
- Place a widget on your website for members to opt-in their mobile number.
- Upon mobile banking sign-in, ask if members have their phone number in their profile.
- Provide a vCard download on website (mobile and desktop) so members can add the CU contact information in one click or tap.
If members 1) recognize it’s their credit union, 2) opted-in to receive specific messaging (which has a pre-defined maximum number of texts sent per week/month), and 3) gain value from the messaging, then it can become a valuable outreach strategy.
Of course, this is only for non-secure marketing and service messages. For individual member concerns, there’s Twitter Direct Messaging and, the newest player on the block (for iOS users), Business Chat for iMessage. A few small companies are starting with it now…you know, like Wells Fargo. We’ll dive into this system in a future post.
For now, let’s get texting!