USPS makes history, cutting stamp prices 2¢. But does it matter?

For the first time in a century, the U.S. Postal Service will cut the cost of stamps in April. First-class stamps will fall to 47 cents, making me wonder about the $10,000 in forever stamps we invested in during May 2009 at $.44 each. Oh, well. What comes down must go … uh … up?

Even with the ongoing hostility between the USPS and Congress, the decision to drop the price of postage seems at odds with common sense; we all know the post office is bleeding $2 billion a year in red ink. Still, lower postage costs is good news for companies that send out a lot of mail.

Or is it?

Going the way of the …

Financial institutions that continue to rely on snail mail to promote their products and services, provide statements or process loan documents may be headed for Dinosaur National Monument – especially if they want to engage Millennials. This tech-savvy generation has never experienced a day without the Internet and nearly half think it takes too much time to go to the post office. But then, this is the generation that only has one doesn’t have landlines, gets their news online and hardly know what fax machines are.

But it isn’t just Millennials who are losing interest in items carried through “snow, rain, heat and gloom of night.” Overall, the total volume of USPS mail has fallen off by more than 28% in the last 10 years.

So, if your credit union’s mail-house dollars don’t go for promotions and statements, where should they be spent? Social media? Not so much. Robo-calls? Absolutely not! Text? Perhaps, but the better answer is plain old email – that medium many think of as “so last week.”

Let’s stay in touch

Last summer, Adobe surveyed 400 white-collar workers 18 and older about their email usage, finding that “Americans are practically addicted to email, checking it around the clock no matter where they are or what they’re doing.” People use email an average of 30+ hours a week, with nine of 10 respondents checking their personal email at work and work email from home. Further, more than a third report having multiple personal accounts.

And among Millennials, email usage is much greater than expected – especially for checking out brands. Adobe says Millennials are “more mobile and more frequent users of email than any other age group. Here are a few of the findings:

  • Millennials tend to check work email outside of normal work hours more than other generations.
  • They’re okay with using emojis to communicate with a direct manager or senior executive.
  • Nearly 90% of Millennials check email via smartphone.
  • Millennials are the most likely age group to check email from bed, the bathroom or while driving (not recommended!).

A Prudential Financial Group study also found that Millennials prefer to downstream one-to-one contact with companies, whether for transactions, updates, customer service or other dialogues. Reporting on this study, Steve Dille of MarketingLand said, “Given the choice between email, in person, postal mail, social media, phone call, online chat or text message, [Millennial] respondents overwhelmingly chose email straight across the board.” In fact, email placed second behind web searches (at 45%) as the preferred method for doing product research (18%). Many Millennials don’t see social media as having the brand authenticity, transparency and personalization they want. Email does.

What people want

Whether shopping for a new house, buying a car or looking where to invest their savings, your members are happy to receive permission-based emails from your credit union – especially if it’s personalized to their felt needs, is uncomplicated and makes it easy to find more information.

Here are some thoughts on communicating with members via email:

  • Provide useful, engaging information – What do your members see on the other side of the email click? Make sure details about your offer are clear and concise but include enough facts to help them make knowledgeable decisions.
  • Speak human – The digital world is great, but it limits your chances for personal touches. Write to your members like you’re having a face-to-face talk with a friend. With compliance rules and legal terms, it’s easy to get caught up in jargon and acronyms – not to mention the stuffy language our grandparents’ bankers used.
  • Make it interactive – When members click through to your promotion, make it simple for them to choose your product or service. Your technology partner should be able to build logic into your system that allows a personalized greeting when she clicks through. And use auto-complete online documents, like DigitalMailer’s Secure Forms, which are intuitive and auto-complete most of the needed information. Finally, “write back” to your member with an auto-response “thank you” email.
  • Learn more about your member – After they click on your offer, as three simple questions related to it. For instance, if a click-through leads to a mortgage preapproval, ask whether your member has found a house yet, what his timeframe is and where he’s hoping to buy. Now you have useful information you can add to your CRM and send personalized follow-up emails that relate directly to his needs.
  • Make a connection. Members may read your email offer on a desktop one time and a smartphone the next. Be sure his experience is consistent across all channels, with a similar look and feel and mobile devices optimized for easy navigation.

Postage stamps are going away in favor of email and other digital channels. Communicating with your members in the channels they prefer will prevent your credit union from going away, too!

Ron Daly

Ron Daly

Ron Daly is the president and CEO of Virtual StrongBox, a secure, end-to-end member engagement platform that can be integrated into various workflow processes to provide high-risk Enterprise IT firms ... Web: Details