Nine-in-ten Members Want Email From Their Credit Union

In this age of spam and phishing, many credit unions have taken a conservative attitude towards email. But a recent Internet Strategy Consortium survey found that ninety percent of members would like email from their credit union once a month or more often.


Nine out of ten online credit union members in a recent Internet Strategy Consortium online survey expressed interested in receiving credit union email. The majority felt that one or two emails per month would be acceptable.

Credit unions need to stop thinking of informational email on credit union services and promotions as potential spam and take steps to maximize their use of this important communication channel. In this age of spam and phishing, many credit unions have taken a conservative attitude towards email. But the Internet Strategy Consortium survey, based on feedback from more than 10,000 members, found that members take a more positive view towards email communications.

What are credit unions waiting for?
Email is a cost-effective means of communicating with members on a timely basis. In this time of rising costs and increasing financial pressures, email also provides credit unions with the opportunity to quickly respond to market conditions. Credit unions are experiencing great successs in advertising loan and savings promotions via email, with significant results over a short time period. Northwest Federal Credit Union ($1.5B in Herndon , VA ) recently received $1.4M in loans in 5 days with an auto loan promotion.

Comments from members illustrate the benefits that members see in receiving email from their credit union.

Raising awareness of products and special offers:

"I like information through my email as I have the most time checking emails then doing my mail or phone services"

"Send more information on the loans that you offer to your members such as auto and mortgage. Current rates for how many years. I heard once that you did offer a lease option through the bank for a new auto, but have never heard anything since. Is this offered? Little emails send valuable info to those that otherwise would not be aware. Most people do not have the time to dig for this information and it is not always communicated. Is there a payment calculator to check how much auto you can afford for the payment that fits your budge?"

"I used to receive a newsletter when I received my monthly statement via snail mail. Now that I opted out of snail mail, I would like to receive the newsletter via email."

Enable better cross-channel communication:

"I just signed up for your savings plan - I am questioning why I didn't know about until now. I'm a long time member(25 years)I only became aware in a recent mailing. I don't recall ever seeing it in any email or on the web site?"

Use Every Opportunity to Develop Your Email List
More and more credit unions are requesting that new members provide email addresses when they join. Credit unions should take every opportunity to request email addresses from existing members as well, either as part of the sign-up process for e-alerts or as contact information within online banking. Consider offering incentives or prizes to employees or members for providing email addresses.

Allow non-members to sign up as well. Allowing non-members to sign up may help introduce non-members to the credit union and increase awareness of credit union products and services.

How can credit unions ensure their email doesn't get labeled “Spam” by Members?
Here are some tips to consider when planning an email program:

  • Let members sign up for topics they are interested in. Beyond overall credit union promotions or specials, allow members to sign up for specific topics they are interested in. University Federal Credit Union ($818M in Austin , TX ) has had success with their Wheels 101 program, which provides car-buying tips for members planning a car purchase.
  • Do not send more than two emails per week to members, across categories. For example, one credit union I know has an opt-in email list with several categories, such as mortgages, auto loans, savings, etc. But email for each of these categories are sent at once, so that if you signed up for several categories, you will get four emails from the credit union at the same time. It is better to space these emails out and check your database for overlap.
  • Design your email as easy to read as possible, enabling members to click links for further information. Emails should be short and easy to scan.
  • Use a mix of promotional and educational content. Focus on topics that members want to hear about, based on data from website traffic, knowledgebase topics or member surveys.



May 5, 2008


  • Members at my CU love our monthly 'e-mail newsletter.'

    We have used it to for all sorts of things, from warnings about e-fraud and phishing, to connecting members with free financial education materials/programs. Only a small % of our members opted out when we launched the service...They really like it.
  • Our small credit union only got a website up & running 10 months ago. For me this was good information.
    Betty Newhouse
  • Because credit unions have ongoing, frequent and sometimes sensitive interactions with members, they generally can get members to use a “Message Center” concept where all communications are handled through secure Web pages rather than using email. This provides a much more secure, reliable and controlled channel than email will ever provide and also allows all member communications to be available from one source, providing the all important 360 degree view of the member relationship. To ensure members get their messages, a quality “Message Center” will even enable members to be notified of unread messages via their phone and notifies them of unread messages when they log into online banking or some member portal. Emails often get automatically filtered and most email client software today will manually require the person receiving the email to download images and allow tracking, resulting in those things not happening and the value of the communication being compromised. Why deal with email if you don''t have to?
    Chuck Van Court
  • great article
  • Great post. I love emails from my credit union and other financial institutions. But as always, be sure to comply with the E-SIgn act if you want to send emails to comply with regulatory disclosure requirements.
    Anthony Demangone
  • The survey was conducted by Callahan on behalf of the 15 credit unions in the Internet Strategy Consortium. Data is based on 14,670 member responses. The question was worded as follows: Beyond requested email alerts related to your account, what do you consider to be an acceptable number of emails per month to recieve from the credit union? None was the first option. Many credit unions are using email with strong results, not only to promote products, but educate members. If you are concerned about "bothering" members, simply make your list "opt-in", but member feedback indicates that this is a desired communication channel.
    Denise Senecal
  • I would be interested in seeing the actual survey questions and who conducted the survey. It sounds on the surface to me like a company that wants to send e-mails for you making a case for their own services. The results of this survey fly in the face of what we are hearing from our members.
  • Wonderful news! Ever since I came to my current credit union, just over a year ago, my marketing dept has been struggling to figure out this vital form of communication for our members. I can''t wait to present this to our CEO - as Callahan is a trusted authority on CU research.