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.