Redstone Federal Credit Union ($4.3B, Huntsville, AL) hadn’t done a major new product launch in a decade when it set out to deepen existing relationships through nurturing emails.
The big Alabama credit union used its marketing automation platform to drive up usage of two cash-back checking accounts: Relationship Checking and Extra Checking.
After a soft launch that focused on branches and call centers, the marketing team sent emails to existing checking account holders. The series of carefully crafted, targeted messages included asking this simple question: Why aren’t you using this new product?
The marketers then used the most common answers to create new messages primarily allaying any concerns about the products to share on landing pages and in places such as call centers and branches.
The result was 12,500 new checking accounts and a new appreciation for the power of actionable data and the tools to use it.
Betsy Pruitt, Online Marketing Manager, Redstone FCU
Marketing automation is powerful, especially if you have a small staff at your credit union, says Betsy Pruitt, Redstone’s online marketing manager.
That’s true for old messaging and new, she adds.
If you find yourself sending the same email to a similar audience every week or every month, [automation] can help you streamline and eliminate manual work so your team can focus on more strategic and future-looking projects, she says.
Here, Pruitt shares the ins and outs of how Redstone took full advantage of automation.
When did Redstone execute this marketing email project?
Betsy Pruitt: We sent this series of nurturing emails in May 2014. The marketing team had two months to execute the rollout of five new checking account products to be more competitive in our market the first major product launch at the credit union in a decade.With a lean marketing department of only nine staffers, this launch was an all-hands-on-deck project.
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How did you coordinate the product launch with the marketing emails?
BP: We had a four-week soft launch for these new checking account products.During that time, our retail staff in branches and in the call center tried to initiate conversations about these products with members to upgrade them to the new accounts.
This provided us with good anecdotal data on concerns members had about upgrading to the new products, which we used to create the final email in our nurturing series.With this email we were able to take the top four member concerns and quantify which were the biggest objections.
Who wrote these emails and how did they decide what to say?
BP: It was a collaboration.As marketing was developing this email nurturing series, we used market research from the product launch committee as well as feedback from our call center and retail divisions acquired during the four-week soft product launch.
CU QUICK FACTS
Data as of 03.31.16
HQ: Huntsville, AL
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 5.6%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 7.6%
How did you decide to whom to send each of the emails?
BP: Two of our new checking accounts offered CashBack on debit card purchases, which was a big differentiator both in our local market and nationwide.Therefore, we felt there was a compelling case to send this email nurturing series to a broad list of our membership that would be eligible for the new products, starting with members that already had an existing legacy checking account.
How did you decide who got follow-up messages?
BP: We sent the first in this email nurturing series to all members in good standing with an existing checking account but who had not obtained one of our five new checking accounts during a four-week soft launch.These members received these emails once.
If they obtained one of the new checking account products during the series, we placed them in a separate email nurturing series that congratulated them on their new account and shared information to help them take advantage of all of the features.We did not send them the follow-up Why haven’t you upgraded? email in this case.
Describe the sequence of the emails and how they differed?
BP: CashBack was the big market differentiator, so email 1 focused on that with a look that coordinated with our TV and print advertising campaigns.
Email 2 focused on our new debit card designs. We knew from social media and retail feedback that this was a feature that members frequently asked about prior to the product launch. Members wanted to select a card design that reflected their personalities and lifestyles.In the banner graphic, we stacked the most popular designs from our soft launch on top to give them extra visibility.
Email 3 took a soft-sell approach by providing a short content piece that gave ideas on maximizing CashBack on everyday purchases.Our hope with this piece was to show members they might be missing out on CashBack-earning opportunities based on purchases they were already making. That was how we built awareness of the need for our new checking accounts.
Email 4 concludes the series with the Why haven’t you upgraded message. What was the thinking behind that?
BP: Because this was a new product launch, it was hard to know how successful the checking account products would be. But regardless of their success, the aggressive corporate goals for this product category would remain the same.
Therefore, marketing wanted to introduce some campaign features to collect additional data to guide future asset development to ensure its relevance to members if we needed to extend, adjust, or redevelop the campaign. That’s where the idea for Why haven’t you upgraded? started.
In Email 4, we asked recipients why they had not upgraded or opened a new checking account yet.We gave four multiple-choice answers based on the main objections that retail and call-center staff heard during the soft product launch.We put the survey question directly in the email instead of using a more traditional survey tool because we wanted to maximize member engagement and minimize drop-off.
The member support team received an avalanche of product conversions after this final email.
Recipients could click on one of the answers, which took them to a landing page with information to overcome their main objection.In case they had multiple objections, we included information to overcome the remaining three on the landing page as well but displayed that less prominently on the page.If we needed additional campaign assets, marketing could use this data to prioritize which objections to address first or to eliminate from consideration all together.
How well did that work?
BP: According to Kevin Hall, our senior assistant vice president for indirect retail, this email must have been covered in gold dust, because the member support team, who handled fulfillment for our online channel, received an avalanche of product conversions after this email.Based on this and the momentum we saw from other elements of the campaign, we did not have to use the data collected in Email 4 to extend the campaign.
What were the measurable results? And how did that help your department in the big picture?
BP: The online campaign delivered 12,500 new checking accounts, which accounted for 33.81% of the annual corporate goal for these new checking account products, helping Redstone achieve its maximum goal ahead of deadline.
Prior to using marketing automation, marketing had not been able to quantify its contributions within the organization and therefore was seen primarily as a production house instead of a strategic resource.
How do you plan to use lessons learned from this experience in the future?
BP: For this campaign, we used this email to prepare in case we needed to extend the campaign if we were short of our product goal.Going forward, I think there are some great opportunities to try this earlier in an email nurturing series to help members and prospects choose their own adventure.
In the case of mortgages, we might notice someone visiting the mortgage section of our website, but we don’t know if they are a first-time homebuyer, someone looking to refinance their existing home, or a family considering building their dream home.
Using this type of survey format to determine which camp they fall into would allow us to customize the content they receive by email to ensure it’s relevant and helpful in their buyers’ journey.
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What marketing automation software did you use in this process?
BP: We used Marketo to automatically send the email nurturing series over that four-week period.We also used its landing page analytics to calculate the clicks on each of the links in Email 4 to determine the top objections members had.This could generally be done with any marketing automation platform on the market.