Engaging ‘Mobile-Only’ Members

person using a mobile device
Contributing Writer

3 minutes

Credit union leverages mobile notifications and alerts to connect with users on the go.

SAFE Credit Union is connecting with its “mobile-only members” to remind them to optimize their cash-back rewards, to offer prizes at ballgames and to issue other alerts and offers on the device that comes with them everywhere they go.

Mobile access is popular among SAFE CU’s 235,000 members, says Danielle Juarez, AVP/digital banking strategy and innovation for the $2.8 billion Folsom, California, credit union. Of the 150,000 members who are digital-only, about 70% engage primarily through their mobile devices, and 50% rely on mobile exclusively.

So it stands to reason that communicating with members via their favorite channel will enhance results. When SAFE CU sent a reminder through its mobile app for members to select their quarterly bonus category to earn 5% cash back on credit card purchases, the response increased 30% over the previous quarter, Juarez notes.

Another mobile promotion connects with baseball fans who attend Sacramento River Cats games. As members arrive at the Class AAA team’s Raley Field, they receive a notification that every purchase they make at the ballpark with their SAFE CU debit or credit cards will enter them in a drawing for prizes like River Cats or San Francisco Giants tickets, autographed baseballs and on-field batting practice.

These notifications apply geofencing capabilities through NCR Digital Banking’s Promotion Suite Premium, through which SAFE CU’s e-commerce team develops and manages mobile campaigns. Members opt in for location-based services when they download the app, with a 97% acceptance rate to receive relevant messages, Juarez says.

Overall, says Doug Brown, SVP and general manager of NCR Digital Banking, the opt-in rate to receive notifications is 60 to 70% and increasing every month. “CUs are a trusted source for most users. They’re trusting you with their wealth, so they’re willing to trust you” with location data, he notes.

The platform facilitates designing and launching mobile campaigns and monitoring the response among targeted member segments. “Geofencing and beacon detection are a big part of those capabilities,” Brown says. The sweet spot for this new channel is “brand reinforcement, not an aggressive product push. You can promote the CU’s support for community events and organizations.”

The art of mobile marketing is not to “overuse the privilege,” he says. “If someone is just driving by a car lot, it’s not appropriate to send an offer for a car loan. They should be at the dealership for a long enough time that you know they’re there shopping.” 

SAFE CU tested and honed its mobile marketing approach with employees before launching it with members in June 2018. In one test promotion, participating employees in the corporate office received a message to find a specific colleague and collect a prize. 

The credit union’s aim in employing these capabilities is to “create a buzz about SAFE in the market,” Juarez says. “It’s never easy for credit unions to keep up with big banks, so our focus is on how we’re using it to engage with members.”

As members turn increasingly toward mobile access as their exclusive channel, “communicating directly in the way members want to engage is extremely important,” she adds. cues icon

Karen Bankston is a long-time contributor to Credit Union Management and writes about credit unions, membership growth, marketing, operations and technology. She is the proprietor of Precision Prose, Eugene, Oregon.

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