Inside Marketing: Navigating the Changing Credit Union Landscape in 2022

man using social media tools on smartphone and laptop
By Angelo D. Jones II

4 minutes

Key marketing strategies focus on member data, increasing online brand presence and leveraging social media.

The proliferation of financial service channels has fundamentally changed the way credit unions approach marketing to members and prospects. No longer can marketing strategies be based simply on engaging and friendly in-branch promotions.

Today, marketing campaigns are tasked with delivering unified messages that are made personal and shared in the branch, through the mobile app, on the desktop/laptop, via traditional media and across social media, through the many other ways members and prospects engage with the brand. All this, of course, is happening during a time in which credit unions are facing increased competition from traditional banks and new, digital banks that pride themselves on digital engagement and reaching consumers in a digital-first manner.

So, how does a credit union successfully market itself and its products to both existing and prospective members? The answer lies in effectively leveraging customer data, optimizing the credit union’s digital presence and the integration of social tools. Regardless of the specific channel a member or prospect uses, ensuring these areas are part of a comprehensive marketing strategy is key.

Unlocking the Power of Member Data

The future of credit union marketing is tailored, custom, digital experiences. The Financial Brand notes in its latest “Digital Banking Report” survey that “66% of bankers globally agreed that branch locations will decrease by 20% by 2025, with 77% saying that three-quarters of new accounts will be opened using digital channels by 2025.” This means marketing campaigns launched in the branch will meet some members where they are, but many members will be left in the dark, as they may never set foot in the branch.

One of the most powerful after-effects of the rise of digital tools in banking is the access to member data. Keep in mind, as a credit union executive, you have more information than just about any other organization or business on a member’s financial state and perhaps their goals. If done effectively, credit unions can leverage this information to target members or review the banking landscape, offering products that can be shared to the member through your app, email or even mail, and prospects through social media, search/SEO and others.  

Optimizing Your Brand Presence Online

Competition for the attention of members and prospects is at an all-time high. Search engine optimization—the strategy for ensuring a brand or product is on the first page of a search engine’s results—continues to be paramount, as many members and prospects turn to search engines like Google for everything they need, including financial services. Credit union leaders should want their webpages and products to appear on page one to attract this user. Keywords must be used in web pages, content developed, ads purchased and press earned so that your brand is present across a prospect’s browsing experience. When done correctly, SEO positions a credit union very well for success.

Leveraging the Influence of Social Media

Social media’s role in influencing both members and prospects in where and how to bank, and its power in igniting conversations regarding the best products and services, is the way forward. Hubspot reports, “Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.” Likewise, Forbes reports that “78% of consumers say companies’ social media posts impact their purchases.”

This means credit unions must actively tap into this network of users by creating member-first content that demonstrates both the benefits and use cases of the credit union’s services and products. As an example, a credit union can encourage satisfied members to share posts of their experiences with the credit union on their social channels—including a hashtag or tagging the CU—and then share or retweet the posts to boost engagement, giving the credit union third-party validation through its members.
Also, credit unions should share relevant financial education blogs, news releases, bylines and announcements through social media as a strong way to connect with members and encourage them to engage with the credit union.

There are many considerations that go into building an effective credit union marketing strategy. Regardless of the campaigns themselves, credit union executives and marketers must be sure to focus on effectively using member data, optimizing the credit union’s online presence and leveraging social media channels to the credit union’s advantage.

Angelo D. Jones II is senior account agent at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or its blog.

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