The past few years have been a gift to credit unions and community banks. The economic freefall of the Great Recession coincided with the proliferation and maturation of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. A perfect storm of anti-Big Bank sentiment met with the means to spread and share that sentiment culminating in events such as 2011’s Bank Transfer Day. On that day, a Facebook “event page” was used to drum up support for moving money out of big banks and into local credit unions and community banks. Reflecting back on the impact of social media and similar efforts a year after Bank Transfer Day, Bill Cheney the then CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) cited major success - a net of 2.2 million new members in the 12 month period surrounding the event, a two-fold increase over the average growth in any similar period over the 10 years prior.
Credit unions and community banks have continued to build upon this momentum, increasing their social media presence, adding social media monitoring tools as Hootsuite and Buffer to their technology stack, and even developing sophisticated content marketing strategies. Yet, many institutions are falling short of the promise of transformational growth that early momentum suggested. Credit unions and community banks don’t want to grow up to be big banks, but they do have a responsibility to their members and customers and the communities they serve to continue to grow and be profitable, healthy institutions. To do so, here are 3 shifts in technology that credit union and community bank marketers and executives need to make. In fact, with a little innovation and creativity these shifts could usher in another period of transformational growth.
1. Know Your Content Management System (CMS)
As I mentioned, credit unions and community banks moved quickly to add social media monitoring tools to their technology stack. A big mistake financial services marketers have made, though, is to not place the same primacy on their content management system (CMS). In fact, many of the financial services marketers that we speak to stumble a bit when asked what CMS are they using. The problem is that many institutions rely on their online banking provider, Digital Insight, for example, to also provide their CMS. Though those providers get bill pay and balance transfers right, they do not get content management right. A dedicated and integrated CMS can increase efficiency, empower internal teams, and deliver timely and relevant content offerings. Credit unions and community banks would do well to consider a CMS provider like Kentico or Episerver. Both are CMS-first providers, and can afford financial services marketers the sophisticated features - such as, enhanced personalization capabilities, interactive and dynamic content, and integration with other systems - that are often completely missing from an online banking provider’s content management solution.
2. Don’t Fear Marketing Automation (MA)
I can already hear the head of Compliance and Security at your financial institution shooting down the suggestion of adding a marketing automation platform to the technology stack. The fear, rooted in privacy concerns, is understandable, but unwarranted. With the ability to schedule and trigger marketing campaigns across a number of channels, segment and target audiences, nurture leads, and develop long-term relationships with customers, marketing automation facilitates one-to-one communication through secure email communication. Further, marketing automation more closely delivers upon the fiduciary duty credit unions and community banks have to educate and improve the lives of their members and customers than a newsletter or blanketed email blast. As a prospective member inquiring about loan rates, I need to receive content and communication that is helpful toward making an informed lending decision and I want to feel that the content is tailored specifically to me. Marketing automation facilitates this. As long as your one-to-one delivery of content cannot be deemed “unfair,” “deceptive,” or “abusive” it will remain compliant with Sections 1031 and 1036 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) guidance, which will keep any head of Compliance and Security security happy.
3. Your Branch Is Already the Branch of the Future
For years now, the branch of the future has been a financial services buzzword with little substance or practical application. Your members and customers that walk into your branches want technology to improve the service they came in there looking for. They don’t need a wall of iPads or a faux coffee shop, to feel like they are in a sophisticated forward-thinking institution. They want to walk into a branch with a question about a loan or deposit product and leave having those questions answered and their near and long term needs anticipated. They want their online and offline interactions to be cumulative and valuable. Too many credit union and community bank executives are looking at their branch spaces with sledgehammers in mind. Believing that to modernize, they need to look like they’re in a super trendy mall (which I don’t even believe exists). With a customer management solution such as Thunderhead’s ONE Engagement Hub, branches can modernize and improve the customer experience without the shallow face-lift. Working with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform and integrating with your CMS, ONE learns from each engagement. So, that member that used your website to research a new car loan, when they come into your branch and connect to your wifi your financial services representatives can use that search information to truly deliver a tailored one-to-one discussion and education session. The Branch of the Future is about using technology to build upon the conversation already begun online with your content management system and marketing automation platform.
Many credit union and community bank marketers and executives have taken advantage of the democratized technology stack and the increased anti-big bank sentiment to grow new members and increase loans and deposits. To take things to the next level and truly achieve transformational growth, marketers need to reassess and evaluate what is working and what is not and make some innovative, creative decisions to move things forward.