Admit it, the odds are stacked against you: as a credit union or community bank, you’re competing with national banks on a local level. That means your limited resources and budget are going head-to-head with their million-dollar national marketing campaign, legions of locations and employees, and their well-established brand name. So how can you win?
The secret the big banks do not want you to know is that it’s easier than you think!
As long as you focus on the actual channels you’re getting new members/customers from, if you dedicate time and resources to areas you can actually beat them in, and if you connect these activities together to track progress, your financial institution will be out-marketing the big banks within six months!
As winners of numerous national credit union marketing awards, we’ve seen time and time again that the majority of credit unions and small banks fail to gain market share of new members because they mirror the marketing tactics of big banks, yet with a much smaller budget.
So I wanted to share our credit union/community bank marketing approach to empower your financial institution to out-market the big banks, even on a shoestring budget!
Anatomy of the top credit union marketing campaigns in the US:
- Make repeat members of current members
- Beat the big banks at their own game
- Resonate with your community
- Use attribution to connect every data point together
- Incentivize members to create new members
1. Make repeat members of current members
The Credit Union National Association recently said that 86% of CU members also a customer of a large bank. So most of your members get their home, auto, and personal loans from various sources, not just your financial institution.
So credit unions and small banks should devote much more of their marketing budget to making repeat members, instead of trying to make new members.
For KSFCU.org, we started our campaign by helping them digitally wrap their arms around their members by creating a Facebook fan acquisition campaign. Over four years the number of fans increased 1800%!
Then we targeted their fans with auto loan and other credit union-related offers. We also utilized the data those fans had in common to create look-alike audiences, and we served them similar ads. Lastly, we targeted the friends of these two targeted datasets. The results have been staggering with a 500x increase in loan and member acquisition.
2. Beat the big banks at their own game
It’s not as difficult as you think to outcompete the big banks on a local level. The marketing campaigns for most national banks are run from either the corporate office or a regional location, so while their tactics may be solid, they lack the resources to continually optimize the performance of every local campaign.
How do we know this? Because within 6 months our digital ads are always the top-performing campaigns in the region.
3. Resonate with your community
Credit unions can easily “out-local” a national bank by talking about their community history on their website, in video ads, and in traditional advertising like TV, radio, and billboards. Yet most credit unions get caught up marketing like a big bank by talking about interest rates.
Nettra redesigned Kern Schools Federal Credit Union (KSFCU) website to show how integral they are to the fabric of their community.
We pulled this off using photos and video of members, staff, community, and prominent landmarks. Some of the video was repurposed for a series of TV commercials and video ads to help brand the credit union as the region’s best banking option. As a result, members and potential members had a much easier time finding the services they were looking for. The Web Marketing Association also designated the KSFCU website as the “Best Credit Union Website” of 2017.
4. Use attribution to connect every data point together
Attribution is a credit union and community bank’s secret weapon to locally out-market the national banks, yet 98% of local financial institutions haven’t set it up. Even the majority of big banks haven’t set up an attribution process!
So what does attribution look like for a small bank or credit union?
In short, attribution allows you to assign a value to every part of your marketing campaign. This is important because if you’re running a Google and Facebook ads campaign, and someone clicks on a Google Ad, applies for a loan, then becomes a member, in most cases that Google Ad would get the credit for the new member. Yet if an attribution process was installed, you might find out that this new member clicked on two Facebook Ads over the last couple months, then finally clicked on the Google Ad.
This kind of insight is very important because it indicates how people interact with your ads, the sales cycle of an average member, and sequence of marketing channels that are the most effective and cost-efficient.
What makes attribution more difficult to pull off for a bank or credit union is connecting their marketing to their loan applicants and new members within their online banking portal. Since every financial institution uses an online banking portal to allow members to apply for a loan, it’s crucial that the connections between both data sets are made.
While this last issue is what prevents the majority of financial institutions from creating an attribution process, this is where Nettra’s expertise really separates us from every other credit union marketing agency. We love giving credit unions and small banks the advantage over the big banks!
5. Incentivize members to create new members
Marketing only accounts for up to 30% of a credit union’s new members. The majority of new members come from word-of-mouth referrals from your current members. So it always surprises us that for every dollar a credit union or small bank spends on marketing, they spend under $0.05 on referral campaigns. For many of our clients, the referral campaign itself is responsible for an additional 20-30% of new clients.
Yet, these are no ordinary referral programs. On the email marketing side, we work with your team to create segmented email lists (example: new members, new auto, home, personal loans, banking only members, past members, etc.) so that very targeted, time-0sensitive messages can be sent to them. We’ll also collaborate to create landing pages with offers only available to the recipients. In addition to email marketing, we’ll target them with Google and Facebook Ads, promoting the specific offer. Referral campaigns like these enable your community bank or credit union to consistently grab market share from the big banks in your region.
6. The process repeats itself
After going through the steps above, you’ve created a lot more new members and underwritten new loans for current members. Now it’s time to repeat the entire process by starting with making those new members, repeat members!
When you simplify our strategies above, they focus on two things: increasing the lifetime value of your current members and decreasing the cost to acquire new members. And by utilizing this strategy, we’ve produced some of the top credit union marketing campaigns in the United States.
Would you like this strategy to out-market the national banks in an easier-to-implement, PDF format? Click here to download it for free!