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July 26, 2011

Searching – How the Internet is Changing Finance’s Relationship to Consumers and vice-versa

Filed under: Credit Union News,Credit Union Tech,e-mail,email,email marketing,Marketing,targeted marketing,technology,web sites — 2:29 pm

by Greg Crandell

Research used to be a chore. If you were researching a broad topic, you had to go to your very expensive set of encyclopedias. If you wanted to know about something more modern and changing, you had to visit a library (gasp!). The Internet changed all that by making everything you could ever want to know easy to access and easy to act on, whether it’s on your computer or on your smart phone.

The more our lives are made simple by the Internet, the more we come to lean on it and the more frustrated we get when we don’t have it. While these past twenty years have seen great strides forward for the Internet, banks and credit unions stay behind the curve. Many financial institutions don’t realize how much information is out there and how far removed their websites and marketing efforts are compared to the billion dollar institutions that drown search engines in traffic and links.

As Terry Jones of Travelocity.com wrote about in a recent CU Times article:

Over 50% of U.S. retail will be affected by Internet search in just two years. And that has changed the world of marketing.

Marketing used to be a one-way street–the brand talking to you. Now marketing is a two-way street as consumers are involved and engaged with blogs, wikis, shared video and social networks. And perhaps this is why Yellow Pages sales are expected to decrease 40% during the next four years.

One of the best ways to build trust with a prospective client is to tell them what other people think. Online retailers do that with reviews. In your world, testimonials serve the same purpose. Testimonials are a very powerful way to begin to build trust.

Once a client has purchased, use email to effectively deepen your relationship. Email can cross sell, introduce new products and keep you top of mind.

Good points, all. I wrote a response to this article as a letter to the editor, an excerpt of which is below.

Today’s credit unions must keep up. That means developing a strong online presence, a personalized email messaging program, a system to offer mobile access and notifications, and an interactive, two-way marketing focus. Credit unions need to be available and make information easily accessible 24/7. It’s what today’s members expect.

We are an industry that was built on personal relationships. But even in a relationship business – and I would argue especially in a relationship business–connecting with today’s members using traditional and digital means is a smart strategy for success. The time to make a commitment to digital is now.

It’s those personal, powerful connections, combined with instant access to information and very little breakage/confusion that are going to pull the smart credit unions along while others fail. Having an online banking product, a website, and emails that stand out and make a case, not to every consumer but to the individual will mean everything.

Financial institutions also need to learn that “searching” is a two-way street. Yes, customers and members can look up information about you and your competitors all they want. Your information about them is, likewise, very powerful. Take a look at this article from Roger Ahern of Experian:

Critical decisions regarding creditworthiness, fraud prevention or lifelong customer loyalty can be made (or lost) with each transaction. Increasingly, these transactions are as anonymous as a drive-through order box. With more and more Net-savvy customers conducting business online or via mobile devices, the window for up-selling or making critical risk assessments is open very briefly.

Instant prescreening becomes even more critical when used as an upstream filter to prevent fraud, increase revenue and minimize losses on applicants with the highest risk. Using powerful decisioning capabilities, the instant prescreen process accesses current credit information in real time via a “soft” inquiry (which doesn’t impact the customer’s credit report) and calculates predictive variables as well as fraud and risk scores.

The process then provides an assessment of whether a candidate should be prequalified and, if so, which specific offer best fits the customer’s needs. These scoring values can be set to adjustable thresholds depending on the value of the offer or the acceptable risk tolerance.

In short, yes, being easy to find and easy to use is important. But it’s just as important to find all the information available to you about your consumer and market smart, not hard.


September 27, 2010

Monthly News or Monthly Snooze? Keeping your eNewsletter from lining an eBirdcage.

Filed under: Credit Union News,e-mail,Uncategorized — Tags: — 8:04 pm

by Ron Daly

I read a great article from CopyBlogger.com about email newsletters called “Five Reasons Why No One is Reading Your Email Newsletter”. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart as both a person that helps businesses put together their newsletters and a person who’s responsible for a newsletter every month. You want to make something that people will read and not just trash the minute it comes in.

The five reasons (or “mistakes” as they’re called in the article):

1) Your newsletter isn’t helpful

I strive to include articles each month that help businesses and financial institutions manage their online information in a better way. Maybe it’s as simple as an article about improving calls-to-action in emails, maybe it’s about making better banner ads- whatever it is, it’s a little advice I’m willing to give away for free.

Sean D’Souza, author of the post, had this to add:

“You know very well that non-stop shameless self-promotion doesn’t exactly endear you to others, and of course you’d never make every single newsletter into a pitch…yet most folks can’t help themselves. They mean to write something useful, they mean to be helpful, but they end up being self-promotional because it’s easier.”

2) Your voice isn’t particularly compelling

This is a tough thing for non-writers to master. When everyone’s taught the same rules for writing in the English language, we wind up with unimaginative writing from people who never took the time to break those rules and establish a “voice” of their own. Does your writing sound like you would sound if you were sharing information with someone face-to-face?

And maybe more importantly, since I know it’s mostly finance folks reading this – is someone writing your newsletter? Is it coming from one person or a team? Is there an expert on a topic writing about their topic or is it one person covering “current events” in general? Keep that in mind.

3) You’re not telling stories

We love stories. When we sit down to put together our own newsletter month-to-month, we ask ourselves “where’s the story?” Which business benefitted from our knowledge that month, and how can we share their story with others who might be in the same situation?

Sharing the story of NWFCU’s collection program got more people interested in collection reminders via email. Telling people about Reg E successes from credit unions around the country got the attention of other folks interested in regulatory compliance packages. As D’Souza said in the same article, “…nothing gets your readers engaged like the color and drama of a good story.” The drama’s already there, because what one bank or credit union feels, the others feel…you just need the details to flesh it out.

4) You have a half-hearted call to action

D’Souza makes it seem pretty simple. His theory: you have to walk readers through their next steps with your calls to action. Want them to comment on a blog post? Ask them to do so. Want them to buy something? Tell them that’s what you want.

5) You don’t have a specific frequency

Going back and forth with content is easy to do online – you’re not pegged to deadlines as you would be in print. Making sure you send your newsletter around the same time each month and sticking to it will create a schedule in the mind of your reader and they might even start to look forward to it. Too frequently or sent at varying times might mean readers become detached and dislike your newsletter.

Treat it like any other monthly task – take the time to do it and do it well.

Hopefully, you’ve taken a look at your newsletter and have decided to make a few changes. If you want to start evaluating your ROI and your newsletter penetration, the Automatic Relationship Builder can help. Go to our ARB page to learn more.

Our newsletter is monthly, handy and free! Click here to sign up.


July 22, 2010

Short, Sweet, To-The-Point: The Twitterfication of American Business

Filed under: Credit Unions,e-mail,email,Twitter,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — 2:17 pm

by Ron Daly

Just read an article from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council, “Reach Members in 140 Characters”. They have a lot of great examples of small businesses and community businesses using Twitter to draw interest and save on marketing. They address a lot of what new users wonder about Twitter, specifically:

  • Listen to the “static” and the negative/critical talk, because you can. Nobody’s stopping you from finding out what Twitter users think.
  • Spice it up by making your messages sharp and memorable – don’t just “robo-tweet”.
  • Use your Twitter stream as a focus group/Q and A channel for curious parties.
  • Start small and stick with it!

Many of the folks I talk to in the credit union industry wonder how you manage to talk to anyone about anything in 140 character spurts. According to a recent article from LifeHacker, phrasing the first sentence in an email can increase the chances that the email gets read. We all know that a solid subject line gets a reader’s attention, but what about the preview line? For example, you get an email:

Re: Business Collaboration Opportunity

Hi, John – I got your email recently and I’m curious about a possible collaboration between our business and your busi…

The subject line lets you know that A) The person writing is replying to your email and B) they want to talk business collaboration with you. It’s simple and direct. But then there’s your preview line that gets cut off without saying anything else to compel your reader. Want to make it pop?

Re: Business Collaboration Opportunity

We would love to discuss a collaboration with you. Please call me today.

Hammer down a few lines with a hard return or two with extra details and let that first sentence say everything that needs saying. With practice, it can turn your business communication on its ear and make it stand out to your readers.

Start making it short, start making it sweet.


June 3, 2010

When does nine equal eighty?

Filed under: Credit Union News,e-mail,email,email marketing,Reg E,targeted marketing — Tags: , , , , — 3:28 pm

by Ron Daly

Two plus two equals four. A negative times a positive equals a negative. Nine is equal to…eighty?

I found that hard to believe, too. But it’s all right here in this month’s Transaction News. According to the article, titled “What Banks Should Know About Consumer’s Thoughts on Reg E” (click here to read the article), only nine percent of bank customers contribute eighty percent of NSF fees.

I’ve been extolling the virtues of targeted marketing for years now. Why bother blasting? If there’s a target that’s clearly defined, aim for it. This is the perfect example of a market that’s easy for you to see and reach out to via email and calls.

17% of all households are listed as “very likely” or “extremely likely” to opt in to overdraft protection, whereas 51% of households have NO intention of opting in because they have never had overdrafts on their accounts and don’t intend to do so.

So, it seems to me there’s a little math to be done at your credit union or bank. You find out what percentage of your members has had overdrafts on their accounts. You find out which percentage had more than one. As the article says, 29% of users with previous overdrafts are likely to opt in. So that’s 29% out of that 49% you’re chasing – what about the other twenty?

(more…)


April 28, 2010

Ready for Arbor Day? Don’t Miss Out on your Green Check-Up

Filed under: Budget Stretching Ideas,Credit Unions,DigitalMailer,e-mail,e-Statements,electronic statements,enrollment campaigns,technology,Uncategorized,web sites — 5:20 pm

by Ron Daly

Arbor Day is Friday, which means it’s time to talk trees.

Statements, notices, newsletters, postcards – it’s a lot of information coming from your credit union to the members. It’s also a lot of paper. Credit unions spend quite a bit of money mailing all this information and quite a few trees suffer for it. So, in preparation for Arbor Day, we’re giving you a chance to learn how green you really are.

As recently featured in the Credit Union Times, DigitalMailer is offering a “Green Check-Up” to credit unions that want to know how many trees – and how much money – they save with eStatements. Go to digitalmailer.com/greencheckup and enter your number of members, eStatement users, email addresses and online banking users. See how many trees and how much money you’re saving (or COULD be saving) with eStatements and online communication.

You’re wondering, “how much money could I possibly be saving with eStatements?” The answer might surprise you. Read this segment of our interview in the article “E-Statement Market Matures, Offers ‘Whale’ of a Savings” from cutimes.com:

Ron Daly of DigitalMailer said his company has delivered more than 16 million e-statements since it started off with its first client, his former employer Northwest Federal Credit Union in Virginia, about 10 years ago.

He estimates that the nation’s credit unions with more than $50 million in assets have a total of about 12.5 million e-statement users who each generate 50 cents to 75 cents per month in savings. That added up to $75 million a year in industry savings, “and that’s a very conservative estimate,” he said.

Sure, a few sheets of paper and half a dollar in postage might seem like a small expense, but  over time it’s a significant savings. Why not get started today? Email us at info@digitalmailer.com for more information on how you can get started with eStatements.


April 12, 2010

Measuring Emotional Unsubscribers

Filed under: Credit Union News,e-mail,email marketing,Marketing,member enrollment — 2:01 pm

by Ron Daly

[Note - This story originally appeared in the DigitalMailer monthly newsletter. Email us today to get signed up and learn all about what DMI has to offer.]

You’ve done a good job of developing and managing a solid list of opt-in email subscribers at your organization, creating a valuable email database. But what do your subscribers do when they receive your messages?

Too often, email marketers review the number of unsubscribes to determine how many customers are disengaging from their messages. But this strategy overlooks the “emotional unsubscribers” – those who don’t hit “unsubscribe” or report your message as spam.

Some consumers report they set up multiple email accounts to help them organize the messages they receive from various companies, using one for those they want to keep and another for those they want to ignore. Others use a message’s sender name and the subject field to determine if they want to read it when it’s received. If not, they may delete it, ignore it, or move it to a folder of unwanted emails – actions more difficult to track.

To help measure your emotional unsubscribers, watch their “open and click” behaviors: Did they open the message? Did they click on a link or visit a website mentioned in it? Have they opened any of your messages in the last three or four months? If any of your subscribers fall in these categories, they’re probably disengaged.

It’s important to regularly analyze the messages you send. Some customers are turned off by messages that are overly familiar if they don’t know you. Some that assert they are informational are really thinly disguised sales pitches. And some are irrelevant to your customers. Look for trends or patterns along these lines to see if customers may be disengaging from them.

Building a meaningful list of opt-in email subscribers takes time and effort. Protect your investment by not only monitoring their unsubscribe levels, but by carefully evaluating how they respond. For help in planning your email marketing strategy or for more information on DigitalMailer’s certified email system, visit www.digitalmailer.com/arb.html or call (866)  994-4900.


February 12, 2010

Got Snow?: What our company (and our clients) learned from The Blizzard of 2010

Filed under: crisis communication,e-mail,email,snow,weather emergency — 3:22 pm

by Ron Daly
Call me an optimist, but I’m going to call this storm “THE blizzard of 2010″, in the hopes that it’s not just “A blizzard of 2010″.

It’s been an interesting week here at DigitalMailer. In case you missed any news outlet of the past week, the DC/Metro area got almost THREE FEET of snow dropped on us in the span of a week. Many of our account managers, operations staff and marketing department had to work from home for the entire week – and one of our staff members won’t be dug out until days from now. Hang in there, Steve!

When the snow hit, we made it a point to send out reminders to all our clients about our limited support capacity, letting them know when we’d be out of the office and how they could reach us. Our clients had the same idea – DigitalMailer sent out over 300,000 emails regarding closings and delays to members. Clients from all around the DC/Metro area were able to get the word out ahead of the storm and in the thick of it.

The Value of Email

For our clients, email is not just about marketing. It’s a communication channel that members know to look out for because it’s a channel the CU is eager to use. Whether it’s a weather crisis or a financial crisis, our clients use our email engine to reach members, provide support and comfort, and let them know what happens next.

Fellow blogger and all-around CU-wizard Anthony Demangone from the NAFCU Compliance Blog had these four pieces of advice to offer on his own blog about the blizzard:

  • You need to plan.
  • You need good people.
  • You need technology.
  • You need to communicate to your “users.”

To read all the particulars, go to the NAFCU Compliance Blog Post.

Anthony hit the nail right on the head with these four points. See the crisis coming, have a staff you can count on, have the right technology and communicate consistently.

Send us your blizzard stories and pictures – either here or on our Twitter feed – and tell us how your CU or Business communicated with members/customers during the storm.

We can get you started with a fast, effective message delivery system right away. All you have to do is give us a call. 866 994 4900 extension 102 or info@digitalmailer.com

We wanted to give you some idea how much snow we’ve been dealing with – take a look at these pictures.Me, in front of a snow bank in a ski jacket that’s REALLY come in handy. To give you some scale, I’m 6’2″ tall – that snow pile is just about 7’2″.


The above picture was taken before the “dig-out” period by our Creative Media Director Jimmy Marks. That’s his car – beneath 24 inches of snow!

The snow piles easily tower over even large SUVs. Makes me wonder if maybe there are some other cars buried out there under the big snow piles!

Operations Specialist Steve Mattson lives in a more rural area of Northern VA. Good news? He has a small tractor and snapped a few pictures. Bad news? He’s STILL stuck at home! Hopefully we’ll see you Monday, Steve!


February 3, 2010

No Scissors Required

Filed under: coupon,Coupons,e-mail,email,email marketing,Groupon,Marketing,marketing on a budget — 3:00 pm

by Ron Daly

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

No matter what new technological developments crop up, the old standards still hold. Billboards still draw eyes, there’s still a “fold” in paper advertising spec sheets, and coupons bring in new business -whether they’re clippable or clickable.

In a recent eMarketer article ["Coupons Boost E-Mail Open Rate", Nov 19 2009], coupons are shown to boost email open rates significantly. Whether the coupons are for in-store use or online use, users are more likely to click through when a significant savings offer is presented – 80% more likely, to be exact.

Coupons have become de rigeur in the recession. Services such as Groupon and Vente-privee have made a tidy business of selling discounts on local businesses and couture fashion via email. Savvy shoppers take full advantage of this trend by waiting out their daily coupon and snapping up opportunities that interest them. They don’t have to stake out a site or enter a contest, however – they just have to open up their inbox. How could your business capture this trend for itself?

Well, for starters, how about your own services? We’ve talked about onboarding campaigns recently, email campaigns aimed at new members who might be in the market for your credit union’s services. Why not make special coupon-style offers that are good for the life of the email to new members? Cut rates on interest earning services or give $25 worth of free money to anyone that takes the time to open a new account with you. The sky isn’t the limit – your imagination and willingness to outreach is.

Some best practices that we can give you now (via email marketing reports):

1) No need for a fancy picture

A photo coupon might be interesting to look at, but what happens when your member’s ISP blocks the image or removes it from the email altogether? Make coupons and coupon codes readable in plain text so members can see the value of what you’re offering without any images to misplace or misinterpret.

2) Tighten up that net

You think that offering everyone the same rates is going to get everyone on board? College students have different wants and needs that their parents, just like first time home buyers have different wants and needs than long-time mortgage holders in the market for a HELOC. Use DigitalMailer’s ARB to send to refined groups and specific age or income ranges.

3) Where’s “step two”?

Your coupon was clicked by 10% of your target audience. That 10% counts as a group of qualified buyers – what about the other 90%? Is there a product or service that might better suit them? And quit bugging the 10% that already took you up on your offer – be more accurate and more precise in your marketing and you can save money in the long run.

Want to learn more? DigitalMailer’s “Do You Want Fries with That?” Webinar is a FREE webinar that goes through email marketing with the Automatic Relationship Builder. We’ve helped financial institutions across the country reach customers and members in a number of exciting ways.

Click here to see available dates for this webinar and to sign up for the next session.


November 23, 2009

Where The Buys Are

Filed under: Credit Unions,e-mail,e-Statements,Marketing,marketing on a budget,smart marketing — 2:54 pm

by Ron Daly

No, not the Connie Francis song – I’m talking about where the BUYS are. We know (and we’ve mentioned before) that we’re partial to email marketing. But you’re wondering about the profitability of marketing via email and whether or not there’s any impact when you’re using email to market products. Which emails are sure to get opened?

If you’re a credit union marketer, you have a particular challenge when it comes to email marketing, and a particular advantage to answer it. Your problem:

  1. getting members to buy/invest more at the credit union,
  2. getting them to recommend the credit union to friends, and
  3. finding a way to get either done with a limited budget and in a limited space.

What’s the advantage, you’re asking? Take a look at this chart from eMarketer Daily.

According to this chart, financial emails are getting read between 60 and 70 percent of the time. When you send your eStatement reminders every month, your members are going to open them for a look-see. Why not start branding them and adding in links/ads for other services and support from your institution? Push new products and rates, or encourage members to tell a friend and promote your credit union to potential members in the community. Take advantage of the relationship you’ve already established and a high open rate. That’s where the buys are – smart, well-placed ads that tell members and potential members what they need to know.

As Liz Miller of CMO Council says:

“Irrelevant, impersonal communications, be it email or traditional mail, is a waste as it does not engage a receptive recipient…It is no surprise that consumers are opting out of irrelevant emails. However, what is a grave sign for marketers to heed is that customers will disconnect and stop doing business with brands who continue to send messages that demonstrate a lack of intimacy, customer insight and individual understanding.”

Email marketing works best when you can tailor it to the target. If you’re interested in getting members. The DigitalMailer Automatic Relationship Builder helps marketers do just that. How? Visit our ARB page or call us today to find out – 866.994.4900 ext. 115 or info@digitalmailer.com for more information.


October 13, 2009

While some see red, Old Hickory Credit Union is seeing pink.

Filed under: Credit Unions,DigitalMailer,e-mail,email marketing,Financial News,Great Ideas from CUs Like Yours,Marketing,Old Hickory Credit Union — 1:56 pm

by Ron Daly

I’m sure football fans have noticed all the pink surrounding their favorite teams, cheerleaders and even stadium equipment the past few weeks. Sports Illustrated even “went pink” in its most recent issue, all to acknowledge the fight against breast cancer. I saw a great program go across the DigitalMailer production line this week and wanted to share it with everyone.

For the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Old Hickory CU is working hard to increase awareness and contribute to cancer research. Their approach, outlined here in their monthly “Money Memos” newsletter, which by the way is pink this month, is threefold:

1. A team of Old Hickory CU employees will be participating in the Nashville Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event on Saturday, Oct. 24. Their goal is to donate $2500 to the American Cancer Society;
2. Old Hickory CU is selling pink umbrellas for $15, with $7 of that going to the American Cancer Society. These umbrellas also come with a set of coupons for credit union services that benefit members; and
3. All branches are offering information on breast cancer awareness, as well as supplemental cancer insurance policies.

When we inquired about the eLert topic Malinda Warchus, Assistant VP of Marketing commented “It might seem like a strange thing for a financial institution to send out an eLert about, but we are committed to improving the lives of our neighbors and making a positive difference in our communities. The outpouring of response from our members tells us that they like joining our cause.”

Not strange at all…and we agree with the members! In fact, I hear our DMI team is in line for any umbrellas that are left once the members are taken care of.

Most of the time, Credit Unions think they can only use member email addresses for eStatement notifications, newsletters or selling a new product or service. Those same email addresses can be used to communicate the difference between a bank and a credit union, as well as raising awareness among CU members the community outreach credit unions are involved in. Old Hickory CU has done just that by tying into a national promotion and using inexpensive methods of communication (email, electronic alerts, and monthly newsletter) and community outreach to reach members and potential members at a fraction of the cost.

Kudos and this effort speaks to the character of Old Hickory CU employees and management. Keep up the great work!


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