Credit union marketers can face resistance within their organizations regarding the use of digital tactics to acquire new members and increase share of wallet. Whether it is coming from the board or the C-suite, credit union marketers often have to convince others within the organization that their digital marketing efforts help the credit union meet its goals.
How should marketers respond to skeptics within their organizations and convince the doubters that digital should actually be expanded?
WebStrategies Director of Business Development Kristin Harrison recently appeared on the CU 2.0 Podcast to answer this question. The conversation alongside 1st Advantage FCU VP of Marketing Amber Callahan and host Robert McGarvey revolved around how to develop a comprehensive and strategic digital marketing plan and obstacles that can get in the way, but ultimately why digital marketing has untapped potential for credit unions.
Here are the highlights from the podcast:
In our daily conversations with credit unions, we often hear that some influential individuals are skeptical of the digital marketing that is being done for their organizations.
At the same time, we know that Google and Facebook are the biggest sellers of digital advertising and that digital spending accounts for half of total ad spend. If big banks were given the choice of using only traditional marketing tactics or only using digital marketing tactics from now on, they would choose digital without hesitation.
Where is the disconnect?
If you need to make a case to start or expand digital marketing efforts in your credit union, you may have come across one of the following objections:
Objections to Digital Marketing
It's Too Hard to Measure Results
Credit unions don't want to spend money on tactics that they can't measure and we don't blame them. Perhaps measuring results from digital marketing efforts has been difficult in the past due to systems that can't be connected. We understand this frustration.
It is possible to get real, actionable data from digital marketing. It requires work on the back end, but the effort is worth it to get accurate reporting in place.
Also, consider the traditional marketing methods that the credit union is using. Is your credit union advertising on the radio? While a radio station can tell you how many listeners heard the ad, they can not tell you how many of them were looking for an auto loan when they heard it. In another example, how many people who drive by your credit union's billboard 1) notice it and 2) decide to act because they saw it? While you can get a very rough estimate of the number of people who drive by, the actual return on this tactic is unmeasurable.
The purpose of digital marketing is to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. If you can't prove that your marketing efforts are accomplishing that, it's time to consider a more robust digital strategy.
Digital Marketing is Just Advertising
There may be misconceptions of what digital is within the credit union. Digital encapsulates paid advertising, local and on-site SEO, content, email, and marketing automation. Some people believe that digital marketing is just setting up ads online and that is simply not the case.
A digital marketing firm takes all of these digital and develops a comprehensive strategy in support of the credit union's goals. It's our job to make the pieces work together and glean actionable data from digital marketing efforts.
The Membership Base Isn't Online
Some credit unions believe that their membership skews older so digital isn't for them. The truth is that older people are online. Some have been active online for years (particularly on Facebook which has advertising potential) while others were forced online in 2020. Regardless of how they got there, older people are using the Internet to meet their needs and credit unions need to meet them where they are.
It's Too Expensive
The reality is that there is some outdated technology in the credit union space. Sometimes, credit union members are even asked to come to a branch to complete an application.
When new technology is needed, such as a new website, some people within the credit union may balk at the expense. But when developing a digital marketing strategy that leads to results, step one is having a functional and intuitive website. Outdated tech can leave users frustrated and abandon the application process altogether, leading to missed opportunities.
The bottom line is that a digital partner should be able to align your organization's goals with your budget. Avoiding digital to save money is not the answer; when you look at the big picture, that's actually losing money as members and prospects take their business elsewhere.
What Credit Unions Get from Digital Marketing
If you are not seeing a return from digital marketing efforts, a digital marketing partner is in your best interest. Your partner should do the following on the most basic level:
- Develop a digital ad strategy - this will include what platforms to advertise on, how much to spend, and how to target the ads
- Develop a plan for SEO - this will include building out your website with product-specific pages, local SEO, technical SEO, and content marketing
- Report on tactics and provide recommendations based on insights from data
Regarding reporting, it's important to note that some LOS providers can take tracking farther than others. In some cases, credit unions can tell how many people applied, what campaign they came from, how many people abandoned the application, and where they dropped off. The most advanced tracking is now able to report on funded loans.
A trusted partner can tell you what you will be able to track with your specific system. But you definitely want to take tracking the farthest it can go; this helps you understand user behaviors so that you can make informed decisions based on what your audience is doing online.
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