MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--This year's marketing forecast is closely tied to mobile and social media--areas considered essential for today's credit union marketers but also remain elusive as core marketing tools. Experts also say 2014 will require time-tested values and messaging, strategies credit unions have built their reputations on. Marketing success will likely depend on a blend of both, with strategy driven by consumer expectations, experts said.
"I see a lot of buzzy trends that get more noise than maybe they are due," Jeffry Pilcher, publisher of the online marketing publication The Financial Brand
, told News Now
. "Sometimes what flies under the radar is what accounts for the changes that take place."
Among the trends that will shape marketing in 2014:
- Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses computer code to anonymously "follow" website visitors after they leave an organization's Web page. Say a member goes online to checks out credit union's loan rates, and later in the day visits the ESPN's Web site. The credit union can then post a targeted ad asking if the member is still interesting in financing. "Instead of broadcasting or mass marketing, you already have somebody on the hook," Pilcher said. "Reel them in. You can get really specific with it. It's pretty powerful stuff."
- New technology tools will enhance targeted marketing, said Michelle Hunter, chair of the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council and senior vice president of marketing and development for $723 million-asset Credit Union of Southern California in Whittier. Every home banking and debit transaction creates a clearer picture of members' preferences and habits, Hunter says in the January issue of Credit Union Magazine. That information is becoming more actionable with new tools and technology such as real-time analytical software, Facebook and mobile applications, mobile marketing and search engine optimization. To read more predictions for the coming year, read "Charting Your Course Through 2014" on page 17 in the January issue of Credit Union Magazine.
- Mobile advertising is still emerging, but its eventual acceptance is inevitable, Pilcher said. There's a dynamic going on among the mobile phone, the place it's taking in peoples lives, and how many people are using it for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail," he said. Now organizations must find a way to gain the mobile users attention, he adds. "It's going to be tricky, but it's going to be big, and the ones that figure it out are going to be very successful," Pilcher said.
- Social media advertising starts with Facebook, and Facebook advertising starts with targeting consumers who "like" your Facebook page, Pilcher said. By taking "likes" to a second level, credit unions can mine look-alike Facebook profiles. "Facebook knows what music you listen to, where you spend your time, who you interact with," Pilcher said. "Tell me that's not a better use of [a marketer's] time than filing posts about your last annual meeting." Credit unions can mine similar data in YouTube and Twitter, Pilcher said.
- Content is king. Consumers are tired of sales pitches, Mark Anrold, credit union brand expert and strategic planner, told News Now. Marketers must move their promotions away from product-of the-month type messages and more towards financial education and values-based branding, Arnold said. Information about money, finances and local events that add value will increase member engagement with the organization, Arnold said.
Increasingly that content is video. "It really adds emotion to your marketing," Arnold said, adding that at the same time, credit unions have to be on point with their message. "Consumers are consuming more information but they are digesting information in smaller bites. He suggested credit unions conduct a marketing audit. "We audit everything in credit unions. We audit loans and teller drawers, but we hardly ever audit marketing. It's a practical way to find where you can cut copy and hone your message."
- User experience is also essential. "You've got focus on what is it like for your members to do business with your credit union," Arnold said. The branch is just part of the experience, he explained. Consumers also define convenience by website and mobile accessibility. The user experience is closely tied to the credit union's brand, Arnold said. "Are you transaction-based or are you education-oriented? Are you white collar, or are you folksy? It's different for every credit union, but you have to identify it and consistently link it to your brand. It's more important than ever that consumers identify you with that experience."