Email Marketing vs. Automated Marketing for Credit Unions

Choosing how you want to engage with your members isn’t always easy. There are countless tools in the marketing space, and some are demonstrably better than others. In this blog, we’ll explore which is better: email marketing or automated marketing for your credit union.

To compare email vs. automated marketing services we’ll talk about a few things: member relationships, digital engagement, and marketing efficacy. If you work for a credit union marketing department, then this blog may be of particular interest to you.



When Marketing and Being a Member of the Community Align


I still miss the days when I was a member of Idaho Central Credit Union—I used to ride past my local branch, and a friendly employee would be outside grilling. I’d get a free hot dog (or two) and an iced tea and chat with them on the lawn.

One of the things that struck me about that kind of member engagement was that it was so casual. It met an immediate need of mine: I was hungry, and they had food. However, the most interesting part to me was that—although it was for member appreciation—they offered food and beverages to anyone walking by. Anyone!

When I think about how best to engage members—prospective and current—I think about what kind of value can be provided. ICCU hosted those little lawn cookouts not just to thank their member, but to remind their members that they care. Plus, they invited others to the party in a low-stakes, casual atmosphere.

Which leads me to my larger point: a close, personal touch is always better for strengthening member relationships.


Which Option Improves Member Relationships?


Email is an integral part of the way people and businesses communicate. There’s no denying that it’s effective and efficient.

However, email is a one-sided affair. People don’t respond to credit union emails. Sure, they may open them—and opening the email can tell the credit union a good deal of pertinent information. Still, it’s limited engagement on the member’s part.

The other reality is that email marketing campaigns can’t always tell when to engage with members. A credit union might send out an email to 10,000 members, of which 10% will get opened. Sending the same email a week later to the members who didn’t open it will garner the same interaction rate.

The problem with email marketing campaigns is that they can’t be customized to fit an individual member’s preferences, habits, or needs. Similarly, they can’t identify specific products or services tailored to a member’s digital engagement profile.


Measuring Digital Engagement


When comparing email marketing vs. automated marketing for credit unions, it’s critical to measure digital engagement.

Email marketing campaigns allow you to see your members’ interaction with your emails. That knowledge is critical, and it can inform your marketing team how to proceed.

Automated marketing programs do the same thing. Additionally, they also track member engagement in social media, on your website, and any other relevant online portal.

After only a short period of time, automated marketing programs can tell you important details that can shape the way you interact with your members. Instead of knowing that a member opened an email—or tends to open certain types of emails—you can learn about their financial habits, their preferences, what services they might need, and any significant life events that concern the credit union.


Improving Marketing Efficacy


One of the best features of automated marketing platforms for credit unions is the flexibility and control they provide.

Automated marketing platforms enable faster, more efficient member engagement. They can provide sophisticated automated workflows, triggered email campaigns, and dynamic list segmentation. Automated marketing platforms and Client Relationship Management (CRM) software handle the following needs:

  • Running blogs
  • Integrating with social media
  • Manage landing pages
  • Handling forms
  • Initiate email nurturing campaigns
  • Scoring leads in real time

The lead scoring in particular is what keeps marketing automation software at the cutting edge. By tracking the digital engagement of current and prospective members or clients, automated CRM tells your credit union about who’s interested in what, and when.

Email campaigns call tell you who clicked on your email. They may also send further triggered emails.

Which Is Better in the Long Run?


I shared an anecdote about ICCU at the beginning because it had a lasting impact on me. I lived in Boise only for a few years while I finished graduate school. Nevertheless, they left a strong impression on me, and I think they’re a model for how to meet, engage with, and ultimately understand their members.

Credit unions who want that personal touch won’t be well-served by email marketing campaigns. Email marketing still has a very important place. However, the limited functionality and flexibility of email-only marketing can’t keep up with the robust online data that members generate daily.

If you want to establish a meaningful, engaging relationship with your members, you can’t rely on outdated technology. Not when there are better options at your fingertips.


Next Steps for Credit Union Marketing Strategy


If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, then I hope I’ve adequately introduced why automated marketing is the future for credit unions. I also hope you watched the video, because it puts some of my points in better perspective.

We update our blog regularly with tips, tricks, and insights about the credit union industry. If you’d like to read more about marketing automation software for credit unions, follow the links below!


What Credit Union Marketing Automation Is, and Why It Matters

What Does Marketing Automation for Credit Unions Cost?


Remember, CU2.0 is SharpSpring certified and can help your credit union navigate the rapidly evolving marketing automation space.

How SharpSpring Helps Credit Unions with Marketing Automation

As Credit Union 2.0 (CU2) grows, we’ve come to appreciate the little things. Our team is small but mighty, just like most of the credit unions in the United States. One of the tools that has allowed us to operate more efficiently is the marketing automation software SharpSpring.


It took us months of shopping around and demoing different Client Relationship Management (CRM) software. Eventually, we settled on SharpSpring. Here’s why, and more importantly, here’s why it should matter to you.


But before we get too far, we should put a little disclaimer here: this blog is intended specifically for credit unions, fintechs, and CUSOs who are looking for marketing automation tools to take their enterprise to the next level. Okay! You’ve been warned!



What SharpSpring’s Automated Marketing System Does

SharpSpring is a CRM designed to help businesses monitor client and member engagement. It allows companies to see who’s looking, who’s interested, and who’s still on the fence.


From there, SharpSpring helps businesses stay in front of prospective and current members (or customers) with sophisticated automation. Some of its key capabilities include:

  • Running blogs
  • Integrating with social media
  • Manage landing pages
  • Handling forms
  • Initiate email nurturing campaigns
  • Scoring leads in real time

The lead scoring in particular is what keeps SharpSpring at the cutting edge of CRM software. By tracking the digital engagement of current and prospective members or clients, SharpSpring helps your credit union (or fintech or CUSO) see who’s interested in what, and when.

By the way, did we mention CU2.0 is SharpSpring certified?

Why We Like SharpSpring

We’ve already outgrown another CRM that couldn’t do what we needed it to. SharpSpring’s functionality is much better, as is its training and support. However, that’s not the only reason we like SharpSpring for CU2.


There are many marketing tools out there, and we know from experience that choosing the right one isn’t easy. Some are difficult to use or don’t have sufficient training, responsive support, or adequate capabilities.


We use SharpSpring because they fit with the core values of the credit union industry. Their goals are to enable businesses to connect with people on a closer, more personal level and to facilitate better interaction between companies and their customers.


Another thing that we appreciate about SharpSpring is that while they prefer developing relationships with their clients, they also protect their clients’ bottom line. SharpSpring is very competitively priced, while still offering the same level of function and support as their more expensive competitors.


Why We Promote SharpSpring Adoption

We actually don’t suggest that all of our clients adopt SharpSpring. SharpSpring’s robust automation abilities make it more appropriate for larger credit unions and businesses who are focused on growth and member retention.


SharpSpring’s automated workflows, triggered emails, and dynamic list segmentation make it a very powerful tool. It allows businesses to quickly and efficiently manage their lead generation and sales.


However, we do think that marketing automation software for most credit unions and related financial companies is near-essential. Automated marketing software gives you the information you need to assess member/client engagement and interest.


Without a good understanding of member/prospect habits, companies have less information to work with. It’s hard to stay in front of members with relevant offers if you don’t know which offers are relevant to them. Similarly, it’s tough to bring in new clients if you let the slip through the cracks.


Want to Learn More About Credit Union Marketing Automation?

Our blog is filled with tips, tricks, and most importantly, actual resources to help your credit union, fintech, or CUSO thrive.


Follow the links below to learn more about how to increase lead generation and growth in the credit union industry.


What Credit Union Marketing Automation Is, and Why It Matters

What Does Marketing Automation for Credit Unions Cost?

What Does Marketing Automation for Credit Unions Cost?

Who knew that not-for-profit enterprises would ever have to be careful about their budgets? Okay, I guess we could all see that coming. Generating and managing revenue is especially difficult for credit unions, but it’s necessary. In today’s blog, we’ll look at the cost of marketing automation for credit unions.


If you work in the marketing department of a credit union, you’re probably already familiar with some marketing automation software. Generally, automated marketing helps manage email, social media, and other repetitive tasks.


Depending on the application, some automation software can make the work of one person seem like the work of ten. But that increased efficiency comes at a cost. Is it a cost that your credit union is prepared—or able—to pay?



Yes, Your Credit Union Can Afford Marketing Automation


We’re not saying it’s an easy task to make room in a tight budget for one more marketing solution.


Marketing automation isn’t some silver bullet that will magically address and alleviate your pain points. Unfortunately, that makes it a tougher sell to some credit unions. However, before dismissing outright any marketing automation for your credit union, consider the numbers.


While we can’t give exact numbers—those depend on which services you use and are considering—we can say that marketing automation software is surprisingly affordable.


Some of the more robust email marketing platforms cost more than robust automated solutions with far more functionality. For example, the email marketing tool Emma costs more than the automation platform SharpSpring. HubSpot costs only a little more.


If your credit union is already using marketing tools, there’s a high chance that replacing them with an automated solution won’t significantly impact your bottom line. The difference could be less than a couple thousand dollars per year.


But What if It Ain’t Broke? Why Fix It?


Automated marketing for credit unions is more complicated. That complication presents a hurdle to adoption.


Namely, credit union marketing automation means the following:

  • Training on a new system
  • Importing emails and workflows from the old system(s)
  • Campaign conversions

While most marketing automation platforms offer outstanding training and support, it can still sound overwhelming. Considering the implications on time and productivity during adoption and conversion, one might ask, why switch at all?


Staying Relevant


Things move quickly in the world of technology and finance. Disruption is the new normal. Credit union marketing departments need every edge they can get to stay in touch with their members.


Being able to reach the right people with the right offers at the right time is critical. Marketing automation ensures that your members—both prospective and current—don’t slip through the cracks. The Stash Apps and Acorns banks of the world aren’t going to let up anytime soon, and neither should your credit union.


Staying in front of members and continuing to provide value gets easier with automation. Formerly tedious projects become background functions.


Plus, having one person do the work of several sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?


Further Reading


Hopefully we haven’t painted too bleak a picture. Ultimately, we think that marketing automation for credit unions is—and will continue to be—the new standard for member engagement strategies.


In our view, the cost of moving to automated marketing is minimal. In some cases, it may even save your credit union money while expanding its capabilities.


If you’d like to read more about marketing automation for credit unions follow the links below! Plus, if you follow our blog, we’ll keep you updated with salient features in the credit union industry, plus developments in AI, machine learning, and innovative fintech partnerships.


What Credit Union Marketing Automation Is, and Why It Matters

Credit Union Marketing in the Digital Age

Do you want to learn more about SharpSpring? Well CU2.0 is a certified partner and we’d love to give you a free demo.

What Credit Union Marketing Automation Is, and Why It Matters

Believe me, we get it: marketing efforts can lead to headaches. Nobody likes getting cold calls, most people mute (or skip) commercials, and I still get nightmares about pop-up ads. However, credit union marketing automation is far more sophisticated—and less intrusive—than those marketing strategies.

Not all marketing strategies result in headaches, though. Modern credit union marketing automation techniques are very different from the awful ones listed above.


What Can Automated Marketing Do that I Can’t?


The less-effective forms of marketing above give sales and marketing a bad name, and it’s easy to see why. Cold calls, commercials, and pop-ups are rarely relevant to the people who see them.

On the other hand, credit union marketing automation platforms are much smarter about advertisements. They track your members—current and prospective—to monitor their activity and interaction with your credit union. With automated marketing software, you’ll gain insight about how your members interact with you across multiple areas:

  • Social media
  • Email
  • Your website
  • Other websites or web activity

After collecting enough data about your members’ habits, needs, and wants, you can gain a clearer picture of what makes them tick. It’s much easier to identify which of your products and services are relevant to them.


Who Really Benefits Here


After you understand more about your members’ digital engagement habits and preferences, you can direct marketing to them on their terms, on their preferred platforms. Plus, with lead scoring capabilities, you’ll be able to increase or decrease your efforts as necessary.

Oh, and the best part? That’s all done automatically. Lower effort, higher reward. Credit union marketing automation software streamlines and optimizes the relationship between credit union and member.


1. How members benefit from marketing automation

Nobody wants to ask their doctor if—I don’t know… Drifexia?—is right for them. It’s probably not. Similarly, your college student members don’t care about your credit union’s mortgage rates. Members looking to finance a new car don’t care about your great boat loans.

Marketing automation allows your credit union to provide value by staying in front of them with relevant offers and services. If they’re demonstrably not interested, the automation software understands that and backs off.


2. How credit unions benefit from marketing automation

Marketing isn’t always easy. Sometimes credit unions (and other businesses) feel that they are simply throwing money into a void and hoping for the best. Other times, credit unions have to take wild guesses, which feels like taking aim and pulling the trigger without a target.

Marketing automation software paints the target for you, and then it tells you when to fire.

Ultimately, the benefit to the credit union is that they gain a better understanding of what to advertise, who to advertise to, and when to do it.


Is Marketing Automation Right for Your Credit Union?


Bringing automation into your marketing practice represents a major shift in marketing approach. You have to be ready for it, both technologically and culturally. However, for a little more work up front, you can drastically increase efficiency and efficacy down the line.

Relying on traditional marketing strategies can certainly work. After all, it’s gotten us this far. Still, a robust marketing automation suite can drastically reduce:

Marketing automation software is the best way to begin understanding not just the needs of member segments, but of individual members. It also takes a lot of the work out of the whole thing. Instead of manually configuring and starting workflows, the software can do it instead.

To learn more about credit union marketing automation, strategy, and fintech partnerships, follow the links below!

Credit Union Marketing in the Digital Age

Credit Union Data Analytics: Put the Community in your Fees!


On a related note, CU2.0 is SharpSpring certified and would love to help you learn more via a free demo!