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 for your credit union: email marketing or marketing automation.
To compare email marketing vs. marketing automation 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 Community Outreach 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 immediately. Those little lawn cookouts thanked their members and reminded them that they care. More importantly, they invited members to stay more personally and emotionally engaged.
And that leads me to my larger point:
A close, personal touch is always better for strengthening member relationships.
Email Marketing Doesn’t Improve 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, generic email campaigns are exactly that: generic.
Basic email marketing campaigns just aren’t relevant to most members. They’re not customized to fit an individual member’s preferences, habits, or needs.
Traditional email marketing treats credit union members like impersonal marketing targets. If a member reads a blog about short-term lending or small dollar loans, they probably need short-term cash. Yet an email marketing campaign will show them CD offers as if they have enough spare cash to buy one.
That’s one heck of a way to make that member feel misunderstood.
Automated Marketing Does Improve Member Relationships
One of the biggest differences in email marketing vs marketing automation is how the latter makes your members feel.
That is, they feel understood.
See, automated marketing is behavior-based. If a member reads about auto loans, marketing automation follows up with more information about auto loans.
Or, if a member reads about credit card offers, marketing automation follows up with more information about credit cards.
Basically, marketing automation turns generic email marketing into personalized outreach. That’s a much better way of making members feel understood.
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 far more important details about members. That data can shape the way you interact with your members.
Email marketing gathers data about when members open emails or click on any links.
Marketing automation does the same thing, but more. You can also learn anything about their other interactions with your brand. In addition to email, that includes social media, website activity, financial habits, and more. If you can record or measure it, your automation platform can incorporate it.
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 provide sophisticated automated workflows, triggered email campaigns, and dynamic list segmentation. Automated marketing platforms include Client Relationship Management (CRM) software and can handle the following needs:
- Running blogs
- Integrating with social media
- Managing landing pages
- Handling forms
- Initiating email nurturing campaigns
- Scoring leads in real time
The lead scoring in particular is what keeps marketing automation software at the cutting edge. Tracking digital engagement 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. That’s about it.
Conclusion: Email Marketing vs Marketing Automation
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 generic email marketing campaigns. 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 meaningful, engaging relationships with your members, you can’t rely on outdated technology. Not when there are better options at your fingertips.
Oh yeah, and automated marketing is automated. It just takes less time and effort. So there’s that.
Next Steps for Credit Union Marketers
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. If I haven’t, well, dang.
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