E-Mail Marketing Effort Given Part Of The Credit For New Loans, Deposits

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Loan and deposit money has been pouring into Bethpage FCU, and an advanced e-mail-marketing tool is partly responsible, according to Robert Schwartz, assistant vice president for e-commerce.

Using a web-based e-mail-marketing program with campaign testing and tracking capabilities since 2001, the $1.5-billion Bethpage Federal "can see what the response is to every piece of mail in real-time," Schwartz explained. "We can see how many e-mails were sent out, how many bounced back, which members opened them, what days and times they read them, and what links they clicked within the message."

The 118,000-member credit uses one2one WEB, provided by Roseville, Minn.-based Liberty Marketing Services.

More than 15% of the 27,000 members who opt to receive campaign e-mails click on the links that take them to the promotional or educational content behind the message. Schwartz said those clicks instigated $2.2-million in deposits and $650,000 in loans in 2001.

"We can use one2one WEB to send out a message describing new low rates on our auto loans," he said. "We include a link to the online application on our website so we're able to actually track when a member goes from the marketing message to the online application on our website. We can track if they've been approved for the loan and when the money is distributed. It's a wonderful way to see the tangible results of our marketing program."

Successful e-mail campaigns contain a blend of promotion and information, Schwartz continued. "We're using e-mail as a soft-sell, and we're also providing information for members to get the most out of their membership. We've learned that the content of the message should give members something of value."

Every month, the Bethpage delivers a different campaign, advertising a new product, a method to purchase the product, and services such as free seminars or updated branch hours.

This recipe for content is "built on trust with our members," Schwartz said.

That trusting relationship is something Bethpage needs to make the most of with its field of membership, he said, where members are persistently courted by the likes of Chase, Citibank, and Fleet banks, he said.

"One of the ways for us to keep up with large financial institutions is to communicate with our members via e-mail," Schwartz said.

With one2one WEB, Bethpage has gone "over and above" its previous e-mail marketing tools, such as Microsoft Outlook and an Internet banking provider model, he added.

"Before, we could send text-only messages, and we didn't get any follow through or reporting," said Schwartz. "There was no contact from the member. We were just blasting information out.

"The one2one campaigns provide automated contact centers, or a variety of touchpoints, within each message," he said. In addition to product links, each e-mail contains Call Me, E-mail Me, Refer a Friend, Your News, and Update Details links that allow members to "interact with the credit union."

For example, after a member clicks Call Me, a pop-up screen and then a follow-up e-mail confirms the call request. one2one WEB channels the request to the appropriate department, which, in this case, is the CU's call center.

Your News connects to a newsletter with a subscription to selected financial topics, including credit counseling tips, charitable events, or new products. "Knowing which topics a member selects helps us to segment products to members based on their needs and preferences in our next e-mail campaign," Schwartz said.

Fewer members are asking to be unsubscribed from BFCU's campaigns since one2one WEB has been around. The unsubscribe rate is at .0025%, down from 1.5% with the CU's previous e-mail marketing tools, said Schwartz.

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