NWFCU Tailors E-Mail Marketing To Members Ready, Willing and Interested

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E-mail marketing isn't always unwelcome-more than 15% of Northwest Federal Credit Union's homebanking members are asking for electronic alerts via e-mail.

"E-mail alerts are opt-in communications," explained Marketing Specialist Casey Krol. "Only those members who truly want to communicate with us via this medium sign up. Therefore, anyone who is signed up is ready, willing, and interested in what we have to say. That makes a big difference in how these particular members react to the offers we send them."

About 40% of Northwest FCU's 67,000 members are active users of its homebanking site, NWLink.

Northwest FCU alerts started popping up in members' e-mail accounts about one year ago, said Gerrianne Burks, chief operating officer. Alerts include consumer loan, savings, and certificate rate changes.

Members can also select to be notified of new services, special offers and transactional events, such as overdrafts or when accounts fall below set limits.

Some members receive up to five e-mail contacts a month, Krol added. The CU sends alerts via Herndon, Va.-based DigitalMailer Inc.'s e-LERTs product.

The approximately 3,800 e-LERTs users seem most interested in finding out what's new at Northwest Federal-98% of them have signed up for the "New Services" and "Special Offers" notices. Notices of rate changes are less popular-only about 6% of members have signed up for various rate alerts.

Direct results of e-LERTs are unclear, according to Krol. Northwest FCU doesn't track the number of members who actually open the e-mails or click-through to promotions on the CU's website.

However, e-LERTs complement the CU's marketing punch and Internet presence, Krol and Burks agreed. "E-LERTs certainly work in tandem with our other promotional tools," said Krol.

Sign Up And Win

For example, Northwest FCU sent alerts telling members they could win a digital camera if they enrolled in online banking and e-statements. The CU opened more than 800 online banking accounts and signed up more than 1,000 e-statement users during the promotion, said Krol.

"E-LERTs have become an integral tool that we use regularly," Krol added.

Burks said that e-LERTs helps round out Northwest FCU's Internet package, "raising awareness that the credit union can be a member's complete financial service provider and offer many of the same things that a bank does."

E-LERT enrollment, highlighted at the top of the credit union's home page, is also included in Northwest Federal's online banking bundled product, Krol said. When a member enrolls in online banking, e-Lerts and e-statements are included unless the member opts-out.

The CU is about to take e-LERTs one step further, by implementing the product's operational efficiencies.

Members can be alerted when paycheck deposits or mortgage payments are posted, or when a check is returned, for example. "E-LERTs can give members information that they might otherwise have to contact the call center for," Krol said.

Northwest FCU also uses Digital Mailer's eStatement and eSurvey products.

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