The New E-Face Of Marketing

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As technology expands credit unions' service horizons, savvy marketers are taking advantage of its sometimes very economical potential. Just ask Janet Stroud about the campaign linked to the eStatement program at Northwest Federal Credit Union.

The $800-million credit union, which serves employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, their families and, since 1999, 170 SEGs, offers members the ability to access 12 months' worth of financial statements electronically by logging on to a secure portion of NWFCU's web site. Since the program's inception in October, 2000, Stroud, who serves as NWFCU's marketing manager, has been adding marketing banners to the tops and bottoms of the most current statements advertising loans and promotions of varying types.

She's also sent pop-up e-mail messages to members who have signed up for eStatements, combining other low- or no-cost electronic initiatives with MCIF data to market services.

To date, she said, the results have been very impressive:

* A credit card promotion, sent electronically to 2,945 members, generated 57 new accounts with outstanding balances of $275,000 in just two months. In such a highly competitive field, the initiative represented a 1.94% response with almost no costs involved.

* Utilizing the same strategy, 8,713 members received targeted eStatement offers for new or second-chance car loans. The result was response from 117 members, more than $2.3-million in new car loans and $863,000 in second- chance loans.

"We're very pleased with the response," said Stroud. "Our members are very tech-y. We have a lot of early adapters who like this type of thing."

Indeed, the 9,000 members who have subscribed to eStatements represent a 17% penetration of total members. That's well beyond the industry average of less than 5% for all credit unions and, Stroud said, makes marketing in conjunction with the technology not only viable, but profitable. "As a matter of fact, the costs are negligible," she added.

NWFCU Webmaster Sandy McDonnell, a member of Stroud's marketing staff, takes about 15 minutes to create the banners, which are delivered with the eStatements. "We save postage and processing and for us it's actually quite a bit of fun."

The technology is handled out of house by DigitalMailer, which handles the eStatement service. Stroud targets each message based on member segment-the same message never goes to more than four segments within the membership- exports the member data to an Excel file and sends that along with the marketing "materials" to DigitalMailer for merge and delivery service.

"The process is incredibly easy," Stroud says. "It's pure marketing vs. technology and forms the right fit for our purposes."

By Stroud's own estimation, it also lets NWFCU make 522,000 low- or no-cost impressions each year. That's the total number of electronic impression available multiplied by the number of months and the members who subscribe to the eStatement program.

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