Proven Strategies For E-xtending Your Brand

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With financial service trends driving towards mobility and efficiency, we need to invest in and examine how we can extend our products and services through new e-channels and challenge ourselves on product differentiation.

Growth of your business model cannot occur until you extend your brand. One method for brand extension is to grow your delivery channels vertically while building greater values and convenience e-banking is one of these.

Electronic banking, or e-banking, is an umbrella term for the process by which a person may perform banking transactions and get information from your CU electronically without visiting a branch.

Prospects for e-banking depend on two factors: the aggressiveness of banks and credit unions and the acceptance at the consumer level. New demographics show that Gen X and Baby Boomers are the most receptive with growth happening exponentially. Here is a list of e-banking ideas to consider, and before I begin, special thanks goes to the following contributors; Roy MacKinnon, VP of Marketing for First Entertainment CU; Frank Diekmann, publisher of Credit Union Journal; John San Filippo, VP of Marketing with Symitar; Ron Daly, president of DigitalMailer, and Sarah Canepa Bang, CEO Financial Service Centers Cooperative, Inc.

* Package e-statements with online or home banking, and free bill pay with increased usage of your debit card along with checking.

* Effectively communicate and educate your national ATM and shared branch capabilities. A free online webinar and/or video are great ideas for reaching out and don't forget to use testimonials.

* e-blasts: Don't be afraid to use e-mail addresses to communicate quickly and inexpensively with your members. Your members love to hear from their CU when it is important to them e-mail your members that your quarterly newsletter is online to view.

E-blasts should follow every direct mail piece seven days after you drop and then follow-up with an outbound call. These steps, working in tandem with other reminder mediums and within your staff culture, will show increased ROI.

Track & Train

* Track unique hits, downloads and click-through rates, etc. for "next step" opportunities. You can't manage what you don't measure!

* Train your members to pay more attention to e-blasts by giving away special deals, added values and important communications via e-blasts These could include educational messaging and free webinars on current subjects; co-branded and/or trade-out marketing value-added coupons, or offers targeted to your members only. Offer Green Loans for cars, appliances and even homes, but again, only online!

* To build a more comprehensive e-brand, consider these: Surveys; e-voting for your annual meeting; eeducational messaging; free webinars on weekends on current subjects; security warnings and online e-mail alerts for phishing activities, etc., that are a "threat" to members' accounts. Actually, not a huge threat, but nothing sells like fear or gives folks a reason to sign up.

* Update your old e-mail system to a next-generation system that deepens member relationships online.

* Review of your website content is never ending. Pick a section every week and carefully go over it, always adjusting copy, links etc. Track unique hits and time spent on each page and change page with additional links, icons, etc. and see how deep you can drive viewers.

* Website tracking stats. NOTE: only "unique" hits matter. For $100 a year you can have Google analytics track hits and much more.

In the next installment, we'll take a look at another half-dozen strategies for making your e-banking really rock.

Paul J. Lucas can be reached at paul 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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