Ramp Up Mobile Communication With Gen Y

It's time to embrace new communication channels to stay competitive.

August 17, 2010

Credit unions and banks are investing in mobile banking as a means of appealing to generation Y—the financial services industry’s fastest-growing market.

But credit unions are also investing in education to improve members’ financial literacy. They’re building relationships and improving communication with gen Y by engaging members online and through their mobile devices with practical content that helps them make better financial decisions.

Provide financial guidance

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineNorthwest Community Credit Union in Eugene, Ore., is one such institution that recognizes gen Y’s demand for education and guidance when it comes to making important financial decisions. Each month, its members receive e-newsletters that contain professionally written “how to” articles that address significant personal financial decisions.

A recent e-newsletter entry, “Who’s the boss,” discusses the increasing number of “couples-owned” small businesses in the U.S. and provides advice to help members run businesses with their spouses without compromising their marriage.

Credit unions that present such information using content-driven e-newsletter platforms are able to easily engage members on the go, as most systems have evolved to allow access to content online and through mobile devices.

Nurture relationships

By mobilizing content that improves financial literacy, credit unions can improve their relationships with gen Y. “Millennials in Financial Services,” a Microsoft-sponsored survey, found that younger market segments (those born between 1981 and 2000) are less trusting of financial institutions as a result of the 2008 bank bailouts.

The survey indicated that only half of the respondents are currently planning to invest in the stock market, savings accounts, or 401(k) accounts.

“The financial crisis has created a deep sense of mistrust in millennials, which is keeping the next generation of wealth on the sidelines,” notes Colleen Healy, Microsoft’s general manager of U.S. Financial Services.

Mobile devices, e-mail, and social networks are also largely preferred as communication channels with financial institutions among Gen Y. According to the Microsoft survey, more than 50% of millennials feel the financial industry is “out of touch” with how they’d like to communicate.

Improve member targeting

In addition to improving financial literacy through a variety of preferred channels, credit unions can use financial “how to” content to better target their product and service offerings. Analytical dashboards offered by various e-newsletter platforms allow readers to rate content, affording credit unions valuable insight regarding the relevancy of financial topics to their memberships.

For example, if a member clicks on an article that discusses issues to consider when buying a car, the credit union could follow up with information about its auto loan programs, as it's possible the member is in the market for a new vehicle.

This type of strategy can help improve cross-selling results for credit unions while providing another way for them to improve their relationships with gen Y.

The mobile phone has become a key instrument for today’s consumers, keeping them connected to their friends and service providers through a variety of social networks and online vehicles.

Credit unions of all sizes must embrace these communications channels, providing content that educates and engages members, to capture the gen Y market. This can help credit unions compete with banking counterparts, while establishing credit unions' role as members’ trusted advisers available to help them successfully navigate today’s financial waters.

CRAIG CAPP is vice president of Banking Services for Waltham, Mass.-based IMN. Contact him at 866-964-NEWS.