Ask five different credit union experts to define online marketing and you’ll likely get five different answers.
That may be because multiple components get rolled-up into the term, from websites to new scanning technology, according to “Online Marketing Tactics,” a white paper from the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council.
Part identification, part strategic, the white paper surveys the online marketing landscape. The following elements, it says, can help marketers better navigate the online marketing landscape.
A credit union’s website must be outstanding. Most consumers search before they buy.
The website has replaced the branch as the new first impression. It’s the first place potential members will go to learn more about the credit union.
2. Email marketing
Email marketing is affordable, produces real-time feedback and is an attractive option for anyone with limited funding for marketing or support staff. It can be an effective tool for targeted campaigns.
Its affordability, however, also makes it one of the most misused or overused tools. Just because it can be created in house, doesn’t mean it should be.
And just because it can be sent frequently, doesn’t mean it should be, “Online Marketing Tactics” reports.
Blogging is another way of creating a connection. It enables credit unions to stimulate and facilitate online conversations with members and nonmembers.
A simple blog can also drive up web traffic from search engines.
Providing information consumers want, and not necessarily pitching them products, can help build trust and a credit union’s reputation.
4. Social media
Businesses that take advantage of social networking as a marketing tool will have an edge over competitors who do not.
Social media is a great opportunity for credit unions to cut through the marketing clutter and engage members, the white paper says. Give members a chance to share their stories and talk about what they want to talk about.
5. Web video
Consumption levels of Web video are exploding. Using the tool for marketing can give a credit union the ability to create direction connections with target audiences, both members and nonmembers.
Videos also set off emotional triggers that the written word cannot: A video testimony from a member who became debt-free with the help of his credit union can go much farther than the same story in written form.
6. Mobile marketing
Nearly half of all cell phone owners currently own a smartphone. Nearly 90% of these people have the Internet or email on their phones, and 68% use their smartphones to go online daily.
One-fourth quarter of these people use their phones solely for Internet access.
Text messaging is the most widely used form of mobile marketing. But location-based targeting, when people “check-in” with mobile apps, is growing in importance.
Experts believe, however, that credit unions should spend most of their resources on their mobile websites.
7. QR codes
The quick response (QR) code—basically a next-generation barcode—is an example of how quickly mobile marketing is changing the way businesses interact with consumers.
QR codes can be a relatively low-cost, easy way to offer coupons and member benefits with a simple scan of the code. There’s really no limit to how marketers can use QR codes, and many are trying out inventive approaches.
8. Search engine marketing
Search engine marketing can be an important tool in capturing business. Consumers in search mode often are consumers in some stage of the buying cycle. If you can capture their attention, you may be able to capture their business.
Credit unions with limited budgets can also take advantage of pay-per-click advertising. There’s no out-of-pocket expense for a credit union if consumers don’t click.
9. Google Places
Nearly all consumers (97%) search for local businesses online, according to Google. If credit unions are listed online, they’re missing a golden opportunity to be found in their own communities, the white paper says.
Google Places, which is free, is similar to an enhanced yellow pages of business listings that show up in search engine results.
Visit the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council website for more information. White papers are free for Council members; $50 for nonmembers.