EVERFI Content Team

Credit Unions are one of the most popular forms of banking in the United States, but also one of the least advertised. Compared with many community and national banks, Credit Union marketing efforts are spending significantly less on ads and marketing. Instead, most rely on customer service and satisfaction, alongside higher interest/return rates on deposits and lower interest on loans as primary drivers for members. As a result, 72% of credit union members are satisfied with their financial institution, versus 60% with regional banks and 52% with national banks.

Credit unions must focus on meeting member wants and needs and continuing to push for member experience and satisfaction, which is their greatest strength. Expanding their outreach and stepping into more consumer spaces is also important, driving trends like community outreach, mobile apps & tools, and chatbots. The following 7 credit union marketing trends are among the most important to pay attention to.

Top 7 Credit Union Marketing Trends:

1. The Drive to Attract Young Members

Credit Unions have relatively high traction with millennials and Generation Z, with an estimated 14% of Baby Boomers relying on credit unions as their primary financial institution. At the same time, just 13% of Gen X, 6% of Millennials, and 9% of Gen Y say that their primary relationship is with a financial institution other than a credit union. That’s important because it puts Credit Unions further and further from people with the fastest growing spending power.

A large percentage of Credit Unions have failed to adopt digital technology or are only doing so very slowly. Younger generations use apps, digital bill-pay, and often want completely digital help and services, which many credit unions failed to invest in until only a few years ago. As a result, larger national banks have a significant advantage and credit unions must work to close the gap.

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2. Increasing the Value of In-Branch Visits

Consumers are visiting banks in person less and less as digital banking touchpoints increase. This is crucial for Credit Unions, who see an average of four times the number of in-person banking visits as other types of banking organizations. How significant is this shift? Nearly 75% of respondents in one survey about credit union members stated that they visit a bank branch 3-4 times per year, which is significantly higher than the 1-2 times per year for most other types of banks. While this sometimes tracks to a higher ratio of older consumers who are more accustomed to doing things in person rather than online, it is something that many can and are leveraging.

Integrating tools including self-service kiosks to reduce wait times, offering personalization and assistance to in-bank consumers, and taking steps to make wait-periods shorter and more entertaining are all important for creating a great credit union marketing strategy. Many also visit banks for purposes including notary services and personalized experiences.

3. Improving Member Satisfaction

Credit Unions already score very high on customer satisfaction in comparison with other types of banks. However, high member satisfaction is the Credit Union’s primary advantage over other financial institutions. Embracing quality customer service and help as a way of life for the organization, working to offer simpler and easier to follow information, and creating tools and help for consumers who need it will make a difference.

4. Embracing Digital Financial Tools

72% of bank contacts are now digital. At the same time, many credit unions simply haven’t invested in the large-scale financial tools and digital experience platforms used by many traditional banks. While investing in these tools and having them built from the ground up is often expensive, digital experience platforms like Backbase, Oracle, Creologix, and others exist to make implementing digital services easy.

Developing an app is also extremely important for younger users. Where 52% of baby boomers will access digital banking with a laptop or tablet, 60-70% of millennials and Gen Z do so from their phones. They expect anytime access to banking services through their phones, expect security, and expect to be able to handle all of their financial decision makings, including changing their services, through the app.

You can take this a step further by integrating automation and big data with AI to offer service points such as real-time loan approval and pre-approval, suggestions for savings plans, suggestions for better banking services, and so on.  

5. Chatbots and 24/7 Customer Service

Chatbots are still largely regarded as a gimmick but chatbots are increasingly sophisticated, capable, and interactive. Today’s chatbots can handle simple functions, open accounts, begin new services, and transfer consumers to real people when it becomes a necessary stage in the process. This serves two functions for credit unions, allowing both 24/7 service, and functioning as a low-cost first-line customer support matrix.

Here, it is important to establish a high-quality chatbot capable of offering personalized information, linking to accounts, and starting processes, otherwise, it will be frustrating for the consumer. Your goal should be to offer a simple but effective chatbot service where consumers know they’re talking with a bot and are hopefully given a set of questions and options they can choose to get the best answer.

6. Community Outreach

Community outreach has always been an important element of credit union strategy marketing, but it is becoming increasingly important. Credit unions can use financial outreach to solidify bonds with their community while building ties with younger generations and demographics, which many sorely need. For example, establishing financial literacy programs in local schools enables credit unions to connect with younger audiences to build a possible member base. Offering digital and financial security workshops and classes achieves the same for all levels and audiences.

7. Building Individual Member Experience

Customers can often switch banks in a matter of a few minutes, can easily research and compare options, and are more aware of their ability to leave a financial organization than ever before. Creating consistent and real personal experiences with consumers is one of the easiest ways to both market to new customers and continue to connect with and engage existing ones.

This can come from taking steps like offering customer service through digital experiences, using algorithms to offer pre-approval for loans and mortgages, assigning a single customer service representative to one customer for as much of their lifecycle as possible, using big data to personalize the user’s experience, and by integrating rewards for continued patronage, but it should exist in whatever form.

Credit Unions have a major advantage over most other types of financial organizations in that most consumers actually love working with them. At the same time, many credit unions fail in terms of adopting new technology, presenting a strong digital front, and offering always-on access to consumers. Taking steps to adopt those processes, while creating a visible brand presence in communities are among the most important credit union marketing trends.

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