Don’t be the man without a plan
A new report reveals that while a slight majority of financial institutions say they have a digital growth plan, the overwhelming majority aren’t doing anything with it.
A NEW REPORT BY THE DIGITAL Growth Institute finds that while 54 percent of credit unions and banks claim to have a documented digital growth plan, only 15 percent of respondents are actively implementing a digital growth strategy.
“Credit unions are looking for digital growth, but they are doing so without a defined plan,” said Digital Growth Institute’s CEO James Robert Lay, referring to his firm’s 2017 State of Digital Growth for Financial Institutions report.
Lay explained the reason there is a discrepancy in what financial institutions “claim” is its digital growth plan compared to what its “actual” growth plan is due to self-reporting bias.
“By the way they answered the questions throughout the survey it was clear that they didn’t have a growth strategy,” said Lay, who added that the average digital growth score was 27 percent. “So when you self-adjust for the self-reporting bias you find that financial institutions have a bunch of tactics in place but not a plan, which isn’t bad, but they just don’t have a long-term vision.”
The survey had 262 respondents, 71 percent of which were CUS, including the $238 million Eatontown, N.j. based First Atlantic Federal Credit Union.
“We are currently enrolled in the Digital Growth Institute’s six-month training program and part of the process is taking the Digital Growth survey,” said Candice Nigro, First Atlantic FCU’S VP of marketing. “It was a very eye-opening process for me and my team.”
Back in 2012, the technology research firm Gartner predicted that by the end of 2017 a financial institution’s chief marketing officer will spend more on IT than its chief information officer. From Lay’s perspective, Gartner was holding a crystal ball.
“We are really seeing that prediction come to fruition as we consult with credit unions, particularly on the marketing side,” Lay told Credit Union Journal. “Marketing technology expenses are increasing and we are starting to see conflicts between the CIO and the CMO.”
Nigro explained that First Atlantic FCU “tends to focus” on digital marketing efforts, such as email, social media, editorial content and search engine marketing (SEM).
“What we are finding out from the Digital Growth Institute’s program is that the process of digital marketing needs to focused on bringing together all of the components into a single strategy,” said Nigro. “Currently, I would say that our digital marketing has been disjointed, and this program and the survey have shed light on ways that we can create a cohesive digital marketing strategy instead of individual efforts.”
The 2017 State of Digital Growth for Financial Institutions report also found that only 12 percent of respondents have budgeted for digital growth and suggested that these institutions, on average, should allocate 30 percent of their total marketing budget for digital marketing.
First Atlantic’s in-house marketing team consists of three staffers, including Nigro, and two employees who work directly for its e-branch.
“The e-branch is part of the digital strategy of the credit union,” said Nigro who added the CU has four traditional branches. “It isn’t just about marketing digitally, but creating a digital experience for members and non-members alike.”
THE WEBSITE QUANDARY
According to DGI’S report, a website that “sells” is the central component of a digital growth engine. However, the report found discrepancies in how financial institutions are investing in respective websites.
On average, it costs between $2.5 million and $5 million to build a new branch and $250,000 to $500,000 to per year to operate it, the report notes. Conversely, the average cost to build a website is $32,174. And, only 13 percent of respondents invested more than $80,000 to build a website.
“Financial institutions must invest in their websites to transform them beyond glorified online brochures and into websites that sell,” noted Lay.
He added that 53 percent of respondents have redeveloped their website in the last two years, but only 29 percent reported undergoing qualitative and quantitative user/member testing of their websites.
“Last year we updated our website and used feedback from a panel of college-aged students to build it out,” said Nigro, adding, “We are currently thinking of doing some updating again now that we have had the new site for a year or so. We are in the early stages discussing what changes need to be made, but I see it on the horizon for 2018.”
San Jose, Calif.-based Alliance CU celebrated its 65th anniversary with the grand opening of its new retail financial center in San Jose. The 2,100-square-foot branch is staffed daily by Alliance universal member representatives.
Vantage West CU, Tucson, Ariz., held its 62nd Annual Meeting, with leadership announcing a strong finish for 2016. CEO Robert Ramirez said Vantage West continues to be in excellent financial health, ending 2016 with $1.7 billion in total assets and 143,000 members.
Hiway FCU, St. Paul, Minn., was named one of the Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune for the fourth year in a row. Separately, Hiway was named one of the “Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
Marion Community CU, Marion, Ohio, is in its second year as lead of Bark For Life, a dog-focused fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. After a $4,000 debut in bad weather in 2016, the 2017 version of Bark For Life set a new record with $9,178 raised.
Charter Oak FCU, Waterford, Conn., received the Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce, Windham Region, for its many contributions that directly benefit local communities, non-profits and charitable groups across eastern Connecticut.
Truliant FCU, Winston-salem, N.C., won first place in the Triad Business Journal’s 2017 Best Places to Work in the publication’s Extra-large Employers category.
Westconsin CU, Menomonie, Wis., collected monetary donations and non-perishable items for those less fortunate for two weeks. The drive collected $2,248 and 582 lbs. of non-perishable items.
Mill City CU, Minnetonka, Minn., announced the winners of its most recent Making the Greater Good Even Greater give-back campaign. The winners, nonprofit Freedom Farm and small business Friedman’s Department Store, each were awarded $1,000.
Advantage One CU, Brownstown, Mich., and the Brownstown Downtown Development Authority co-hosted a Summer Kickoff Celebration at the Brownstown Event Center. In addition to food and entertainment, several vendors helped raise money for local charities.
Dow Chemical Employees’ CU, Midland, Mich., donated 35 factory-reset ipad mobile digital devices – many of them only very gently used – to
CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region, a nonprofit organization that offers prevention education, intervention, advocacy programs and services for children and families in both Saginaw and Bay counties.
Dover FCU, Dover, Del., joined forces with several organizations, including Purple Heart Homes, to honor 95-year-old WWII, Korean and Vietnam veteran Edward Littlejohn by building a wheelchair ramp so he can enter and leave his home safely and with dignity.
Diamond CU, Pottstown, Pa., awarded the Alfred A. Panfile Memorial Scholarship to five students from local schools. The winning students were selected for giving back to their community through volunteerism, teamwork and spreading goodwill.
First Atlantic FCU, Eatontown, N.J., awarded scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each to four local graduating high school seniors.