Cor­ner­stone League and mem­ber CUS reap re­sults of aware­ness cam­paign

Cit­ing nearly 42 mil­lion ad­ver­tis­ing im­pres­sions and an uptick in traf­fic at par­tic­i­pat­ing credit unions’ web­sites, league says ini­tia­tive is mak­ing a real dif­fer­ence.

Credit Union Journal - - Growth - BY PALASH GHOSH

NEARLY TEN MONTHS AF­TER THE COR-ner­stone Credit Union League com­menced an aware­ness ini­tia­tive in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the league and its stake­hold­ers are em­bold­ened by the pos­i­tive re­sponses the project has gen­er­ated.

The “Feel the Dif­fer­ence” cam­paign was de­signed to in­crease pub­lic aware­ness of the ben­e­fits of join­ing a credit union and to dif­fer­en­ti­ate credit unions from other fi­nan­cial ser­vices providers.

The ini­tia­tive was de­vel­oped over more than two years by Cor­ner­stone’s Aware­ness and Out­reach Com­mit­tee and GDC, a San An­to­nio-based mar­ket­ing firm.

“We have learned through this ini­tia­tive and through the re­search we ex­e­cuted to sup­port it that the more a con­sumer un­der­stands credit unions, the more likely they are to con­sider one as their pre­ferred fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion,” said Jon Gor­man, SVP of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and out­reach.

The enterprise in­cludes paid ad­ver­tis­ing de­signed to drive traf­fic to cred­i­tu­nion­dif­fer­ence.com, which can di­rect con­sumers to nearby CU branches or credit union web­sites.

“From March [2017] through Aug. 31, Cor­ner­stone’s com­bined me­dia buy re­sulted in 41.7 mil­lion ad­ver­tis­ing im­pres­sions—paid and added value,” said Gor­man, say­ing that is “a fairly sig­nif­i­cant num­ber for the dol­lars we’ve spent. These im­pres­sions are largely tar­geted at con­sumers 18-34 and the un­der­served His­panic pop­u­la­tion.”

Peo­ple ages 18-34, Gor­man ex­plained, are fac­ing “ma­jor life-stage de­ci­sions,” such as buy­ing a home or buy­ing a car, while the His­panic pop­u­la­tion is largely un- or un­der-banked.

Dur­ing the first three months of paid ad­ver­tis­ing, noted Gor­man, only 7.74 per­cent of web traf­fic rep­re­sented re­turn­ing vis­i­tors. How­ever, dur­ing the most re­cent three months of paid ad­ver­tis­ing, 30.6 per­cent of traf­fic rep­re­sented re­turn­ing vis­i­tors.

“The click-through rate to the con­sumer-fac­ing web­site for the var­i­ous paid me­dia cam­paigns is well above [the] in­dus­try av­er­age,” Gor­man added. “Some­what sur­pris­ingly though, we’re re­ceiv­ing traf­fic from states out­side the Cor­ner­stone foot­print, with 8 per­cent of to­tal traf­fic from out­side Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.”

Along with the con­sumer-fac­ing web­site, Cor­ner­stone also cre­ated a “Feel the Dif­fer­ence” tool kit for its CUS with cus­tom­iz­a­ble mes­sag­ing and cre­ative as­sets.

‘EX­TREMELY EYE-OPEN­ING’

Oklahoma Em­ploy­ees Credit Union, a $493 mil­lion in­sti­tu­tion based in Oklahoma City, par­tic­i­pated in this ini­tia­tive. Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Jennifer Lown said the re­search GDC con­ducted for the ini­tia­tive was “ex­tremely eye-open­ing.”

“Some of our long-held be­liefs about the credit union dif­fer­ence wasn’t mes­sag­ing that res­onated with mil­len­ni­als,” she ex­plained. “The mes­sag­ing pro­vided in the Cor­ner­stone tool kit helped us tar­get and pro­vide clar­ity to po­ten­tial mil­len­nial mem­bers about what mat­ters to them when choos­ing their fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion. We’re now talk­ing to them about the credit union dif­fer­ence in a way that they un­der­stand and care about. “

Cor­ner­stone will be con­tin­u­ally re­view­ing the an­a­lyt­ics re­lated to cred­i­tu­nion­dif­fer­ence.com, Gor­man ex­plained, in­clud­ing met­rics such as the search en­gine ZIP code re­sults, de­mo­graph­ics and psy­cho­graph­ics of those vis­it­ing the web­site, as well as re­fer­ral traf­fic, exit pages, time -on-site, per­cent­age of re­turn­ing vis­i­tors, and anec­do­tal ev­i­dence re­ceived from credit union ex­ec­u­tives.

“Over time, we’ll mon­i­tor mem­ber­ship growth at in­di­vid­ual credit unions, which we track in our as­so­ci­a­tion-man­age­ment sys­tem,” Gor­man added.

With Google An­a­lyt­ics, said Lown, Oklahoma Em­ploy­ees CU is see­ing a 57.76 per­cent in­crease in pages-per-ses­sion and 161 per­cent in­crease in av­er­age ses­sion du­ra­tion tied to in­bound re­fer­rals from cred­i­tu­nion­dif­fer­ence.com.

San An­gelo Fed­eral Credit Union, a $24 mil­lion in­sti­tu­tion based in San An­gelo, Texas, also par­tic­i­pated in the aware­ness ini­tia­tive. CEO Laura Whisen­hunt said her goal for this cam­paign is “to uti­lize the videos for so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing, ed­u­cat­ing my mem­bers (and po­ten­tial new mem­bers) on the credit union dif­fer­ence.”

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