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.

Credit Union Journal - - Front Page - BY W.B. KING

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.”


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,...

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...

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.

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