For over 75 years, Cornerstone Credit Union (CCU) has served rural residents, farmers and business owners across East Central Saskatchewan. More than 24,000 members strong, CCU promotes a culture of community and integrity, with a focus on creating meaningful solutions for members’ financial needs and challenges.
In 2018, CCU—like all financial institutions—faced increasing competition, due to the rise of digital direct banks, an increase in mergers and acquisitions among credit unions, and the Big Five banks’ ever-expanding service offerings. In addition, the decentralized nature of CCU’s rural member base meant there was a critical need for consistent, quality member communications to stay top-of-mind with existing and prospective members. CCU engaged Metric Marketing to develop and execute an email marketing strategy that would help increase member engagement and ultimately strengthen member loyalty and buy-in. We also implemented measurement and analytics to set performance benchmarks, gauge success and identify opportunities for growth.
Research shows that 91 percent of consumers check their email daily and 74 percent prefer to receive commercial communication via email. Sixty-six percent of consumers say they have made a purchase as a result of an email, and segmented campaigns generate an open rate 14 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns. By delivering content that is relevant, useful and compelling for target audiences, email marketing can help brands remain top-of-mind, increase engagement, raise awareness of service offerings and drive conversions. Our process began with a thorough review of CCU’s brand, marketing materials and analytics, as well as a deep dive into their email databases. Guided by our client’s objectives—to improve the quality and frequency of member outreach, to provide direction to develop engaging content, and to build a meaningful measurement framework—we developed an email marketing and hyper-targeted segmentation strategy that would put CCU in front of existing and potential members at key stages during their customer journey.
The strategy was complemented by two email templates—one more robust, for monthly e-newsletters, and the other simpler, for product and service promotions. Our digital team provided comprehensive training for the CCU team so they would be able to plan, build, administer and measure email campaigns on their own. With these foundational elements in place, and working closely and collaboratively with Cornerstone CU’s internal marketing team, Metric’s digital, creative and strategic teams executed a series of highly segmented email campaigns, with audiences targeted on the basis of their financial and demographic profiles. Each campaign—one for CCU mortgages, a second for agricultural lending, a third offering support for farmers facing trade and weather challenges, and a fourth promoting better-than-prime-rate loans—featured custom creative design and messaging that brought the CCU brand to life in a consistent and compelling way.
Emails were complemented by custom landing pages and retargeting ads that reached audiences through display ads and social platforms. Each campaign featured a series of emails and ads, designed and dispatched according to certain triggers (e.g., if a member opened the email but didn’t visit the landing page) and to what stages audiences were at in their customer journeys.
All campaign landing pages featured an interactive element, such as a mortgage or loan calculator, which engaged user interest and demonstrated the CCU brand promise of providing relevant financial solutions. These interactive elements also served as a way to collect data for the purposes of identifying trends, such as the average down payment to mortgage ratio, or the amortization period that suited members best. This information enables Metric Marketing and CCU to create more specific targeted messaging in the future, using information that is relevant to members’ specific needs and financial realities. Ultimately, these efforts resulted in nearly 70 conversions, including 39 individuals booking a consultation with a financial service advisor and 29 placing a phone call to learn more. The better-than-prime loan campaign generated over $2.5M in additional loan revenue over a 2.5 month period.
Emails consistently performed above industry benchmarks in terms of open rates and click-throughs, and this new email initiative enabled us to establish engagement benchmarks against which future campaign performance could be measured. We integrated interactive landing page tools and calculators to generate valuable new information about the nature of financial products that are in demand in CCU’s market. We can work with CCU’s marketing team to integrate these findings in future campaign efforts.
Ultimately, Metric’s email marketing strategy succeeded on three levels: First, by leveraging strong user data and segmentation, it enabled CCU to stay in front of existing and potential members with relevant messaging at key points in the customer journey. Second, it gave CCU’s team a platform on which to bring their brand promise to life in a consistent and compelling manner. And third, the strategy was developed with data tracking at its heart. By building a strong foundation that utilized segmentation, tracking and interactive data gathering, each iteration of this campaign armed CCU’s team with the information they needed to optimize campaigns, products, services, and member relations moving forward. By deepening relationships with existing members, raising awareness of products and increasing participation and buy-in, Metric’s email marketing campaign has enabled CCU to strengthen their existing member base and build long-term loyalty. The data these efforts have generated enables them to be more efficient and effective in attracting qualified prospects now and in the future.
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