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29 posts categorized "Marketing"

May 20, 2014

Blue, Navy Blue

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by Ron Daly

I saw a story on today's CU Watercooler titled "World's Largest Credit Union is Getting Bigger". It would seem that Navy Federal, the biggest dog in the credit union pack, is expanding its reach by another 60 branches nationwide.

From the article:

To keep up with growing membership, which has risen 25 percent since 2012, the credit union is opening 60 new branches across the country by 2016.

And: 

This month, the credit union opened its first “technology concept branch” in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, marking its 32nd area location.

Yowza. That's a lot of branches, especially when you consider that many banks (and some CU's) are closing branches by the dozen. I did a quick Google search for how many CU's had closed in Q1 of 2014 but didn't find much info. Banks closed 281 branches in Q1, roughing out to about three branches closed every day for three months.

Navy FCU is growing while other institutions are receding. They have the money, the members, and the momentum. I'm sure for a few CU's out there, it might seem like this level of service and growth is unattainable. It might make you feel blue...Navy blue. As blue as you can be.

Don't be! You shouldn't think of your credit union as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Navy. With $58 billion in assets and this rate of growth, they're by far the largest CU in the world. The average CU has $149 million in assets and typically doesn't serve a group as large in scope as the Department of Defense, all Military branches and their respective families. It's apples and oranges. 

But there are ways of offering Navy Federal-level service to your members. Take a look at this passage from the Washington Post article above:

Instead of traditional teller lines, the 3,300-square-foot [technology concept branch] offers a more interactive experience [...] There are iPads and smartphones on hand to show members how to use the credit union’s mobile apps to make deposits, transfer money and check balances. A kids’ area includes electronic games about financial literacy.

The credit union’s newest members are typically between the ages of 18 and 34, Romano said, adding that they are interested in learning how to use new banking technology.

“When you join, we want to show you all of the different capabilities we have,” Romano said. “It’s sort of like when you buy a car and the [salesman] drives it around the neighborhood and shows you all the features.”

What a stellar idea! Show members first-hand how convenient your virtual branch - the branch you can keep growing, with no regard for real estate prices - really is. Offer them iPads and electronic doo-dads they can play with right there, in the branch, to see how easy they are to use. Give kids games they can play that show the value of the credit union's work. Show people how to use RDC, Online Banking, eStatements...everything. Give them a really good test drive and they'll be much happier.

If you don't have the people-power to get all this done in the first visit, consider using email to fill the gap. Make this discovery process part of the onboarding campaign. Do a great job of educating members on how well the virtual branch works and they won't have to beg you to open 60 new branches...they'll be satisfied with what you've got.

The world of credit union technology is often one of "Me, Too's." You don't have to outspend Navy Federal on branches and advertising to win new members or to keep your current members around. Often, it's as simple as showing them that membership with another CU (or being a customer at a bank) would be very much the same...except for the level of service and care your credit union is willing to provide. Technology gives you a level playing field. Good service gives you an advantage. That's true whether you have three branches or three hundred and ten.

March 14, 2014

The Devil, the Details and You.

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by Ron Daly

I was cruising through LinkedIn and saw this post from CU Grow, posted with the intriguing snippet: 

"Let’s be honest, a CEO most likely does not care about the details of the creative as they are more interested in the outcome and value the results of the creative provide."

As a CEO myself, I had to chew that over. Yes, I care about the creative details - I'd like to know they're on-brand and well-done and useful. No, I don't care about every detail - I have to differ creative choices to the creatives I pay to...well, create.

The article is all about KPI's - Key Performance Indicators. What makes a campaign successful? Is it the number of people that click? Is it view/play counts? Is it downloads? 

Chances are, none of these metrics tell you much on their own. Click-throughs matter, but only in the interest of finding how many people bought something on the other end. Views and play counts are nice, but how many of those views can you trace back to a loan offered or a problem solved?  How many downloads of your white paper got you another conversation?  "The Devil's in the Details," they say, and while I don't think you have to be the devil to see how your virtual branch is managing visitors, I think it is important to keep the big picture in focus.

I like the article I read. I like knowing that our online initiatives reduce acquisition costs, boost profitability, and improve operational efficiencies. And I really love seeing all of that happen, start to finish, through the analytics. That's why I like to look at the following pieces of information for any campaign done online: 

1. Campaign Sources - This is an obvious one. I like both a macro- and micro-view of the campaigns because I want to know more about what's working. Are banner ads outperforming email for a certain campaign? What target audience responds best to webinars? In a given email campaign, how far did clickthrough-visitors go in pursuit of information? Which leads me to info-point two:

2. Time Spent and Visit Depth - Of the people that came in from any given campaign source, how long did they stick around and how much reading did they do? Did they download anything? Did they sign up for a webinar? 

3. Where's This Going? - I want to be able to compare the products we're promoting against the page visits for those products. As much as possible, I want to know what brought users to those pages and how much each clickthrough cost.

4. Drawing the Line - For each lead we get, I'd like to be able to draw a line from one point to the next in the road to their admission as a lead. Is this a client? Is this a prospect? Is this a potential partner? What brought them in, what did it cost us, and what's our next step in bringing them on board?

Hopefully these are good guidelines for you as well. All of this information is pretty easy to ascertain if your analytics are correctly set up and you have a good grasp on your costs. As you dig in on your reports and results, ask yourself an even bigger question: "what might change?" As Brent Dixon discussed in his most recent CU Water Cooler post, there are many things to consider when you're looking at one end result. In most cases, you can't point to a single root cause of any effect. Consider everything and try to think of your marketing campaigns (and your department) as a system. How does one piece affect another? Can something be changed to improve overall performance?

The devil's in the details but finding out how each arm of your marketing plan is working with the others is heavenly.

January 28, 2014

The State of Credit Unions in 2014, As Predicted by The "Crystal Ball" of Google

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by Ron Daly

Let's face it - Googling stuff is fun. It has been from the very beginning and it's still a hoot.

Sometimes, Google can show you the future. I decided to put Google's "crystal ball" capabilities to the test and see what 2014 had in store for the industry. I simply put

  • "In 2014, credit unions will *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions must *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions should *"

into the search bar and hit return. And voila! all the interesting tidbits about what the industry should focus on this year. Some highlights: 

"[Credit Unions] must focus on enhancing members’ cross-channel experiences, says Belinda Caillouet, chair of the CUNA Technology Council..."

"Charting Your Course Through 2014", creditunionsmagazine.com

Agreed. Members are leaning hard on technology and demanding more channels that work well with one another. That includes mobile apps, online banking and ATM/branch services that all play well together and stay up-to-date and easy-to-use.

"Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in 2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or clicked."

"Digital Marketing Trends for Banks and Credit Unions in 2014", TheFinancialBrand.com

Yep, right on the money. The technology we're using to sell to members is getting better and we can start making sense of data and offering products and services that make the most sense for each individual member.

“In the next 12 months, mobile will overtake online in terms of number of users. It already has more transactions."

"5 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2014", cutimes.com

I'll be interested to see the outcome of this one. Mobile's a big part of people's lives, but can credit unions rise to that challenge and create great mobile app experiences in the space of a year? A year, mind you, that's already down to eleven months as of Saturday of this week?

"In 2014, the trusted role of banks and credit unions as the collector of funds, provider of loans, processor of payments and advisor of financial relationships will continue to come under fire from non-traditional players including new financial organizations (neobanks), hardware providers, third party payment processors, and mobile app developers that merchants and consumers are using to chip away at the traditional financial services model."

"Top Ten Banking Trends for 2014", bai.org

More sharks in a still-pretty-small tank? This is the moment CUs have been waiting for — the moment to set themselves apart from the upstarts and prove they can be valued, trusted financial partners by offering sensible services and can't-be-beat member interactions.

"To experience loan growth in 2014, credit unions will need to originate significantly more consumer loans to offset the expected declines in mortgage originations."

"Marketing Overview and Data Report", catalyststrategic.org

I'm really curious about what kinds of loans credit unions will be promoting in place of mortgages (assuming they cut back on mortgage promotions, which some won't). Credit cards? Student loans? Where's the "heat" in lending in 2014?

“Looking ahead to 2014, credit unions can expect to see the CFPB expand its fair lending focus,” said Bundy. “The CFPB’s regulatory agenda unmistakably signals that fair lending will be a focal point of new rule making starting in 2014.”

"CUNA Mutual Group Anticipates Broader Regulatory Focus in 2014", cunamutual.com

"...The CFPB has the luxury in 2014 to move on to topics other than mortgages, such as overdraft, prepaid cards, Reg CC disclosures, and debt collection. To keep track of all of it, take advantage of various resources out there—besides NAFCU, and the CFPB, many law firms have compliance blogs and news alerts you can subscribe to for free. Knowledge is power, so grab on!"

"Credit union industry experts: What’s in store for 2014", cuinsight.com

I bundled those together for a reason: the CFPB will be stepping up its game in 2014. Credit unions will need to arm themselves with information, as mentioned in the second story. There are plenty of great resources out there, both free and paid.

Any other big predictions for this year? Leave them in the comments section.

March 20, 2013

eManners: What Does "Polite" Look Like Nowadays?

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by Ron Daly 

It's always interesting to read an article that challenges convention, then see the blow-back from that article, then see the author's response to the blow-back. With so much media to manage these days, conversations and commentary come out of the woodwork. If they don't reply on your blog, they'll reply on their blog. Or on Twitter. Or on Facebook. Or by phone. Or right up in your face. 

Take, for instance, this opinion piece by Nick Bilton in the New York Times. It's a piece that rails against the "Thank You!" email, the voice mail where a text message should go, the use of friends to answer a question that's made for Google. 

Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?

Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?

As you might expect, the lament of a 36-year-old super-geek didn't sit well with readers, many of whom are from a generation removed - one that emphasized penmanship, greeting cards and always saying "please" and "thank you". 

Do I really care about "Thank You" emails? No, not really. They're nice to get, and if they have more information or want to continue a conversation, why not? But I'm not going to lose sleep, nor should anyone looking for a reply from me be upset if I just move forward with the next steps after I get an email with an "action item". 

Bilton again, with a worthwhile consideration: 

How to handle these differing standards? Easy: think of your audience. Some people, especially older ones, appreciate a thank-you message. Others, like me, want no reply. “It is important to think about who the relationship is with,” Mr. [Daniel Post] Senning said.

Audience, audience, audience. The number one consideration in marketing, business, sales, collections, consultations, etc. You have to remember to whom you're talking. 

Based on the reactions he got, you might think Mr. Bilton hasn't considered his audience's reaction. Spoiler alert: they got mad. They called Bilton a "sociopath" (no, really), irrational, impatient, sad...they really didn't like the idea that he didn't want to talk to his mother directly, but rather via Twitter. Bilton later explained that his mother lives in England and, as a San Francisco resident, he couldn't call her at any hour that was convenient for both of them, so they rely on Twitter to fill in the gaps. He talks about how he does, in fact, hand-write thank you notes to friends and relations. But too late - the audience had made up their minds.

Bilton says he doesn't mind being "the punching bag" for people his age. He did lament, however, the extremes people go to when they react to something they don't like. They talk about how disgustingly disconnected from reality he must be to dislike a "thank you" message. Bilton replies that the stewards of Emily Post's legacy of good manners insist that, yes, you should consider the audience when crafting a reply. Some people will love a "thanks!", some won't. Some people will want a voice mail, some will just delete it. 

And then Bilton made a really terrific point about who trains whom in our culture. It used to be that older people taught younger people everything. As technology advances and people develop skills at different ages, it's clear that education moves in two directions: up and down the years, each generation having something to offer the other. 

I had to learn to text if I wanted to get an answer to a simple question out of my kids. My younger employees come to me if they want my input about business or finance. We have many ways of communicating and we all have things we need to get done, so we all have to adjust our methods from time to time to make it work. 

Now...let's talk about "what you've always done" and member communication. 

The truth is, things change. People want to converse and conduct business in different ways, and the methods they use are changing all the time. But in embracing changes, consider the audience's reaction to your messages. Maybe one group really loves hearing from you every month. Maybe one group wants a phone call every once in a while. Maybe there are outliers - people who have adopted new ways of handling all of their inputs and have rolled with the changes. 

Pay attention. Knowing how to talk to people is critical to a credit union marketer/manager's livelihood. Knowing when to say something and what to say is so important, and just as important, knowing when to quit talking and let people get back to their lives. 

My Pet Peeve: When you use an online chat or a toll-free line for customer support and people keep pushing the script on you when you've made it very clear that you're done. 

Me: "Well, thank you, that's all."

Them: "Okay, Mr. Daly, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

Me (in my brain): "Are you not listening? Or are you just forced to do this, like a robot?"

Me: "No, that's it."

Them: "Okay, thank you for calling our help line. You can reach us online any time at www..."

Me (in my brain again): "Come ON, just say goodbye and hang up the phone."

I like dealing with people, not people ordered to act like a computer. Here's my dream customer service call.

Me: "Well, thank you, that's all I needed."

Them: "Okay, Mr. Daly. Have a good afternoon."

Me: "Okay, bye!"

I've had maybe three of these calls in my life. And I make a lot of calls. 

All it takes is a little listening. People unsubscribe from your newsletter? Fine, but make a note of that. Don't chalk it up as "this person's not interested"...find a way into their lives that works for them and you. It exists, I'm sure. 

And when they talk, listen. And when they reply, read it thoroughly. And when they care, you should care, too. 

Don't let technology fool you into thinking that etiquette and thoughtfulness don't mean anything, to any given age group. Treat members with respect and you'll earn theirs. 

And for what it's worth? You should call your mom on the phone. Unless she's totally into Facebook now. 

March 14, 2013

Google's Killing Its RSS Reader. How Will Your Readership Survive?

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Arrested-development

There are times when the leader of a business knows he or she has to kill off a product. In some cases, this is celebrated. In others, it's met with many loud groans and much sadness.

Google Reader is a perfect example of the latter. Widely used, widely adored, free to all - but on July 1, it gets the proverbial knock on the head from Google. This simple, lovable web service is going to that big farm upstate to chase rabbits. Yeah, that's it. Rabbits.

Hopefully, this won't affect the "CU Blogosphere" too much. Heaven knows there are plenty of places to get your fill, including CU Insight, the CU Watercooler, various Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds...the list goes on, but you get the point. Just because Google Reader dies, that doesn't mean the stories stop coming.

But for those RSS-heavies, it's going to be a rough few months. Where will they go for their stories, their thought pieces, their news?

Humbly, I submit a few suggestions.

  1. Outlook Users, Rejoice! - I'm forever in Outlook (Neil Diamond, where are you? I've got a song for you and you don't even need a new melody!), so the Reader news doesn't bother me that much - I had one of my Nerds-in-Residence set up my RSS feeds in my Outlook. It's a simple, painless process and it means you can use Outlook for more that just email churn and booking meetings. Here's the Outlook team on how to set it up for yourself.
  2. Mac Users, Hit the App Store - The Mac App store has a few dozen RSS-app options, a few of them free, the rest only a small amount. One thing I did notice - many apps are "Google Reader Apps", meaning they integrated with Google Reader. Wonder if their developers will try and adapt or simply close up shop.

    One highly recommended app, Fever, is $30 (yikes!) and its developer has stated, publicly, he really doesn't have the time to work on it. Plus, you self-host the service. A big turn-off for the non-technical.

    So what are our lonely Mac Lovers going to do? I turned to my go-to on things like this, Jimmy Marks, and - after several minutes of teasing him (he's a big-time Google Reader Believer) - asked what he planned on doing.

    "Feedly's probably the way to go. It's not as cut-and-dry as Reader is, but it focuses on the newest content and lets you navigate around on your terms. I don't use Mac's Mail app, or I'd do what you did and add the RSS feeds there. Now stop throwing paperclips at me, I'm in a bad enough mood as it is!"

    (Editor's Note -- I wasn't throwing paperclips at him. That you know of.) 

  3. See If Your Favorite Blogs Have Social Feeds/"Updates by Mail" Options - Many blogs have their RSS items go directly to their Twitter or Facebook feed. Others still use direct-to-inbox delivery to get the message out when it's time. The CU Soapbox's posts go to a mail audience in the hundreds, many of whom prefer to read their feed from the comfort of their email inbox. Giving people different points of entry doesn't do anything to the results - if they're reading and engaged, you're doing your job.
  4. Google's Cleaning Up, Why Don't You? - If you're anything like me, you've gathered quite a few blogs over the years. Many of them stop posting and you just sort of forget about them. Go ahead and delete those feeds. This frees you from the struggle of bothering with too many blogs and sets you up to find something new and exciting out there in the blogging world.

There are plenty of people who want to petition Google to save Reader. They're probably the same kind of folks who are waiting on that Arrested Development movie. Want my take? Let's give Reader a good send-off and then move on to bigger and better. There are always better apps out there, and if there aren't, it's our duty as lovers of technology to create them. Necessity is the mother of invention.

As far as how this applies to credit unions' blogs...you went to all that trouble to create a blog or a news feed or an events feed. Will people still follow it when Reader bites the dust? Better be sure they do. Find new ways to get the same content to the same people without the crutch of Google Reader and you're good to go.

February 15, 2013

Conventional Wisdom Vs. Real, Actual Wisdom

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by Ron Daly

There's what people know, and then there's what people "know". 

And whaddayaknow? Typically, they're complete opposites. 

 You see, there's "conventional wisdom" - what people think they know based on their personal experience - and then there's "real, actual wisdom". "Real, actual wisdom" typically shows up in the form of unbiased research with clear results. Is it more "trusted"? No, not likely, because nobody wants to feel like they're wrong. But it is a reflection of the truth. 

What got me going on all this is a recent Nielsen Group study on teens and technology. Now, "conventional wisdom" tells us that teens are wired and great with technology. What does the "real, actual wisdom" tell us? 

Teens are not technowizards who surf the web with abandon. And they don’t like sites laden with glitzy, blinking graphics. Teens are often stereotyped as only wanting things that are bold and different. They’re also often viewed as being fearless about technology and constantly connected to some form of media. Although this might be partially true, it’s an oversimplification and letting this steer your design can lead to disastrous outcomes.

The study Nielsen conducted focused on the ability of teenagers to gather information and see a process through online. What did the study find? That teens had poor patience and attention spans, poor reading skills, and bad research methods. They weren't as good at finding the info and making the right decisions based on what they found. 

The study goes on to talk about what works with teens and what fails. What works?

  • Smart, concise writing
  • Large, readable fonts and big images (to compensate for small screens)
  • Self-selecting social and email (yes, email) options. 

Wait, that sounds like a list of things older users would like!

Not to sound like a teen, but...DUH. 

Who doesn't like reading things that are easy to understand? Who doesn't like a website that's built large enough to read and use? Who doesn't like to have the option to not socialize every single online interaction? 

A little research goes a long way. For a while, when I would describe our newest product, My Virtual StrongBox, the people I talked to would tell me that their older users wouldn't like it. After pulling demographic information for  My Virtual StrongBox's users, we discovered that use was highest among ages 30-39, and second highest – yep, you guessed it – among users in their 40s and 50s. "Conventional wisdom" made it seem like a product built for Gen-Y. "Real, actual wisdom" proved the real market had a touch of gray. 

Long story short? Take the time to ask, to record, to report, to study – to really, truly know.

Then, act.

January 04, 2013

The First "Duh of the Week" of 2013 is One for the Record Books

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by Ron Daly 

Ever bite down on your tongue while you're eating a lemon? It's a double-whammy of pain. There's the acidic burn of the lemon juice and the "yow that smarts" of cutting your tongue with your teeth. The thought of it is enough to make you wince. 

It's one of those blunders that you could have avoided in a few different ways. For one, stop eating lemons, you weirdo. For two, chew more thoroughly. You've got no one to blame but yourself. 

The first "Duh of the Week" has a lot in common with this twofer of pain - it's something that could have been avoided and it's easily the stupidest combination of dumb ideas I've ever heard.

A Portland-area teen...

  1. drove home drunk from New Year's Eve, then 
  2. told everyone about it on Facebook.

What a dumb move. For starters, he drives home drunk (under-aged, mind you), hitting TWO PARKED CARS in the process. As if that wasn't enough of a bonehead move, he POSTED ABOUT IT ON FACEBOOK, complete with a little winky-face emoticon. 

If you have young people in your home, now's the time to have "the talk" with them.

  • Sit them down. 
  • Tell them you love them. 
  • Explain that if they need a ride, you'll come get them, no matter the situation.
  • Tell them they should never ride in a car with a drunk driver.

    And lastly...
  • Gently remind them how hard you're going to kick their butt if they ever do something this idiotic. 
Drunk driving kills people, and when it doesn't, it can cause untold damage of another kind. The last thing your kids should ever want to do is drink and drive, and the second-to-last thing they should ever want to do is brag about it on a social network

Kudos to the thoughtful Facebook followers who informed the police and got him booked for his idiotic crime. Maybe now, he'll be sending a status update: 

"In jail :( Not as fun as I though it would be..."

Are your employees behaving resposibly on social media? Is the person in charge of your Facebook account making the right decisions?  How sure can you be about all that? Time to start that long-awaited social media policy, maybe? Maybe employees can use "the talk", too.

Comments always welcome. Happy 2013 to everyone!

December 27, 2012

The Top 10 CU Soapbox Articles of 2012

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Another year has run its course. We thought we'd wrap up this year of soapy, shouty goodness with a look at the ten best articles of the year (based on number of page visits). 

It's interesting to see what had everyone talking early in 2012 and how much things changed in a few short months. What do you think will be the hot news item of 2013? 

As always, thanks for reading. Here's hoping you enjoy this look back, and we'll see you in a few days for a new year of the CU Soapbox. 

  1. The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up

    We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances.

    Or, in some cases, marketers.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  2. WTF? What's Next, No "Union"?

    This is a crock. What's next? They start saying we're not allowed to use the word "Union" because labor forces complained? How are you supposed to tell people you're "much more than a bank" when you can't say the word "bank"?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  3. Suze Orman gets into the prepaid card game -- and out of the good graces of the CU Industry?

    Suze Orman wasn't hired to promote CREDIT UNIONS, she was hired to promote NCUA and their capacity as the insurer of cu deposits. But people read "Suze Orman" and "NCUA" and interpreted that as "Credit Union Spokeswoman".

    Which is unfortunate, because Suze Orman just decided to set herself up as a prepaid card magnate.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  4. Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Four Good Ideas for Getting Locally Known

    I've seen credit unions with extra-inclusive fields of membership. I've seen credit unions that have branches in far-flung corners of the globe. But let's be realistic - where are you?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  5. Focused on the Community: NerdWallet's Top 10 Community CUs.

    The top ten weren't simply listed, ten-to-one. They were highlighted for specific achievements, such as "Best Business Support", "Most Inclusive", and "Best Loan Assistance Program".

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  6. Guest Author Marvin Umholtz: Stop Feeding the Strategic Crocodiles Snapping at CU Heels

    Although potentially unsettling for those who like easy answers, this overview’s’ fundamental premise is that today’s credit union leaders must thoroughly understand what they are up against and mitigate it. Credit unions aren’t paranoid if malignant forces are truly out to get them!

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  7. Everybody's Reviewing It! Why Gen-Y Depends on Other People's Opinions Online

    Why would the opinion of someone a Gen-Yer has never met mean more than their real-world friends and family? Well, in the real world, maybe not. If someone runs up to you on the street and screams "BUY AN iPHONE!", it might not make you break out your wallet right then and there. But when Bazaarvoice means "stranger", I'm pretty sure they mean a "reviewer". And what does a review have?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  8. Still don't have a social media policy? Bet you'll write one after this...

    Think about it for a minute. Most of the videos in that story appear to be shot on a smart phone. What happens when it's not feet they're recording, but credit card and debit numbers? Checking account numbers and balances? Still not seeing a problem?

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  9. Too Many Text Messages Might Make Some Unhappy People Into Millionaires

    Papa John's is staring down the barrel of a lawsuit that might cost them $250 million...all over a few dozen text messages. Talk about your overage charges.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  10. GUEST POST: Mark Arnold on Becoming Your Members' PFI

    Just think about it: what would happen if every one of your members just added an additional product or service per household? Odds are, your net income would skyrocket.

    Click Here to Read the Full Article

November 14, 2012

Too Many Text Messages Might Make Some Unhappy People Into Millionaires

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by Ron Daly 

Papa John's is staring down the barrel of a lawsuit that might cost them $250 million...all over a few dozen text messages. Talk about your overage charges. 

According to CNN Money, the plaintiffs in the suit were bombarded by fifteen or sixteen unsolicited text messages apiece, coming one after another, even into the middle of the night. The fault was allegedly that of text message provider OnTime4U, with whom "Papa" immediately broke any and all ties. The frequency of these messages is one thing, but the other? Apparently, none of the recipients opted in for these communications. Naughty, naughty...

In another, slightly more ridiculous suit, a Buffalo Bills fan is suing the team for receiving three more text messages than he was told he would receive on sign-up. No specific amount of money is being sought in this suit, but the preceeding linked article suggests the offended party be given a batch of buffalo wings and some beer.

My take, as a Skins fan? That's what you get for liking the Bills. Yuck.

Now, I'm no lawyer, but I think there are a few laws here that everyone should abide. Maybe not "legal" laws, but let's call them "marketing laws". They are as follows:

  1. "The Edgar Allan Poe Law of Electronic Marketing" - If you say a subscriber will only receive a certain number of messages per week, only send that number of messages per week. Or less. Never more. (Get it?) And really, it's best to not be super-strict with a delivery schedule unless you're absoltuely certian you can keep to it/not overshoot.

  2. "The Law of Emotions" - Always consider the attachments people have to certain methods of communication. According to this WebMD story, 46% of adult consumers own smartphones and many feel a deep, emotional attachment to the same. It's not hard to imagine that people get upset when their phone fills up with unsolicited, unnecessary messages. If you have an inbox full  of multiple promotional emails from the same source, you're likely to unsubscribe, right? Imagine how awful that is when there are fifteen text messages and no clear-cut way to unsubscribe.

  3. "The Opt-In Law" - If there were an electronic marketing "Ten Commandments", this one would be at the top of the first tablet. Opt-in beats opt-out any day of the week. Making sure the user has made a clear, deliberate choice to sign up for your marketing messages and, if they haven't taken the necessary steps (following up on an email double-opt-in process, for example), don't send them one darn thing. Period. End of sentence.

I've based a lot of my reasoning on what I know to be true for email marketing. The rules are new and pretty vague when it comes to mobile, but the rules for email marketing make good guidelines for mobile as well. If anything, be stricter with how you use text messages for marketing. It can help you avoid a lot of angry members, or even worse, legal action.

And now, after writing this, I have an overwhelming desire to eat some pizza and buffalo wings. 

But I'm still not a Bills fan. 

 

August 22, 2012

GUEST POST: The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up

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by Jimmy Marks

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[Ron Daly is on vacation, so Jimmy is here to share his thoughts on the aggressive, obsessive, invasive method of post-sale satisfaction some people think of as "follow-up".]

I don't normally go in for memes. Some of them are funny, but usually, they get all the "juice" squeezed out of them a few days after they first appear. I don't think I need one more "Call Me Maybe" parody, ever. Matter of fact, I don't think I want to hear "Call Me Maybe" anymore, full stop. 

But "Overly Attached Girlfriend" was really funny. This creepy, bug-eyed caricature of an obsessed stalker (A young lady named Laina Walker who did this as a joke) took over the Internet for a few weeks and gave birth to a few "splinter-memes" and follow-ups. 

We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances. 

Or, in some cases, marketers.

Too often, marketers will create "follow-up" campaigns with no end-date in sight. You go to get your oil changed and the service center calls the next day to make sure everything went well. Thoughtful, right? But then, they send an email. Then, they send a message from the manager. Then, they send you pictures of the inside of your kitchen. What?! How'd they get in there?

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But it is annoying to be unrelentingly thanked by a company and begged for more business. Even worse, getting an email that says "Where have you been? We've missed you." It's just plain creepy. Why should my dry-cleaner care what I'm doing? 

I'm not the only one that thinks so. Take this article from Target Marketing titled "Famous Last Words: 'Stop Touching Me!'":

I don't know when various follow-ups came into the picture—the tracking number and the shipping advice from UPS. But I don't mind these "touches" from a supplier. When I order special dog food from PetFoodDirect.com for my 15-year-old Auggie or hulled sunflower seeds for my winter bird feeder from ebirdseed.com, I am comforted to know that my little four-legged and feathered friends will definitely be seen to in a timely manner.

These purveyors want me to know that they really, really care, and I appreciate that...

But...

What you do not want is for your customers and prospects to be so fed up with your intrusions that they...tell their friends what a pain in the *** you are and put you into their spam filters.

So, how do you know when you've "cared enough"? I think this article hits it right on the head - only contact people when you have something interesting or pertinent to say. "Just saying hi" is something your great aunt does when she calls you on the phone. Don't disappear from the consumer's field of vision, but as in all things, know your audience and have something relevant and useful to offer. Make every contact with a purpose in mind and always, always, always, make it meaningful for the member. 

Onboarding campaigns have helped many of DigitalMailer's clients. It's a simple, smart way to get people involved with the credit union, a "crash course" in the basics of the new member's relationship. But an onboarding campaign doesn't go on for more than a few emails in the span of a few weeks. After that, contacts should be occasional, and with purpose. 

Now, you're going to deal with a few people that don't want any email at all and a few that want an email every day. There are ways to meet both of those needs. If you do your job correctly, you'll only be sending people things that are relevant, useful, and welcome. 

Don't be the "Overly Attached Marketer" - let the member breathe. Use those points of contact wisely and don't overdo it.