Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union e-mail Program

One of the key participants (or “character”) in this story is the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union. Our internet marketing strategy was described in an earlier post. Over the last 6-7 months the key marketing activity has been a weekly e-mail program. During this period 28 e-mail letters were sent to an average of 834 recipients.We tried to focus each e-mail letter on one topic.

Strategic Objectives
The strategic objectives of the program are to:

  1. Demonstrate that the credit union was competitive with most banks for being the members’ primary financial institution by making them aware of the wide range of services and financial products offered.
  2. Increase member use of the many services such as loans, credit & debit cards, and share accounts (checking).
  3. Increase overall Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union membership.
  4. Be the agent that brings readers to the other key components of the internet marketing strategy, namely the Facebook page and the blog, Tri-Town Apple.

Time to Pause & Assess
As we reached the end of June, we realized two important factors.

  1. We had essentially covered all the significant topics.
  2. Many of the members would be taking vacation over the summer and thus our audience would be reduced.

These factors led us to the conclusion that July/August would be a good time to pause the program take a measure of how effective it was and what should be changed, if anything.

Three Perspectives
We’re looking at the program’s effectiveness from three perspectives.

  1. How was the program itself received?
  2. How are the key metrics for the credit union performance tracking?
  3. How well is it doing in bringing interest to the Facebook page and the blog?

Member Response
Our “open” results and “click-through” rate did not “blow the doors off”, but they were respectable. We compared ourselves to “Membership Groups” and we exceeded the averages for both opens and clicks. Overall we’re happy with reception this program had during this first six months.

We believe also that the single focus each e-mail had naturally caused recipients who had an interest in the subject to open the e-mail, and those who were not interested, to pass. An example of this was the e-mail letter on home equity loans. Those that were thinking about taking out such a loan, likely opened the e-mail. Those not currently interested most likely did not open it.

Effect on Performance
Of the six measurement metrics we tracked to make a judgment on whether the e-mail program was having the desired effect, five showed a definite improvement and the sixth wasn’t far off. The six metrics were measured for the first six months, 2011 vs. 2012.

  1. New Accounts: 85% improvement
  2. Average Age: 3.4% reduction (good direction)
  3. New Checking: 466% improvement
  4. Auto Loans: 57% improvement
  5. New Credit Cards: 8% fewer
  6. Other Loans: 67% improvement

Nobody is saying the e-mail program is totally responsible for these improvements, but the management does believe the program contributed significantly to these results. Over the six months well over 5000 emails were opened. This means over 5000 times members were reading about the services offered by the credit union. Before this year, communication of this nature was limited to monthly paper newsletters stuffed into teacher mailboxes at the schools or included in mailed statements to retired members. Another key measurement is how often did someone click on an embedded link to see more information. During this time, more than 500 times recipients clicked on a link to learn more.

Modest numbers perhaps, but compared to what the credit union had before this year, this is a major step forward.

Effect on Facebook Page and Blog
On the objective of increasing interest in the Facebook page and the blog, there is not much to measure. Neither of these initiatives received much attention over the last six months as most of the available time was focused on the e-mail program. We have every intention of changing that. Over the summer, while the e-mail program is in a pause mode, we’ll be working on establishing processes to energize both programs. We should have more to say about this later.

What We Can Do
We are just beginning to consider how to modify the e-mail program itself when it resumes in September. That said, we do know a few things we can or should do:

  1. We still have a good number of e-mail addresses that are being bounced. As time permits we will clean those up.
  2. We should expand our mailing list by continuing to press members to provide current e-mail addresses.
  3. The information provided by the E-mail Service Provider gives us a good idea who is opening our e-mails on a regular basis. We hope to gain information from these members on what is working well and what can be improved.
  4. Within the constraint that we must use a permission only mailing list, we want to invite non-members to join our mailing list with the obvious objective to eventually bring them on as members.

I have a post scheduled for September to cover our plans going forward, so stay tuned.

What Have We Learned
What can we take away from our experience so far? Several points I think:

  1. An editorial calendar is a must. We had one from the beginning and it proved invaluable in planning our topics and making changes to reflect new thoughts or developments.
  2. Regular review meetings are a requirement as well. Since we published weekly, we met weekly to review the previous week’s results, review a draft of the next e-mail, review the editorial calendar for any “heads-up” needed for a future e-mail, and to see if changes were needed in the schedule.
  3. The one topic per e-mail is a good idea. Brevity is also key. People don’t have time today, especially a young teacher.
  4. The e-mail can be a good vehicle for offering links to key web site pages, even if they are not related to current e-mail subject.

Overall we consider our first six months of regular e-mails sent to members a success and have high hopes to continue and improve in the fall.

We’d love to hear ideas from other organizations, especially those similar to our credit union.

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