Marketing your card products is both an art and a science. From a creative perspective, compelling messages and visuals can help your campaign grab attention.
However, even your best offers can fall on deaf ears if they are not delivered to a receptive member at the right time and in the right context.
Using advanced analytics technology, credit unions can better understand member values and preferences, and create more impactful marketing messages that drive their cards to the top of the wallet.
Segmentation is Key
“Segmenting your cardholder base well can significantly increase the success of your marketing efforts,” said Tim Weaver, product manager – core products for CO-OP Financial Services. “Using data analytics technology to identify underperforming cards in your portfolio – and then bumping that list against cardholder demographics – can provide everything needed to gain valuable insights.”
According to Weaver, when constructing campaigns, it is important to provide incentives that resonate with cardholders.
“Your offers, in general, should have widespread appeal,” he said. “Allowing cardholders to select an incentive, such as a type of gift card, can increase their engagement.”
Because consumers today are bombarded with new card offers, Weaver advises credit unions to leverage their close member relationships by promoting card programs and offers in their branches.
“Big banks typically don’t enjoy the same kind of rapport with their customers,” he said. “Since credit unions tend to know their members well, members are more likely to respond to employee recommendations.”
He also suggests presenting offers across multiple communications channels. “A direct mail campaign will gain more traction with members if an e-mail is also sent as a reminder,” he said.
When it comes to incentivizing card usage, Weaver advises credit unions to set goals for members.
“For cardholders who lightly uses their cards, it can be very effective to encourage transactions ‘in tiers’ – with one incentive for using the card five times a month – and a better one for 10 transactions,” he said. “Don’t hold back on rewarding your best cardholders, either. Very active cardholders need to know you are paying attention to them and that you appreciate their business.”
Keeping Offers Relevant
While your marketing efforts should be designed to reach as many cardholders as possible, Weaver notes the importance of delivering relevant messages to members.
“Scrub the cardholder list before launching a campaign as there may be reasons to remove candidates,” he said. “For example, a member who has exceeded his or her credit limit would not be the best choice for a spend campaign. Sending cardholders offers they can’t use will ultimately cause them to delete your emails instead of reading them.”
When developing an activation campaign, Weaver says, it is best to focus on cardholders who most recently received your card.
“A member who has had the card for three years and hasn’t activated it yet is unlikely to do so,” he said. “However, cardholders who just received that card in the mail may simply need a little motivation to get started.”
Once cardholders begin transacting, Weaver recommends growing the marketing program along with them.
“Getting a member to activate a card is a great first step that should be followed up with a usage or spend campaign,” he said. “As you increase cardholder activity, make sure you offer the right incentives to keep the momentum going. For example, let active rewards members earn double points every month they spend a little more.”
He continued, “At the end of the day, the quality of your data is fundamental to your marketing success. The great news for credit unions is that new advanced technologies, including machine learning, will provide us all with even greater insights about cardholders and their spending patterns. Very soon we may get to the point where, statistically, we can see that active cardholders with a mortgage are more likely to shop at Costco – which makes a Costco gift card a great incentive. Having this level of discovery will enable credit unions to keep cardholders transacting while improving their overall member experience as well.”
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