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Eight Growing Marketing Trends to Use in the Battles Against Your Competitors
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 6:40 AM

David England, Senior Research Analyst, Cornerstone Credit Union League

In the advertising wars, you must win many battles. Key among them are:

  • Grabbing the target market’s attention.
  • Making memorable ads that the target market recalls.
  • Relaying the very message you intended to send.
  • Moving your target market emotionally (or in some other way).
  • Boosting the image of the brand and/or product (or, preferably, both).

How will you do this going forward? What will the competition be doing? Where are credit union members and potential members headed, and which strategies will be most beneficial to you? Here are eight trends to watch for as we finish 2017 and get ready for 2018. Much of this information is from an article I read recently, “17 Marketing Trends to Watch Out For in 2017,” by A.J. Agrawal. All of the strategies are currently used, and all are expected to GROW in use over the next 12 months.

First, if you have not already done so, build a "lead with mobile first" strategy. Mobile banking began in 1999 in Europe. There is now more Internet traffic from mobile devices than from desktops. Research tells us that from 2012 to 2018, time spent per day on mobile apps has grown to 3 hours and 25 minutes while the time spent on mobile web has grown to 51 minutes per day. In recent years, the rate of increase has slowed. Still, it rises. Focus your content, ads, and online experience on the mobile user. The important point here is that you want to not only optimize for mobile, but you also want to make sure your ad/content is integrated with members “on-the-go” lifestyle.

Second, some of the content you develop should be interactive content. This can include assessments or quizzes, polls, surveys, brackets, or contests. The idea is to get members to actively engage with you instead of ignoring your ads or passively consuming them. 

Third, search your membership base to find personalities (or cleverly make one up) who can be a positive influence. Influencer marketing derives its value from three sources:

  1. Social reach: Influencers are able to reach consumers through their social channels and blogs.
  2. Original content: Influencers produce original and, oftentimes, effective marketing content for the brand.
  3. Consumer trust: Influencers maintain strong relationships with their audience, which has a certain level of trust in the influencer’s opinions.

This personality would talk about your products/services/trustworthiness/people, etc., all the while gaining trust and credibility for the personality and the CU. Influencer marketing is growing because people tend to trust recommendations from perceived experts/leaders, etc. It is sine qua non that members believe that the influencer actually believes in (uses) the product/service/CU.

Fourth, increase your use of videos on Facebook (FB). Back in the fourth quarter of 2015, mobile video view outpaced desktop views. Because we live in a time of mobile video, companies are using it. Show how easy it is to get specific tasks completed, how to use shared banking, etc.

Fifth is segmentation. This one is certainly not new, but it is growing still. At a 30,000-feet level, segmentation is about sorting offers and information to reach different types of members using their preferences, purchases, etc. Segmentation allows the credit union to gain the attention and consideration of the "right" members or potential members.

A sixth strategy is using chatbot technology, which is becoming more sophisticated. The classic historic early chat bots are ELIZA (1966) and PARRY (1972). They were used exclusively to simulate typed conversation. Yes, they were simpler. And yes, chatbots have come a long way. Today, building bot programs to provide information, smooth processes (e.g., loan apps), and personalized responses will make your credit union easier to work with, anytime of day. The goal is to build bot programs in a way that members cannot tell if they are communicating with a human or computer.

The seventh strategy, native advertising, is a method of blending ads into existing content. Members recognize the tricks of advertisers to gain their attention. The key to this strategy is to find content that already is of value to your members and then weave products/services/tips/information, etc. into the existing content. CUs could use content about the employer/the employees/the community/the industry/ the job category, etc. as a launching point. 

The eighth strategy to consider is purpose-driven marketing. This is simply where brands partner with nonprofits or charities and set up internal programs that “give back.” Clearly, this is nothing new to credit unions. When we do this, the story is not lost on consumers. Also, it builds the CU brand. This is a CU advantage, and we need to get all of the benefit we have earned by building this goodwill.

Master these strategies and win more battles, and then win the war.