David and Goliath: Customer acquisition marketing that hits above its weight class

3 minute read

Steinbach Credit Union turned a landmark anniversary into the backbone of a marketing campaign that successfully engaged existing customers and brought in new ones.

In the financial sector, competition for customers is fierce. Stephanie West, Marketing and Advertising Specialist at Steinbach, acknowledges this – and faces an extra hurdle, “One of our biggest challenges … is that (financial) is a very competitive marketplace and consumers have many choices. And consumers are probably not fully aware of the criteria of the credit union model.” The institution’s marketing focused on these three key areas to win customers over:

  1. A great story. For its 75th anniversary, Steinbach showed its appreciation by giving back $7.5 million dollars to members.
  2. Omni-channel marketing. Billboards, print, radio and direct mail were integrated with digital to create layered touchpoints and reach a broader audience.
  3. Data insights. Tapping third-party data revealed the attitudes, demographics, and even media preferences of current and potential members.

Customer appreciation builds customer loyalty

“We owe our success to our members and we wanted to share that with them,” explains West. The campaign message was simple – a thank you for getting the business of the credit union’s 91,000 members. This built on the institution’s solid reputation for customer service. The financial institution reinforced the message by showing that it took such good care of members’ money that it could return $7.5 million to them.

A study by Ask Your Target Market found that 91 per cent of respondents were more likely to do business with a company that appreciated them. More than half of the study’s participants felt appreciated by an offer of free items – like the $7.5 million giveaway!

Integrating traditional media, direct mail and digital media reduces “digital doubt”

Steinbach, says West, “Marketed to our members and potential members using billboards, print, direct mail – specifically postal code targeting. And we paired that with our digital campaign, allowing us to reach a broader audience.”

The expanded reach doesn’t just come from more touch points on the customer journey – it’s also about timing the different channels. Studies show that consumers are more likely to respond to digital channels and take action after receiving direct mail. Which is important because more people are using ad blockers, especially on their smart phones (over 50 per cent in a recent study). The same study shows that millennials are even keener on using ad blockers.

Traditional media and direct mail are also considered more trustworthy than digital marketing channels. In fact, the top five most trusted marketing channels for making purchase decisions are traditional media. And paper (print ads and direct mail), claim the number one and number three spots for most trusted marketing in the buyer’s journey, according to a late 2016 study by Marketing Sherpa.

Data insights and how to apply them

People are willing to trust businesses with their data. They accept that it will be used for marketing purposes. In return, they increasingly expect a personalized experience. They want offers and communications that are relevant to them as individuals, not a “spray and pray” marketing approach.

Steinbach’s campaign took this into account, says West. “We take a targeted approach to all our marketing campaigns. We used third party data to understand and learn about our members and potential members. These insights … help us learn about their demographics, their attitudes, their behaviours and even their media preferences. This information helps to craft marketing messages that better align with (our) audience.”

Based on the discoveries from their data research, West paired a new, data-crunching direct mail product, Postal Code Targeting with her digital marketing. The ability to suppress existing Steinbach members made it easier to run a campaign with a strong acquisition drive while building loyalty (and referral buzz) with existing customers. The $7.5 million giveaway was a golden opportunity to draw attention to Steinbach’s services and financial products – so it needed to serve both loyalty and acquisition marketing. West declares herself “extremely satisfied with the results of this campaign.”

During the campaign period, year-over-year, the credit union saw an increase of 39 per cent on new membership and a 55 per cent lift in website traffic. “The campaign did exactly what we wanted – we wanted to drive people to the landing page and to our site, and that was a very successful campaign. We were successful at attracting new members and creating overall brand awareness,” declares West.

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