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Key Targeting Principles for Credit Unions

Austin Williams’ chief digital officer, Andrew Catalano, recently presented “Five Credit Union Digital Targeting Principles” at the 2018 Conference of the Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MAC) in San Diego.

“Today’s digital media platforms give credit unions the ability to reach their target audience with incredible precision,” Catalano told his audience of credit union marketing professionals. “Combining traditional profiling variables—like behaviors, interests, demographics, psychographics and geography—with more advanced targeting techniques such as browsing history, social media activity, shopping behavior and mobile location history, you can reach prospects one-on-one.”

During the breakout session, he used several use-case scenarios as well as the agency’s proprietary real-time digital buying platform to demonstrate what he described as the five key principles for credit unions looking to market with digital precision:

Start with a tight geography. Most leading digital marketing platforms allow advertisers to target geographies with street level precision, Catalano said. Some advertisers, including Snapchat, even allow advertisers to physically draw targeting perimeters as small as 500 square feet. This is particularly relevant for credit unions with a closed field of membership, he noted, because it gives their advertising the ability to reach only prospects physically located in the buildings where SEGs operate.

Use first-party data. While purchased (or rented) third-party data—like behavior or intent segments—can be an effective targeting mechanism, no data source is more reliable or targeted than one you build yourself, according to Catalano. He recommends credit unions leverage member emails, phone numbers and/or addresses to make sure their social media, display and paid search ads are reaching the most opportune prospects.

Share data across platforms/CRMs. One of the biggest changes he’s seen in the digital media space over the past year or two has been the willingness of large players—like Google and Facebook—to let their advertisers share and move data between platforms. Advertisers can now use visitor data from Google Analytics to target business prospects on LinkedIn or use geofencing data to identify competitors’ customers or members and then target them with display ads, he noted.

Implement exclusion data. Sometimes, who a marketer doesn’t want to target is just as important as who they do, explained Catalano. A credit union hosting a special promotion for new members might want to consider excluding existing members from the targeting criteria to avoid any “hurt feelings,” for example. How? By simply excluding any website visitor who has clicked on an online banking or member login button.

Prioritize paid search. Paid search remains the single most effective and efficient measurable paid media driver for financial institutions (and most other businesses), according to Catalano. Whether to drive membership, grow deposits, increase loan apps or any other tactical initiative, he recommends credit unions turn to paid search before exploring other, more costly and less effective channels. With both Google and Bing, tracking paid search results is completely seamless for easy return on investment (ROI) measurement.

“Attendees at Andrew’s breakout session walked away not only with an understanding of the capabilities of digital media technology, but also knowing how to use it effectively to make informed decisions when creating targeting parameters, developing strategies, executing buys and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) for their marketing efforts,” said Marc Wilensky, vice president of communications & brand marketing at Tower Federal Credit Union and the MAC board member who introduced Catalano.

Founded more than 30 years ago, MAC provides credit union marketing professionals with a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, attend workshops and other professional development activities, and create and grow relationships.


Vice President, Public Relations


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