How to Step-Up Your Credit Union Marketing

Author Erin Petro
Read time 7 minutes read time

It takes more than a nudge to convince some people to move to a new financial institution. Usually, a life event like a move or marriage triggers it. So, when a potential member is prepared to move or is dissatisfied with their current financial institution, you must be top of mind. That’s why credit union marketing is essential.

Promoting a credit union’s community support and favorable interest rates in this competitive financial market are significant steps toward capturing new members. But how is this accomplished? What are the steps to implementing an effective credit union marketing strategy?

What is a New Member Worth?

Before planning a credit union marketing campaign, a budget must be established. Unfortunately, that is usually the first stumbling block. How much is a reasonable marketing budget? You will need your credit union’s average member acquisition cost and member’s lifetime value (LTV) to determine a budget.

The LTV is a rough revenue number generated per member over their entire relationship with your credit union. It’s based on a member’s average duration and revenue. 

Once you have the LTV, multiply it by your new member goal. The average acquisition cost of a new member is $562.50

This will give you a budget. It will also let you measure the credit union marketing ROI. For example, if your LTV is $10,000 and your member goal is 25, the campaign could generate $250,000 in revenue. You’ve received a healthy return if you spent $15,000 on the marketing campaign.

How to Attract New Credit Union Members

Once you have a budget and are ready to develop your credit union marketing strategy, set specific goals and be realistic. Evaluate past membership drives and determine where they succeeded and what needs improvement.

For example, if last time you attracted 20 members, this time you may want to convert 30. If it’s a new drive, establish a realistic number.

Don’t just focus on new members; several types of potential members need different services. Finding and fulfilling the needs of these individuals will generate revenue. Market individual services like:

  • auto loans
  • home loans
  • credit cards
  • checking and savings account openings

Identifying the various needs allows you to fine-tune your credit union’s marketing strategy. This will help in determining goals. When developing specific goals, it’s best to marry them to your branch’s quarterly goals.

Credit Union Marketing Loans

Attract high-value credit union members by providing solutions to their pain points. For example, hosting free financial classes that refer to the loan application process will endear current and potential members to you.

Prepare an eBook on various loans and how to apply. This will help to drive credit union loyalty among existing members. It will also attract new credit union members.

Through marketing and classes, prospective or current members will know that credit unions tend to have a more manageable loan application process. You’re there to help facilitate their home or auto ownership. And although APRs vary among financial institutions, a credit union can often be more flexible. This needs to be explained to current and potential members.

Partnering with respected realtors or auto dealers is beneficial. When recommending a financial institution, you want to be on these providers’ shortlist. Build a network with these big-ticket sellers and community business leaders. Promote working together.

Marketing for Credit Card Conversion

Credit union marketing for credit card conversions begins in-house. Using the core, you can initiate personalized marketing to members by analyzing the data. It starts with knowing how your members behave with competitors’ credit cards. This can be done with three easy steps:

  1. Identify – revolving cardholders and segment
  2. Reach – new and existing members through marketing campaigns
  3. Engage – using personalized tools that convert new and existing members to your credit cards

Nickels, has the tools to take advantage of the information already in the core to unlock insights about your members’ competitor card use. But it goes deeper than this. By using Nickels checking account analysis, you can identify priority member segments. For example, they could be:

  • heavy revolvers – continually carry balances over to the next month
  • light revolvers – often carry balances over to the next month
  • transactors – don’t let a balance carry over from month to month

This information enables you to know who and how to reach credit union members. Customizing an email campaign for existing members based on their spending behavior will be effective. Digital marketing for credit unions, like Google Ads, should also be used to reach non-members.

Once you have identified and reached out to members, it’s time to show them exactly how much money they are spending on their credit cards. That’s where Nickels’ Card Check comes into play.

Card Check is a white-labeled tool provided to credit unions for their members. Card Check helps members select the best credit card for them, based on total card value for their behavior. Members enter information, and it shows them how much money their credit card, even with rewards factored in, is truly costing them.

By optimizing for the user’s overall financial benefit, the credit card shopping process is reframed from splashy promotional rewards to total card value. And, for most cardholders, this is where credit union cards win. With this approach, targeting individuals for credit card conversions becomes part of your credit union marketing plan.

Open Checking and Savings Accounts

Drive credit union loyalty with marketing checking and savings accounts. Present a community-oriented place where all financial needs are met.

Target parents with coming-of-age children. Don’t use the cliché, “save for your child’s future”; instead, present savings and checking accounts with your credit union as a way for a child to create a financial system.

Evergreen campaigns should be employed. These are autopilot advertising programs that can target potential members. Use digital marketing for credit unions to accomplish this.

One form of digital marketing is Google Ads. These credit unions can implement hyper-local campaigns. Use searchable words like “I need to open a checking account” and “banks near me” to capture those potential members searching for a financial institution. Google can track the phone calls received, and with your website’s analytics, you will see your ROI.

Another credit union marketing strategy is a referral bonus. These bonuses need to be compelling. Offering $25 in cash isn’t effective. Instead, offer more compelling bonuses like.

  • entry into a give-a-way for a large prize
  • ticket to general admission for a large event
  • pizza party for the office or child’s classroom

Be imaginative with referral bonuses.

Community events and sponsorships are excellent ways to show involvement in people’s lives. Volunteering is sometimes more important. It allows you face-to-face time with community leaders and potential members.

Remember that credit unions tend to offer higher interest rates for savings accounts than banks. This should be touted in the credit union marketing strategy.

Fees are a sore spot for many people. Credit union fees are usually less than banks. Ensure potential members are aware of this. And don’t forget to remind current customers in order to reduce member churn.

Finally, when marketing, ensure that potential members know credit unions are non-profits that cater to their members.

Credit Union Marketing Trends

There are many pieces to the marketing pie. By developing a cohesive marketing plan with the right budget, credit unions can reach potential and existing members with trustworthy guidance, optimized for their overall financial benefit. This approach not only fosters trust but also establishes enduring relationships with the members that opens the door for cross-selling opportunities, ultimately contributing to the growth and success of the credit union.

Contact Nickels to find out how to achieve one piece of the marketing pie. Use their identify, reach and engage system to generate credit card conversions.

About Nickels

Nickels is a CUSO that helps credit unions cross sell credit cards, shift spend to their cards, and refinance members’ competitor card debt. Founded in Ann Arbor, MI, their mission is to improve members’ credit card health, in part by shifting members from high interest competitor cards to lower rate credit union products. For more information, please visit