The Newsletter Dilemma
Perhaps I’m old school, but I continue to believe that community banks and credit unions should provide customers with a monthly or quarterly newsletter because:
Fortunately, my local Sacramento credit union, Golden1, has been consistently providing its members with a tabloid-style, four-page newsletter for as many years as I’ve been a customer and perhaps much longer.
For years, it arrived at my home along with my monthly checking account statement.
But then something happened a few years ago that impacted the value of this newsletter—at least from my perspective. I agreed to an online statement.
Now my newsletter for this account arrives as an e-mail in my already crowded inbox.
Fortunately, I have two checking accounts at the credit union—my primary account with its online statements and a secondary account with paper statements that arrive monthly in the mail.
I’m not sure, but I may be one of a very few credit union customers with both an online statement account and an old-school paper statement account.
This situation presents an old bank marketer like me a golden (pardon the pun) opportunity to compare the online e-mailed newsletter with the hardcopy version that arrives with my monthly statement.
Yes, they are very different in appearance. And yes, I definitely have a preference.
First, let’s take a look at the front page as it appears in the e-mail version:
Taking up valuable space just under the masthead is a table of contents allowing me to click on a topic that takes me to the appropriate section immediately. Personally, I feel this is unnecessary as it is just as easy to scroll down for a quick visual of the information being presented. I can stop where I want and read the article.
While a table of contents may be appropriate for a long document, I see it as a distraction and poor use of valuable space here.
Of course, this assumes that I even take the time to click on the e-mail as my inbox is always full of e-mails clamoring for my attention.
Now, let’s take a look at the front page of the hardcopy version that arrived along with my July checking account statement:
Visually, it is much more appealing and inviting than the online version. Gone is that pesky table of contents.
In the July issue the front cover is dominated by a low-rate auto loan promotion. It is a component of a massive, multi-channel marketing campaign for auto loans that’s been running for several months.
Now compare the hardcopy auto loan promotion with the one beginning at the bottom of the e-mail version (what you see before scrolling down). Which one do you believe will generate the most attention and response?
So this gets me to the newsletter dilemma.
First, should you create and distribute a monthly or quarterly newsletter to your customers?
Second, if so, what is the most effective way to distribute it to your customers receiving online statements?
You already know my answer to the first question.
My answer to the second question is that you should consider sending your newsletter through the mail. It puts valuable information into the hands of your customers where it can be read at their convenience. It can be passed along for others to read.
Plus, there’s a lot to be said for the tangible nature of a hardcopy newsletter. It’s much easier to peruse and read than an online version. This is an advantage when it comes to cross-selling efforts.
Unfortunately, most community banks and credit unions do not offer customers a newsletter. It’s considered too costly given the uncertainty over its cross-sell and retention values.
As a result, the marketing department has placed the customer newsletter into the same category as “Thank You” cards, birthday cards, and anniversary cards.
On the other hand, the newsletter must deliver significant value or senior management at Golden1 would not continue sending them year after year after year.
Perhaps it is time to revisit the idea of a newsletter at your bank or credit union.
Steve Topper is a marketing consultant with Acton Marketing LLC (www.actonfs.com). Reprinted with permission from Acton Marketing’s Financial Marketing Insights blog.
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