Data-Driven Marketing – A Primer

For marketers today, it was essential to bring to light how the Marketing team will provide offers to members as it’s a significant change to our traditional methodology. The new approach is designed to provide improved, more consistent and more relevant product offers using the wealth of data from our core and your ancillary systems (LOS, online banking, mobile banking, and so forth.) Also with the advent of “inbound marketing” the need for feast or famine promotional tactics of the past are minimalized. We are not creating a consumer appetite but are now providing awareness and access to products as the consumer transitions to a buying point in the sales cycle.

The need for other departments to understand and buy into this new strategy is crucial to marketing’s success. The three variables in any marketing effort will always include The List, The Offer, and the Creative. These variables are co-dependent. While marketing and business intelligence professionals have a handle on parts one and three, we need our internal partners– Lending, Branch Ops and Finance – to help us create offers that are compelling, strong and attractive enough to encourage a consumer to change a habit.

Collaboration between your Lending, Branch Operations and Finance teams is critical for your ongoing success as an organization. For this collaboration to be effective, Marketing must lead the charge in your credit union and move from a “one size fits all” strategy to a data-driven approach. The following look at the Past, Present and Future may help you and your colleagues understand how the marketing of your products and services can evolve and how all areas of your credit union can provide value to this methodology.

This methodology is Data Driven Marketing.

The Past: Promotions
Historically credit union marketing has been about promotions: Blast the market with an offer to entice consumers to open or take out a new product. Promotions have been traditionally short-lived and focused on one or two products for the promotional period. This promotion methodology -usually results in limited time offers that create peaks and valleys of product adoption. However, the peaks and valley were not the only negative result of this methodology. It also resulted in training the consumer to “wait for the deal” or to buy on impulse, not need. We’ve seen consumer behaviors that demonstrate there are consumers by the millions that will not go to Macy’s or Bed, Bath and Beyond unless they have the latest coupon. The channels traditionally used for these promotions of the past included direct mail, email, billboards, TV, radio, web banners, posters, and signage.

The Present: Savvy, Social Shoppers
With easy access to a wide variety of promotional offers via the Internet and especially social media, modern promotional methodologies have had the effect of driving the consumer to research offers online if they are at the buying point of the sales cycle. These promotional offers become the benchmark for their research for the best price. Now, consumers can verify a promotional “deal” on the fly. This past holiday season, consumers shopped with their smartphones in hand. They were talking to peers about personal experiences with a product and company before they bought, but also using apps and technology, they actively shopped prices. With this wireless, mobile consumer, traditional promotional marketing is becoming less effective. The way we market needs to change and the new channels are necessary.

The Future: Continuous Data-Driven Marketing
The new methodology will depend heavily on matrix campaigns versus promotions. Campaigns are ongoing communications using direct channels that are specifically targeted to the consumer’s demographic profile but also to their historical product adoption patterns. One example is the onboarding matrix. An onboarding matrix is a series of communications designed to go to a targeted new member audience with offers based upon member intelligence; membership opening date, products previously adopted and next product in a product hierarchy, otherwise known as your next best cross-sell. Other matrices are designed for low service households (one service), households without checking, households without a debit card or low activity debit card (less than five transactions per month), unprofitable households, inactive households – the list is endless.

Now, instead of using a promotion, use promotional pricing as an embedded feature in your existing matrices. If the matrix indicates the member is eligible to get an auto loan promotion, insert the current promotional rate into the direct marketing piece. The key to being successful is to respect those three controllable elements in marketing: The List, The Offer, and The Creative. The co-dependency of these three variables is undeniable. If we are sending an offer, regardless of how strong, to the wrong members (home equity offered to renters, for example), the campaign or promotion is going to fail. Likewise, if we even have the right list but the offer is not compelling (attractive enough to encourage a consumer to change a habit), then the campaign or promotion is destined to fail. Also, if the creative, the messaging and the graphics don’t define the value proposition clearly and succinctly or fails to motivate the receiver to open the email, click the link, or letter, the campaign or promotion is going to fail.

The Future methodology creates an ecosystem of continuous marketing versus the “past” promotional marketing peaks and valleys. It also creates a culture of marketing to all members based upon member data, balance appetite, and product hierarchy. Since the direct channels are primary, the “mass” channels (posters, web banners, newsletter offers, digital screens, POS merchandising, etc.) are used to reinforce the direct marketing message. Business Intelligence will identify the right list and Marketing can make sure the messaging and graphics are compelling and relevant. Collaboration between Marketing, Business Intelligence, the appropriate business unit, and Finance will need to make sure the offer is compelling and financially viable.

As credit unions, we must wake up and see the sun through the trees. Smart data utilization is essential to staying timely and relevant in the marketplace.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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