Top Strategies for Technology-Driven Member Retention and Engagement

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How to create a member-for-life credit union

It’s not a new concept that loyalty drives growth – particularly in an economic environment of 2020. But the bad news is that members are giving their primary financial institution low loyalty rankings, and other financial services organizations are more than willing to step in.

For example, fintech consumer lending has more than doubled in just 4 years, growing from a 22.4% share of personal loan originations in March of 2015 to 49.4% of that market in March of 2019. 

In our work with financial intuitions, we find a big reason for this lack of loyalty comes down to experience. The experience a member expects doesn’t match reality. This in an experience gap.

Total Expert Founder and CEO Joe Welu and Credit Union Sales Director George Ekdahl shared 3 strategies to leverage technology to drive member retention and improve member engagement in our webinar with Credit Union Times. Here’s a summary of their recommendations, or you can access the webinar recording for more, including best practices, detailed strategies, and example executions.

Define Clear Member Journeys

Identify important personas and the key journeys for engagement throughout their financial lifecycle.

A majority of credit unions — 57% of those surveyed in our study with the Financial Brand — said they did not have defined member journeys. But credit unions that are able to orchestrate their member journeys can put their member in the center of a continuous cycle of attract, engage, and amaze, or the marketing flywheel. The flywheel keeps members from falling out of the funnel by delighting them, providing them with valuable, ongoing engagement, and ultimately distinguishing you from competitors.

Onboarding is one of the most critical journeys we address with our customers. Especially as you’re welcoming new members through digital channels or through some of the crisis-relief programs — it’s important to reconsider what your onboarding journey looks like. Updates to consider include:

  • Expanding the journey beyond a single event.
  • Incorporating multi-channel touchpoints, such as email and SMS.
  • Adding tasks for member-facing teams to personally connect.
  • Promoting digital-service adoption so that new members can self-direct into online services.

You can get an in-depth look at some best practices from our Onboarding Playbook.

Engage Consistently

Automate marketing and sales activities consistently to eliminate gaps in the member experience.

Once you’ve mapped the ideal journey for key personas, you can combine human connection with data-driven marketing and member engagement to deliver outstanding experiences, build trust, and unlock the lifetime value of your members. As you deploy journeys, consider these 2 critical journey best practices needed to maximize success:


Levering technology to automate your journeys is key to delivering consistent and comprehensive experiences. You’re ensuring each member receives the same brand experience across your credit union touchpoints. Follow-up calls aren’t missed, and duplicate or irrelevant messages aren’t sent. Automation also removes manual, time-intensive processes that free your relationship managers to focus on connecting personally with members.

Leverage Member Data and Behaviors

Again, in our survey with the Financial Brand, we found that only 11% of credit unions are using all the data they have to personalize their members’ experience with their credit union. If credit unions want to move beyond a transactional relationship and truly amaze their members, they need to engage with data-driven and behavior-based strategies.

A great way to use these strategies to drive growth within your member base would be to scan your database for inactive members. Are there any similarities or common financial needs that you can use to create a segment and begin reengaging with those members? It could be as simple as a survey or a trigger for a member services representative call.

The bottom line is: You need to use the data you have about your members and ensure each message and touchpoint is relevant and useful.

Personalize Your Engagement

Deliver relevant content and incorporate human touch points into your journeys.

Even in a healthy economic environment, the personalized experience is a powerful tool for sales and marketing to engage potential and current members. A study from the Boston Consulting Group found that personalization impacted acquisition, growth, and even a member’s decision to leave their primary financial institution.

  • A majority of people (71%) said something their financial institution (FI) did to personalize their experience was the most important factor in their decision to move to that FI.
  • Additionally, 83% said they purchased additional products or services because of a personalized approach.
  • Finally, among people who left an FI, 57% said lack of a personalized experience was a factor in their decision.

Credit unions need to look at their member data and create experiences tailored to their member’s specific financial needs. For example, consider 2 members who would both benefit from a checking account with your credit union. One is a college student who recently starting using her debit card more frequently and the other is an indirect auto lending member who told you his car is for his new business. It would make sense to deliver campaigns specifically for student checking and small business checking, accordingly. Beyond the simple product offering, consider how the visuals and language of your campaign would vary based on their life stage and financial goals.

Drive Growth

Credit unions must give a compelling reason to get members to stay and utilize more products. That reason is relevant, personalized communication on an ongoing basis — whether it’s product-related, service-related, or educational in nature.

Credit unions that are able to apply these strategies to attract, engage, and amaze their members are well on their way to becoming the trusted financial partner and creating a member-for-life organization.

Watch the webinar recording for more detailed strategies for technology-driven member retention and engagement.