With the proliferation of communication channels available today—from traditional print media and broadcast to online and social media—effectively managing a credit union’s communications strategy is a complicated business. While credit unions have always tailored their messages to specific groups of members (auto loans to younger members or estate planning to older members, for example), as recently as 10 years ago, there was a fairly simple distribution strategy including local print media, direct mail and perhaps local broadcast media that was used to reach all members.
Today, that is simply no longer the case. Millennial members consume information in different ways and through different channels than Generation X members do, and Gen Xers, in turn, consume information differently than baby boomers. Not only are there different communication channel preferences among demographic groups, but there are unique preferences in terms of format and even time of day for consumption.
With so many variables in play, how can credit unions communicate most effectively with all of their members?
The good news is that there is a wealth of data available to help guide credit unions’ communications teams as they develop content and distribution strategies. Recently, Target Marketing released its 2017 Media Usage Survey, and within it are some valuable insights into the media consumption tendencies of millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers that could benefit credit unions. Key takeaways include:
Consider the Device When Developing Content
Millennials represent 52 percent of mobile content consumers, so communications should be developed with the mobile phone in mind. Generation X still consumes a wealth of content via desktop (35 percent), so consider how your communications might leverage the larger screen when targeting this group. Baby boomers have embraced the tablet—in fact, they outpace both other groups when it comes to viewing content via a tablet device.
Time of Day Matters
Both millennials and Gen X tend to consume content in the evening hours (8 p.m. to midnight), so consider scheduling content distribution to coincide with this timeframe.
Format Makes a Difference
As one might expect, millennials show a preference toward short, entertaining video content (five minutes or less). While baby boomers demonstrate a preference toward 300-word online articles, millennials favor longer format pieces (500 words or more) and blogs are their favorite content form.
Common Knowledge Isn’t Always Correct
Contrary to what many assume, baby boomers are very active on social media. In fact, they use Facebook to find content more than any other generation.
Brand Evaluation Differs Among Generations
In general, millennials value brands that are aligned with cause-based initiatives, so promoting how your credit union benefits your community and the social good counts with this group. Generation X tends to base its brand selection on prior experience and peer referrals, so they appreciate direct information regarding how your credit union has helped others like them reach their financial goals. Baby boomers are the most brand loyal group, valuing proven history of an organization over time, so stressing longevity and stability resonates with them.
A credit union’s membership is not a homogenous entity and should not be communicated with as such. While the level of complexity in terms of content and delivery methods has never been higher, this also presents an unprecedented degree of opportunity for savvy credit unions to craft tailored, highly-targeted content that provides true value to members.