Using Salesforce to Amplify Brand Reach

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Credit Unions are nonprofits, so where's the incentive to expand the brand and enhance the customer journey? 

"The more we can bring new members on, the more we can give back to the community," says Lisa Nicholas, SVP and CDO for Amplify, an Austin, Texas-based credit union. Nicholas cited increased social impact, and higher dividends, as positive outcomes for a thriving business.

Amplify has its roots with IBM, starting out as the IBM Texas Employees Federal C.U. in 1967 (it's been Amplify since 2006). As a member-owned co-operative, its mission is to provide less expensive loans and higher returns on deposits than commercial banks. But, Nicholas emphasizes, Amplify does provide a "full suite of banking products," including checking accounts, online banking, home equity loans, and so on.

That's something clients don't always realize. For example, someone taking out a loan to buy a car might well select an indirect loan product originating with Amplify. "Our problem is, they don't have a clue who we are. What they care about is the lowest rate," Nicholas explains. Acquiring them as full service customers, and retaining them, is a challenge when the brand behind the product remains anonymous.

Prior to introducing a technology solution to address the problem, Amplify based its efforts on direct mail. The mail pieces were often overlooked or lost, resulting among other things in late repayments. That approach has been replaced by a first-day phone call; email instructions on repayment on day five; then an email content piece, aimed at enhancing understanding of Amplify's services. The results: a 75% open rate on the first email, 45% on the second.

Amplify is also trying to expand brand reach via social media and through Google display ads, Nicholas says.

After working with IBM's Silverpop and Oracle, Amplify has settled on the Salesforce Sales and Marketing Clouds to do the heavy digital lifting. It looks to the Sales Cloud as its CRM resource, storing member information securely. In the Marketing Cloud, Amplify uses the Email, Social, and Ad studios to drive its acquisition and retention initiatives. "We're breaking the member journey down," she says, "so we're engaging at the right time and providing the right pieces of content."

Nicholas describes deployment as "very quick" — 59 days — and February sees the one year anniversary. Prior to supporting the indirect sales and marketing team with these solutions, says Nicholas, loan production — the amount of money loaned to credit union members per month — was less than $40,000; it's now over $1 million. For inside sales, loan production has grown from half a million to well over $3 million per month. And after deploying Social Studio, for example, Nicholas reports a 400% increase in engagement. 

Amplify also uses S&P Global (formerly SNL Financial) for market intelligence, and Brightedge for SEO.

Digital innovation, Nicholas explains, allows a lean team — three to five people in marketing — with limited resources to make an impact. "We don't have the the large budgets of Bank of America and Wells Fargo," she says, "although we're competing with them for market share."

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