Suncoast Credit Union’s Path to Data-Driven Personalization: 3 Key Takeaways

In an era defined by digital disruption and evolving consumer expectations, credit unions are presented with a remarkable opportunity to redefine member engagement and excel in a rapidly changing, digital world. Unlike most traditional banking institutions, credit unions boast a unique value proposition—a commitment to community-centric banking, personalized service, and member-driven initiatives. Yet, in an increasingly digital world, the challenge lies in translating these core values into seamless, digital experiences that resonate with today’s tech-savvy consumers. 

Suncoast Credit Union, Florida’s largest credit union, has embraced this challenge head-on, leveraging innovative strategies to enhance digital member engagement. Recently, we had the privilege of diving into their approach with Hanna Britt, Director of Marketing Automation, and Dana Martin, Marketing Automation Strategist, at Suncoast Credit Union. In this webinar, they shared insights into Suncoast’s innovative strategy for digital member engagement, focusing on data-driven personalization and automation. Let’s dive into 3 key takeaways:

1. Success Is Built on Data

Suncoast Credit Union understands that effective personalization starts with robust data collection and unification. To craft engaging and relevant member journeys, having data that is both accessible and actionable is not only important but essential—it’s the foundational step in their strategy.

The Suncoast team approaches data in two main categories: member profile attributes and events. Member attributes serve as the first layer of personalization, encompassing attributes such as membership source, product mix, product and service engagement, and more. These are unified and stored on member profiles making it easy to segment and personalize on.  Meanwhile, events drive the secondary layer of personalization by capturing real-time member interactions and behaviors. This allows Suncoast to promptly deliver targeted communications that provide valuable information, relevant offers, and encourage action. Key events tracked include web-fired tag events, form submissions, product applications, and member actions. By leveraging both member attributes and events, Suncoast can effectively identify and segment the most relevant members, enhancing the personalization and effectiveness of their outreach.

A prime example of Suncoast’s successful data activation is their deposit capture campaign. Triggered by specific member actions, this campaign targets members who had recently made in-branch deposits, informing them about a mobile deposit service offer. Leveraging member attributes such as recent mobile login activity, the marketing team personalized the call-to-action for each recipient based on their engagement history. This dynamic campaign, fueled by rich member data, resulted in a significant 29% increase in remote deposit captures, with an impressive 44% of eligible members opting for mobile deposits after their initial in-branch transactions with Suncoast.

2. Personalization Drives Meaningful Engagement

At the heart of Suncoast’s customer-centric approach lies the art of crafting personalized journeys. Leveraging the unified member data established in the first building block, Suncoast goes beyond surface-level customization, tailoring content to meet the distinct needs of each member. By harnessing a combination of real-time data, Suncoast ensures that every interaction is not only relevant but also anticipates member needs, reduces friction, and adds proactive value.

Suncoast’s personalization efforts are rooted in a deep understanding of their members’ behaviors and preferences. Drawing from a rich pool of data, Suncoast employs a blend of marketing and banking insights for personalization, encompassing factors such as offer eligibility, online banking activity, marketing engagement, and product/service usage. Additionally, demographic information such as age range and generation further enriches their personalization efforts.

A prime example of Suncoast’s personalized approach is evident in their onboarding journeys. Recognizing the importance of a smooth and personalized onboarding process, Suncoast leverages data points such as membership type, account opening date, and product preferences to segment members into distinct groups. They then employ dynamic content to further personalize each message, ensuring that communications are not only relevant but frictionless, prompting members to take quick action. For instance, Suncoast promotes app downloads to members who have yet to install it, while refraining from targeting those who have already done so and providing them with a more relevant recommendation. By harnessing the power of data-driven personalization, Suncoast has witnessed a significant 4x increase in engagement with their welcome message.

3. Automation Fuels Efficiency and Scalability

The third and final pillar of their strategy is automation, a pivotal element for scaling personalized engagement. Dana Martin shared insights on this, stating, “One of the reasons we chose to work with Blueshift is because their product combined a customer data platform with marketing automation tools. With these automation tools, we’re able to scale personalization and reduce our campaign workload, which benefits our team internally as well as our members by creating frictionless campaign experiences.” Suncoast uses a range of automation in their efforts, including shared assets, liquid syntax, automated file transfers, and predominantly automated campaigns.

A compelling illustration of automation’s power is demonstrated through Suncoast’s consumer loan campaign. With their previous email service provider (ESP), the process was highly manual, requiring the creation, review, and continuous updating of 35 email templates. Additionally, manual file uploads were necessary between sends to remove applicants. Now, with a streamlined, unified platform, Suncoast utilizes a loan application attribute to automatically remove members who have applied. From here, they were able to condense 35 emails into 5 dynamic templates that automatically adjust the content, offer CTA, and imagery for each unique member. This not only saved countless hours for Suncoast internally but also enhanced the member experience with more relevant and timely offers.

To reach members through their preferred channels and expand touchpoints beyond email, Suncoast employs another automated feature: audience syndication. Audience syndication enables the team to leverage their rich first-party data for cross-channel paid media efforts on platforms like Google and Facebook. A key application is for retargeting, which includes onboarding retargeting and refer-a-friend retargeting. Additionally, Suncoast uses syndications as an opportunity to reengage members who have not interacted with campaigns on other channels, such as their deposit capture campaign.

Embracing the Digital Future: A Roadmap for Credit Unions

Suncoast Credit Union’s adoption of data-driven personalization showcases a progressive approach, dispelling the notion that credit unions are confined to outdated practices. Their adept use of automation not only streamlines operations but also enhances member experiences highlighting the vast potential of smarter, digital engagement for credit unions. By leveraging data, personalization, and automation, credit unions have the opportunity to transform member experiences, fostering loyalty and ensuring sustained success in a competitive market. Suncoast’s forward-looking strategy signals a promising future for credit unions, characterized by a dedication to superior member service and adaptability to evolving digital trends.

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