e-mail marketing: good news

With the rapid emergence of digital, mobile and social channels available to marketers, e-mail marketing might sound like old-school digital, but the truth is that e-mail is actually a very efficient way to reach your members.

Kootenay Savings and Credit Union* couldn’t agree more. They wanted to find a way to engage their members and connect with their communities and saw e-mail as the ideal message-delivery and engagement platform.

Deb Melnyk, Manager of Advertising & Communications at Kootenay Savings tells us,

‘Email marketing is a pillar of our member engagement strategy. With CASL coming into effect, we wanted to take every opportunity to optimize a program before July and have a solid strategy that is linked to our brand.

We could have used an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution but we knew we needed more than a template. Our goal was to align our email marketing with other communication channels such as web and social, and have a distinct point of difference in our program, encouraging trust with members.’

Speaking of  CASL, while these regulations might seem limiting at first glance, they actually help credit unions like Kootenay Savings to revitalize email lists into a qualified group of members who are open to:

  • receiving offers
  • hearing about campaigns
  • connecting with you
  • reading about what you’re doing in their communities

Actually, the CASL requirements could make e-mail marketing one of your strongest marketing tools for communicating with current members. A current list of engaged and willing e-mail recipients makes it possible to:

  • personalize your messaging
  • improve segmentation
  • support other key digital delivery channels (web, mobile, social)
  • improve response tools

Come to our webinar on Wednesday, April 23rd to learn more and to see first-hand how Kootenay Savings and Credit Union is using email marketing to reach members, tell their own story and achieve their strategic goals.

*Kootenay Savings Credit Union, located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, is the twenty-ninth largest credit union in Canada with over 40,000 members and assets of $796 million.

do you really need an annual flight plan?

Have you ever rolled a boulder up a hill? If you’re a credit union marketer, you probably at least feel like you have. You’ve been given the monumental task of differentiating your credit union in a rapidly changing marketplace that includes:

  • a dizzying expansion of delivery channels
  • more data than you know what to do with
  • increasingly savvy members
  • multiple internal stakeholders and decision makers
  • a growing number of external stakeholders
  • shrinking budgets
  • and so on

With all of these pressing demands, it’s easy to put your head down and power through yet another marketing year, reacting to internal and external demands as best you can with the resources you’ve got. It’s an exhausting loop. And it’s not much fun.

When planning for his 2014 marketing year, Glenn Benischek, CEO of VantageOne Credit Union wanted to put an end to this loop once and for all. ‘We wanted to do more than fragmented product and service campaigns that really had no relation to one another. Marketing needs to have the same strategy and commitment that other business lines have.’

We couldn’t agree more. So when he asked us to help his team take a more proactive approach to marketing, we were more than happy to help.

The VantageOne team had done a really great job of defining their current strengths and their strategic goals. To complement this work, we developed personas to help Glenn and his team bridge the gap between what their members want and need and what (and how) VantageOne is currently offering. This collective work helped to define a clear picture of who VantageOne is today and who they are striving to become in the future.

Bridging the gap between these two points required the development of an annual flight plan. This plan will position VantageOne to approach marketing in a way that:

  • responds in all delivery channels
  • adapts to the ever-changing needs of their personas
  • supports their strategic goals
  • strengthens their brand
  • engenders pride and engagement among their staff

Rachel Milan, our VP of Business Development, who was once a credit union marketer herself, could relate to VantageOne’s goal for a unified approach to marketing.

‘I remember those last minute requests to “pull a campaign together” quickly because lending is down or a new technology is ready for members. But that kind of reactive marketing just doesn’t pay. An annual flight plan is integral to the overall strategy of a credit union’s marketing. While marketing must remain flexible for business changes, committing to an annual flight plan that has a common visual theme and tone helps create brand awareness and momentum for the year.’

Glenn adds, ‘We really trust the thirdstream approach which has proven results for other credit unions, so we are looking forward to implementing this overarching theme to all of our marketing programs and tactics this spring.’

We’re so pleased to have been asked to play a role in VantageOne’s bold new approach to their marketing. Like Glenn, we’re also looking forward to revealing these creative and strategic tactics. Stay tuned …

CASL and your email marketing strategy

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was passed into law in December 2010 and comes into effect July 1, 2014. With this deadline looming, many of our credit union clients have been asking how the new legislation could impact their email marketing strategies.

What’s the deal?

CASL is designed to reduce spam and prohibit phishing, malware and the other aggravations of the e-mail age. While there are many elements to CASL, this post focuses on the prohibition against sending commercial electronic messages (CEMS) without the recipient’s consent.

What’s a CEM?

CEMS include:

  • messages sent to email addresses, social networking accounts
  • text messages sent to a cell phone

What’s the point?

You can’t send CEMS to your members unless you can prove that they gave you permission (verbally, electronically or in writing) with a handful of clear exceptions. This legislation doesn’t mean you can never email a member who isn’t on your list, but you need to understand the circumstances and exceptions around how you communicate via email or text. Most importantly, for businesses (and credit unions) this means that any CEMS you send to your members must include:

  • defined content
  • an unsubscribe mechanism
  • contact information

What they’re saying on Parliament Hill

The Government of Canada tells us that as long as businesses follow a few simple rules, CASL isn’t going to fundamentally change an email marketing strategy:

“Legitimate businesses that use email to market their products to Canadians should not be negatively impacted by this law. The regime to allow for email marketing is based on a consumer opt-in approach, which stipulates that businesses must get consent prior to sending commercial email or have a preexisting business relationship with a consumer.”

There are some subtleties to the legislation, but essentially it mandates what have been best practices in e-mail marketing for a long time and that is to get consent before you send emails and make opting out crystal clear.

Will this be the death of your email marketing strategy?

No. It sure doesn’t have to be. Kootenay Savings and Credit Union is moving ahead with an exciting new email marketing strategy.  Come to our webinar on April 23rd to learn more.

What we’re doing

Our team has worked hard to digest this legislation for our clients. Come to our webinar on April 23rd to learn more about how to deliver compliant, creative, fun and engaging email marketing strategies.

Kristy Jahn-Smith, our CASL expert, will be attending an upcoming conference hosted by Calgary Economic Development. The conference will be presented by the law firm of Bennett Jones LLP and led by Martin Kratz Q.C., Head of Intellectual Property at Bennett Jones LLP and an internationally recognized lawyer who has more than 280 publications on intellectual property, technology law and related topics.

meet our CEO

As CEO of our growing company, Christian Clapton is a fearless visionary who leads our team in bringing marketing and technology together to improve the financial services that our credit union clients can deliver in the online space. His passion and continual insights inspire all of us to innovate and push the envelope in every area of our business.

Among his many strengths as a leader is his ability to bring out the best in each member of our team. He sees potential and then creates the space for that potential to be realized. He also leads by example, working hard and continually challenging himself to do better, know more and reach higher. Whether he’s leaving motivational post-it notes around the office, writing weekly internal updates to celebrate every victory or keeping us in stitches with his unique approach to the English language and all things #hashtagitself, Christian sits quietly and consistently at the centre of every thirdstream success.

Christian is married to Kathy, who is also thirdstream’s creative and copy director. They have three children: Isaac, Abigayil and Maiya. The family resides in sunny and windy Lethbridge Alberta for most of the year while spending a majority of the winter weekends at Castle Mountain Ski Resort.

When he’s not thinking about what’s next for thirdstream, Christian is spending time with his family. He’s an enthusiastic basketball dad and an emerging fly fisherman. And, if he had his way, he’d be skiing 365 days of the year.

Here are some other cool facts about our CEO

When did you join the thirdstream team?


What is your role with thirdstream?

I’m the CEO.

What appeals to you the most about the work you do with thirdstream?

My current top-three loves about what we do at thirdstream are:

  1. The market opportunities we and our clients have to re-invent financial services with innovation and client experience.
  2. That I get to work with great minds both within the company and with our clients.
  3. The pace at which we must evolve and the fact that it is driven by innovation.

What do you appreciate the most about being part of this team?

Working with the people – seeing our team learn and share this while growing themselves in their discipline.  Facilitating this is so very rewarding for me.

Now for the fun stuff


In the United Kingdom



Grew up in which decade

The 80′s

Biggest musical (or other) influence when you were growing up


Family you’d like to mention?

My wife and kids (as mentioned above) but I can’t leave out our daughter-in-law Monique and our dog Teddy (Yorkshire Terrier).

Favourite tune/band on your iPod right now

Band – Jungle    Song – Platoon

You’re happiest when

Skiing and thinking about the turn ahead and planning for the growth of thirdstream and the folks who make it up.

Other Hobbies/Interests

Skiing, fly fishing and my daughters.

Favourite Beverage

It depends on the day of the week.

Greatest inspiration

Steve Jobs.

Greatest achievement (so far)

My family.