Digital strategies for a new age

A great rate, exceptional service and sweet campaigns have always played a central role in attracting people to your FI, but times have changed and these things alone are no longer enough. Customer expectations are escalating quickly, shaped by other sectors and led by giants like Amazon. In every industry – including financial services – it’s no longer just about a product.

Customers are choosing brands based on how they facilitate engagement across all channels and devices, whether or not they offer personalized service and how easy they make it to navigate the purchase funnel. The expectation for an outstanding customer experience is the new bottom line. Customer experience, and the technology that supports it, are the big drivers of innovation and strategy.

Knowing if you’re doing what you can and need to do to ensure that customers choose your brand is one of the keys to your ongoing growth and profitability. Maybe you’re already doing this. Maybe you’re ready to get started. Or maybe you’re not 100% sure where to start or what your goals and strategies should be. 

We’ve developed a great tool that will help you determine if you’re on the right track with your digital strategies or if there are things you can be doing even better than you already are. We call it OARA (Online Acquisition Readiness Assessment). It’s a free service we offer any FI, whether you’re a thirdstream client or not. We’ll use our OARA tool to evaluate your organization’s current digital marketing position, then we’ll compare how you measure up to industry standards and best practices. 

Our OARA measures tactics (or projected tactics) like:

  • social media activities
  • content marketing
  • using and building your email list
  • digital advertising and promotions
  • how your website is working for you
  • the effectiveness of your acquisition tool

It’s a simple process. During a short conversation with your team, we’ll ask you a series of simple questions about everything from social engagement to retargeting, Google AdWords and SEO. Your answers will give us the insight we need to:

  • analyze where you’re at today
  • offer detailed recommendations for each question asked
  • identify a few key take-aways on how to increase your overall readiness for online acquisition. 

OARA_process

Once we’ve completed your analysis, we’ll present you with a personalized results dashboard/report for you to share with key players within your organization.

report screen shot

You can take it from there if you’d like and choose to follow through with all or any of the recommendations that have come out of your OARA. If you’d prefer a more hands-on approach, we’d be happy to offer as much guidance and consultation as you’d like to get or keep your digital marketing strategies on track. 

If you’d like to know more about this or go ahead and set up an OARA for your FI, it’s easy. There’s no commitment and it’s 100% gratis. Just give us a call at 403-381-1360 or contact keith@thirdstream.ca. We’re here to help. And we’re happy to do it.

Canada Post AddressComplete in cumulus™

We’re pleased to tell you that cumulus™ is now integrated with Canada Post’s AddressComplete. What does this mean for online member acquisition through cumulus™? Now all an applicant has to do is start typing an address or postal code, and AddressComplete will suggest results as they go.  This next generation address finder uses intelligent, rapid search technology to:

  • improve data accuracy
  • significantly reduce entry errors
  • eliminate the need for call-backs
  • reduce application abandonment

Check out this quick demo to see AddressComplete in cumulus™ action.

For more information on cumulus™ for your credit union, call us 403-381-1360 or connect with our VP of Business Development.

a week with Pragmatic Marketing

We make a big commitment to continuing education at thirdstream. The more we know, the better we can meet the needs of our clients’ emerging needs. That education comes in the form of weekly think-tanks and deep dives into industry research and trends. We also regularly attend conferences and courses that will help us stay ahead of the curve.

We recently sent Jeff Coomber, our UX Director to Seattle, Washington to take part in a week-long series of courses offered by Pragmatic Marketing. 

Pragmatic Marketing is a product management methodology for the technology industry. The instructors who deliver the courses are considered thought-leaders in product management and marketing development.

Since 1993, the Pragmatic Marketing team has:

  • trained more than 100,000 product management and marketing professionals at 7,000 companies on six continents
  • been repeatedly honoured by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America (2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013)
  • named by Comerica Bank as a Company to Watch
  • led the product management and marketing groups at many of today’s leading technology companies

During his week with the Pragmatic Marketing team, Jeff took the following courses:

Foundations, which reinforced how important it is to understanding your market and to use that understanding to guide decisions, prioritize projects, uncover opportunities and drive results. A perfect fit with our personification philosophy.

Focus, which gave him insight into how to use market data to identify the best product strategies, build product plans, gain consensus among key stakeholders and use roadmaps to articulate the vision.

Build, to prioritize requirements based on the understood needs of the users and what they are trying to accomplish, improve the handoff between departments  and build targeted solutions and innovative products. This course also focused on the value of implementing a universal approach, regardless of location or methodology (Waterfall, Agile, hybrid, etc.).

Jeff came away from the week with the Pragmatic Marketing team armed with practical, actionable ideas that dovetail with our own ‘outside-in’ client-centric approach. Jeff sums up his week like so:

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and discuss product management theory and experience with other product managers. The course really helped bring an enhanced focus to solving problems for our clients and ensuring we provide the most value to them.”

responsive CMS

Managing your site should be as simple as possible. Guided by this philosophy, thirdstream labs is proud to announce the complete redesign of our Content Management System (CMS).

With our newly designed CMS, each section of your site is laid out strategically to allow you to naturally progress through various steps of managing your site. Even a ‘CMS novice’ can easily: 

  • update, add or delete pages
  • edit with an ease and functionality similar to Microsoft Word
  •  add images
  • embed videos
  • create internal and outbound links
  • add keywords to support an SEO strategy

Not only is it simple to use, this CMS is fully responsive. That means that you can use your computer, tablet, phone or any other device that has internet access to make updates to your site. 

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.

RIP Windows XP

Windows XP was released by Microsoft in 2001 and has been going strong for the last 13 years. That reign came to an end on April 8, 2014 because XP is no longer being supported by Microsoft for everything from updates to customer service.

Computers running XP are continuing to work but Microsoft cautions people to use it at their own risk, saying, “Users are now 5x more vulnerable to viruses and security risks now that support has ended.”

At thirdstream our policy is to support the most modern software (including operating systems) as possible to ensure the security of your system as well as the personal information of your members.

Our UX Director Jeff Coomber says, ‘Even before April 8th, Microsoft had told users that XP was 7x more likely to be hacked than Windows 7 which isn’t even the latest version of Windows. This is why we recommend that our clients’ solutions be designed for at least Internet Explorer 8. As technology changes and hackers evolve their attacks, the need for up to date modern software to combat the potential threats is much more important.’

Actually, it looks like it’s also the beginning of the end for Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) as well. IE 8 will continue to be supported on Windows Vista but many developers, including Microsoft (for Office 365), are no longer supporting IE 8 due to it’s lack of modern functionality and security.

This is one of the reasons thirdstream has decided to support only modern browsers for its member facing software and web properties.

If you’d like to learn more about Windows XP’s end of life, check out these Microsoft support links:

Microsoft website
Microsoft support video

remote deposit capture

thirdstreams labs is very excited to announce the addition of Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) to cumulus™. This functionality will significantly decrease the completion time of an application and greatly improve the user experience.

At the end of the current process, the user is required to send a cheque to the credit union via Canada Post (snail mail). The new process will enable the user to submit their cheque digitally. The credit union will receive these funds almost instantly. What used to take days (10 on average) can now be done in a matter of minutes.

In terms of user experience, users are now able to complete the entire process from their digital devices. They will no longer be required to find an envelope, stamp and mailbox to send the cheque.

The way we see it, every hurdle we can remove from the user experience will substantially increase the conversion rate and make the process that much more enjoyable.

With the addition of RDC, cumulus™ has become an even more powerful virtual account opening and member onboarding system.