Oklahoma Employees Credit Union Posts Seven Specials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

imageDuring the past few years we’ve reported on Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions at financial institutions (last year). ING Direct is the only large bank that has consistently used the post-Thanksgiving holiday in its marketing (see below) and we are glad to see it continue under Capital One ownership.

imageThis year we found another new entrant for our database of holiday offers, 42,000 member Oklahoma Employees Credit Union. It has a prominent black tag on its homepage announcing a "Black Friday Money $ale" (see first screenshot). 

And from the looks of it, the CU has created a pretty hot offer, leading with car loans as low as 1.49% with no payment due for 90 days (well after holiday spending subsides). But that’s just one of the seven holiday offers (second screenshot). The CU is also offering:

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday (Nov 23 to 26)

  • 1.49% APR* on New or Used Auto Loans 
  • 1.00% APR^ Off Unsecured Loans
  • Surcharge Free Gift Cards***
Black Friday to the End of the Year (Nov 23 to Dec 31)
  • 90 days no pay**
  • $149 Mortgage Loan Origination Fee^^
  • $49 Credit*^ with New MasterCard
  • 0.49%tt Business Loan Origination Fee


    Oklahoma Employees Credit Union homepage with Black Friday specials (Wed, 21 Nov 2012)


    Black Friday landing page (link)


    ING Direct homepage with Black Friday offers (21 Nov 2012)


    ING Direct Black Friday teaser page (link)
    Note: The bank does not reveal the actual offers until midnight Thursday



    Fine print on Oklahoma Employees Credit Union offers:

      *Annual Percentage Rate. 640+ credit score. Max term 60 months; estimated payment $17.31 per $1,000 borrowed. Min amount $10,000. Existing OECU loan min advance $2,500. Requires automatic payments and eStatements. 
      ** Borrower may defer initial auto loan payment up to 90 days. Interest will accrue from date of advance. 
      ^ Annual Percentage Rate. Reduction from regular earned rate as determined by credit score. 
      *** Up to 5 cards
      ^^ Max 12 years up to $250,000 and 75% loan-to-value as determined by appraisal or AVM. 
      *^ Initial transaction must be made by 1/10/13. Credit to be issued by 2/10/13. 
      tt Owner occupied commercial real estate. Max loan $500,000. Additional closing costs may apply. Normal lending policies apply.

      Display Ads in Gmail Morph into Email Ads with One Click

      image Evidently, Google has been testing new Gmail ad formats for a year. But yesterday was the first time I’d tested it. It’s a very different experience, one that could be appealing for financial advertisers.

      How it works
      Yesterday, Lifelock served me a display ad within Gmail. Once you click on it, the ad  morphs into an email (see first screenshot below). It is not only a quick way to evaluate the offering (saving the trip to a web-based landing page), but also allows users to treat the ad like an email by saving it to the inbox, forwarding it, or dismissing the ad forever (the action items run above the message).

      If you choose “Save to Inbox” the message shows up in the Everything Else category as a message from yourself (see second screenshot). At that point it’s just like any other message and can be flagged, archived, forwarded or deleted.

      Bottom line: The ad format could make offers more sticky. It’s a promising model for financial products, which are usually not quick, spur-of-the- moment purchases. It’s worth testing anyway, if you have a big enough customer base using Gmail.


      Lifelock display ad in Gmail opens up into an embedded email (16 Oct 2012)


      Once saved in the inbox, the ad shows up under “Everything Else” as a message from yourself


      Lifelock landing page (after clicking on Join Lifelock Now) in email ad


      Mobile Marketing: Leveraging the iPhone App Update Process

      image As customers have adopted ever-more convenient delivery methods, the customer communications process has changed dramatically. Each channel has its own ways of communicating with customers:

      • Branch/mail: Signage, statement inserts, chance conversations in line, direct sales pitches
      • Phone: On-hold messages, prompts on the phone tree, direct sales pitches
      • Online: Email, interstitials, display ads, website content, popups, online chat
      • Mobile: Similar to online plus notifications, text messages and app updates (see below)

      In the mobile channel, the process for updating native apps provides a unique marketing opportunity that is virtually without cost and guaranteed to be read by a large portion of your mobile customers (previous post). App publishers have a screen of free real estate to explain the benefits of the new feature(s).

      I’ve read thousands of these update descriptions and there is huge variety of approaches. Some publishers take maximum advantage of the “free publicity” to engage their customers (see Yelp below), pump up the new features (see USAA), and seek additional feedback (see Redfin, SimplyUs examples).

      Other publishers don’t pay enough attention to readability (Wells, Bank of America, US Bank examples, see note 1) or just put the minimum effort into a bulleted list (E*Trade). 

      Bottom line: Each time you push out a new update, use it as an opportunity to educate users and reinforce your mobile brand.


      iPhone App Update Examples


      Yelp reinforces its playful brand with        USAA is more matter of fact, but  
      enthusiastic and humorous copy                   does a good job highlighting new
      announcing its v.6.0.                                           features in its v.4.9.

      image     image

      Redfin released a minor bug fix in             SimplyUs gets right to its bullet
      v.3.3.2 but includes its email address        list of features, with just enough
      to report any issues.                                           info to explain the v.1.0.17 update.
      Nice touch!                                                            Plus email and Twitter handle.

      image     image

      Need work

      Wells does an OK job, but the first               Similarly, Bank of America has an
      bullet reads like something lifted from        acceptable message for its v.3.3.351. 
      project checklist. And the second                  But the copy is a little confusing and
      is too long-winded. Plus, a floating             has an asterisked point floating mid-page.                       “Bug fixes” hovers at  the bottom                        
      of its v.2.1 update.

      image     image

      US Bank’s v. 1.6.8 message is                    E*Trade’s 2.6 update sounds like it
      confusing. Something about being             has a bunch of new features, but
      asked to accept a quick update, but 
               it did nothing but list them with
      no specifics on why or what has                no explanations.

      image    image


      1. These examples were all taken from updates I downloaded today. They are not necessarily indicative of every update from these companies. At major releases (such as Yelp’s v6.0), most publishers will step up the copy-writing quality.

      First Arkansas Homepage Goes All In with Social Media

      image I don’t know how long First Arkansas Bank & Trust has had a big Facebook-like image dominating its homepage (see below), but it’s timely given all the attention the social network has received of late. Despite a little blip with the IPO, Facebook is one of most significant brands on the planet. So associating your financial brand with it is a good move.

      FAB&T is using the homepage to create awareness of its four social network outlets:

      • Facebook | Like
      • Twitter | Follow
      • YouTube | Watch
      • Blog | Read

      The huge Socialize With Us image is eye-catching and would garner a fair number of clicks, except for one problem. The entire center graphic, including the social media icons, are not clickable. The only way to get to the sites is to click on their icons in the upper right corner of the homepage (note 1). This is a strange design decision.  

      Bottom line: While I like the approach of exposing all the trendy social media icons, I’m not sure FAB&T should be sending people to all four. The bank’s Facebook page is good, with a modern design, frequent updates, and 755 fans (see second screenshot). So, it makes sense to encourage users to visit and like it.

      However, the other social media sites are a little anemic. The blog hasn’t been updated since the end of 2011; there has only been one tweet in the past 2 months; and the YouTube channel has limited content.

      Like most financial institutions, FAB&T would probably be better served by focusing on Facebook (note 2) and letting the other sites go, or at least stop referring customers to them from the homepage. 


      First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

      First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

      First Arkansas Bank Facebook page (link)

      FAB&T Facebook page  

      First Arkansas Bank Twitter page (link)
      Note: The bank had one tweet in May, zero in April and a couple in March.


      First Arkansas Bank Blog (link)
      Note: The last post was almost six months ago. And the site is hosted on the Google’s free blogging platform, Blogger, which doesn’t really do much to help with the brand image.



      image 1. And those all require users to click through a "third-party warning" before redirecting the user to the social network sites. That further gums up the user experience.
      2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" published in Feb. 2012 (subscription).

      A Less Taxing April 15 from America First Credit Union

      imageLooking for a little Friday afternoon diversion, I visited the website of the recent winner in the humor category of CUNA’s credit union marketing awards, America First Credit Union.

      I liked the clever homepage graphic for its loan “billion dollar loan sale” (inset above). But what inspired this blog entry, was the credit union’s recognition that thousands of its members will be slogging through their Federal income tax returns this weekend (note 1).

      America First put a prominent orange band across the top of its website (on all pages) reminding members where they could find 2011 tax info on their accounts (screenshot below). And like many financial institutions this time of year, the CU posted a link to TurboTax online for those needing last-minute assistance.

      America First Credit Union homepage (13 April 2012)



      Note: U.S. national income tax returns must be filed by April 17, 2012, by anyone in the country with any income last year. 

      Holiday Promotions from Credit Unions and Community Banks

      imageLast week we looked at the holiday efforts (or lack thereof) of the 20 largest U.S. banks. But aside from PNC Bank’s “Christmas cost index” and ING Direct’s “12 days of mobile,” not much this holiday season was particularly noteworthy (inset for Midland Bank gift cheques, circa 1956, see credit below).

      For inspiration, you need to look at the smaller banks and credit unions. Here are five we found through random googling today: 

      1. Michigan State University FCU: 6.9% Holiday Loan (homepage promo #2)


      2. Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union: Visa Gift Card (homepage promo #2)


      3. OnPoint Community Credit (Oregon): Mobile gift cards (homepage, promo #1) , Visa Gift Card (promo #2)



      4. Community First Credit Union (Florida): iPad giveaway for eStatements (homepage, promo #3; landing page)


      5. Texas Bank: “Stash the Christmas cash” (homepage, one of four rotating promos; landing page)
      Note: “Stash the cash” is similar to BofA’s “keep the change;” debit card purchases are rounded up to nearest dollar with the extra 1-99 cents deposited into savings. The holiday promo included a 5% bonus match on each transfer in December (website powered by Bancvue)



      imageNote: Picture credit. Midland Bank advertisement for holiday checks from The Illustrated London News, 17 Nov 1956. (Click to enlarge, for sale here). 

      Holiday Promotions at the Top-20 U.S. Banks

      Since I began blogging in 2004, I’ve usually run a year-end post looking at the holiday marketing efforts of the top-20 U.S. banks (links below). This year, only 7 of the 20 banks are using holiday or seasonal imagery on their homepages. That’s a decrease of 3 over last year.

      As usual, PNC Bank is the gold standard for holiday bank promotions, with its long-running (25+ years) “cost of Christmas index” which quantifies the cost of procuring all the items mentioned in the famous song, “12 Days of Christmas.” Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating. 

      Previous posts: 2010, 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004


      Big banks in the holiday spirit
      (rated 1 to 5 bulbs)

      PNC: Christmas cost index

      • Cost of Christmas based on the song 12 Days of Christmas

      Score: imageimageimageimageimage



      Landing page: Amazing microsite, wonderful graphics, and slow loading (link)


      Fifth Third: holiday sweeps

      • Pay Your Bills sweeps with holiday graphics
      • Small ad with a card wrapped with ribbon which directs users to branches for “holiday shopping made easy,” presumably for gift cards, but neither the ad nor the landing page make that clear

      Score: imageimageimageimage


      ING Direct: Mobile usage sweeps

      • 12 Days of Mobile sweeps

      Score: imageimageimageimage


      Landing page


      Chase: sweeps and car loans

      • Winner Wonderland, credit card sweeps with one entry for every credit card purchase and 5 entries for every donation put on the Chase card
      • Add joy to your wallet, car refinance promotion

      Score: imageimageimage


      BB&T: Visa gift card

      • Small advertisement in lower right

      Score: image image



      TD Bank: Visa gift card

      • Small advertisement in lower right (below the fold on my laptop)

      Score: image



      Key Bank: gift cards

      • Very small gift-card promo, below the fold on my laptop and rotating with a half-dozen other items

      Score: image




      1. No holiday imagery on the homepages of BofA, Wells Fargo, Citibank, HSBC, US Bank, SunTrust, Capital One, Citizens, Regions, Harris, Bank of the West, Union Bank, Comercia
      2. Screenshots taken from Ft. Myers, FL, IP address, between 7 and 8 PM, 20 Dec 2011    
      3. Credit: Happy Holidays animation from LayoutSparks.com

      Cyber Monday in Banking

      imageI’ve written about Black Friday promotions at ING Direct (see note 1), Service Credit Union, and the growing Small Business Saturday event spearheaded by American Express (which even earned a tweet from  Obama).

      This year I also noticed a trickle of activity on Cyber Monday as well. It’s probably better than Black Friday for online/mobile campaigns. Better yet, use the approach of Visions FCU (screenshot 2 & 3) and use the entire weekend to maximize the impact. 

      Cyber Monday promos:

      • 50% off credit-monitoring products from Quizzle, the spinout from Quicken Loans (see email below)
      • Visions Federal Credit Union offered a loan special from Black Friday through Cyber Monday (screenshot below). The CU reported $10 million in loans on Friday alone.
      • Navy Federal Credit Union offered bonus rewards-points for purchases made online


      Cyber Monday email from Quizzle (link; Monday, 7 AM Pacific, 28 Nov 2011)

      Cyber Monday email from Quizzle

      Visions Federal Credit Union Thanksgiving weekend loan special (28 Nov 2011)

      Visions Federal Credit Union Thanksgiving weekend loan special

      Visions landing page (link)

      Visions FCU landing page Black Friday landing page

      Navy Federal Cyber Monday cashRewards promo (link)
      Note: Given the date shown, this page is likely a carryover from 2010. But it’s still available via “Cyber Monday” searches on Navy Federal’s website.

      Navy Federal Credit Union Cyber Monday landing page

      1. ING Direct was at it again with seven offers over the Thanksgiving weekend (Deposit Accounts has the full rundown). However, the specials did not extend into Cyber Monday.   
      2. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union ($210 million, Wentzville, MO) and Heritage Community Credit Union ($200 million, Sacramento, CA) offered loan deals on Black Friday according to CreditUnionsOnline.com

      Guess What I’ve Been Researching Online?

      imageI realize that ads based on recent activity are effective. But it’s still slightly unnerving, wondering whether you’ve lost every last bit of privacy or that you’ve been hit by an adware virus. But overall, it’s good to get relevant offers, especially when one has a $10 bonus in it (see AmEx below).

      Here’s the two ads tossed my way while I was checking the status of my son’s flight today:

      Amex Serve and Geico ads

      I wrote a blog post on Serve yesterday (see AmEx promo on top of the page) and have been banging around insurance sites (see Geico ad on right) for the past two weeks as I wrap up a report on the subject.

      AmEx Serve offer
      Perhaps because I didn’t sign up yesterday, American Express is throwing me $10 to try Serve, its P2P payments service. Here’s the excellent landing page (link):

      American Express Servce landing page

      After entering your email address, the button turns to a thank-you. It’s good feedback for the user and keeps them from accidentally submitting the form twice.


      Here’s the email sent a few moments later:

      American Express Serve email


      1. Button credit Zazzle.com
      2. We covered P2P payments two years ago in our Online Banking Report (subscription).

      Square Updates its Merchant Platform

      image In 15+ years of accepting credit cards, there have been few notable communications from our acquiring bank or payments gateway, other than normal transactional messages (note 1). Square looks to be changing that with a focus on merchant (and end user) experience.

      For example, today I received an email outlining Square’s latest platform enhancements (see first screenshot). The message included an enticing Open for Business with an invitation to watch a 70-second video outlining enhancements to its merchant platform, including built-in rewards capabilities (note 2). 

      The company has grown quickly. Basically starting at zero at the beginning of the year, they are now doing up to $11 million per day in card volume. More impressively, they are up to 800,000 merchants. Assuming a $65 to $70 average ticket, that’s around 150,000 transactions per day, or 4 to 5 million per month. But that also means the average merchant is only doing 1 transaction every 5 or 6 days. 

      imageAnd the user experience is far from perfect. Square has suffered growing pains as it learns to manage a business fraught with fraud and uncertainty. We tried to use Square at Finovate last May and couldn’t get transactions authorized, apparently due to tight account limits in force then.

      Four months later at FinovateFall, most transactions were authorized, much to the delight of attendees who used it. But unbeknownst to us (note 3), the money just sat in the Square account waiting for us to confirm our bank account. One small test-transaction had been sitting there since May.

      Bottom line: The company flat-out does a great job with design and UX, very Apple-esque. I expect to see a lot of innovation out of Square given its funding, valuation, and celebrity founder. The promise of turning transaction receipts into a dynamic communication is especially interesting (previous post).


      Email from Square (received 1PM Pacific, 15 Nov 2011)


      Landing page (not logged in; link)



      image1. It could be that I’ve simply forgotten messages received years ago. But I can say for sure that there have been very marketing/customer service messages, because I pay attention to them. My acquirer is not one of the major players. 
      2. TechCrunch has a good rundown of the new features.
      3. In fairness to Square, they did mention on the merchant receipt that we needed to verify the bank account. But during the heat of the conference, I never noticed that. Click on inset to see the company’s transaction receipt (highlighting mine).  
      4. I wonder what it will take to convince Japan’s Square-Enix Holdings, creator of Final Fantasy (video game) to part with the Square.com domain name (which is currently unused).