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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Larky ‘Nudges’ Fort Financial Credit Union Members to ‘Tap’ Back

By W.B. King

While the pandemic accelerated the need for enhanced virtual, on-demand, secure banking services, the desire was there long before the country was locked down.

“We were looking for something extra to offer our members that gave us an edge up on our competitors,” Fort Financial Credit Union IT Core Operations Manager Josh Rice told Finopotamus. “Nobody in our area was offering anything like this and was looking to drive business our way.”

The $300 million Fort Wayne, Ind.-based credit union, which supports 32,000 members and 10 branches, partnered with Larky in 2019. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based fintech helps financial institutions “proactively connect with their audience in the right place and at the right time,” noted Larky’s Vice President of Growth Scott Brown.

Scott Brown

“Members are making fewer in-branch visits and are less likely to access their accounts through at-home desktops, instead preferring to utilize digital banking services on the go using their mobile devices,” Brown said. “The growing demand for digital convenience has led to many members seeking financial institutions with more advanced digital banking solutions than traditional credit unions.”

It is this desire, Brown explained, that has many credit unions contacting Larky “looking to adopt new technology that will optimize their digital channels for maximum engagement.”

Rice explained that Fort Financial Credit Union integrated Larky’s push notification nudge® solution into its suite of mobile banking apps.

“We didn’t need a dedicated IT resource to implement this. I was the project manager for the online/mobile banking app and integration,” said Rice. “Out of all the vendors, Larky was probably the easiest to work with.”

Brown noted that push notifications enables financial institutions to digitally meet members where they are, “effectively engaging with them on the channels they use” by sending customized messages directly through their mobile banking app. “Push notifications can significantly boost member engagement, earning rates of engagement that are seven times higher than traditional marketing methods.”

Mobile App Integration

Fort Financial Credit Union used Larky’s white label app, and two integrations with mobile banking vendors, Rice explained.

“None of these projects required much time before launch. I’d say from signing to roll out it was maybe three months of work,” he said, adding that the credit union has seven IT employees. “I was heavily involved with the engagement and our vice president of IT [Rob Anderson] was involved when needed. In short, one project manager and one project sponsor.”

Brown further explained that credit unions, by and large, can implement the solution with little in-house IT effort. In some cases, rollout can occur in a few weeks.

“The credit union’s mobile banking provider will do the actual work of integrating the Larky library into the mobile banking app,” he said. “Other than the Larky library being integrated within the mobile application, the product does not tie into any core systems of the credit union itself.” In mid-November 2022, Larky announced full compatibility of its nudge product libraries with both Android 13 and iOS 16.

Over a three-month period, Fort Financial Credit Union’s nudge notifications that were sent to members received an average engagement tap through rate (TTR) of 4.25%, Rice explained. Its distributing business lending campaign messages resulted in TTRs ranging from 15.8% to more than 23%.

Josh Rice

“A series of fall home equity nudge campaign messages garnered tap rates ranging from 11.4% to more than 25%,” he said. “A nudge campaign promoting a new credit card intro offer began with a tap rate of 17.9% and increased to 21.2% after distributing a second nudge.”

Streamlining Member Communication

Rice said the solution allows the credit union to execute both location-based notifications and time-based notifications, which streamlines member communication.

"It has been helpful when looking for potential new loans,” he noted.

The nudge platform, Rice added, presents a great opportunity to reach members with the ability to use member segments and create campaigns.

“We’ve been really using it over the last two to three months now and really think the time-based function of sending nudges is the route we will utilize going forward,” he continued. “I think the reporting aspect is going to continue to improve; over the last week (late November), I have found some reports in our online banking service provider (Lumin) that combined with the reports we get from Larky will be able to retarget members with different marketing campaigns.”

Noting that Larky is a “great company to work with,” Rice has advice for credit union executives looking at a similar offering.

“If you decide to utilize a solution like this, be sure to have the resources available to market the feature and continue to market it,” he said. “Make sure members understand why the software uses their location and have steps on how they can disable it for the members who are more cautious about that kind of thing.”

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