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Case Study

Three select credit unions improve personalization efforts with third-party data enhancement

Team discusses client needs in an office
Case Study

Three select credit unions improve personalization efforts with third-party data enhancement


Sponsored by MDC and Corporate One, Baker Tilly and three select credit unions (Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Alabama Credit Union and Directions Credit Union) conducted a personalization test leveraging third- party data from various social media profiles to enhance existing insights about customer interests and spending habits.

The Baker Tilly approach

The credit unions wanted to execute the personalization test quickly and optimize metrics. After assessing the digital marketing capabilities of each credit union, email was selected as the marketing channel for the credit unions’ campaigns.

Baker Tilly worked with a third-party data vendor previously selected by the participating credit unions to supplement their respective targeted members and prospects. Working within the data set provided by the third-party data vendor, Baker Tilly identified affinity/ interest segments for each of the credit unions. Individuals were divided into the following affinity/interest segments based on details gathered through their social media profiles and on their strongest affinities, interests and expressed spending habits. Collectively, the participating credit unions saw affinity/interest segments aligned to the following:

  • Technology
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Health and Fitness

The credit unions used existing email campaigns not yet in circulation as their control emails for the personalization test, while variations of the existing email campaigns were developed leveraging the third party vendor data to include personalized subject lines, imagery, email content, and calls to action according to their assigned affinity/interest segment. The credit unions built their campaigns within their own branding and marketing guidelines and executed through their respective marketing automation tools.

Once the campaign were executed, members of the credit union marketing teams monitored and reported back with metrics. When the campaigns ended, the Baker Tilly team created an in-depth analysis of each email and campaign.


  • All credit unions saw a 31% - 67% decrease in the bounce back rate and an increase in reach (for both the control emails and third- party vendor data supplemented emails)
  • Improvement in open rates varied significantly across the three credit unions. The third-party vendor data supplemented emails performed significantly better (15%) for one credit union and either slight/no improvement (0.5%) or significantly reduced performance* (-36%) for the other two credit unions.
  • Affinity/interest segments for each credit union performed significantly better (28% - 62%) than the control emails. This highlights variability in “affinity strength” and the importance of selecting a third-party data vendor to identify the best third party data available to drive affinity strength.

* Reduction in performance attributed to invalid A/B testing of subject line, with the control employing pre-approval messaging and the personalized version not maintaining that messaging.


Each credit union was able to see how the third-party data combined with personalization could impact data quality, segmentation efforts, and overall campaign success. The three credit unions concurred that the project:

  • Demonstrated the need for personalization and provided a strategic view of how their personalization efforts could be improved through third-party data
  • Offered a new perspective on how to personalize communications for members using specific data sets, imagery, and language based on member interest and affinities instead of just names or locations
  • Provided a significant amount of impact with a quick turnaround to share with key stakeholders


Each credit union saw the value of using the third-party vendor data to improve their personalization efforts. Moving forward, the three credit unions are committed to:

  • Identifying opportunities to collect enhanced first-party data to leverage in future personalization campaigns
  • Determining what data categories are immediately available and researching third-party vendors that can fill the gaps
  • Developing personas or segments in a way that will allow for adjustments or reassignment as individual member needs change
  • Establishing nurturing campaigns to increase engagement, addressing member and prospect needs over time
  • Using personas or segments to determine product/offering mix for an individual
  • Finding other channels to apply personalization (unsecure/secure site, mailing, social, etc.)

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly specialists can help, contact our team.

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