ORNL Credit Card Campaigns Achieve Sustained Excellence with 63% Overall Balance Growth

ORNL Federal Credit Union of Oak Ridge, TN has grown to $1.5 billion in assets and 32 branches by providing tools to help its 160,000 members "borrow smart and save smarter."

That meant reentering the credit card market in 2008 during the depths of the Great Recession and persevering through the challenges brought about by the CARD Act legislation of 2009 in order to provide stability and liquidity for the Central East Tennessee region.

Beginning in 2011 as the economy rebounded, ORNL worked with Advisors Plus Marketing Services to create and execute a credit card marketing strategy aimed at increasing both membership and balances. ORNL began with turnkey, so-called "structured" direct mail campaigns and made the decision in 2013 to move to completely custom campaigns.

The coordinated elements of those campaigns— from custom-crafted direct mail pieces to personalized underwriting criteria to the development of supporting outbound calling and branch sales support programs—served as a powerful means of bringing departments within ORNL together. Adopting a member-centric approach to credit card marketing broke down silos and inspired the ORNL organization through its philosophy of "empowered portfolio management."

The eight structured and custom direct mail campaigns described in this case study ran between 2011 and 2014 and together accounted for an extraordinary 63% increase in credit card balancesIndividually, the campaigns brought in an average of $507,000 each and generated average balances of $4,345.

All of the campaigns achieved outstanding success with response rates consistently above—and often more than double—both industry and Advisors Plus averages. The custom campaigns posted average response rates of 2.56%.