Marketing Your Credit Card Program: A Community Bank in Alabama Weighs In

Ecommerce credit card spend is expected to surpass $500 billion in 2022 for the first time, according to Community bank marketers will need to be strategic in their outreach efforts, however, if they hope to capture a piece of the pie.

“You do have to market your card program in some way,” said Dawn Cherry, chief analytics officer at CB&S Bank, a $2.4 billion-asset bank in Russellville, Ala. “It’s not a one-time marketing effort. You’ve got to be top of mind when somebody’s in play for that piece of credit.”

For Cherry, card marketing centers on three key channels: in-branch referrals, free Visa resources through ICBA Bancard, and leveraging FIS PaymentsEdge Marketing Services. The combination of these three initiatives has led the bank to strong returns across its portfolio. In fact, from June 2021 to June 2022, these efforts yielded a 19 percent increase in card holders, 49 percent growth in interchange income, and a revenue bump of 50 percent.

In-Branch Referrals

CB&S offers a referral program to in-branch staff to promote the bank’s card offerings. In addition, CB&S has invested in a dedicated credit card officer to tackle program support.

“I handle the vendor relationship with FIS and ICBA Bancard. Then, our credit card officer manages the leads that come in,” Cherry explained. “So, we have a nice balancing act where she’s in on those daily activities, and if anything needs to be escalated, it comes to me.”

Visa Marketing Programs through ICBA Bancard

Cherry also leverages marketing programs offered through ICBA Bancard’s affiliation with Visa, which provide additional resources and incentives tied to account acquisition. These turnkey, professionally produced materials are free for ICBA Bancard client banks and can be rolled out quickly.


Cherry also takes advantage of FIS’ PaymentsEdge program. Through a credit usage and retention biannual campaign, a credit incentive campaign twice per year, and ongoing acquisition and line increase efforts, the bank has delivered its strongest program increases.

“The bulk of our marketing comes from the PaymentsEdge campaigns,” Cherry reported. “The strategy is wrapped around the consistency of having that calendar laid out. We’ve seen the needle move.”

ICBA Bancard Resources

For community bankers who want to market their program, but are unsure where to begin, ICBA Bancard offers a Marketing Resource Center on its website that encompasses everything from a marketing manual and statement inserts to tips on increasing activation rates, stimulating usage, and encouraging retention. Beyond those tools, bankers should not underestimate the importance of messaging around the relationship banking model.

“There are all of these perks out there right now, and customers ask, ‘Why do I need CB&S’ card?’ You have to hang your hat on ‘Because we’re your local bank and we’re here to help you,’” said Cherry. “That is your selling point, your local service.”

Colleen F. Morrison is principal at CFM Communications.