The best advice for upgrading your website may be the toughest: Learn to view your site through the eyes of your audiences: 1) as if you were a newbie, seeing the site for the first time and with no real understanding of what a credit union is or why it exists, and 2) a seasoned credit union member who just moved to your town or who is considering changing credit unions. What follows are some tips on how to optimize your site for both audiences.
Capturing new user attention
The average new viewer of a website will spend up to 8 seconds on a website before deciding to scroll for more information, or to quit and search elsewhere. If that sounds like an unfair test, think of the many times you have used search for a restaurant, store, software, or vacation spot, and you’ll realize that the 8-second test is real.
To ensure your site meets the test, ensure your site delivers real value right away. Present your “Value Proposition” in 80 words or less, all visible in the first two panels of the site, the “above the fold” area. The Value Proposition lets a visitor know they are on the right site and that you offer a clear and distinct value.
The value proposition should communicate
Who you are: A friendly member-owned organization committed to the welfare of its membership, serving the area in which they live, work, do business, or go to school or church. The value you bring – Categories of products, e.g., checking and savings accounts, personal loans, mortgages & ReFi’s, business loans, college accounts, etc.
What makes you different – Unlike commercial banks, a credit union uses any profits from operations to lower the costs of interest rates and services, allowing free checking, low-cost or no cost money orders, and other value-adds.
In the Value Proposition and throughout the site, maintain a consistent friendly tone. Since credit unions offer members a high-touch, localized experience, the website should reflect that experience: personalized communications (we, you, our, your) and clear, straightforward copy describing products, services, and operations.
User-friendly Navigation: One simple rule – fast and easy. Sure, your visitor can go up to the main menu and click, but that action breaks the visitor’s concentration. For example, you claim that a credit union is a better deal than a commercial bank, which begs the question: how are you better? While you don’t need to supply the whole song and dance to every claim at the time you make it, you can aid the visitor by supplying a hyperlink to your FAQ or blog that provides the long-form answer. Another way to address the need to immediately provide details is with a CTA right below the paragraph where you make a claim. Either way, your inclusion of access to detailed information strengthens your brand, telegraphing that as a credit union you are transparent about how you operate, and that you are dedicated to a providing financial education to your membership.
Engaging with existing credit union members
The website is a powerful platform for maintaining a healthy relationship with members. The copy and navigation attributes important to prospective members are just as important for your existing membership, especially when they are dedicated to a lifecycle narrative, one that recognizes where your members are in their financial journey through life.
A good credit union adapts its marketing outreach to the age and stage of life of its membership. Your membership may include a member who joined as a teenager, opening his or her first checking account – no doubt, under the tutelage of parents. That same member goes to college and/or a job and applies for a car loan – a challenging time emotionally and financially. Eventually, he or she will apply for a home loan and maybe even a business loan.
An older member has a completely different set of needs including a new, larger home or an empty-nester’s smaller home, ReFi’s for home makeovers, business financing, college and retirement funds, and vacation funds.
The credit union can use its demographic profiles to reach out to these members with messaging about the credit union’s products and services that is customized to their stage in life. Messaging should continue to hammer home how the credit union is a smarter financial choice than a commercial bank.
Educate your members
Just like good navigation makes a member’s life easier, so does good information. For product explanatory paragraphs, FAQ page, blogs, and other marketing outreach, use the same straightforward, conversational tone you established in the Value Proposition. Wherever possible, treat each subject as a “How-To” – practical advice on how to decide and the steps the member needs to take. If you have the resources, use video and graphics to create an interactive experience. And always make it clear that the member can contact the credit union at any time for a walk-through.
Use surveys to gauge how effectively you are educating your membership and to identify where you need to provide more education – this will supply tips for your website and your marketing team outreach.
Good practices boost search rankings
Providing hyperlinks and educational and Help content boosts the education and confidence of your members. It will also boost your credit union’s SEO ranking for organic search, which is critical for new member recruitment.
There are some elements of search optimization that go beyond solid information presented well – hyperlinks and website coding protocols also play a part. Few credit union marketing teams have this expertise in-house, but there are quality third-party resources available near your town. Assume that the initial work will be extensive, then set up a relationship where your SEO contractor does a look-see every quarter.
A great website boosts your team, too
While the marketing team is obsessing over measurements of the updated site’s progress – visits, pages visited, time on site, new members, and other metrics – your credit union’s sales and service team should also notice an uptick in their experiences with new and existing customers.