A credit union website is a combination of features and strategy. Just the features alone, however, won’t ensure that the website is doing what it should for the credit union.
Credit union websites are in a constant struggle to keep up with the big banks. Naturally, the bigger banking counterparts tend to have much larger budgets and more available resources, allowing them to occupy an increasingly robust online presence. Credit unions, for the most part, compete to match that objective on a daily basis. A few actually come out ahead; many maintain their status quo, while some unfortunately fail altogether.
From a marketing perspective, staying competitive on the Web requires savvy and daily dedication to properly representing a credit union’s brand effectively while providing the pertinent information that members need in a usable and appealing format. Many credit union websites fail to do this because they do not have the right tools at their team’s disposal.
Because of the often limited resources available to contribute to a credit union’s website, or because a credit union just has the wrong tools to work with – or both – there is a lot of overlooked potential on the Web for them. Most credit unions are in the situation where they want to do more but don’t know how. Many tools are out there and often make much of the potential obvious and possible. The rest, as a result, is up to a dedicated team at the credit union to pull it off.
Meanwhile, the features a credit union should have depend on its team’s goals and dedication. Most credit union websites benefit from some of the same features such as:
1. Rotating promotions on the homepage. These promotions put the credit union’s current pertinent offerings in the visual forefront.
2. Online banking login on the homepage. This feature gives the member direct access to the information they care about most – their money.
3. Easy access to rates or other frequently viewed content. When users shop for financial institutions, rates usually play a big role in their decision-making process. If a user can’t find them easily, they will leave.
4. Ability to share pages socially. Social sharing allows a credit union to let their members spread the word about the credit union without the credit union itself actually having to have a social strategy.
5. Alerts. Alerts allow the credit union to notify members of important info like online banking maintenance outages, etc.
Most of the mentioned features allow credit unions to promote current offerings, spark discussions about the credit union, and provide exactly what the member is looking for. Features that benefit a credit union’s site users, however, benefit the credit union directly because they create a positive user experience and that directly affects the perception of the brand.
When a user gets the feeling of ease and cohesiveness on the website, they are more likely to do business with the credit union, the interaction leaves a lasting impression, and the credit union wins.
Win #1: Most site visitors come to the credit union’s homepage to log in to online banking, so putting that on the home page allows the credit union’s members to achieve their primary goal quite easily.
Win #2: By providing large promotional messages in conjunction with that login, credit unions have an opportunity to market to those members while they are on their way to banking.
Win #3: Giving easy access to rates and other frequently viewed content also makes it easy for users to find what they came for.
At the end of the day, knowing your members and what they historically have used the website for is obviously vitally important. Making it easy for them to find that information, as well as providing the functions on which they rely, further fosters the credit union and member relationship for continued success on both sides.
The team that controls the website and online marketing at a credit union is really what determines the success of that website. Sure, certain features make it easier for members and potential members to interact with the credit union and do what they came to do on the site. But if the credit union’s team is not on top of what’s happening with their online presence day to day, then features have little impact on the success of the site.
In summary, the success of a credit union website is a combination of features and strategy. Just the features alone won’t do much to ensure that the website is doing what it should for the credit union. A successful site requires a lot of dedication, time, and resources. Buying a website with all the bells and whistles is a great start, and will definitely bring benefits to the credit union and its site users; however, it is only a tool used to implement a strategy that comes from within the marketing brain of the credit union.
Dave Mayette is president/CEO of L9 in Barre, Vt.
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