In today’s market, credit unions are enjoying renewed popularity among consumers due to their membership-driven policies, personal service, and local community ties. Many people are drawn to these features of their local credit unions and are starting with research on the web.
For this reason, progressive credit unions must capture the attention of these researchers with a compelling online story via a modern corporate website (for example, see what we did for Elements).
Simple, Familiar Design
Your current customers and prospective customers judge your website in less than a blink of an eye. Yet, many credit unions still utilize outdated websites with poor design and awkward usability.
Take this study from Google on how users decide whether or not they like a website:
"Results show that both visual complexity and prototypicality [i.e., familiarity] play crucial roles in the process of forming an aesthetic judgment. It happens within incredibly short timeframes between 17 and 50 milliseconds. By comparison, the average blink of an eye takes 100 to 400 milliseconds."
The study finds that users strongly prefer website designs that look both simple and familiar.
Simple and familiar is not as easy to execute as it sounds, especially in the complex world of banking. Credit union websites are often complicated, cluttered, and hard to navigate—a frustrating user experience and one that will turn off customers right away.
Your customers are making decisions about where they put their money. Who will they trust? Strong design communicates trustworthiness, credibility, and more—in those first crucial milliseconds.
Meeting Mobile Demand
A modern credit union website should utilize responsive design so your visitors can get the information they need quickly and easily from desktop, tablet, and smartphone. If your credit union's website is not responsive, you're likely leaving business on the table.
Many credit unions now offer mobile banking apps, as well. These apps are separate from your responsive website, which should look amazing on a mobile device, A responsive website doesn't offer a good user experience when it comes to mobile banking functions, like online bill pay and transfers—which is why users expect a separate banking app.
In this example, Salin Bank offers a smooth mobile experience, with a prompt to download their mobile banking app.
Social Media Advertising
Credit unions have recognized the value of social media, but many have not developed integrated multichannel strategies for paid social. Rather than using their website to capture visitors and then remarket to them on Facebook, for example, they have prospect "silos" where visitors and leads are not tracked across channels.
Leveraging paid social advertising is the only way to ensure your presence on social media will pay off. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social platforms are the most significant and fastest-growing advertising platforms of our time. If you're not amplifying your brand on social you are losing ground to your competition. Apply the power of remarketing, advanced demographic and financial profiling, custom audiences, sales funnel, video marketing and engagement tracking to reach prospective customers who need your help.
Start with a small budget for paid social media, experiment, and grow it. This Facebook Ad primer is a good place for beginners to start.
When consumers are researching your credit union online, makes it easy for them to find rates. Keep in mind that your rates do not have to be the best. If you post your rates clearly and your competition keeps it a secret, you will create more trust in prospective customers because you are giving them an easy path to information, which increases their comfort level.
Online Registration for Seminars/Webinars
Being very member-focused, credit unions are in a great position to offer educational seminars to their customers. Make it easy for people to sign up for these events via your website. Also consider conducting webinars to allow your customers and prospective customers to learn valuable financial information by participating from their computers over the Internet.
The underlying foundation of all these other tools is content. On the web, content must be clear, concise, and logical. Follow the inverted pyramid rule and keep it simple. Make sure your content is written by a professional to ensure that website visitors feel a sense of trust and credibility as they research your credit union.
As member-focused financial organizations that value education and community, credit unions are in a unique position to connect with customers using web tools like never before.
Usability, Structure & SEO
Credit union websites should pay close attention to common usability norms. Navigation should be in logical places, nav items should use common naming conventions, and sectional or sub-navs should be well-structured. Over and over, organizations are finding that “About Us” and “Contact Us” are the two most popular menu items that website visitors click on. Don’t deviate from common conventions like these.
An employee of ours recently had an extremely frustrating experience with her credit union website (and we won't name names, but this provides a good example of what not to do). She was searching on her phone to find branch hours on a Saturday. The branch locations were buried in the footer and hard to find on mobile. She couldn't find the hours at all and she abandoned the website. Her answers came when she went back to Google and the hours appeared in the Google Locations area.
After a little investigation, we found that the website was in fact structured well, the branch locations and hours were easy to find on a desktop, but not easy to find on mobile.
Unfortunately, that's exactly where they should be easiest to find because users are searching for that information on their phones while they are out and about.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) sets standards for state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation to ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to enjoy reasonable access to services provided by these entities.
The ADA extends to websites, as well. Currently, a number of banks and credit unions are receiving notices from law firms targeting them for alleged ADA compliance violation. Putting aside personal opinions about the ethics and "good business" of this practice, it's a very real concern for financial institutions. We've seen numerous banks and credit unions scramble to meet compliance standards by retro-fitting their older websites and attempting to fix issues as they pop up with limited success.
It can be stressful for marketing directors and legal counsel to deal with ADA issues and it's going to become a greater concern over time as law firms continue to target financial institutions. Read our full length post about how to make sure your website is ADA compliant here.
Your credit union's website is the home base and the information repository for everything that you want to communicate to your market. Your customers should be able to pull up the information they need without any friction. The tension for most banks and credit unions is between making a website that is easy for customers to use on a daily basis and to market products and services to potential customers. Between security needs, compliance issues, third-party platform integration issues, and usability issues, it helps to have experienced designers and marketers who understand the financial industry and the particular needs of credit union websites. Let us know how we can help you today.