The BA Group
August 6, 2021
It’s Never Too Early To Be Prepared
As we saw in early 2020 when, one by one, states issued stay-at-home orders shutting down all non-essential businesses, credit unions remained open in some capacity as an essential business. Some shut down lobbies, some employed an appointment-only strategy, and most implemented strict cleaning and safety protocols to protect members. Days were long and filled with lots of phone calls, helping members navigate this uncharted territory.
As a credit union, it’s simple to become so focused on the members you see walking into the lobby and to overlook the ones that aren’t. As the COVID variants are threatening to cause further disruption to our lives, it’s imperative that your website have a strong presence.
The businesses and credit unions that persevered during the COVID-19 shutdowns—a time that crippled the economy for months to come—were the ones that were already positioned to serve their customers and members online. These prepared businesses got to the other side stronger than ever.
So, what can a credit union do now to ensure that they are ready to serve their members during the next national crisis?
Look At Your Website
No, really look at it—from a member’s perspective. If YOU were a member, would your credit union site compel you to act?
- Be Available Ensure everything you offer to your members is represented and easy to find. A unique product or service? Talk about it! A member benefit? Let them know! Be sure you have a search box as well—make their visit as simple as you can. Try it yourself so you are certain what visitors are seeing is exactly what you want them to see. If not, it’s time to re-look at your content.
- Be Organized Check your navigation. Is everything organized in such a way that a visitor does not have to click more than once to get there? A good rule of thumb is that you have 7 seconds to capture a visitor. If they can’t find what they need in that timeframe, they will likely move on—maybe to your competitor.
- Be Branded Does your website make a good first impression and does it represent your brand? Removing old content, freshening up your home page and diversifying your images go a long way. Clip art? Kiss it goodbye. Also check for typos and broken links—small details like that are important, especially when members expect trust, confidence, and accuracy from their financial institution.
- Be Clear Most importantly, does every single product and service have a clear call to action? Keep in mind that if someone is visiting you online, they likely want to do business online. So, if you are asking them to come into a branch or call as your call to action, there is a disconnect and you might- lose them. Instead, invest in technology so members can open accounts or loans online, or as a last resort, set up contact forms for them to be able to reach you.
Harness The Power Of Google
When someone searches “credit unions near me”, is your credit union within the Google My Business and organic search results? It should be.
Ensure that your Google My Business listing has all your locations, and keep it updated, especially with your hours and phone number. The few minutes that it takes to set up these listings can help grow your local exposure greatly—don't miss out.
This free listing also allows people to rate your credit union online, and for you—the credit union—to be able to reply to those reviews. And in this competitive age, who doesn’t love getting 5-star reviews for the world to see?! The extra benefits to your free Google listing are great—maybe you’ll even get some new members who just moved nearby or who like to use your ATM!
Additionally, maintaining (or implementing) SEO best practices is critical, as ensuring your site is optimized for search engine (Google) crawls is how your site will get organically recognized. Ensure your links are functioning, keywords are monitored and optimized, page load times good, alternative, and meta tags are accurate.
Key take-a-way? Make it easy for your members and search engines to find you!
During the COVID-19 shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, some credit unions went dark, while others shifted their marketing from a sales focus to a service and education mentality, asking themselves how they could best help members during this time. Your credit union’s messaging and communication channels need to be adaptable to changing circumstances, so what should you do?
- Prioritize Ensure your sites homepage and banner ads reflect your members priorities. Fluff is fun; however you need to showcase what is essential and timely-stick to the important things.
- Educate Facing branch closures? Ensure your members have a full understanding of your online mobile banking systems. This will not only help your members adjust to doing business online, but your call center staff as well!
- Monitor Make sure your social platforms are monitored and social responders are up to speed on your credit union’s capabilities and policies. Facebook chat became a primary communication channel for many of our client’s members, looking for everything from how they could conduct remote transactions to branch operations to COVID assistance.
- Employ Be sure to use all communication tools you have effectively. Whether your on-hold system, email, or social media channels, be sure to address and employ best practices in all of them.
- Articulate Keep your messaging consistent across all channels- social, email, on-hold, direct mail, and other channels should have a clear, coherent, and consistent message.
Communicating clearly and consistently is never more important than during times of unease. Providing assurance and the tools to make your members feel comfortable and confident that no matter where they are, their credit union has their back, and their financial life won’t miss a beat.
Also, Keep Marketing
Just keeping your credit union open and functioning isn’t enough, you still need memberships and loans coming in. Some of our credit unions loan portfolios saw big jumps in loan volume during the past 18 months, thanks to timely and strategic marketing efforts. What can you do to make that happen?
- Focus Get to the point and consider using conversion focused marketing channels like SEM (Google and Microsoft Ads). Be there when searchers are looking for a loan.
- Optimize Monitor and optimize your keywords, ad content, budgets, and landing pages.
- Measure & Adjust Confirm your advertising settings are converting (bringing in loans), if not, adjust fire!
- Continue Your loans are up, great! Now keep going! Keep your marketing momentum moving is critical, you can’t afford to vacate your spot in the market, keep it and grow it!
The credit unions that were able to implement their marketing efforts kept on making loans and growing, by being aware, prepared, and present. Being able to implement and adapt your digital strategy to changing circumstances is much easier if your credit union is already set up with strong digital presence and capabilities.
Don't adopt a “wait and see” approach to address your online presence and marketing capabilities. While your credit union may never move to an all-online model, your members are moving in that direction, conducting their lives through the internet is becoming a habit rather than a novelty. Online consumer services from grocery delivery, ecommerce to financial services are showing no signs of slowing down.
So put together a plan for your online presence now. You never know when you may have to implement it, but you’ll sure be glad when you’re ready!
Need help preparing your CU marketing?
Contact our marketing team today!