For any credit union, the website is one of the most important branches. Physical branches may be important but it is through the websites that members interact with each other on a daily basis. This is especially true today when there are more members who are more technologically dependent; there will be more user interaction on your website.
Figures do not lie. A report by the American Bankers Association
revealed that 62 percent of adults prefer online banking. Even 57 percent of the baby boomers have reported that they would rather go for an online experience, instead of going to an ATM or a branch. As for the 81 percent of them were reported to have utilized online banking in the past year, according to Pew Research Center. This is equivalent to 63 million Americans who are using websites in order to gain access to their financial institutions.
When talking about websites, smartphones and tablets should also be taken into consideration because an increasing number of consumers is using mobile banking through smartphone apps. So what does this mean for credit unions? A well-designed credit union website allows members to easily open an account, submit a loan application, check their balance for their checking, savings accounts, transfer funds, shop for products and pay bills. Because mobile banking options made everything convenient for the members, the number of members who visit a branch eventually declined. But with this drop is an opportunity for you to further build the loyalty of your members and cross-sell products and services. The entire team in your credit union should take part in promoting your website. But what you must remember is that your website should have more than just a pretty design. And even if you have developed your website just a couple of months ago or probably many years ago, it is important for you to find ways on how you can improve it. You will be surprised at how much impact your website will have on your credit union.
If your credit union has grown over the years, it is time for your website to have a content overhaul. You might be ready for a website redesign and rebrand your organization’s image. The entire redesign process may vary per credit union but your ultimate goal should remain the same and that is to work for a creative brief for your credit union.
Here are some ways for you to improve and re-create your website that you need to implement to make you a marketing rockstar:
1. Initial research and objectives
Your preliminary research will be your guide on your decisions on how you want to actually redesign your website. You must have a vision of how you want your new website to look like. If you have your web designer, give them the sense of this vision. If you have inspirations from other websites, show them those things. This step is important because this is the very first step that will give your designers the ability to understand and execute your creative brief. With your initial research, you will also be able to formulate the goals for your website and the things you want it to achieve. Determine the increase you want to achieve when it comes to user registration. You must also look into maximizing your website’s visibility and eventually aim for an increase in the number of additional users who will sign up for your credit union company. When you plan for your objective, you have to make sure that these goals are measurable and quantifiable.
As you make plans for your redesign, identify the keywords that will bring more traffic to your website so that you will be able to know how you can integrate and incorporate them later on. Also, you might want to take note of any existing assets on your current website which you might want to revamp or migrate to your new site.
2. Go back to your purpose
In order to make your website a great one, you must go back to the very purpose of your site. You need to realize why you are doing it, what your goals are, what you want to accomplish. Being clear about the purpose of your website will give you clarity with the direction to keep your project guided towards a goal.
When you define your goals, you also have to make sure that you do not only resort to featuring a lot of things like making your website responsive. You have to dig into a deeper purpose apart from the features because features are just methods or means to be able to accomplish goals, and they are not the end goals themselves. Looking beyond your website’s features is a crucial aspect in identifying your purpose because while you can meet your goal of making your website responsive, it does not necessarily mean that it will translate to your ultimate goal of persuading more members to be part of your credit union members.
3. Create a strategy
After you have identified your purpose, you have to think about how you are going to make it happen and how you will achieve your end goal. This is where your strategy comes in. It is your strategy that will realize your plans and your purpose. One of the most effective ways
is by putting yourself in the shoes of the user because this user-experience strategy is what’s going to help you produce award winning designs. If there would be one question that you need to ask when you are re-designing your website, it should be “what is the best for user experience?”
But of course, before you can even appeal to your target audience, you need to be able to identify who these people are. And one helpful method you can do is to develop personas that will represent your credit union website’s primary visitors. This way, you will be able to make sure that your organization will appeal and engage your target audience.
4. Consider mobile responsiveness
You should know by now that this is the era of smartphones and tablets so you have to make sure that your website will work on these devices. A significant percentage of website sessions are coming from mobile devices, and in the years to come, the number is expected to increase. Mobile experiences should be simple and this is the kind of experience you need to create for your members. Check your website here
5. Initial research and objectives
Your preliminary research will be your guide on your decisions on how you want to actually redesign your website. You must have a vision on how you want your new website to look. If you have your web designer, give them the sense of this vision. If you have inspirations from other websites, show them those things. This step is important because this is the very first step that will give your designers the ability to understand and execute your creative brief. With your initial research, you will also be able to formulate the goals for your website and the things you want it to achieve. Determine the increase you want to achieve when it comes to user registration. You must also look into maximizing your website’s visibility and eventually aim for an increase in the number of additional users who will sign up for your credit union. When you plan your objective, you have to make sure that these goals are measurable and quantifiable.
6. Redesign process
When it comes to redesigning, you need to be working with your web designer and learn more about what you need to expect from the process. You do not need a complex and complicated design. You just need a simple one which you can make the most for your project. The most important thing here is that your design should still be able to carry out your objectives. Once you are able to come up with your new design, you should be able to look at it from your end user’s perspective. If there are any changes you would like to be implemented, you should be able to communicate these changes to your designer. But you have to remember that the changes you want to be applied should still be aligned with your goals for redesigning and enhancing your credit union website. These changes should not only improve your experience with the site but should aim to improve the user’s experience.
7. Make your website gorgeous and attractive
Today, one of the very first places many people go to when it comes to finding information is the internet which is why it is important for you to leave a good impression the moment people see your website. The design and the look of your website will determine how most people will feel about your credit union. If people see a terrible design and immediately leave the site, it will affect your bounce rate. And a high bounce rate is an indication that visitors do not like what they see. Your goal with your website design is to make people think that you are a top-notch and professional credit union.
Here are some principles that will help you improve the design of your website:
- Authentic looking photos. It is always better to choose photos where the subjects do not necessarily pose. Candid shots are a better idea.
- Big and emotional images. As humans, we are naturally drawn and engaged by images because most of the information we take in about the world around us is based on visual information. You should also reach out through emotions because it drives more actions than logic.
- Photos of people. While not every photo on your website should have images of people, having pictures of people on a majority of the images on your site is better and more attractive.
- Full width content. If you have full-width content, you can maximize and make your images bigger and more engaging. A website that is not full-width is already ancient for the internet.
- Attractive fonts. Fonts are important in the branding of your image and choosing the right and appropriate fonts is essential. You should pick attractive fonts that will match the logo of your brand as well as align with the message of your organization. If you have good web designers, they should know how to select the fonts that integrate best with your brand.
- Generous spacing. A good looking website must use space generously instead of trying to put in all the content in a small space. You can go ahead and spread out your content so that users can just scroll.
- Simplicity. If there is any principle that you need to bear in mind when it comes to design, it will be “less is more”. Keep your website simple, yet attractive and organized. You also do not need a lot of overwhelming messages. Instead, stick to short but targeted and quality message to deliver.
8. Simple navigation.
The function and the structure of your website is determined by its navigation, and it is not only limited to the drop down menu but includes the steps that will guide the users as they explore your website. If there is anyone who would like to sign up for membership, you should make the process easier for them and make it possible with just a few clicks. If the visitors on your website find it hard to search what they are looking for, it could be more frustrating to them and it could be an indication that the navigation has failed. Website users should not have to take too many clicks in order to get where they want to go.
When improving your navigation, you should go back to every piece of content that you need to exist on your website, then you can go ahead and organize them into categories, subcategories, and pages.
9. Powerful, yet easy to use content management system (CMS)
In order to improve your website, you constantly need to add or edit content to your websites by including promotional text and graphics, rate updates, some news items, notifications and alerts, blog posts and many others. You should make sure that you have the full control over your website because there are just so many things that you need to update. This is also another reason why you need to choose a simple and powerful content management system to make your job a lot faster and better. There are plenty of CMSs that are easy to use which will allow you to easily make changes to your website.
10. Content strategy
One of the most important goals of a credit union website is to encourage and persuade action, and in order for you to do that, you will need these elements.
- Brand statements. You need to make a clear statement explaining what you do and what makes your credit union special and what makes it different. It should be somewhat similar to products and services page which explains what they have to offer and why it is special.
- Benefit statements. With brand statements, you make people realize that what you do and what makes your credit union special will benefit them in one way or another. Benefits are not necessarily just pertaining to financial profit. They are not entirely about features and advantages but rather a distinctive aspect or attribute of something. The benefits are what’s going to motivate people to take an action. Benefits are very powerful tools.
- Evidence. You need to have a proof that your information are credible and that your benefit are true through testimonials, statistics, examples and stories.
- Calls to action. This is the ultimate purpose of your website. That is to get people to take an action. What do you really want them to do? This is where the conversion journey begins. Think about the most appropriate call to action for the user based on where they currently are in their journey.
11. Lead capture
It is important for you to be able to capture your visitor’s name, as well as their contact information; otherwise, they will be a ghost to you. You must know what they are, the things that they care about, how you can contact and communicate with them and how you can help them. Always give the ones who are interested in becoming members of your credit union and the opportunity to connect with you.
Make it simple, just ask for their name and for their email address. Refrain from asking too much information. And that will be the first step, you will now be able to communicate with them via email. What’s important is that you now have a way or communicating with leads where you can go ahead and ask for more information. Also aside from sending leads to their email address, or leaving them in your CMS, it will help if you use a good customer relationship management system or CRM.
12. Google Analytics
Analytics are very powerful because they are the ones that make digital marketing more quantifiable compared to other types of marketing. When you use website analytics, you will be able to extract the most important details you need including the number of people who have visited your website, the length of the time that they have stayed, the pages that they have visited and the number of people who responded and accepted your invitations. You must take advantage of Google Analytics because it is free and is easy to set up. It can also give all the data you need.
13. Google Tag Manager
When you use Google Tag Manager for your website, you will be able to save a lot of time because you will no longer have to install the codes that you need individually. With the Google Tag Manager, what you will have to install is just one single snippet on your website. And when there is a need for you to add another code, you can just go ahead and add more snippets using the Tag Manager.
14. Final touches for your website
Before finally launching your website, there are a few things that you must consider. One of these is the website’s overall functionality. You need to check if everything in the website is already working, including the links, checking if the content is accurate and if the videos and images are loading. You also need to review if you have achieved the changes that you have wanted from the beginning. Check the URL addresses too as they may still be leading the users to the old ones. And more importantly, you must have a backup so that you can recover everything you worked hard for in case something goes wrong during the launch. As soon as you have made sure that your site is completely functional and ready to use, this might already be the best time for you to launch it. The benefit of pre-launch testing is that you will be able to do a spot-check on the things that work and the things that do not work. This will help you see if there are last minute changes that you need to implement.
If there is the best time for you to launch your website, it should be during a time when you expect the least traffic, in contrary to the belief of most people. This way, you can work out on any changes or error corrections with very minimal damages.
After the launch, take the time to evaluate the success of your credit union website’s new design. Check if you have achieved the goals you have set during your research phase. If you need to tweak some aspects of your new design, go ahead and do so, if that’s what it takes for you to meet your objectives.
Other must-haves to enhance your credit union website:
CRM & Lead Nurturing
or Customer Relationship Management System is not necessarily part of your website but it is integrated with your site. The CRM is what’s holding the data about the those who use your website so that you can nurture leads. You need to nurture because that is how you can persuade people to take actions. CRM will allow you to send targeted emails, postcards, text messages, heads up messages and many others.
SEO or Search engine optimization
When people try to search for information on the internet, the very first place they visit is Google, and what you can do so that your website can be easily found by Google is by doing search engine optimization
(SEO). SEO can be classified as onsite or offsite. Onsite SEO refers to the optimization of your web pages so that Google understands what your website is for based on the content of the site. Offsite SEO is the one wherein links are being taken from other relevant websites. When Google identifies other sites that link to your website, that means your website is credible.
SEO is important because people will easily your website in Google. If your SEO is effective, your site will rise in search rankings. You also have to pay attention to your monthly reports but remember that this is a long-term strategy so you may not be able to see the results in an instant.
Videos are one way for you to get more users engaged in your content because this is one of the best ways for you to tell a story. Make sure the videos you upload are of good quality and are not painful to watch; otherwise, it will only hurt your brand.
Most of the today’s Internet users are using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and these users are usually reading blogs. For credit unions, they should be able to take advantage and maximize the use of social media by creating some sort of a promotion for the social media.
All credit union websites must have a blog, so if you do not have it yet on your website, you must start featuring a blog. When you post blogs, you make your credit union authoritative and credible because you will be known as a trusted advisor to your members. Blogging will also help boost your search engine rankings.
Up- to-date rates
Posting your rates online helps you create more trust among your members, and even in your prospective members. Even if your rates are not the best rates, the most important thing is that you are posting them clearly and you are being transparent.
Here are some extra technologies you can add to further enhance your website:
Personalized, and dynamic content
If there is one thing that is common among many websites, it is the fact that everyone shows almost the same content. And that is why yours will have to be different, and the only way for you to make it happen is by personalizing your content. When you personalize, the content of your website should dynamically change based on the information collected from your website visitor.
- Artificial intelligence. Today, websites are getting more sophisticated. They look like digital brochures that people browse through especially when they need a good source of information. Your websites are useful because they get to know more about your credit union wherever they are. But, have you thought about something that will make your website more memorable? It is when you make your website alive and as to how you can do that, you can use artificial intelligence to talk with your website visitors and users. Use the technology to make a better and memorable experience for the users by providing them the help they need when they are looking for something. You have to believe at how far technology can take you.
- Virtual reality and 3d experience. In the advent of the internet, everything started in two dimensional which means all web content can be measured in length and width, but they have no depth. But with the progress of technology, the 3D format will now be possible. Soon enough web pages can be replaced with 3D experiences because of the natural progression for the internet.
Virtual reality and 3D have actually been around for many years now but they have been present in the form of video games, but now, people can get to experience 3D by just going online on the internet. There will be no need to get into a gaming system as you will only need a browser, especially now where everyone practically uses mobile phones and smart devices. If you are wondering how 3D can be useful to your website, you can make use of this strategy in creating videos, especially 360-degree videos where you can make the user feel as if they are part of the scene.