Webinar Recap - Cracking the Code: Reimagining Credit Union Websites to Attract and Retain Members

Ralph Otto author photo
Ralph Otto Director of Product
Digital Marketing

In a digital landscape with innovation and consumer-led trends, standing out as a credit union can be both a complex challenge and an invigorating opportunity. Recently, we hosted a webinar titled “Reimagining Credit Union Websites to Attract and Retain Members” that addressed the evolving role of credit union websites in member attraction and retention.

In the webinar, we explored the consumer expectations and digital benchmarks for success that are essential for credit union websites to thrive. Focusing on practical steps and forward-thinking strategies, we tackled the complexities of website design, user experience, and online visibility that are crucial for credit unions. To empower marketers with the tools they need for success, we included several free resources available for use online, explicitly tailored to enhancing the digital presence of credit unions. 

If you watch our webinar or read the transcript, please let us know if you have any questions.

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Webinar Transcript

Ralph Otto (he, him) (04:24): Hey, welcome everyone. We’re going to give folks about one more minute to join.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (05:11): All right, I think we’ll go ahead and get started. Good afternoon, or good morning, depending on where you are joining us from. First off, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to join us. We promise to make it a good use of your time and furthermore to leave you with some really actionable steps that you can take as credit union marketers that we know will really go a long way and elevating your digital presence. Before we dive in, we’ll start off with who we are. We’re COLAB, a digital agency based in Richmond, Virginia that designs and builds custom websites that really empower marketers and are built to evolve over time and iterate on over time.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (05:51): We’ve developed a really specific expertise over the last 15 years in credit union marketing with a very nuanced understanding of marketers needs, how credit unions are structured, how they grow, how they retain members over time. And I’m Morgan Witham. I’m the CEO at COLAB. I’ve been here since 2018 after twelve years investment banking, specifically mergers and acquisitions. And my focus at COLAB is vision, setting, strategy, development and implementation. Really a cross functional kind of view of the agency and coaching and developing of our team. I also spend a good portion of my time on the financial stability of the agency as well as business development. And I’ll hand it over to my coworker, Ralph.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (06:39): Hello, I’m Ralph Otto. I’m the co lab’s director of product. I’ve been here for about 14 years working at COLAB, where I’ve played just about every role in the project team. I’m now responsible largely for the company’s innovation.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (06:52): Great. So let’s dive in. Here’s what we have teed up for today. First, we’re going to discuss the current landscape of digital, specifically regarding consumer expectations of financial institutions. So how those expectations are set and what they look like. Second, we’re going to review what a great credit union website looks like and what that entails. So you know the benchmarks for success really specifically. Lastly, we’ll cover some tools and topics that you can apply some immediately to improve your digital reach and the impact that your website can have on the credit union’s growth, your credit union’s growth. So we’ll also save some time at the end for some questions.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (07:33): So please do, if you have any questions as we go, drop them in the q and a feature at any time and we will get to as many of those that we can at the end. So let’s start with the current landscape. There’s really a wide range of old and new entrants that are competing for your members. Traditional banks, both large and small, are a known entity. In a lot of cases. The large banks in particular are really able to put extensive capital towards digital innovation, product development, and they also benefit from strong brand reputation, which as a result translates into a perceived sense of stability and security. Then we have fintech. Companies like chime and upstart are a couple examples that are really agile. They offer innovative and user friendly digital solutions.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (08:22): Online only banks is kind of a third category that we look at. So like Ally and SoFi, which really leverage low overhead costs and very effective digital first. So they’re very prominent in their digital first solutions. And then we have other credit unions, which in this digital age, and certainly I would say post pandemic this has been the trend means credit unions aren’t always restricted to a certain geographic area. So you may be competing with more credit unions than you were ten or even five years ago. And the key point with this slide really being one of the biggest impacts of the competitive landscape right now that it has on how credit unions think about technology and marketing in the future, is that your consumers expectations for digital experiences are set by organizations that put extensive capital towards digital.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (09:12): So that means that prospective members that are on your website are comparing not only your rates, but consciously or subconsciously, also comparing your digital experience. And sometimes that means comparing it to much larger financial institutions. This is amplified by the fact that financial institutions on a whole are investing less in brick and mortar branches than they have in the past. So the rise in digital banking, consumer preferences favor digital interactions, especially among the younger demographic, which we’ll talk a little bit about in today’s discussion as well. And cost considerations are all driving a reallocation of resources toward digital offerings. So let’s pivot and talk a little bit about some of the barriers, and I think some of these are perceived, some real, that credit unions may face when they’re trying to attract new members. So first up, limited geographic accessibility.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (10:02): Big banks have a vast network of branches and ATM’s nationwide, and that can provide easy account access and transactions from anywhere. Second, comprehensive financial services. So oftentimes, larger financial institutions have a wider variety of loans, investments, insurance products, and they can serve a really broad range of customers financial needs. Advanced technology and large innovation budgets is another. So big banks, fintech companies, some of the competitors that we talked about, a few slides earlier have significant investments in budget allocations for online mobile niche banking, and they can create and offer innovative technology that aren’t always accessible to credit union budgets. Next up, global banking services. So support for international travel and transactions, especially for some of the large international or global banks and services that include things like foreign exchange, international wires.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (11:03): And then last up, something that we often see are the extended hours in customer service. So many of the larger financial institutions can offer full service banking outside of traditional hours, providing 24/7 customer service and oftentimes across a variety of channels. So not only chat or only call center, but kind of a ubiquitous way that they can show up for customer service. And that’s not always the case for some credit unions. So what this doesn’t mean is that you have to put millions of dollars into your website to be attractive to consumers who have those expectations of your website or your institution. But it does mean that you need to be really intentional about the digital experience that you provide. And one of the areas where we see a lot of success in credit union websites is when they really lean into those advantages.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (11:52): So credit unions are not for profit, they’re member owned organizations. They often have lower fees, better interest rates, they have a really clear member focus, which means customer service is often very top notch and often highly personalized. Community involvement is a really important key attribute of credit unions. As they strive to be more embedded in their communities and where they serve, they really value inclusivity. So for example, all members have a say in their credit unions governance. Oftentimes they have the ability to vote on the board of directors, regardless of the size of their deposits. And many credit unions have a mission to serve those who don’t always have access to traditional banking services.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (12:36): And lastly, and there’s definitely an important website component of this, a lot of credit unions offer educational resources and financial counseling or coaching because there’s really an intent to help their members make informed financial decisions and educate them along the way. And what we have found in our experience of over 15 years of working with credit unions is that credit union websites that really lean into those advantages are very successful in not only attracting and converting new members, but also retaining existing members over time. So in this next section, Ralph is going to dig into some of the key components of an excellent online experience for credit unions.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (13:17): And our goal is to paint a clear picture of what you, the visionary marketer at your credit union, can use as a benchmark for success as you consider and prioritize what needs to change on your credit union’s website. So Ralph, I’ll let you take it from here, okay?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (13:36): The broadest stroke for describing success is really a seamless, intuitive and comprehensive online experience. We’re going to break this down a little bit into more specific benchmarks for what we see success as. While I probably don’t need to remind this group, there’s a very real impact that the user experience can have on your credit union. Almost 90% of users are less likely to return to the site after having a poor user experience. So let’s paint a picture of what that good looks like. So first up, one thing that is incredibly important is just making it easy. Your website should be intuitive. That means that it should be easy to navigate with the user friendly interface that allows members and non members to quickly find what they’re looking for.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (14:27): And this process really starts with examining the information architecture, or IA, which refers to the structure, organization and labeling of content. And how you do that is you wanna make sure that it’s effective and sustainable. And so when we think about IA, a well thought out IA makes website very easy to navigate, makes it intuitive, and allows folks to find the information they’re looking for, and while avoiding confusion or frustration during that process. So in addition to the information architecture, one of the key things to making it easy is understanding the user journey. And this is really key to providing the user a great experience. When we say user journey, what we mean is thinking through what is your customer’s first touchpoint on the website?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (15:22): And then thinking about, ok, if they land on that page, how do we influence their behavior so that they continue their journey on the site and we direct them into the places we want them to go? One place we start is what does your customer look like? Is it an individual, is it a business? Kind of tied to that? Is, what are their pain points and needs and what are they hoping to do or find out about you? Another tip is to consider what your cornerstone services are. So zero in on the journey for a prospect, looking for a specific service like a mortgage or a service like that. And the user journey is considering what IA makes the most sense for the market that you also operate in. So different credit unions may have different concerns here.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (16:12): And so on this particular slide, we’ve got just an example of a user journey navigating from the product catalog to actually submitting an application. And so part of making it easy is taking a look at what’s happening behind the scenes. So once you’ve mapped that one user journey all the way through, you really want to think through what are the other pathways that somebody could take going from the product catalog to actually submitting an application? And how do we make sure that we’re serving that user’s needs? And so if you’re able to map out journeys in this way, you can determine what do I need to do to address when a prospect or member is going to make it decision and determining what we need to give them in the meantime. So do they need education? Do they need data? Do they need comparisons?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (17:09): On this particular slide, we’ve got a user flow that really demonstrates a few different choices that the user can make within that same auto loan user journey that we had on the previous slide. What we try to do is we try to make sure that whoever is going to this page only really experiences one of these steps at a time. We don’t want to make it confusing. Looking at this diagram, this is a lot. And we want to make sure that we break down each of these choices, each of these pathways to one at a time. This is where we can use design, we can use content hierarchy to make sure that this is really easy on the user experience side.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (17:50): Coming back to that previous slide where were talking about IA, we mentioned that the IA refers to the structure, to the organization, to the labeling of content. And we specifically say that we want to make sure that the IA is sustainable. And so a lot of people, when they’re thinking about IA, they’re not really thinking with the future page structure in mind. But if you don’t think about how the site needs to expand in the future, it’s gonna make less and less sense to users as they try to find content.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (18:24): And so as we add pages onto the site, think about how your credit union is going to need to grow and how your website is going to need to grow so that you can make sure that there are ways that allow for that sort of natural expansion without compromising the integrity of the existing site. You want to make sure that you have a website with an information architecture that’s designed to adapt over time to include new services, new products and other core business information as your credit union grows. And then when we another key benchmark for success is planning for growth.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (19:07): And just as you want to make sure that the navigation and the organization of pages accommodates growth, you also need to think through what happens when customers need more information or what happens when you get feedback about needing more information on a particular product. This starts dipping into what we call the administrative experience or the ax, which is really a pretty big topic. It’s a little too big to cover. Today, we’re going to stay focused on the user experience, but it’s another area to consider when you’re building a website with a future in mind. We’ll be covering Ax in far greater detail in one of our future webinars. There’s also another part, think through when you’re thinking about IA. And this is pretty key for success. So we think of Google as one of the audiences you want to make happy.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (19:58): You know, obviously, you know, your website’s primarily designed for the audiences for your services and products, but Google is really in the business of returning the most relevant content to users, the most relevant results. And so if you write content that appeals to your customers, you’re pretty much all the way there. And so what we do with our websites, what we suggest is making sure that the content of your site is understandable by Google so that it’s easy for prospects and members to find your organization via search engine result pages. We keep content organized with URL hierarchy. So for example, having all the blog posts live underneath of, you know, slash blog, using relevant and descriptive titles to make sure that when that comes up on your search results page, people are able to easily understand what is this page about?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (20:54): And is this the right information for me or not? And then also adding metadata to clarify the content on the page. So often if you don’t set that metadata, it’s just pulling in whatever comes up first, whatever content comes up first on the page. And we want to make sure that’s painting the page in appropriate light so that somebody can really make sure can find the page if it’s relevant to them. And then the last thing I would say about SEO is to make sure that you’re following best practices. And some of these are pretty basic, but it’s like even as simple as making sure that indexing is enabled, sometimes this can get forgotten. Somebody who developed your site maybe have forgotten to do this one step that can prevent your site from being indexed at all.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (21:41): You want to make sure that you have your sitemap XML submitted to Google Search console. So Google knows whenever there’s a content update and it knows where to look for pages that are added. Then you also want to use tools like Google Search console for regular measurement and review of any issues that might occur. You might also use a third party tool like Semrush. That’s a really good one for SEO, just to keep track of how you’re doing on SEO. And so another benchmark for success is once a prospect finds you online. 96% of them do their own research before calling or speaking with rep, meaning that you’ve got to do the work on the website.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (22:27): And so when we’re thinking about that prospect on your site, it may sound very obvious, but every service and product that your credit union offers needs to have a dedicated page with a description of that product or service. And so we’ve often seen credit unions tempted to bundle that into a single page or like a single category, like loans, for example. But we highly recommend having one page per product or service. And let me explain why. Consumers really want a guided path where they’re able to click deeper and deeper to get the right amount of detail about what product or service they’re interested in. And so when a consumer is getting a mortgage or an auto loan, it’s a really big decision.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (23:15): You’ve got to give them enough information on the page so they feel like you’re as invested in this product as they are. And having a comprehensive product page with clear calls to action that makes sure that consumers have all the details that they need and they’re able to take the next step when they’ve made up their mind. And so, moving on to consistency, we want users to have a highly consistent experience across devices. This is especially true for mobile phones or tablets, where a lot of folks are using their portable devices to access their banking. And mobile users are actually about five times more likely to abandon a task if the site isn’t well optimized.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (24:10): For mobile and many organizations, mobile responsive is the table stakes where we see huge opportunities for credit unions to do a better job prioritizing a mobile first approach to their websites. So one of the most important things that you can do is making sure that you’re keeping up with the sort of status quo. And a lot of that has to do with the expectations of consumers and the impact of your design. Design really matters when it comes to your credit union website, it matters a whole lot. About 75% of a website’s credibility is based on the aesthetic, believe it or not. And the expectation of that aesthetic is set by the brands that you interact with every single day. These are the sites that we see folks often interacting with, whether it’s news, social, search, retail.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (25:17): Your website is often the first meaningful interaction that a user is going to have with your brand. So you want to make sure that you’re not letting them down in the first interaction. A modern, aesthetically pleasing design can make a really strong first impression and establish that credibility that you need to build trust in contrast, you know, an outdated or poorly designed website that doesn’t meet expectations raises questions about whether your service offering is as good as the competitions that may be a little bit shinier if they’re in from a big bank or in fintech. And so we have to engage visitors visually and shape their perception of the brand or begin shaping their perception. Besides attracting new members, you often have to serve your existing membership to build loyalty.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (26:09): And we want to make sure that we’re providing very meaningful interactions to encourage them to spend more time on your site because that’s a, you know, that’s a sign of engagement and more engaged customer is more likely to spend their money. A few examples that we have here are one of the most popular features on many of our sites is branch locator. So just helping members quickly and easily find the nearest atm or maybe find the contact information for a branch that’s nearest to them. Rates that are up to date and in real time will help reduce friction points. You don’t want a customer to call up and the rates change on yours out of date by a couple of days.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (26:49): We want to make sure that customer satisfaction is very high on these things that are really one of those credit union features of having lower rates than the other guys. Then we also like to elevate the member experience and build retention by having comprehensive help centers. This helps prospects and members find answers, solve problems, maybe even interact with a chatbot to reduce call volume and enhance satisfaction. When you can solve a problem yourself instead of getting on the phone with somebody, that’s almost always better. Part of what makes credit unions a little different from traditional banks is also the efforts that a credit union will put towards ensuring that members are well educated. And so because of this, we like to make sure that our credit unions have very thoughtful resources on their website for this.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (27:46): So education centers empowering those credit union members with a resource for financial literacy. This can boost engagement and loyalty by providing educational content that guides members towards smarter financial decisions. And I think besides the member benefit, it’s also an opportunity to point to related products and services. Using things like decision trees is a great way to streamline decision making. Simplifying complex financial choices by guiding members through a series of easy to answer questions really helps them find the best solutions for them, tailored to their specific needs. And then lastly, helping members make smart financial decisions through interactive financial calculators. From budgeting to loan repayment, these are really valuable tools that enable members to confidently plan for their future and achieve their financial goals. So one of the other benchmarks that is quite important is the performance of your website.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (28:58): This is a critical factor in the success of nearly every website and what this impacts is things the user experience, SEO and conversion rates. Speed is really the cornerstone of a good ux. Users expect for web pages to load quickly and even a delay of just a few seconds can lead to frustration and increased abandonment rates. There are a lot of studies around this. A seamless, fast loading website keeps users engaged and reduces bounce rates, or the folks that leave immediately after coming to the page. Search engines like Google consider website performance as one of their ranking factors. You’ve heard a lot about core web vitals. Faster websites are more likely to rank higher in the search results, which leads to increased visibility and organic traffic. Performance really isn’t just a technical concern.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (29:51): Often this is an it or infrastructure thing, but it’s really critical to business and marketing strategy to make sure that members are well served and engaged. Nothing erodes trust more quickly than a lack of site speed, and tied to that is also site stability. Having your website offline for a period of time raises questions around reliability that really translate to perception of an organization. Security, obviously that is non negotiable, includes secure login procedures. So like things like two factor authentication, making sure that data is encrypted with an SSL when you see that little green lock in the URL bar, and really proactive monitoring for fraudulent activity. Transparency and clear communication around privacy and how personal data is being used and protected reinforces trust and also is becoming law in many locations. Another benchmark is ensuring that everyone is included.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (30:59): So maximizing your customer pool by making sure that every audience can be served. A couple of audiences that are often more secondary are, number one, the accessible audience. So making sure that individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can access and use online content effectively and then making sure that you’re meeting standards like the WCAG or web content accessibility guidelines that ensures that you avoid ADA lawsuits and equal, and you’re providing equal opportunity to access products and services. Accessible design is really a benefit for all users, I think, not just those with disabilities. You get often faster sites that are more easy to use, sites that are able to be picked up by search engines.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (31:54): And by adhering to some of these guidelines that serve this audience, you’re also ensuring that the website’s better prepared for future technology and devices which accommodates advancements that might otherwise impact your user accessibility. And then one other group that is often more secondary is just depending on your geographic location or the demographics that you’re targeting, you may want to provide content in multiple languages, and it is really common that non english speakers are underserved and by catering to them, you can capture a very grateful audience that doesn’t always get that information in their language. And so to recap this section, there are really nine critical benchmarks as we see it, that you should be setting for your credit union’s website.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (32:44): Number one, make it easy with really great information architecture, plan for growth so future proof your website so that it can be evolved and scale over time without sacrificing the integrity of your site SEO, increasing the findability of your website users through search engines, product page optimization. So making sure that your users can dig deeper into products that they follow that journey that you’ve laid out for them and they can get their questions answered. And then providing a consistent experience across all devices. Making sure that regardless of what they’re using, they’re able to access a site. And the design aspect, making sure you’re keeping up with those consumer expectations. Engaging users with interactive features, prioritizing performance and the security of your site to ensure that there is that trust element.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (33:40): And then designing for everyone, making sure that everyone’s included and that you’re being inclusive. Now that we have those benchmarks, let’s pivot a little bit and talk about the tools and tactics for making some of this happen. Our goal is really, we want to make sure that you’re leaving this webinar with some really practical and actionable steps to make progress towards meeting those benchmarks, or at least measuring those benchmarks. And so one of the things that we recommend doing first as an action is assess where you are. So determine. Determining the best place to start requires measuring the gap between where you are now and where you want to go. And so there are a lot of free, low cost tools that you can use to assess where some of your key metrics currently stand. I’ve got them listed here.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (34:31): I’m going to review them really briefly just so that you have a little bit better understanding of what we mean. These are tools that can enable you to really audit your site on your own. You don’t need any outside help to do this, you can do it on your own. And we’ll go into each of these in a little bit more detail. There are definitely more robust assessments, options that you could implement, but often those require pulling in a partner. If you wanted to do more of a thorough technology audit, do a deep dive into security or penetration testing, do heuristic for UX, do design audit those are all things that you could do, but you can’t really do them as easily by yourself.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (35:12): These tools will really help you paint a pretty good picture of where you’re at in your current state and give you a little bit of data to go off of. So Google search console, this is a really good way to understand site performance overall. It can help you identify issues within the site that are causing indexing problems. And this is really helpful for getting an understanding of your SEO performance. So if you want to move up your ranking for a particular page using a specific keyword, you can use Google search console to help identify those opportunities and measure change as you make those tweaks. It also allows you to identify technical issues.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (35:55): So if you have broken links or maybe you’ve got usability issues on mobile, these are things that Google search console will identify for you and it can really threaten your site rankings. So you want to make sure that you’re both identifying these and addressing these as quickly as you can. We often use this tool to monitor and analyze the site’s link profile. So this includes backlinks, links that are coming into your site, as well as internal links. So links to pages that are on your site. This is really helpful if you’re thinking through how you want to tweak your content strategy. Okay, so Google pagespeed. We found that there are many credit unions that fail the core web vitals assessment. But for a little bit of context, many large banks like Chase.com also do.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (36:47): So if you go to their homepage and scan that, you’ll see that they failed that assessment. This doesn’t mean that the site is of poor quality or people are having a terrible experience. It’s just a single input into better understanding how your site can be improved. So what we recommend with these types of assessments is let them paint a picture of where you should concentrate your efforts and where you can make the highest impact. Don’t take this one report in isolation. Think of it as a whole. Take a look at what are the areas that your site is weakest at so that you can work that down. Google Analytics at this time is pretty ubiquitous. Hopefully everyone’s upgraded to Google Analytics. Four. We found it’s almost always installed. What we’ve seen often is that it isn’t always reviewed.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (37:37): And so while it’s a really great behavioral analytics solution, you have to make sure that you’re reviewing it pretty regularly to understand user behavior and also to understand what content is most relevant to customers. We’ve have other reports that we use besides Google Analytics to measure user behavior. But this is a free, easy to install, really good input into understanding how particular pages are performing, whether those efforts are going into the right sections of your website. Those marketing efforts are going into the right sections of your website. And we use analytics to also test tactics. So if were to say ad related articles to the bottom of our article, detail pages with the hypothesis that we would increase engagement leading to an increase in lead, we would measure that in analytics to see, okay, let’s make that change, see how it does.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (38:31): Did we achieve what we wanted to achieve? And then the other thing that Google Analytics is really great at is checking trends. So the reports that we often look at are acquisition. So understanding where visitors are coming from. Is it from paid, is it from organic, is it from direct? We want to understand that, how those folks are getting to your site. We also use the technology reporting really frequently to understand the breakout between mobile and desktop. So we know if we need to optimize for one or the other, and also screen resolutions to understand, to make sure that the site provides a consistent look and feel and builds that trust regardless of the screen width that they’re using. So overall, Google Analytics, it really helps us make better hypotheses when we’re doing our marketing work and make just more educated decisions.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (39:24): Wave is one of many accessibility scanners and there are a lot of them out there. There are a lot that are available for free. We like this one because it’s been around forever. It’s like I was using it 20 years ago and it’s free. So it’s very user friendly in presenting the results of your accessibility scan, and it makes issues really easy to address. What you see here are just a couple of scans of a site with the details tab activated so that you can see where the issues are. How I would recommend using this is as a preliminary accessibility assessment before investing in a paid tool or a higher cost tool or a vendor to help you remediate issues.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (40:14): And so if you run the scan on a few different pages, say the homepage, maybe an article page, maybe a product page, I would look at the overlap of issues. And the reason I would do that is this can often help you identify issues that are global across the site versus isolated issues that only exist on a single page. And so these global issues are the issues that we typically recommend tackling first because these are going to provide the highest impact. And then on the security side, one of the things that is incredibly important is making sure that your infrastructure is right. But on the front end side and on the user experience side, we often use this tool called observatory.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (41:01): And I’m pretty conservative when I in choosing who I’m going to ask to scan a website, I always do a little bit of research first before I enter a URL into a site scanner because you never know who creates these tools. A lot of developer tools are a little bit suspicious. You don’t know who’s running them. Observatory I trust because this is a product that’s built by the Mozilla organization who runs Firefox. They’ve been building the web for a long time. I recommend on this particular scan there is a public results section. I recommend checking the box that says don’t include my site in the public results. I recommend checking the box to Rescan to force a rescan to make sure that cache results aren’t returned. And I also check don’t scan with third party scanners.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (41:48): Just again, because I’m being very conservative about where who sees what the security results on my website are. Again, this is a good one to take as an input. Don’t take a d as a sign that your website is going to be hacked tomorrow. It just means that you may be more vulnerable to exploitation. I mentioned infrastructure previously. If you have high quality infrastructure, oftentimes this type of security scan may be negated by your infrastructure. Infrastructure might protect you enough so that you don’t have to worry about this. But this is a good input just to get a sense around that. And then lastly, the tool that we think is perhaps the most powerful tool business has is its customers. And there are numerous formats that you could use for a customer survey.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (42:39): There really isn’t a single tool that works best for everyone. Whatever is easiest for your customers to fill out and easy for you to view the results in is what works best. It may also vary depending on the size of the population you’re surveying. Like if you were to send a link to a Google form or a Microsoft form and you only had 20 folks that were in a focus group, that would probably work great. But if you’re polling 10,000 customers, you’re probably going to better served with a paid for tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform that just has more reporting and analysis capabilities and ways to visualize that data so it’s useful to you.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (43:16): This tool really can’t be more heavily estimated and you need to use this tool because it is really excellent and your customers are going to provide you with a lot of information that’s going to help you, we talked about assessing. Once you’ve assessed your current state, I would start prioritizing these areas for the opportunities you’ve identified, where your assessments fell short and so term. First things first. Think about your budget. Whether it’s your marketing budget or maybe part of an IT budget or a customer service budget, it may depend on the area of the website that you’re targeting. You may be able to pull from different budgets within your credit union. We see this really frequently within our credit union clients. Next, you’re going to want to make sure that you have really good goals in place.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (44:13): So both your not just marketing goals, but your credit union short and long term goals. And so you’ll take these goals and map them to your marketing goals so that all of the goals for the website ladder up to the broader goals of the organization. So are you trying to break into a younger demographic? Do you want to make sure that if so, then you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve got really good, mobile, responsive in place and that you’re engaging your customers. Are you trying to expand into a community where English isn’t the primary language? So how do you incorporate multilingual tools and culturally appropriate design to reach that demographic? Are you trying to increase loan applications?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (44:56): So do you need to target your product pages with some of this work, making sure that they’re really curated to the audience demographics and thinking through the capabilities that your team has? So what are the skills that you have in house? Maybe you’ve got a full internal development team, it’s a little bit more rare. Or maybe you’re a marketing team of three people. That’s actually pretty common. So if you can specify what you can effectively tackle in house and what you may need to bring in outside experts for, be really realistic about this because your plan’s not going to work if you’re overly optimistic. So do some tests before to validate this before you’re starting so that you can avoid hitting roadblocks along the way when you want to get moving. And then next up is acting.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (45:47): Doing it the roadmap is really the first step of this. We think of roadmaps as a way to communicate and so this is a tool that can be used to demonstrate what’s going to get done to everyone else. So you create a roadmap for your marketing and your executive team so that they can really rally around this and understand what the plan is. I would definitely revisit, recommend revisiting the roadmap throughout the work. So at least quarterly, to make sure that you’re making the progress you wanted to make, that your priorities make sense, and that everyone involved is really still on the same page. This is a tool for transparency so that you can focus less on how you communicate with everyone else and more on your execution.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (46:34): Typically, roadmaps also have a timeline involved so that you have specific initiatives in the order of priority mapped out, and you can show people when the stuff is going to get done and how long that’s going to take. And then when you’ve got that in place, you can do the work just as it says on the screen. Once you have a budget, you’ve got clear goals, you’ve got the team, you’ve got a plan. All that’s left is to do the work. Usually this takes a while to get the results that you’re looking for. This is, I think, by design. Change doesn’t happen quickly, usually, and so you’re just going to need to consistently work it down. So start chipping away at the items that are in your roadmap.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (47:15): As an agency, we’re a huge proponent of running with iterations, and this is making progress little by little, constantly iterating your website over time. And then lastly, and really important for as you’re rolling out this plan, you want to make sure that you check on how you’re doing. Are you slowly but surely achieving those larger organizational goals? Are you able to measure the rate of return on your efforts? Are you getting conversions? The applications or newsletter signups? Is there growth in your membership that can be attributed to your work? That’s actually pretty important. The attribution part. You want to make sure that the work that you’re putting in can be measured so that you can clearly attribute growth and retention of members to your efforts on the website.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (48:04): And as a part of other marketing initiatives, we recommend proactively reporting on these measurables on a regular basis to ensure that you’re providing transparency that further demonstrates your progress and contributions to the organization overall.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (48:23): Well, that concludes reimagining credit union websites to attract and retain members. So, as a quick recap, we demonstrated the impact that consumer expectations have on how well, or in some cases maybe not so well, your website is aiding in attracting and retaining members. Second, we painted a picture of what a great credit union website entails. So with some specific benchmarks that you can use to audit your current site against. And we also reviewed some tools that you can use to get started in making progress. So first, assess your current state and there’s some free or low cost tools that we’ve included to get started there. Second, evaluate the gap between your current state and the benchmarks. Third, develop a product roadmap. This is kind of our language for a strategic plan. So exactly what are we going to be doing?

Morgan Witham (she, her) (49:11): Why, what goals for the credit union more broadly do they ladder up to, and then timeline and specifics? How are we going to get this done? What’s top priority? How long do we think that’s going to take? And then last, you iterate. You start, as Ralph said, chipping away at this over time, and you measure your impact along the way. This is what helps guide both the iteration and the results you see, as well as some of the analytics helps really guide what’s working, what’s not working, and continuing to keep a pulse on what the current state is and where you can make some improvements along the way. But in summary, good strategic websites require strategic thinking and that intentional planning and just consistent iteration. We have included and added in here a slide with some additional resources for you.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (49:58): So both the assessment tools that Ralph covered earlier also, I think, Ralph, you’ve got a couple plugs.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (50:06): Yes, I’ve got a plug for our blog where we’ve got quite a few credit union articles and resources available. Sign up for our newsletter, a couple of case studies where you can read about what other credit unions are doing to get results. We’ll be sending a copy of this presentation over to you later today so that you can reference the benchmarks and also this cheat sheet of resources.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (50:29): Great. Well, we’ve got a little bit of time left to answer some questions, so I’m going to check and see what we’ve got. And Ralph, maybe I’ll tee up some of the questions and kick them over to you. So let’s take a look. All right, there’s a good one. Okay. Do you have any actual examples of credit unions that have successfully reimagined their websites using some of the tactics that you discussed? And if so, what were some of the outcomes that you saw?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (50:57): Yeah, so that’s a really good question. This was probably asked before we got to the resources slide, but we’ve got a couple of case studies linked on that resources slide. A couple ones that come to mind are vacu, Virginia credit union. They saw some pretty awesome outcomes. They had a 32% year over year increase in the click through rate to lead forms. And within six months after the launch of their redesign, they had an increase of $3 million per month in revenue and the time on site metrics increased by 17%. So all really awesome outcomes for them. I don’t think we would guarantee that success for everyone, but they put in the work. We put in the work. Really pleased with how that website turned out. Another website that I can think of just regarding the outcomes question was ICCU Idaho Central Credit Union.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (51:58): They had a 28% increase in organic users, 15% increase in organic sessions. And best of all that everyone wants is a 26% increase in loan applications. They recently won a Diamond award from America’s credit unions for their design. Really, really pleased with the outcomes of that one.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (52:20): Great. That was a softball since you had the cheat sheet on the resources page already pulled up. Second question, how can we integrate our website with other marketing channels and campaigns for a cohesive omnichannel experience?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (52:37): Okay, so that is a very good question. It’s not something that I think we can answer today in the q and a part of this presentation. It really depends. And so we definitely want to ask some sort of follow up questions on that, but we’ll reach out to you right after this. Okay. And dig into that a little bit more. Set up some time to chat about that.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (52:57): I love that. And we do get a lot of questions where the answer is it depends. We have more questions. Let me see if I can find one that maybe doesn’t depend. Oh, this is a good one. Back to the metrics discussion. What metrics or benchmarks should we focus on to measure the success of our website in driving member acquisition and retention? So that’s a great question because we talk, that’s the whole purpose of this webinar is how do we drive that? What do we look at to measure that?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (53:24): Okay, so that one’s a little bit of it depends answer. But because every credit union is a little bit different, there’s not really a single benchmark. Like, there’s not one number that I would say, like, oh, you shouldn’t be hitting this or you’re not doing well. But the benchmarks, the metrics I would look at on every website are conversion rate. So just that fundamental metric that indicates how effective is your website and turning visitors into members. Depending on how you’re handling things like loan applications, the analytics that your site can see might be disconnected from your lead capture platform. And if that’s the case, what I would recommend is using click throughs to the application as your conversion trigger. One of the other metrics that we really frequently look at is bounce rate.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (54:16): And bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website right after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate usually indicates that your landing pages are not engaging or maybe not relevant enough to encourage a user to further explore the site. And that happens very frequently on article pages. And so what we typically recommend is review your website’s design and content just to make sure that it aligns with what a prospect might be seeking. So optimizing landing pages with really clear calls to action and compelling value propositions to reduce those bounce rates. Another metric I might look at are pages per session. So page views per session, excuse me, and this metric is the average number of pages a visitor will view during a single session.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (55:11): A higher number of page views suggest that a user finds your content engaging and they’re interested in exploring more about your credit union’s offerings and services. Oftentimes, this is one of those really ia centered items, so making sure that navigation kernel linking is there so that it’s easier for users to find more relevant information. This might also include suggesting related content on popular pages to encourage deeper engagement, and then related to that. Also, I would take a look at the average session duration. That session duration can provide insights into how long visitors spend on your website. Longer sessions typically indicate that they’re engaging with your content, which hopefully positively influences their decision to actually become a member.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (56:05): And these are just a few of the metrics that you pull via free tools, Google Analytics, but they’re definitely other metrics that might be a topic for another webinar, too.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (56:16): Well, yeah, that’s a good point. While they may not cover exactly in the order that you just rattled off, they’re very directly related to some of the benchmarks that we talked about. So there are kind of ways to specifically measure do we have a good handle on the user journey? Do we have a good handle on the content that we’re used? So those are some great examples that you rattled off, because they really do kind of answer specific questions of those benchmarks that we talked about. But obviously, I think the gold standard that we are looking for, at least on behalf of our clients, and I’m sure a lot of you as marketers are looking for, really are those conversion rates and whatever that conversion rate may be.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (56:53): So a lot of times for credit unions, for us, it’s loan application submittals that we’re looking for, something like that. It could also be newsletter signups, especially if you’re trying to angle towards a specific demographic or increase presence in a particular geographic area. So you’re right, that’s a really good discussion. Maybe for another webinar, too okay, I’m going to grab maybe one more question. What? Oh, here. What if your CMS doesn’t allow you to make some of the changes that you’ve suggested today? We get that question a lot, not just as a result of this webinar, but in fact, I think, Ralph, you may have mentioned this earlier. We are going to, we’re teeing up our next webinar to be very specifically focused on the administrative experience, or ax, as we call it, specifically about that CMS, even though I know maybe we don’t.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (57:45): There’s a lot that we could cover there. Any kind of initial reactions to that, Ralph?

Ralph Otto (he, him) (57:50): Yeah, prior to that webinar, we’ll get into deeper there. But I would say that pretty much every content management system allows you to manage nearly all, if not all, elements on a page. So there’s often more that’s possible. So if your CMS isn’t doing what you need it to do, this may be limited by the group that’s configured your CMS. We really play this role of pushing the resources that are working on the site for our clients. But if you’ve got an in house team or if you have a partner that you’re working with, they can usually do a pretty good job at recommending ways to make some of these improvements that we’re talking about.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (58:33): If you’re using a CMS content management system like WordPress or Drupal, there are also really large groups of designers and developers that are familiar with that technology and can respond to questions that you have in community forums. This is at no cost for you to get started and get an understanding of what might go into that.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (58:54): Yeah, very much a benefit of the open source platforms for sure. Well, let’s end it there. We had a couple more questions that we couldn’t get to, but I promise we will follow up with you separately with your via email. So we’ll get to any other questions that we didn’t get to one off. And on that note, we’d also, we’re happy to offer up some time for any of the participants, whether you submitted a question or not. So if you would like to reach out to us, if you want. 30 minutes to connect, promise no sales pitches. But if there are any other questions that we can answer, either regarding the material that we covered today in this webinar or about your website specifically, we are happy to be a resource or a sounding board for you.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (59:34): We will, as Ralph mentioned, we’ll follow up with an email with this presentation that we covered today. It does have that resources cheat sheet also for you to have on hand so you can compare, as we talked about your initial assessment, to some of the benchmarks that we outlined. And I think we’ll also be including a handful of additional blog posts or things that we have found particularly helpful regarding this topic. So thank you again for taking time out of your day to join us. We hope you learned something new, and more importantly, we hope you leave with some takeaway, hopefully some new takeaway, or perhaps a helpful framework through which to think about your own website and some tools that you can implement to help refine it. So thank you again for joining us.

Morgan Witham (she, her) (01:00:21): Please reach out with any questions, and we’ll see you next time.

Ralph Otto (he, him) (01:00:25): All right, thank you.

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