Technology

Best Practices in CU Websites

Your newest branch is virtual, and your website is the front door.

May 01, 2012
KEYWORDS marketing , website
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Building the newest version of a credit union branch requires no excavation or concrete. There’s no land, plumbing, or roof overhead.

It doesn’t have a street address, it has a URL.

It’s your credit union’s website, and it’s the gateway to all your remote service-delivery channels.

When members visit your credit union’s website, they expect the same experience they receive at your brick-and-mortar branches. They want websites that are convenient, safe, dependable, and easy to navigate.

Is that the impression your members get from your website? While building an inviting and functional website isn’t easy, some credit unions do better than others. Several CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Diamond Award winners in the website marketing category offer tips.

Features and functionality

Focus

Start with airtight security. Then make sure your website is functional, informative, and relevant to members.
Simplify your home page and drive traffic to specific products and services.
Board focus: Make sure your CU’s website is as friendly and welcoming as its brick-and-mortar branches.

Functionality is the primary reason for most website redesigns, says David Rubini, senior project manager for Intuit Financial Services, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. It drives most decisions and discussions about site redesign, he says. “It’s all about what members expect to be able to do.”

The percentage of consumers using online banking services increased from 27% to 38% between 2009 and 2011, according to Intuit’s Fourth Annual Financial Management Survey. More than 75% of those using online services say they visit brick-and-mortar branches less often because they’re able to conduct their financial business online. And one-third of those using online tools say they’d consider changing financial institutions if they could access better online functionality elsewhere.Those expectations keep expanding, as more members embrace online and mobile banking, he adds. “It’s the nature of the beast that things move pretty quickly—both in terms of technology and consumer expectations.”

Members expect online access to complete, current financial information and services. “We’re more than just their website for online banking now—we’re a full-service financial partner,” says Gerard McGeever, vice president of marketing for $557 million asset Freedom Credit Union, Warminster, Pa.

Members can apply for loans, access the credit union’s Balance Financial Fitness Program, and engage in live chats. Eligible members also have access to Instant Deposit, where they can make a deposit of up to $1,000 online and then send the credit union the check in the mail. This gives them instant access to their funds, says McGeever. “Our newest endeavor will be Card Create, which will allow members to personalize their Visa debit cards online with their favorite pictures.”

Many members still visit their credit unions’ websites for financial education and information. Members want the latest updates through “tickers” with daily loan rates and banners with promotions and specials. They want to know about upcoming events and holiday branch hours.

And they never want to see outdated information, says Rubini. That, he says, undermines everything else the credit union is doing to establish itself as a trusted financial partner.

“The danger of outdated information is the perception that you’re irrelevant—especially in the financial world,” he warns. “If I see ‘Come to the community car wash this weekend,’ and it’s from 2009, my confidence in the credit union’s ability to serve me is diminished.”

NEXT: Content management

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