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Seven Steps for Smarter Electronic Channels
Monday, December 14, 2015 6:35 AM

Members are increasingly dependent on electronic channels to research financial topics and conduct transactions. And savvy credit unions know it’s critical to leverage the time members spend on their screens to drive deeper relationships and increase sales. The following can help you do both.

1. Make good use of your home page. Although topic-specific search can give visitors a “side door” into your site,1 the home page is still considered prime real estate by many experts. Deliver effective navigation and design that takes advantage of the space offered by today’s larger monitors.2 For example, ensure your home page supports the top tasks that your customers perform on your site; customers come to a site to complete tasks and have a low tolerance to spend time searching for what they want to do.

2. Analyze and test. Use data analytics tools to determine which pages are most popular and what drives visitors to act. Consider the use of user engagement metrics that include how often users come to a piece of content and how often they engage with content. For example, on trustage.com, we know that more than 60 percent of our visitors to a page use our whole life dynamic rate chart. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Test different ads, content, and placement; make decisions based on what you learn.

3. Optimize your content pages. Create engaging content that’s relevant to your members—data can help pinpoint valued topic areas. CUNA Mutual Group’s TruStage business recently evaluated the top performing credit unions to learn what it takes to convert a site visit into a sale. Our analysis showed that including links to every insurance product a credit union endorses increases visitor “stickiness” and drives sales.

4. Make the most of mobile. Consumers use their phones for financial services: 51 percent have used mobile banking in the last 12 months; 93 percent use their phone to check balances; 57 percent have used it for money transfers; and 38 percent have deposited a check via phone in the last 12 months.3 These numbers aren’t going anywhere but up. Proceed accordingly with easy-to-use apps and responsive design that delivers an optimal viewing experience on every device.

Just implementing a responsive design web framework to support mobile is not enough. We recommend usability testing for your mobile site. Pay particular attention to navigation elements. Do you have deep and multiple cascading menus on your desktop? If so, those will need to be translated to be usable on a mobile device. Also, we find that users want the same level of content on desktop and mobile, so don’t limit your content, but make it easy to navigate.

5. Leverage search. Search comes in two flavors: organic and paid. Organic is free, easily ties to your local presence (which is especially important with mobile given that as of 2014, 56 percent of mobile searches had local intent4) and is an excellent tool if your website has unique content. Paid search sends new and prospective members your way when they search on phrases that you have bid on (e.g., best car loan rates in Chicago). By bidding on terms, your digital ad can appear on the search results pages with the organic search results. For improved results, it’s best to use both.5

6. Keep processes member-friendly. When members judge the usability of your electronic channels, they’re comparing you to the best websites they interact with daily, such as Crate & Barrel, AutoZone, and Cabela’s.6 They expect online processes to be fast and easy, and you must deliver.

7. Use social media, especially to attract and retain Millennials. We all know the long-term health of the credit union system depends on the ability to connect with Millennials. Research from the Pew Research Center shows 75 percent of them use social media—nearly half at least once a day7—and spend a lot of their connected time with user-generated content (content generated by their peers).8 Ensure you understand the content needs of your key audience and create social profiles to help you customize content for those audiences.

Bob Moritz is the Director of E-Commerce for TruStage, CUNA Mutual Group's consumer brand. He can be reached at Bob.Moritz@cunamutual.com or 608-665-8108.

TruStage Insurance products and programs are made available through TruStage Insurance Agency, LLC and issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company and other leading insurance companies. CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. TruStage and CUNA Mutual are approved business partners of Credit Union Resources, a subsidiary of Cornerstone Credit Union League.

1 Coming in the side door: The value of homepages is shifting from traffic-driver to brand NiemanLab August 22, 2012
2 Homepage Real Estate Allocation Nielsen Norman Group November 16, 2013
3 Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2014 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, March 2014
4 http://searchengineland.com/research-56-percent-go-searches-carry-local-intent-190655
5 SEO: Study Shows Incremental Clicks with Branded SEO Plus PPC Practical Ecommerce May 24, 2015
6 Top 100 E-Commerce Checkouts Baymard Institute Sept. 2015
7 Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next The Pew Research Center, February 2010
8 Millennials Love Social Media and User Generated Content Adweek November 11, 2014