Don’t let outdated technology or branding affect potential members’ first impression.
The financial services industry has never really been static and has long been subject to shifts in government regulations and tax codes, disruptive technologies, economic policies, inflation rates and, most recently, the pandemic.
However, change can be a good thing—evolving banking technology has helped credit unions simplify day-to-day operations, solidify member relationships and identify new revenue opportunities. The success of your credit union all depends on whether you choose to continue business as usual or embrace change as it comes your way.
One question that often pops up while working with credit unions looking to build stronger digital strategies is “Do we need a website overhaul to compete or rank better?”
This question usually arises when a credit union is considering changing its branding or is having trouble ranking in search results, but there are several additional reasons why a website overhaul may be needed.
1. Your website isn’t optimized to perform well in searches.
When it comes to your website, a redesign shouldn’t be a mere cosmetic upgrade. Any web makeover project should also present notable opportunities to improve your search rankings.
Search engine optimization is a set of marketing strategies designed to get your CU website to surface close to the top of search results on Google and other relevant search engines without having to pay for ads. By appearing near the top of the search engine results page, your website is bound to capture more clicks.
No matter the scale of the project, the goal when updating your website should be reinforcing your brand’s authority, integrity and credibility—striking the right balance between branding and SEO strategies, providing a smooth user experience, and informing members and potential members. Ensure the content on your website directly relates to a "hockey stick" growth curve by targeting the right keywords.
It is common for businesses to approach web projects from either a technology or design standpoint alone, overlooking the impact these changes will have on search engine optimization—even though the smallest change can have a huge impact on a website’s search ranking.
2. Your logo is overdue for an overhaul.
Of all the components of your brand—your products and services, your position/promise, your member experience, etc.—nothing is more visible than your logo. All the associations members and consumers have with your credit union brand are linked to this single symbol, so not having a logo that stands out may be causing a disconnect with your market.
Almost all of the most admired brands on this planet reinvigorate their logo (or complete brand identity) about every ten years or so. Why do this? It’s simple: to stay relevant. It is advisable that businesses update their logos occasionally to project an image that connects with every new generation of consumers.
Now, there certainly are some successful financial institutions that have centered their brands around the heritage of days gone by (e.g. Wells Fargo and its stagecoach logo), but a majority of banks and credit unions these days are trying to project the image that they are technologically savvy. The younger the audience you are trying to attract, the more often you ought to refresh your brand identity.
A logo redesign doesn’t have to be an extravagantly costly affair. With logo design crowdsourcing, for example, you can get access to multiple logo designs for a relatively small sum and pick one that resonates with your brand. Smaller community and regional credit unions have an edge over big banks when it comes to rebranding, since it is comparatively easier and less expensive to update a smaller number of branches and other marketing materials (including websites). So, try to make the most of your logo sooner rather than later.
3. Your website isn’t responsive or loads slowly.
Your audience uses phones and tablets at home, work, their children’s activities, during their commute and just about everywhere. Around 57% of internet users said they won’t recommend a business that has a poorly designed website on mobile. If your website takes up a long time to load, most users would rather abandon what they are doing rather than wait.
Credit union websites often fall behind from a technology perspective, but they need to step up their game: Mobile usage is constantly growing, and it’s time to comprehend why one needs to invest in a responsive website design. These days, your users expect effortless usability on all devices. A responsive website provides a complete website experience for desktop, phone and tablet users alike.
4. Your competitors are getting ahead of the game.
Today, consumers have a variety of financial service options to choose from. They have increased accessibility to an array of services and products from a wider pool of competition. Credit unions should constantly adapt to make provisions for the best member service in order to retain their existing members and grow their membership base.
Credit unions can easily utilize artificial intelligence to provide superior member service experiences. Such advanced AI technologies as AI-enabled communication and chatbots make 24/7 member service a reality.
But where should your credit union begin?
The first step is to determine what business problems you are looking to solve and where your institution could benefit from the application of AI. A few examples of these areas could be:
- member onboarding;
- loan applications and risk assessment;
- call center operations;
- credit scoring;
- mobile and web experience personalization; and
- product recommendations and offers.
AI solutions for these service areas aren’t just for big banks! Credit unions can benefit from this technology by partnering with fintechs and customizing the technology to suit their needs without having to assemble expensive infrastructure on their own.
How long do you think it takes for people to make a decision about your credit union when looking at your website? The answer is an alarming 0.5 seconds before they decide whether they do or don’t like what they see.
Consumers have no reason to think that their poor first impression of your credit union might be inaccurate, and they know they can go elsewhere for a seemingly better experience.
This very first impression forms a visitor’s perception of your entire organization. Outdated and slow websites make a bad first impression and can affect your bottom line. Watch out for the signs mentioned above—if your credit union’s website exhibits any or all of these issues, it might be time for an overhaul.