Inside Marketing: Best Practices for Building a Dynamic Digital Brand

digital illustration of web design and digital marketing tools
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Photo
Contributing Writer
Fab Prose & Professional Writing

3 minutes

Industry expert shares 10 must-haves when creating a member-centric credit union experience.

James Robert Lay, president of Digital Growth Institute, Houston, Texas, believes in humanizing a credit union’s digital brand, which starts and ends with the user experience. Here are his 10 must-haves for crafting a dynamic digital brand:

1. Implement secret shoppers in your consumer’s buying journey. Lay says that 94% of financial brands have not secret-shopped their website, compared to 72% shopping their lobbies. Unfortunately, financial institutions seem to build and launch their sites—and then leave them be without finding out what’s working and what’s not. This is contrary thinking, Lay points out, since 87% of all sales journeys start online, regardless of where the transaction is closed.

2. Understand what your members are feeling on a macro level. The key is to research qualitative data sets to understand what your members and potential members feel and why they think the way they do. Today, those feelings likely include uncertainty. For digital impact, you must capture consumers’ trust. To gain a consumer’s trust, strive to answer three questions immediately with your website: 1. Can I trust you? 2. How do you make me feel? 3. How can you help me?

3. Don’t lead with selling a product; lead with solutions for the member’s pain points. Empathizing with a consumer’s confusion or frustration and providing a solution builds trust. Giving someone the ability to make a better financial decision with confidence will build trust. Build trust before you talk about products and features.

4. Note that your user is the hero—not the credit union. Consumers enter the story (or sales journey) as the protagonist, says Lay. For them, the credit union may be an antagonist. You’re trying to earn the attention and trust of the hero; by acknowledging that you’re initially taking on the role of antagonist, you can foster an empathetic approach to building trust. Remember, your hero is looking for guidance and a helper to elevate their life. Become the sidekick, trusted advisor or sage.

5. Focus on the user experience and member journey when developing your website. Consider two audiences: current members (logging into online banking) and potential members (exploring your brand).

6. Don’t over-emphasize the importance of the top of the homepage. “New visitors often get to your site through the back door, through an organic search or paid ads” for specific products or services, Lay observes. That means they might not even see the prominent brand messaging on your homepage.

“More time must be given to these back doors and reducing the complexity of accessing a meaningful product page. Review the relevancy of your product pages first versus your homepage,” Lay advises. “It’s the lowest hanging fruit and where you can address the pain points of your members and provide the solution to whatever problem they’re trying to solve.”

7. Avoid the temptation of placing rotating promotional banners at the top of a homepage. These tend to be product-driven. Instead, lead with education that addresses a consumer’s pain points and communicates hope. Be inspirational and embrace the reader’s viewpoint.

8. Use conversational verbiage; get rid of banking jargon. When developing digital content, remember that the user has a need and you’re there to fulfill that need. Make your website visitors feel confident and heard by using empathetic, everyday language.

9. Don’t let your website sit. Once you have an empathetic website that puts users first, continue to revisit the site and tweak it as needed. Follow your data, both qualitative and quantitative. If adjustments are needed, act quickly. That’s the beauty of digital.

10. Be respectful of your readers’ time. Remember, the consumer is gifting you their time and attention—don’t take this attention for granted, Lay concludes.

Owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, Stephanie Schwenn Sebring assists credit unions, industry suppliers, and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.

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