Making the most of electronic channels can take your credit union to the next level.  We’re sharing this article, “Seven Steps for Smarter Electronic Channels” from the Credit Union National Association because it gives great advice to leverage the time members spend on their screens to drive deeper relationships, offer better online banking options, and increase sales.

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. These seven steps 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, the home page is still considered prime real estate. Deliver effective navigation and design that takes advantage of the space offered by today’s larger monitors.

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. They have a low tolerance for 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.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Test different ads, content, and placement, and make decisions based on what you learn.

3. Optimize your content pages
Create engaging content that’s relevant to your members using data to help pinpoint valued topic areas.

CUNA Mutual Group’s TruStageTM 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% have used mobile banking in the last 12 months; 93% use their phone to check balances; 57% have used it for money transfers; and 38% have deposited a check via phone in the last 12 months, according to a study by the Federal Reserve.

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 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% of mobile searches had local intent) 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.

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.

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% of this group uses social media—nearly half at least once a day.

They also spend a lot of their connected time with user-generated content (content generated by their peers).

Understand the content needs of your key audience and create social profiles to help you customize content for those audiences.

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