As interest rates rise with the promise of more to come before the end of 2022, consumers are concerned about their finances, particularly access to affordable credit. Inflationary pressures have changed the way consumers behave, putting off big purchases that they can and pulling their credit cards a bit more often than they had been.
Your credit union can be the calm in consumers’ financial maelstrom. Your credit union website likely has the broadest reach of your outlets, and you can use to build your brand in this regard.
Double down on education
Credit unions are well known as the calm during an economic storm. Following the 2008-09 economic crisis, members flocked to credit unions as did nonmembers, boosting membership growth from limping along at 2% to more than 4.5% annually by 2018, according to Callahan & Associates. That growth percentage as continued at 4% over the 12 months ending in June 2022, per the NCUA. Members know where to go to keep their money safe.
Now’s the time to put their minds at ease by hyperfocusing on financial education information on your website. A lot of people will be Googling, “What’s going to happen to my 401K?” Check Google Trends – 401K is right up there with searches about Taylor Swift, and in some areas it even eclipses search traffic for Kim Kardashian.
Make sure the information you provide members is important for your ideal members and easy to find on your credit union website. Use data, one-on-one input and any other information you can to determine what is top of mind for those members and double down. What might be their best options and how can your credit union provide value in those areas.
Prioritize digital marketing best practices
Looking back again to the housing crisis, many businesses slashed their advertising budgets by 13%, ICEAW found. Yet, post-crisis data illustrated that companies that maintained their marketing demonstrated 3.5 times more brand visibility. Credit unions were built for difficult times, and you will come out stronger on the other side of this economic downturn if you are able to keep top-of-mind with your members and potential members through consistent and helpful information on your website for families that need it right now.
Messaging during trying financial times can challenging, and you will likely be required to rethink how you’re presenting information to members. Perfect example: When we planned for this blog late last year, it was going to be a bit silly and Halloween themed. Given the changing economic tides, that would not be appropriate today.
Additionally, your website should be well-organized with a clear path to the precise information your members and potential member need when they need it. Right now, members need simplicity with all the complexity surrounding their financial standing.
Your credit union website, as well as your products and services, must be crystal clear and easy to find. Invest in search engine optimization to open up new opportunities for your credit union to add new members and deepen relationships with existing members. A member might have a checking account and a car loan but had no idea you also have great HELOC offerings that can help them stay afloat due to reduced work hours or job loss.
Be as comprehensive as possible, but…
Maintain focus on your ideal members. Credit union leaders tend to have huge hearts and want to help everyone, but we can’t. By focusing on your ideal members, you can continue to be there for those you can help the most.
Invest in opportunities that come up and make sense for your field of membership, like upgrading your digital presence with simple online membership and loan applications, converting mobile banking providers to one that better suits your members’ needs, or thorough risk analysis on your portfolio to ensure your credit union remains strong for today’s members and tomorrow’s.
Consider providing or increasing your virtual financial counseling or educational opportunities in addition to your in-person offerings. Some members may be picking up extra shifts or a side gig to make ends meet, so make it as convenient as possible for them.
During a recession, cost is of great importance for consumers, but so is value. What are the value-adds your credit union provides? Financial coaching? Credit counseling? Debt consolidation? Clear and consistent messaging around this can help allay members’ fears and provide them a sense of control of their financial situations.
Just as you don’t want to lose opportunities to deepen relationships with your members and want to help the community more broadly, so do we. Ensure you have the best partner helping you with your credit union’s website. Ultimately, you’re looking to avoid wasted time and money, maintain control over what you can, differentiate yourself, and mitigate reputation risk and stress. We understand that at uncommn, and we’re here to help.