Traditional Advertising Isn’t Working As Much As You Think

In working with credit unions, we’ve seen that most have a budget dedicated to traditional advertising (billboards, radio, local TV, newspaper, direct mail) annually, but no line item at all for a credit union’s digital marketing program.

At one time this made sense, because awareness is the first stage in a consumer’s shopping process. There’s no doubt that traditional advertising has an effect on consumer awareness of your credit union. But traditional advertising does not impact a consumer’s final decision much, once they narrow down their choices to a few contenders.

From there, they start the research process.

The process of shopping for a new bank has changed, with consumers using new channels to research, shop and open new accounts. Unfortunately, many credit unions have relied on only traditional media to reach shoppers, with lackluster results.

Most consumers are conducting research for a new bank online; making your website, digital marketing strategy and the search engine rankings of your product pages extremely important.

This means that all page content should be solution-focused. Keep in mind SEO best practices, especially if your credit union has a defined local market, or caters to a specific SEG.

Prospective members search for specific products, not your credit union.

Not long ago, the purchase cycle was one where consumers chose their new bank or credit union first, and then picked which checking account at their new institution fit them best. Advertising efforts focused on consumer awareness, and overall image of the credit union.

Online shoppers today are more product-focused (conduct searches for “interest free checking account”) rather than institution-focused (search for “Banks” in their area). They are looking for specific products, and it’s very easy to research their options online.

What products are they searching for?

Convenience features like online bill pay and mobile banking rank high with online searches, while searches for the interest rate on balances, once a primary account differentiator, rank relatively low. Free checks, another common perk, is hardly searched for at all, while free checking still garners a large share of online searches.

Consumers who shop for products online often choose to apply for those same products online, provided that your credit union website provides compelling information and links to an online application, or at least a downloadable form.

Keep it simple.

In credit union web design, less is more. Even the best content is useless if consumers can’t find it on your site. If you make them dig through too much copy or through more than one navigation window, the frustrated visitor will leave and start a new search. 

Your site is a virtual marketing campaign and branch open 24-7.  It’s more than a place to go for online banking -- it’s a marketing tool -- where current and prospective members go for your latest rates & promotions, to learn about your culture, and ultimately where they gain trust in you to handle their finances.

Don’t you think, then, it deserves a part of your advertising budget?