How to Optimize SEO for your Credit Union’s Content Using the 4 C’s of Content Marketing

When big banks control the top spots on Google for keywords like “mortgages” and “financial health”, what chance does a community oriented Credit Union have of standing out to potential members? The solution is to express the content using words that apply to your company’s own unique brand and community. Learn the steps to optimize SEO for your credit union.

If your credit union does not write content and deliver content to members through e-mail campaigns and social media, then this article is not for you.

The first thing we need to understand is how search engine traffic works. In the early days of Google, achieving the first spot for simple keyword searches such as “mortgage” was a straightforward task. The word “mortgage” in this case, is known as a “short tailed keyword” and unfortunately, would not yield very good or relevant search results today. Expanding this search to “mortgage offers at credit unions near me” will provide a much narrower and targeted result.

This specific and deliberate search is the type of traffic that credit unions need to target. The idea is that when a potential member performs a search on something like “checking accounts for families near me”, the goal is to funnel this member into a process that ultimately leads them into becoming a credit union member. A community oriented credit union should know that creating cluster content on specific topics can lead target members to their website and signup process. To understand how to best capture the ideal search traffic, we’ve boiled down the process into the 4 C’s of keywords that belong in all of the content produced by your Credit Union.

optimize seo for your credit union

Want to learn more about how to Optimize SEO for your credit union and other website tips? Click on the article below.

Credit Union Website Basics

Real Time Is Coming at You: Ready or Not 

By Robert McGarvey 

For CU2.0 

 

A new report out of Celent asks a question that just may terrify you: Are banks ready for a real time world? 

You probably know the answer at your credit union. 

Join the club: many – probably most – credit unions are nowhere close to embracing a real time financial services universe. 

Tell me why it takes a day – sometimes several days – to move money from an account at my credit union to a payee already in the system when, truly, it simply is a matter of shifting bits and bytes? 

Money can – and now should – move as fast as a text message and if a friend in India sends me an SMS via Facebook right about now it is showing up in my FB queue. 

It can happen in financial services. Everybody – that means you – will have to climb aboard. We now are in an instant world.  “Real time payments,” said Celent, “have moved beyond being an if to a when.” 

Here’s a Celent observation: “Most existing payment engines have a number of challenges in delivering real-time payments. First, they are generally batch-driven, rather than single message and instant, and so simply not suitable. The second, and less obvious reason, is that they require downtime for maintenance and upgrades, something that isn’t allowed in a real-time payment solution. Many real-time payment schemes only have downtime over the year measured in seconds. Old technology simply wasn’t designed to support that.” 

What Celent is prescribing is adoption of a robust payments hub that can provide the 21st century world what it wants. 

“Real-time payments require all the activity in the value chain to be carried out, typically in under a second, if not quicker. If all the processes are within the hub, they are easier to manage and coordinate. But as volumes increase, this becomes more and more essential. Furthermore, functions that sit within the hub will be subject to the same design requirements in terms of availability and maintenance,” wrote the Celent author, Gareth Lodge. 

Some realtime functions already are in use in the United States. 

Digital currencies – the report pointed in particular to Ripple – are paving the way for a shift to real time money movement. 

Zelle also is a step into realtime for institutions that adopt it (and some credit unions already have – such as America First Credit Union and BECU).  And Dwolla offers realtime ACH transfer functionality.  

Don’t necessarily expect smooth sailing for your institution into the real time universe. Exactly how – and how well – many competing real time systems will integrate with each other is not yet known. 

Then, too, as Celent pointed out: “The term real-time payments perhaps hides an obvious truth: in order to make the payment real-time, everything and anything that touches the payment, including fraud checking, balance checks, and the front end initiation system have also to be real-time…24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

All of that represents a massive change in how credit unions work.  Digital banks, Celent pointed out, are architected from the word “go” to handle real time. A legacy institution has a different, very real set of challenges. Said Celent: “Real-time payments then are the vanguard of the digital bank. New banks, built from the ground up, do not need to give this a second thought, but for any other bank, the task of converting from the existing infrastructure is a huge task.” 

And the news gets worse.  Said Celent: “Many banks still run core banking systems that are over a decade old. The chances are that unless it has been replaced within the last five years, it is still a batch system. This poses immediate challenges — how to update the customer balance until the next batch, overnight run.” 

Institutions – and their cpre providers – are fiddling with workarounds.  But that’s the point: there will definitely have to be workarounds and they may not always be easy, elegant or even straightforward. 

What to do?  The first step is recognizing that now indeed is the start of real time banking.  That, said Celent, is integral to the transformation into the digital bank that just about all now know is the future. Wrote Celent: “Banks may see the need to move to a digital bank, but they may be struggling to make the business case for investing in real-time payments. Yet there is a confluence of the digital banking trend with real-time payments, as they share many of the same attributes and indeed, that make it impossible for a digital bank to truly exist without it.” 

Absolutely right. Until real-time payments are part of the package the institution just isn’t a digital bank. Period. 

The 21st Century Credit Union Welcome 

By Robert McGarvey 

for Credit Union 2.0

 

Sign up as a new member at your credit union – or pick any credit union – and what happens? 

Ask yourself a sharper question: what doesn’t happen?  Think hard on that because the future of this new member relationship hangs in the balance. 

Amy Downs, CEO at Allegiance Credit Union, a $260 million institution headquartered in Oklahoma City, has been thinking hard on these very questions and she believes she has found an answer that helps bring her credit union squarely into the 21st century’s digital world. 

Mind you, Amy has worked at Allegiance for many years, 30 in fact. She remembers the new member welcomes of the old days. Back then Allegiance was officed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and it serviced federal employees.  As new workers were onboarded by human resources, they ordinarily were brought by the credit union and of course they got a warm welcome from the credit union employees, recalled Amy. Many of those new employees signed up on the spot.  And why not? They had been sincerely greeted by credit union employees – probably including the president, definitely senior managers. They knew they had a name and face they could seek out down the road if they had an issue they wanted to discuss. 

What bank could match those human faces at the credit union? 

Flashforward to nowadays and what happens when a new member joins a credit union? Increasingly that happens online. Then what? Probably there is a welcome email – and doesn’t that sound warm, friendly and inviting? 

Not. 

Probably, too, there is a welcome packet that arrives by US Mail – along with bunches of postcards from nearby dental offices, solicitations for donations, and maybe a past due notice on an electric bill. 

Credit unions are scrambling – and many are failing – to make good, warm ties with new members. And many of those new members drift away or, even more commonly, they never put more than a few dollars into their credit union account. The bulk of their wallet is at another institution. 

The future for credit unions is terrible – if things stay like this. 

Matters got especially complicated at Allegiance. In 2002, the credit union got a community charter where it now serves people who live or work in the six counties around Oklahoma City. 

In that transition, what was lost was that new employee introduction and that was a powerful moment that set up thousands of strong member – credit union relationships. 

Amy thought on this and then she heard about an alternative.  What she now sends new members is a welcome video in which her smiling face is on camera, offering a sincere happiness that the new member brought Allegiance their business. 

A couple times a week she scans the list of new members and when she recognizes a name, she makes a personal video. When she saw a husband of a close personal friend, she laughingly said in that video, “About time you listened to your wife!” 

But even with the members she doesn’t know, what they see in Amy’s video is a person who is glad to meet them. 

“We are losing our personal touch, all credit unions are,” said Amy.  “Everything has changed. It’s not the way it was, when we were on a first name basis with all our members. Now we have to work at it.” 

When Amy heard about new member welcome videos, she wanted to know more. When she discovered the costs are nominal – she records her own, using a digital video recorder that cost $65 – and the actual time to record is a matter of minutes, she was all in. 

Understand: the video is similar to what would have been an in-person meet and greet with a new member a generation ago. Amy’s videos are in the vicinity of 30 seconds. That matters because our attention spans just aren’t suited to movie-length video welcomes.

The bottomline for Amy and Allegiance: “We have to start marketing in different ways, or credit unions will be left behind.” 

Use the technology that is readily available to forge stronger ties with new members. Welcome videos – absolutely – are a step in that direction. 

Credit Union 2.0 has developed video solutions for new member welcomes – they in fact facilitated the work for Allegiance. For more info, here’s the contact. 

Want to see Amy’s video? Click here. 

Speaker Spotlight: Kirk Drake Helps Credit Unions Connect with Members

by Catalyst Corporate | Mar 20, 2018

Timing is everything, especially when it relates to a credit union’s long-term success, says Kirk Drake, co-founder of CU Wallet, LLC and CU 2.0 strategist. Drake, a featured speaker at Catalyst Corporate’s 2018 Future Forums, believes implementing technologies at the right time is key to a credit union’s sustainability.

“Don’t believe a technologist who tells you they know where innovation will be in three to five years,” said Drake. “It’s impossible to predict where technology will be that far in advance.”

And therein lies the challenge. Credit unions still try. When implementing new technologies and services, credit unions aim for perfection, says Drake. This approach creates long product rollouts and lifecycles before ever introducing members into the process.

“In 3-5 years, the technology that was once brand new is now obsolete,” said Drake. “We’re solving a problem that’s no longer a problem. By the time a strategy is ready to roll out, the wow factor is gone, and you don’t have the first-mover advantage.”

What should credit unions do differently to achieve long-term sustainability?

“The successful brands put things out before they’re ready for primetime. This helps determine trends and interest before betting big,” said Drake.

Drake discusses this approach in his book, CU 2.0: A Guide for Credit Unions Competing in the Digital Age. The “if you build it, they will come” approach is destined to fail, he said, because no one is joining a credit union for what may come. A better user experience will keep more members around, but it’s not going to make people switch financial institutions, he added.

Building that exceptional member experience requires some effort, said Drake. First, credit unions need to understand the needs and wants of their community. “Recognize that the connection point isn’t necessarily the products you think are valuable, but the things members are interested in,” said Drake.

He suggests approaching product and service development like one might approach dating. “It’s not about you. It’s about them,” he said. “Every credit union has a unique story to tell. We need to focus on building relationships in which we seek to understand the problem before we prescribe a solution.”

Second, Drake says to focus on trends, rather than fads, to help better a credit union’s timing. “Credit unions want to be involved in trends. Fads, they don’t,” he said.

“Video is the No. 1 technology trend today,” adds Drake. “But credit unions must be surgical and strategic about its use.” Drake explains that video must be highly personalized and contain relevant information. While credit unions are great at adapting to new technologies like video, they may struggle with deployment.

“Half of the challenge credit unions face is finding the right technology, and half of the challenge is learning how to deploy that technology in an effective way,” he said. “Video is not new technology, but credit unions can learn to use it more effectively.”

Other technologies credit unions should employ include marketing automation, blockchain and voice integration, said Drake.

Conversely, Drake suggests retiring a few technologies. “No one should be using a fax machine anymore,” said Drake. “They don’t deliver a good member experience, and there are better ways to accomplish the same function.”

Drake also believes non-responsive websites and call-tree phone systems are a way of the past. “Let’s hurry up and get rid of old implementations of technology,” he said. “We’re not saving any time. We’re just poking members in the eye.”

For more on this topic, don’t miss Drake’s presentation, “Connecting to Members in a Connected World,” Thursday, Oct. 4, during the payments segment of the Future Forums. To see a complete list of all Future Forums (Economic and Payments) speakers and topics, and to register for the event, visit catalystcorp.org/r/forum.

MRDC 2.0 And Your Credit Union 

By Robert McGarvey 

 For CU2.0  

A new report from RemoteDepositCapture.com makes plain that mRDC now is a must for credit unions.  Declared the report: “mRDC is no longer a competitive differentiator, but instead a ‘must-have’ offering Financial Institutions need simply to remain competitive.” 

Without mRDC you just may not be competitive. That’s a stinging reality. 

This claim, incidentally, is underscored by a separate report, led by the Federal Reserve of Boston, that claimed 73% of the institutions it surveyed already offer mRDC and another 18% “plan to offer.”  Just 9% don’t have mRDC on their dance cards. 

Small credit unions are very much included among the adopters. Said the Fed: “ Even among the smallest respondents, 78 percent support or plan to support mRDC within two years “ It defined “smallest respondents” as < $100M in assets. And just 22% of them have no plans to offer mRDC. 

Big institutions are all aboard. Among institutions with assets >$1 billion, the Fed said 92% already offer mRDC and only 3% have no plans to follow. 

mRDC has become a must have.  That’s a key reality in today’s new reality where we have entered the era of mRDC 2.0. Now the focus is on new uses, more usage by members, and there also is a wholly new kind of thinking around mRDC fraud and how to combat it. 

A lot has happened to mRDC since 2009 when USAA debuted mRDC.  A handful more joined the chase in 2009-2010. But then the race was on at full speed inside most CUs to offer mRDC. 

Initially many credit unions grumbled about the fees associated with mRDC – fees charged by third party processors – but, by now, most larger institutions have simply decided to suck up the added costs, which incidentally usually are much, much lower than the costs associated with a paper check deposited at a branch. 

That’s a fact: mRDC saves a credit union money.  While expanding the convenience and utility of the account to members who now can make deposits while dressed in their PJs and sitting at the breakfast table.  That is cool and it ultimately is why mRDC usage will remain popular as long as paper checks circulate and these days about 17 billion of them get written in the US annually.  That number continues to slip down but it will be years before checks vanish (and aren’t we all waiting for the long predicted death of cash?). 

Face it: checks are hanging around and so will mRDC because it just is so much better than driving to a branch or to an ATM. 

John Leekley, CEO of RemoteDepositCapture.com, said many institutions have gotten increasingly more skilled at their mRDC offerings. 

A plus: Leekley pointed to data that shows a 35% year over year increase in mRDC transactions which means more checks are getting deposited this way. 

Are more fraudulent checks also getting deposited? Roll back the clock and that was a huge fear among many credit union execs, some of whom stalled when it came to rolling out mRDC.   

Today’s take is very different, said Leekley, who indicated that his survey found that “the vast majority (74%) of respondents indicated they had no losses directly attributable to mRDC.” 

That means zip. 

The big fear still revolves around duplicate deposits – depositing the same paper at multiple institutions – but the numbers don’t show there is a threat of any real magnitude. Leekley’s report goes on: “Exclusive to RemoteDepositCapture.com, the industry’s mRDC Duplicate Loss Rate in 2016 was just 0.035%, or 3.5 in every 10,000 items. To put this in perspective, according to the Federal Reserve, the industry’s overall return item rate was 0.4%, or approximately 40 out of every 10,000 checks deposit.” 

What’s next for mRDC? Most credit unions now appear to want to get more consumers depositing more items with mRDC. 

Leekley also indicated many institutions are giving a re-think to mRDC deposit limits. Traditionally, some institutions set very low limits, to manage exposure to fraud. But, said Leekley, more effective and more consumer friendly approaches involving smart use of big data are taking hold.   

Many institutions also are looking to increase business use of mRDC, added Leekley, who said this was a big frontier for many.  Exactly how will be a huge topic of discussion and exploration this year but know this: now is the time for you to begin to seek to push mRDC usage into new arenas. 

It’s a good tool, it works. Let its success fuel your institution’s.