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Credit Union Marketing: Differentiating Your Credit Union From Banks (And Other Credit Unions)

brian_marsh   by Brian Marsh October 9, 2017

You know the difference between your credit union and local and national banks. Banks can’t compete with your interest rates. You also know that you provide more personal, attentive customer service than banks.

But what about your potential customers...do they know the difference?

 
The answer is no, they don't. Look at the screenshot below – these are the most common questions asked in Google related to credit unions. 
 
credit union questions in google
 
These insights show that 590 people every month are trying to figure out what the difference is between a bank and a credit union. That's in addition to the 6,600+ people who have no idea what a credit union is at all. 
 
Even once a person decides they would prefer a credit union over a bank, there's still the challenge of standing out from other credit unions. 
 
So, how can you differentiate yourself – not only from banks but also from your credit union competitors?
 

Marketing Your Credit Union to Stand Out Online

When you’re competing in a saturated market, like banking, you must find a way to stand out. Unique branding, community service and local events are all ways to stand out in the physical world. You probably have a good grasp on that already. 
 
But marketing credit unions in the digital world is a whole different ball game...
 
Here are some ways to differentiate your credit union online. This will help you generate new customers and encourage existing members to use more of your products.
 

Make your credit union more visible

Think about this: when your customers drive around, they probably have a hard time remembering your credit union over others. And you can't blame them. Most credit unions share similar naming schemes.

In Richmond, for example, here's what you'll find:

  • Credit Union of Richmond
  • Richmond Federal Credit Union
  • Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union
  • Virginia Credit Union

Other credit unions often have very long names that include "federal credit union" or "financial federal credit union". These long titles make them hard to remember and the similarities makes it hard to tell them apart. 

A similar issue occurs online...

Look at these search results for "credit union richmond va":

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 10.44.49 AM.png

None of these credit union names really stand out. And if you're location isn't in your credit union's name, you're probably not even showing up near the top of the search. 

What does this mean?

It means that, even worse than the people who pass your physical location and don't remember who you are, nobody is even seeing you online to start with. 

That is, unless you take steps to improve your visibility.

Luckily, there are several easy – and often inexpensive – ways to boost visibility online. Here are some of the most effective ways to get noticed online: 

Gain visibility with search and display advertisements

You probably already know about Google AdWords and there's a reason for that: it works! 

The goal with search ads is to show up when your customers are searching for services you provide. Display ads put you in front of your potential customers while they're in the "consideration stage" and they'll show up on other sites that users visit.

The targeting tools with AdWords are advanced and allow for incredible accuracy and optimization. If you haven't already launched an AdWords campaign, you're missing out on a major opportunity to increase visibility and, arguably, one of the best ways to generate qualified leads. 

Did You Know-.png

One of the most effective and cheapest ways to leverage Google ads is through remarketing.  Remarketing allows you to show ads to people who have already visited your website.

Remarketing is a great credit union advertising tactic because it makes it easy to customize messaging according to the pages people have visited and it's typically less expensive than traditional search and display ads. 

When you're aiming strictly for more visibility, remarketing is a great place to start. 

Boost exposure with social media advertising

Just like search and display ads, if you're not already leveraging social advertising then, frankly, you're not keeping up. 

To be clear, this is different from your organic social media activity. Social media advertising means leveraging the advertising tools provided by social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on. 

You may be surprised to learn that the advertising tools from these sites offer great targeting, analytics and customization features. 

Social media advertising is important for a simple reason: that's where your customers are; that means it's where you should be as well. 

One of the keys to being successful with these ads is understanding which social platforms your target audience is using. 

For instance, if you're targeting college students then you may not have much luck with LinkedIn or Facebook – you'll probably see more success from Instagram and Snapchat. 

Just like Google, many of these platforms allow you to run remarketing ads and they can be just as rewarding through social media. 

The cheapest way to earn more visibility

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 6.47.41 PM.png

Google and social platforms are great tools to get in front of potential customers. But even the cheapest ad campaigns aren't as inexpensive as using your own website. 

I know what you're thinking: "We already run banner ads on our homepage with our latest rates and coolest new features."

Okay – that's great. It's prominent real estate and most credit unions I've seen do display "ads" for products and services. 

If you're not already doing this, you should be. Think about how those banner graphics can be improved (and there's ALWAYS room for improvement) – make that space work for you and you'll start to see some extra revenue from cross-promotion. 

Some ways to get more visibility from your website: 

  • Heatmapping tools: (Hotjar offers a free tool that's good enough for most companies) to see how visitors are using your page, including what they're clicking on (and not clicking on)
  • A/B testing: This simply means testing one version of something versus a second version of something. An simple example would be to test two different banner images on your homepage – whichever one gets clicked on the most is the winner. It's that easy! The best part is that you can A/B test (almost) anything. A few more test ideas:
    • Position of elements, such as buttons, login, important information
    • Page and element colors and graphics
    • Complete page design - test completely different pages to see how an overhauled page would impact your business
  • Use popups: Popups are a great way to introduce visitors to products, services, and other features that are special about your credit union. You can launch popups across your whole site or specific pages. You can also choose many other campaign settings. 

Be more visible to differentiate your credit union

You know that you have unique products and services for the people in your community. But they don't because you don't have the visibility it takes to overcome the big banks and large credit union brands. 

The good news is that gaining visibility using credit union digital marketing isn't complicated and it's not even expensive. Google and social advertising offer proven ROI when done the right way and are must-use strategies for credit unions who want to maintain market share.

Once you gain that visibility, you have a perfect opportunity to educate potential customers about the benefits of a credit union versus a bank.

There are also great approaches for adding visibility for current customers and website visitors by taking full advantage your website. These can often be executed internally or inexpensively using outside resources. 

Learn more about credit union marketing strategies to help your organization attract more members online.

Feel like your credit union isn't differentiating itself from other financial institutions? Comment here to ask questions or give us a call at 804-200-4545 to learn more about the approaches mentioned above. 

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As Manager of Digital Strategy, Brian provides solutions that blend strategy with creativity. Focusing on content marketing, email automation and conversion optimization, his work is backed by Hubspot Certifications, Google Certifications and years of experience working with clients.

 

Topics: Credit Union Marketing

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