As I have written before, there are many things to consider when building a website that sells. And to build this kind of website, it is important that you have secured the budget you need.
Because generally speaking, the websites credit unions build are vastly underfunded.
What we typically find in our digital marketing assessments is that some credit unions wait as long as 4-5 years, if not longer, before making an investment into their websites..
Their website is their number one sales person.
We reviewed many websites that re-launched this year, but found nothing had changed. Besides applying a fresh coat of paint on the same old brochure-style websites, the structure and purpose of these sites remained the same.
Yes, these new websites may look aesthetically better. And some are even optimized for mobile viewing. But their purpose has not changed, and they lack the structure needed to have a positive impact on the bottom line.
When properly planned for, you can get the budget you need to build a website that sells.
And this website will be a digital asset, as it directly generates leads, increases conversions and helps to grow share of wallet.
What is Your Vision for the Next 3-5 Years?
This is the most critical question to ask in order to get the budget you need. If you are unsure of what that vision will look like, here are some secondary questions to ask:
- How is your credit union looking to grow?
- Who are your key market segments now? What about in the coming years?
- Where is the biggest opportunity for growth? Offline or online?
- Are you still investing in and building physical branches?
- What kind of support do you have from the executive team to invest in assets and business models more applicable for a digital economy?
- What offline activities could you stop doing to get digital dollars?
- How can digital provide a benefit to departments throughout the credit union?
- Would you be able to sell a physical branch to invest in digital assets?
Changing Perceptions Through Education
If your credit union’s vision is to invest in physical assets and branch infrastructure, the role your website and other digital channels will continue to be limited. As a result, you will have nothing more than a brochure-like website, while other financial institutions begin building digital sales channels.
This hesitancy to focus on digital can stem from many things, including fear. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Digital has become the big elephant in the room that everyone knows exists but does not want to discuss.
Through our digital assessments, we have found it is hard for some to invest in digital assets they can’t see, touch or feel. They are more comfortable in investing in a tangible asset, such as physical branches.
There is nothing wrong with this kind of thinking as it is human to know what we need to do is exactly that of which we don’t know. Regarding digital, a CEO recently told me, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
And to both the CEO and to you I say, “Don’t worry.”
4 Steps to Change Perceptions About Digital Assets
To change these perceptions begins with education and training at the executive level. The following four points can help you facilitate a conversation to overcome the internal resistance you may be facing in regards to investing in digital assets.
1. Assess Branch Performance
Calculate the amount of traffic coming into your physical branches on a monthly basis. Next, identify the trends of this traffic over the past three years. Is it increasing or decreasing?
Furthermore, determine how much business your physical branches are converting including new accounts, loans and other income generating products. Put another way, how much are your branches selling?
Once you have this information collected, rank your branches in order of sales. Next, rank your branches in order of profitability. Which branches are profitable? Which are not?
2. Assess Website and Digital Performance
Calculate the amount of traffic coming to your website on a monthly basis.
Next, determine how much new business your website is generating through new accounts, loans and other income-generating products. If you don’t have the ability to open an account online, or if the process is poorly optimized, this number could be lower than it should be. Put another way, this would be like keeping the doors of your branches locked and expecting them to generate new business.
Finally, compare your website traffic to your branch traffic as a whole as well as for each branch location you have. Do the same in regards to sales and profitability.
3. Compare Physical vs. Digital Performance
Review physical versus digital investments over the past three years. How much have you spent on building new branches? How much have you spent on digital assets like your website? Finally, how do these investments impact the bottom line?
For example, you probably spent around $1.2 million to build a new branch and another $250,000 to staff that branch. How is that branch performing and what impact does it have on the bottom line?
Next, determine how much you have invested into digital assets, including:
- Email marketing
- Digital content production
- Loan applications
- Online banking
- Mobile banking
- Bill pay
What impact do these digital assets have on the bottom line?
4. Assess Digital Opportunities Beyond Marketing
Interview different departments to see how a website could increase revenue and reduce operating costs. What processes could be improved and enhanced through digital? What expenses could be reduced or eliminated? What new revenue opportunities might you find?
Start Acting Like an Online Retailer
The goal of this exercise is to view all of digital, and not just your website, as an operational asset.
I challenge you to start thinking like an online retailer and treat digital, which includes a website that sells, as its own business model. Furthermore, consider how investments in digital can come from all organizational department budgets and not just from marketing.
Each month, take time to compare how your digital assets are performing against your physical assets, along with the impact each has on your credit union’s bottom-line.
By finding the answers to the above questions, you can begin to build the case for the budget you need to build a website that sells.
More importantly, when you prove the positive impact your website and digital assets have on your credit union’s bottom line, you will get the budget you need to keep optimizing their performance year after year.