It's Time To Invest In 'Mobilizing' Websites

You might not realize it, but 20% to 40% of the people visiting your credit union's website are using smartphones or tablets to get there. That number will likely double by this time next year. If your website is not built to look good in mobile environments, loads slowly or is difficult to navigate via a mobile device, you are turning off a large portion of visitors and ensuring they won't return-especially younger consumers under 35 years old.

As U.S. consumers shift more product research and purchase activity online, many credit unions are experiencing a growing disconnect in their marketing strategies. Rather than bridging the two worlds of in-branch sales and external marketing, credit unions are tending to isolate them-in some cases, ignoring online marketing entirely and, therefore, forfeiting significant opportunities to integrate customer acquisition and cross-selling. This is usually due to a lack of understanding regarding what exactly to do and/or difficulty in finding the right people to assist with these opportunities.

In addition to online banking features consumers have come to expect, your website needs to first offer a great experience to your members and prospective new members. You want to offer an easy and visually-pleasing user interface to those who visit your website looking for the latest news, promotions, rates and access to accounts.


How Do Prospects See You?

So how do you determine whether your website is offering a good or bad mobile experience to visitors right now?

First, there are many tools out there to check what your website looks like on a mobile device if you do not have access to an iPhone or Android (keep in mind that although everyone talks about iPhones, Android had more than 70% global share of smartphone users, vs. 21% for the iPhone, as of Q4 2012 according to Time).

One example of an interactive site that shows a very realistic image on an iPhone of what your site would look like, you can try for free at MobilePhoneEmulator.com. Just type in your URL and see what your site looks like from a mobile perspective.

Next, you can check how your website is performing in a mobile environment with a simple test on Google's PageSpeed Insights.

Equally as important to creating a great mobile website is also keeping mobile users in mind when building your marketing strategy, even if most of your budget is offline. That may seem counterintuitive, but if you are buying TV or radio ads, or sending flyers or print ads in publications, know that consumers are still going to visit your website to learn more about you and what you have to offer. Those who do so via a smartphone or tablet can quickly become disinterested if that experience is not strong.

Fortunately, a large investment in "mobilizing" your site is not required. Through free templates, responsive design themes and other new platforms, it is more simplistic to improve the mobile experience with your in-house design and technology teams or by reaching out to one of the hundreds of mobile website development companies both large and small.


It Wasn't That Long Ago...

No matter how you are marketing to your existing members and potential new members, your current strategies should begin to shift with thinking "mobile first" today.

Remember when most credit unions didn't even have websites? This same shift is happening again, with credit unions accelerating forward to not only have robust websites with great features for their users, but now taking the next step to optimize their websites and services to cater to the rapidly growing mobile user.

Jeff Bartlett is the head of ConsumerTrack.com, which owns www.GoBankingRates.com, an interest rate and personal finance website.