ARLINGTON, Va.-Credit union member growth has seen a slight uptick, but the challenge remains further growing market share and especially reaching the "unaware non-member."
One solution, courtesy of NAFCU Services Corp., is 30 online financial calculators that both attract consumers to a credit union locator site (www.CULookup.com) to learn more about CUs, and which also can be deployed on credit union websites. These calculators are free to NAFCU members, and drove more than 200,000 calculations from some 60,000 individuals in their first five months, according to David Frankil, president, NAFCU Services Corp.
Frankil said CUs have faced an ongoing challenge in getting their message to consumers who simply are not aware of the benefits of credit unions. Typically, non-member prospects fit two categories: they understand the benefits and are looking for a CU to join, or they are unaware of the benefits and do not yet know they should be looking for a CU.
"The second 'unaware non-member' audience represents a significant opportunity for growth, but is the most difficult to reach," he assessed. "Most online credit union locators are 'passive,' meaning they are found easily with a search if someone is already looking for a credit union. But passive approaches ignore those that have not yet learned about credit unions, have no idea what a credit union is, and have zero chance of Googling a credit union locator."
Reaching the "unaware non-members" requires financial content to attract them to a site, NAFCU Services concluded. Once there, consumers will be able to learn about the benefits of, and search for, a CU.
CULookup.com initially met the needs of target audience one-those who know the benefits of CUs and are actively looking to join-because it has a searchable database of all federally insured CUs and their branches (both federal and state charters) with basic or enhanced listings. In December 2009, CULookup evolved to an "active" site by adding 30 free financial calculators intended to attract those unaware consumers, regardless of their knowledge of CUs.
Five categories emphasize key CU value drivers-auto, home, credit, savings and retirement at www.culookup.com/calculators. Each calculator features a results tab displaying calculation results, an information tab pointing users to CU search, and a resources tab with educational links, which Frankil said is a "unique feature."
In February 2010, the calculators became deployable to CU websites, which Frankil said allows them to communicate the value of solutions to both members and non-members, generate leads, and provide a valuable member service.
The calculators are free to NAFCU members and are available to CUs not eligible for NAFCU membership for amounts Frankil said are less than other online calculators with similar features ($450 to $1500/year, based on asset size). Four versions (fully embedded to simple hyperlink) enable any size credit union to use the calculators, he added.
Another benefit, according to NSC, is credit unions receive reports on which calculators are being used on a real-time basis, which allows them to gauge member interest and track promotions.
A recent enhancement is the lead-generation calculator. "The basic calculator is interactive, but a little passive in the sense it involves a member being on a credit union website," Frankil said. "The question remains-how to capture the lead. NAFCU Services partnered with Digital Mailer to monetize the traffic that comes in to use calculators."
The results are "phenomenal so far," Frankil declared.
"By the time you publish the article we will have had more than 500,000 calculations since February. Credit unions of all sizes all over the country are using it. We really bent over backwards to make these as user-friendly as possible, both for a credit union to implement but also for members to use. We tried to make them meaningful and they have resonated."