How do you measure the success of a credit union website?

How does your web site measure up?

How do you measure the success of a credit union website, and how do you justify spending money on it? We’ve had some interesting discussions lately on metrics for CU sites, and here are the points raised:

One key is to remember that to members, your site is a tool – not an entertainment destination or a fun place to hang around.

They’re there to get something done. CU sites should be slippery, not sticky. Just like your branches, members should be able to get in and out as fast as possible. So less traffic can be a very good thing. (I’m leaving aside tracking clicks on promotions and promotional pages because that’s pretty straightforward.) What if, instead of total time on your site,  you tracked how quickly your members can get to the information they need?

Another key is branding and brand personality.

Just like a branch visit, members should come away from your web site with the correct impression of your brand personality. Prospective members should be able to get an accurate “read” on how they’ll be treated, what you’re like to do business with, and what they can expect.

But branding impact in any form is tough to measure — can you point to revenue from the shade of paint used in your branch, or the type of bushes planted outside? Not so much, but it’s obvious a branch environment has a large impact. A web site is much the same — does it position you as trusted, competent, energetic, laid-back, high-tech, old-fashioned, cheap, or what? Does it damage your brand by being plain vanilla or does it align with and improve your brand in unique ways?

One way to measure these things could be with a series of quick one-question surveys on the home page.

If you don’t require a login or personal information, you’ll get lots of results. The questions themselves would be another way to communicate your brand personality (hip? techie? fun?). The very fact that you’re seeking and acting on member feedback is unusual in the world of business, but it’s a natural connection to basic credit union values.

In terms of pageviews, it’s important to relate aspects of the web site to other parts of the CU.

In other words, look outside the web site for baselines and ways to measure the influence of the site, and see if that correlates to any trends in the site data. For example, I don’t know if anyone is doing this yet, but I’d love to see a CU track “non-transaction” phone calls (and perhaps even branch visits) over time, then use that data to work on making information easier to find and understand on the web site. (And, of course, train your phone service people to mention the web site to members.) In that case, over time you can start to see and track actual cost savings from the web site. Same with your higher traffic branches — how many people are there for something they could do or find online? If this is a problem, perhaps a few reminders about the web site could help.

You can also get an idea of how you’re doing by tracking search terms used within your site.

Your internal search should log successful and failed queries so you can find out what people are looking for when they get to your site, and make content adjustments if needed. For example, we’ve found that the top search term is often “routing number”, so perhaps it’s a good idea to post this on your home page.

Another interesting and simple metric would be to ask new members whether they looked at the CU’s web site before joining.

You’ll likely find that a surprising number have looked through the site and factored that information into their decision to join. Note that this is a different question than simply asking “how did you hear about us?” — they may have first heard about the CU from a friend, or at work, then researched their decision online.

Brian Wringer

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