What effects can we see and what can we learn

A few days ago, I saw some very interesting stats from Google on how profoundly movement patterns have changed in recent weeks. The data comes from anonymized location data from Android users who have Location History turned on: https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

And I started wondering… what effects can we see by comparing the last few weeks of credit union website stats against the recent past, and what can we learn?

Total traffic is up for some, down for others

Some of our CU websites are seeing increased traffic. This makes sense; branches are closed or limited, so members are leaning on the website more for information and online banking.

What we didn’t expect is to see is other sites where traffic is a little down in the last few weeks. After some head-scratching, perhaps this is due to members who aren’t out buying gas, groceries, meals, etc., as often, and so don’t need to check their accounts as much.

But we don’t yet know why some CUs are seeing less traffic and some more. We work with credit unions of all sizes all over the country, and so far we’re not seeing a consistent pattern. If you have a theory, please leave a comment below or email.

Members ARE paying close attention to your COVID-19 content

Again, this is probably pretty obvious, but COVID-19/coronavirus pages are now the top or close to the top pages on every credit union site. We’d recommend keeping one consistent landing or “hub” page updated with the latest info about how you’re addressing the crisis. Things change fast, so make sure you also remember to remove old info as needed.

We’re also seeing some separation between the “safety” and “financial” content, with pages popping up called “Financial Assistance” or “Financial Relief” with specifics about emergency loans, skip pay, etc.

Related topics are seeing more traffic

Skip pay, debt consolidation, contact info, and information about new types of fraud are seeing more traffic. Online and mobile banking pages are also seeing strong traffic. Make sure your members have complete up to date info.

And make sure members can easily find instructions for handling common issues with online banking; more people are now using online banking who aren’t familiar with it. CUs that have this info on their website are seeing more traffic and internal search activity for these pages.

However, the “normal” popular pages like auto loans, and loan rates are still seeing fairly normal levels of traffic. Perhaps members are contemplating refinancing or buying when the crisis eases, and the usual rate watchers are still keeping an eye out for changes. Many CUs are seeing increased interest in home equity and mortgage pages as members consider refinancing.

Locations and hours pages are seeing a bit less traffic. Most sites are announcing branch closings or restrictions on their home pages or COVID-19 pages and of course members are going out less.

Careers or employment pages are usually popular but seeing far less traffic. If you’re hiring, make sure mention this with your home page or COVID-19 info.

Dates and times are getting more diffuse

At many credit unions, there are strong indications that a lot of members have the habit of logging in to check their accounts in the morning when they get to work, and another bump around 7:00 pm when folks settle in after work. And weekends normally have far less activity.

In the last few weeks, traffic has smoothed out quite a bit across days and times as people log in from home at different times than usual. Make sure your phone hours are as easy to find as your branch hours, and consider offering extended phone service hours.

We’re also seeing a lot of CUs add other ways to communicate, like live chat and forms.

More interest in non-product content

CUs that have an active blog, do a lot of community service work, etc. are seeing more traffic to these posts and pages. If you can, keep the content rolling, and get some good news out there. We’re all getting virus news fatigue, so take some opportunities to say something different and interesting.

Interesting, local content is is an area where credit unions can shine. Tell members what you’re doing to help, and as time goes on, tell them how things are going and how it’s helping people get through.

Increased mobile usage

The reasons are probably obvious, but we are also seeing a recent bump in the percentage of members visiting your site wtih mobile and tablet devices. Make sure your website is up to the job, and take an extra moment to double-check that your content works well on mobile devices.

One common mistake we’ve been seeing a little more lately is large images that aren’t properly optimized. This can greatly slows down page speed, which is critical for mobile devices (and SEO, since Google prioritizes sites with good mobile page speed).

If you’re working from home and don’t have access to Photoshop, use a online photo editor like Pixlr or Photopea to resize and crop your images and optimize them for smaller file sizes. If your images are already cropped and sized correctly, TinyJPG can do a great job of optimizing without losing visible quality.