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By: Meredith Olmstead

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October 6th, 2017

How Your Credit Union Can Better Compete with Online Lenders

Business Growth | Marketing for Your Financial Institution | Marketing Tips | Marketing & Sales Strategy | Millennial Marketing

As Credit Unions move their marketing and member service further into the 21st Century, one of the keys will be competing with online lenders. We work with clients daily on better reaching their target audiences with messages of the benefits of banking and borrowing through a credit union. Here's a few quick tips your credit union can implement immediately to better compete with online lenders:

Tip #1: Share and Engage with People About Topics Related to Lending, But Don't Try to SELL First

Think about it this way... according to the National Association of Realtors in 2012 "the use of the Internet in the home search rose slightly to 90 percent, and for buyers under the age of 44 this share increased to 96 percent." BUT, what this statistic doesn't tell you is WHAT people are using the internet to do. 

Consider this... these first home buying searches likely have nothing to do with lending or mortgages. Early in the home-buying journey prospective home buyers are likely looking for information that would help them find the home of their dreams, save for a home or find a good real estate agent. So, perhaps your credit union should be creating and sharing content around these kinds of topics.

How about for people searching online about buying a car? Rather than just focusing on car loans or how to get pre-approved to buy a new car, consider focusing on topics like helping people pick the perfect car for a family, should they buy a new or used car, or tips for negotiating with a car sales person. These kinds of suggestions will hit borrowers early in their buying process and will build trust for potentially applying for a loan later when they are ready to make a final purchase decision.

Tip #2: Remember that Lending is LOCAL - Always Optimize Your Branch Local Listing Results

One of the main ways that credit unions with brick and mortar locations can best compete with online lenders is to leverage their physical branch locations and completely optimize them for Google search. When a user searches online for lending options Google results will rank local locations even above other top organic results. This can give your credit union a valuable edge over online lenders!


Google explains that these results are directly influenced by improving your Google My Businesss Page and “local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.” Lenders without physical locations are not eligible to appear on map results. So, if your CU can continue to optimize your local search results, your institution will be able to compete with fintech lenders very effectively. You can test your branch lists here.

Try to do all of the following to improve your local search results:

To Improve 'Relevance' on Google:

  • Include relevant lending keywords and categories in all local listings, including your Google business page
  • Make sure all business information and service options are included in your local listings

To Improve 'Distance' on Google:

  • Make sure ALL credit union locations have detailed and accurate branch location information, hours and contact details

To Improve 'Prominance' on Google:

  • Encourage members to add reviews to Google and other local listing websites like Yelp or Waze. Well-know businesses have plenty of reviews
  • Possibly run a testimonial contest and include the option to share these via Google

FREE Local Search Tool: Test Your Local Branch Listings Today!


Tip 3: Make Sure Lending Staff Have Up-To-Date LinkedIn Profiles

Not only is lending local, but is also PERSONAL.  Consider that one of the biggest advantages your credit union has over fintech lenders is personalized and friendly member service. So why not feature your lending staff more prominently online? 

Individual staff should have optimized and regularly updated profiles on LinkedIN. These will help your credit union reach a more professional audience and also showcase your staff, who should be your biggest brand ambassadors.  Lending staff should regularly share ideas and tips on LinkedIN as well as blogs they write or find that will help borrowers. 

Here are a few easy fixes to LinkedIn personal profiles that your employees can make RIGHT NOW:

  • Have a nice photo and make sure all the information is up to date
  • Make sure their current position links to your Credit Union as the employer (And if you don’t have a company page, get to work on that immediately!!)
  • Include Key words in your Headline/Header
  • Write a nice summary of your skills in the first person
  • Post something at least once per week
  • Join a few relevant groups that connect to your role at the Credit Union

Tackling these three issues will help your credit union compete with Fintech lenders today!

Contact Us if you'd like to learn more or need some help!

Related Article: Is Your CU Website REALLY ADA Compliant? 

Credit Union Branch Location Tool Link

About Meredith Olmstead

Meredith Olmstead is the CEO and Founder of FI GROW Solutions, which provides Digital Marketing & Sales services. Since 2013 Meredith has led the FI GROW team, working exclusively with Credit Unions and Community Banks, taking staff step-by-step through the process of launching all of their Digital Marketing efforts, as well as implementing full Inbound Marketing campaigns and providing Sales Enablement training and support. Meredith recommends a very clear and measurable strategy to all of her clients, and then works with them to re-evaluate the success of these efforts on a continuing basis, all with an eye on moving toward a clear return on your online sales and marketing investment.

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