Significant planning, preparation and production goes into redesigning a financial institution’s website. But is equal consideration given to the post-launch strategy?
A bank or credit union typically overhauls its website about every three years, requiring careful coordination between internal and external teams. Most website redesigns involve months of planning, designing, writing, programming, marketing and testing. Once complete, the result is (hopefully!) a website that’s on-brand, mobile friendly, content-rich, functionally useful, and ADA compliant.
Launching a new website is only the beginning of the institution’s work effort. Successful banks and credit unions also plan ahead for what happens after the site goes live — maximizing the user experience, enabling inbound marketing and collecting valuable data.
While a new site serves as the online hub, the overall digital strategy is shaped through a combination of online marketing, maintenance and management. Here are eight ways you need to sustain the momentum once you’ve rolled your new site out.
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1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You simply can’t compete if your site doesn’t play nice with major search engines like Google and Bing. Search engine optimization (SEO) must be a major focus before-, during- and after your institution’s site is built.
Once a website is optimized, it needs to remain search-friendly through a strategic SEO nurturing program. The goal is to keep or improve on the traction that the website redesign project attained through foundational search engine best practices.
Analyzing your current website statistics, SEO experts should review how your site is performing and make recommendations for improvement. Combining on- and off-page optimization tactics, continual SEO services involve conducting keyword research, creating custom meta titles and descriptions, copywriting certain pages, as well as advising on the current site’s architecture, link strategy and build.
Furthermore, regional financial institutions can develop a local SEO strategy to maximize searches at the town or metro area level, leveraging Google My Business listings, schema markup and local landing pages.
Routine SEO upkeep also bodes well with inbound marketing services, including content marketing, search engine marketing, remarketing campaigns and social media marketing. To keep up with the evolving search algorithms and bolster your ongoing marketing efforts, SEO is a perpetual process that your financial institution should do during the site build and after launch and not just “set it and forget it.”
2. Pay-Per-Click Advertising Campaigns
Supplementing your SEO best practices, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising displays your institution’s site with paid ads alongside the highly competitive organic search results. As your website listing naturally climbs up the search ranks, PPC advertising ensures that your target market will see your brand and its services on popular search engines like Google and Bing.
Ideally, your search engine marketing (SEM) specialist will be a Google AdWords certified expert, giving your institution some peace of mind with its investment in PPC. Targeting relevant keywords with lower or medium competition, the SEM specialist can create a customized PPC campaign for your institution, pinpointing consumers in your geographic footprint, by what kind of device they use, and other specific criteria.
SEM is equal parts art and science, requiring strategic keyword research, ad copywriting, media budgeting, campaign management, bidding adjustments and performance tracking to maximize effectiveness. Carefully crafted ad copy serves to further attract target audiences, directing them to click through to an optimized landing page for more information and ultimate conversion.
To assure the PPC campaign is working, custom analytics can assist with conversion tracking with the collected consumer information used to propel subsequent remarketing initiatives. Complementing your organic SEO strategy, PPC advertising gets more eyeballs on your new financial site with targeted, pay-to-play ads.
Read More: 20 Google AdWords Optimizations for Financial Marketers
3. Social Media Marketing Campaigns
Social media marketing is a smart way to accentuate your institution’s site redesign, especially if that coincides with a brand refresh. Your existing social media channels will benefit from the continuity of a reskin that matches the updated look and feel of your new site. Your cover images, profile pic and image-based posts should reflect the digital style of the re-launched website, bringing forth consistent brand messaging.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and the like are appropriate channels to tease your audience with the redesign, and then subsequently guiding users through the transition of the new site once launched. Your site launch also represents an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate your existing social media presence, putting more emphasis on current channels. Additionally, it presents a timely opportunity to introduce additional channels, like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat to your social media mix.
Because members and customers often turn to these social media channels with customer service issues, your social media team needs to be ready to assist the online community during the new site launch.
Planning a social media campaign around the launch of your new institution’s site makes sense from both a customer service, as well as from a marketing point of view. And, plugging into an integrated marketing campaign or site launch campaign, a social media campaign can generate excitement, highlight new features and answer frequently asked questions surrounding the site launch.
4. Integrated Marketing Campaigns
With its updated design, advanced functionality, user-friendly interface, robust content and strong calls-to-action, your new site should become the focal point for your integrated marketing campaigns.
Promoting your institution’s brand, products and services, integrated marketing campaigns bring together content marketing, traditional marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing and email marketing initiatives with a singular focus.
With optimized destination pages and landing pages, your new site should have plenty to market, including your institution’s latest rates, limited-time offers, account openings, product promotions and more. In most cases, your site redesign either reflects a rebooted brand or serves as the centerpiece of a refreshed style guide. To clarify the message and earn consumer trust, your institution’s online and offline marketing tactics should have continuity with the look and feel of your site.
Your institution’s coordinated promotions – from in-branch print materials to online blog articles – should carry the same consistent brand messaging exemplified on your site redesign. Guiding target audiences along the sales funnel, this inbound marketing strategy will drive consumers to appropriate internal pages on your institution’s site or campaign landing pages for subsequent tracking and conversion.
5. Site Launch Campaign
A website launch campaign is an effective means to build excitement for your institution’s new site, as well as guide consumers through the transition of a redesign. A website launch campaign leverages elements of integrated marketing campaigns, using print and digital tactics, such as direct mail, posters, flyers, statement promotions, email, site banners, and more to call attention to the new site before and after launch.
A landing page often serves and the primary communication mechanism, giving customers and members a heads up to the redesign pre-launch and then offering updated content about the new site’s features and benefits post-launch.
Adding a contest to the launch campaign incentivizes consumers to take notice of the redesign and explore the new site features. Reinforcing your institution’s brand positioning and driving traffic to the new site, the contest can ask consumers to share their financial success stories, find a hidden digital asset on the site, participate in a site-related quiz, or forward the site to a friend to qualify for a chance to win a relevant prize.
Throughout the transition, social media marketing performs a starring role in your launch campaign, calling attention to the site redesign, communicating its new functionality, promoting an associated contest and driving to the corresponding campaign landing page. A well-conceived website launch campaign can also help reduce call center volume, while increasing adoption of your new financial site.
6. ADA Compliance and Support
ADA website compliance needs to be a priority for your institution’s redesign, making it accessible to all audiences, including those with disabilities. Launching your new website to be conformant to WCAG 2.0 standards is the first step. But, it’s important to have an ongoing process to keep it accessible for all consumers.
Because your site is continually being updated with new content and you will likely have many people with administrative website access, ongoing compliance scans are a necessity to maintain conformance. Meeting ever-evolving conformance rules, specific legalities and site standards, ADA conformant websites require proper business analysis, design decisions, content strategy and site testing to achieve compliance.
Read More: If Your Website Isn’t Built for the Blind, You Could Lose an ADA Lawsuit
7. Analytics Strategy and Reporting
When your new website is up and running, will you know how well it is performing and (more importantly), if it’s delivering ROI? That’s why an ongoing analytics strategy and reporting plan is key for all bank and credit union sites.
Before launch, your business goals and marketing objectives should align with quantitative success metrics for your site. The key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be set up and tracked in your site statistics, allowing you to monitor, measure and adjust tactics accordingly.
As the most ubiquitous website tracking platform, Google Analytics is free to use and offers robust reporting capabilities for banks and credit unions, while being compatible with other products, such as Google AdWords, Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio.
Whether your analytics monitoring needs require just the basic Google Analytics tracking code or more sophisticated goal and event tracking using Google Tag Manager, trained analytics experts can help to report against pre-determined goals.
Furthermore, custom analytics show how audiences are engaging with your site, reporting on the effectiveness of inbound marketing campaigns. Robust statistical reporting is integral to proving a worthwhile return on investment to key stakeholders within your financial institution, as well as making more informed marketing decisions with your new site.
8. Site Hosting and Monitoring
Website hosting is one of the most critical components on your financial site’s success. After all, what good is a world-class website if your consumers can’t access it?
Banks and credit unions need a safe, secure and reliable hosting environment as the lifeblood to the financial institution’s online presence. While each institution will have unique needs, all will require a secure, robust web-hosting package should include SSL secure certificates, firewall/traffic routing and DDOS mitigation services.
Some institutions may also require data encryption, load balancing, geographic redundancy and DNS failover services. Moreover, your hosting provider should provide continuous support to protect your consumers and institutions from threats, such as website monitoring, intrusion detection, penetration testing, vulnerability reporting, anti-phishing and anti-pharming services.
Website hosting must offer more than dedicated servers and multi-cloud connectivity; you need the human support behind the services to help address any issues. Combining automated processes with manual review, your institution’s site hosting and monitoring requires a reliable solution for uninterrupted service.
Making a Continual Investment In Your Website
Indeed, your institution’s new site development is a monumental undertaking, necessitating proper allocation of time, money and resources to ensure a successful launch. However, before going live, planning how to sustain the momentum of your new site should be built into your digital strategy.
- Optimize the site to show up in search results with proper SEO.
- Drive traffic to the new site and gain valuable feedback with social media.
- With various online and offline tactics communicating your brand messaging, prominently figure integrated marketing campaigns into the new site.
- Promoting before and after the new site goes live, a website launch campaign informs and educates your customers and members.
- From a usability standpoint, your site redesign must comply with the latest ADA conformance standards for accessibility.
- Set up the right site metrics and interpret the reporting properly to assist in the long-term viability of the new site.
- And last, but not least, ensure its continuous uptime with dependable hosting and monitoring.
Thinking ahead, you can put the right plan, people and process in place to make sure the site is continuously monitored, measured, updated, marketed and compliant.
Chris Rinaldi is a Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. To discuss your digital strategy needs with ZAG, call 860.633.4818 or send an email.