NAFCU Services Blog

Jun 01, 2011

Online financial calculators: Not just another website widget

As Kevin O’Donnell described in a recent guest blog post on attracting and retaining ‘next generation’ members, the importance of having a dynamic website is key to satisfying the needs and wants of younger generation members and prospects. I would argue that this is true for all members, no matter their age.

Consumers age 10 to age 74 are all becoming more tech savvy. My grandma is on Facebook. My mother always has the latest updates on Droid apps. And my 10-year-old neighbor should hold the world record for texting speed. Even pets are getting in on the rise of technology – did you know there’s an iPad app to entertain your cat while you’re at work?!

It’s easy to see why – when you want to know how much home you can afford, do you immediately call your credit union and ask for a person in mortgages? No, you look online! (There’s a reason “Google” is now also a verb in Webster’s Dictionary). The Internet is the easiest way to find the quick answer you want. Your members do the same thing, whether they’re wondering how much to save for college, how long their retirement savings will last, or how long until they pay off that looming credit card bill. So, if your credit union doesn’t have the tools to answer these questions ONLINE, then you’re missing out on member leads.

Not to mention, these are (in essence) pre-qualified leads for the solutions you offer at your credit union. When someone comes to your website to see how much home they can afford, you want your home affordability calculator to be front and center. After they figure out their mortgage options based on that calculator, your superior loan rates should be featured right there, and bam, new interested member prospect. (You better have your 'Contact Us' button close by too!)

Okay, now that you know why you MUST have financial calculators on your website, let’s talk about some innovative ways to use them in order to obtain new members and grow the member relationships you have. It's not enough to just throw some calculators on a page of your website (although that is a good start). I asked some of the credit unions that use the NAFCU Services financial calculators on their websites about how they use them and got some great examples to share with you.

Innovative Uses of Online Financial Calculators:

Location, location, location. Put your calculators in areas of your website that make sense and have an easy transition to the next action you want users to take.

  • With loan products. Obviously, if you’re interested in mortgages or share certificates, having a relevant, easy and interactive calculator right there to compare your loan options or determine the worth of a CD at maturity is a huge value-add. Greater TEXAS Federal Credit Union does this well (the NAFCU 2011 Marketing Award winner for their website), and as a result helps move members along the sales cycle from prospect to loan application. Check out the navigation menus on HcHenry County Federal Credit Union’s site. The calculator links are right there with the loan and account menus. Bonus points for linking to the loan application right from their calculator pages!
  • On your rates page. What better way to show members the full value of your solutions than to take the great rates of your credit union and plug them into the online financial calculators that are just a click away? Way to go Latvian CU!
  • A link on every page! This is one of my favorite answers. Yes, there are obvious areas that make great sense like with loan products, but what comes first, the loan or the calculator? Okay, so I was looking for branch locations, but wait, what’s this, a “How much car can I afford?” calculator – yes, please – the old station wagon has certainly seen better days…I wonder if my credit union has any auto loan specials… Get the picture? Calculators are a great interactive tool – show them off and make them easy to find! Great job AmeriCU Credit Union!
  • Don’t forget social media. Social media strategy is another discussion entirely, but if you are in social media, multimedia and interactive tools like online calculators are a perfect match.Webster First FCU on Facebook

Visions FCU on Twitter

Face-to-face. So I know it seems like everyone is interacting with technology and online, but the truth is we can’t hide behind our cell phones and computer screens forever. Face-to-face opportunities for branding, community outreach and counseling are very effective.

  • Webster First Federal Credit Union runs a financial literacy program. They visit local schools and talk to students about the importance of saving, building credit, managing money, etc. Part of the financial literacy program includes talking to the students about calculating savings goals where they refer to Webster First’s online calculators to help in projecting their goals.
  • Tyco Federal Credit Union features their online calculators at financial seminars they do nationwide. Over 7,000 Tyco employees have attended nationwide in the past 18 months. “It makes the sessions a bit more interactive,” says Jason Vitug, VP Membership Development, Tyco FCU. I couldn’t have said it better myself, Jason.
  • TMH FCU takes the right approach by incorporating member education into their mission. “We believe it is part of our responsibility to supply as many financial tools as is feasible,” says Marion McCaskey, CEO, TMH FCU. “Sometimes we sit with a member and show them how much car they can afford or how much they need to save each payday to pay for Johnny or Suzy’s first year of college. We often use the debt consolidation calculator to show a member in trouble how much they can save by using their credit union to refinance high interest loans, credit cards, etc. It’s all about member service.”

Member Marketing. Obvious, right? Well, take a look at some fun, engaging ways these credit unions have enhanced their member marketing with financial calculators.

“Since it was such a hit last eNews, I will give away 2 - $50 gas cards again for the raffle prize. All you need to do is answer the following question correctly, send the answers to by Wednesday, May 18th, 2011. Two names will be drawn from a raffle on Thursday, May 19th and the winners will be notified via email shortly thereafter. Hint: You can use our Auto Payment Calculator.

Question: How much is the monthly auto payment when you use the following criteria: Purchase price $12,000; Sales tax 6%; Title and registration $450; Loan term 24 months; Interest rate 2.5%.”

Creative member engagement: priceless. :-)

Promote Online Financial Education & Self-Help. By “training” your members to visit your highly useful, user-friendly, informative, interactive, dynamic website (deep breath) you can free up staff time and ingrain your brand into the minds of current and prospective members.

  • State Farm Federal Credit Union has created an online Financial Education Learning Center featuring more than 100 resources designed to help members better manage their personal finances.
  • TMH FCU includes their website and website calculators on nearly all of their marketing materials as a reference for self-help. “Having the financial calculators on our website has freed up staff time; we are able to spend more time with members in need of financial counseling because our membership visits our Website frequently,” says Marion McCaskey, CEO, TMH FCU.
  • Taunton Federal Credit Union gets the idea. “If they’re not in the market for a new vehicle now, when they are, our hopes are that they will remember to use our calculators and our services when the time comes,” says Torie Sylvia, VP Business Development & Marketing, Taunton Federal Credit Union.

So, to wrap up – PUT FINANCIAL CALCULATORS ON YOUR WEBSITE – and use them in innovative ways to interact with members and prospects, driving new members, new business and valuable member relationships. After all, these are financial tools that are needed and expected.

By the way, if you’re a NAFCU member, the Financial Calculators are totally free for your credit union! :-)

Post written by Kirstin Hemsteger, Marketing Manager, NAFCU Services Corporation

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