5 Ways to Make SEO Count Today

By: Katharine Shindoll, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Geezeo

What is SEO and SEM?
If you are anything like I was five years ago, these ever-essential acronyms wouldn’t mean much, yet they are imperative in today’s digital market. In short, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are the most effective ways to educate internet algorithms on what your website contains.

When you search for a keyword or phrase on Google or Bing, each deploys their programming (crawlers and pinpoint algorithms) to search through massive databases. Depending on how rich your content is and how well it stacks up to similar content, ranking algorithms decide where to place your website among the search engine results. Having strategic site-wide SEO could be the difference between appearing on the first page of search engine results instead of the third.

Think search doesn’t matter?

Brightedge, an industry leader in search analytics, estimates that 51% of all web visits are generated by search engines and some companies claim 70% or more of their traffic comes from organic (non-paid) search.

Being found online is not as simple as posting content. Being found through search engines is equal parts art and science.

Got your attention?

Listen to our webinar for a “how to” session focused on the importance of search engines to your credit union’s marketing plans and how to speak the SEO language.

Here are five ways you can improve your search profile right now:

1. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly or responsive yet, you are ignoring half of the internet population and are at a massive disadvantage when it comes to SEO. In April 2015, Google launched an update that removed unresponsive sites from their search algorithms, which means if your site isn’t mobile friendly, chances are it’s not being shown on search results.

2. Optimize Your Images

Search engine algorithms recognize a wide array of digital assets, including images and graphics. Depending on what kind of content your page is displaying, optimizing your images can significantly increase your search profile. By adding a description, alt text and tags for each image on the page, your target keyword(s) will register as increasingly prominent and greatly increase the page’s SEO ranking.

3. Connect to Social Media

Social media isn’t going anywhere and if you want your company to stand out, a strong social media presence is a must. By adding social media outlets, customers are able to connect with your business and share articles or pages that add value or entertainment. However, don’t just share images and status updates. To truly impact the strength of your online presence, your social media shares should link back to likable and shareable content hosted on your primary website.

4. Include Both Inner and Outer Links

Including links to social media is imperative from both a customer service standpoint and an SEO standpoint but including links in general can help search rankings. By default, search engine algorithms are programmed to favor content with: social media links, links to other articles and links to other pages on your own website. Including just one additional link to relevant content on your web page creates richer, SEO-friendly content.

5. Utilize Schema

Schema, or structured data, is one of those terms that people hear and pass over because the explanation is a bit long-winded. In short, schema is additional data about a website or webpage that makes a search engine’s job easier. Schema not only allows content to be screened faster, but it allows search engines to pull relevant data to enhance search results.

Final Thoughts

These five ways to implement SEO are certainly not the only ways to improve your search rankings, but they are a great start. For an in-depth look at how search rankings are determined and how to improve your rankings, listen to the full webinar here.

 is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Personal Financial Management (PFM)

How to Speak the Millennial Language

By Larry Pruss, Senior Vice President, Strategic Resource Management

With millennials making up nearly 25% of the US population, it’s vital to know how you can engage this generation with your message and attract them to your credit union.

If you know how to connect with them, millennials represent a huge opportunity for your membership, educational content, and sales teams.

So how do you do this? I’ve compiled my top five tips on how to leverage a millennial engagement strategy.

1. Be Authentic

Don’t get stuck in the ideas of traditional advertising; Millennials don’t trust it. Millennials are more interested in “authentic” leadership, education, and expertise. Think about using content platforms that come from peers, like blogs and social media.  They prefer words that could have come from the mouths of their peers, as these messages warrant comfort and trust.

Millennials’ attitudes and behavior are largely inspired by people they know in person or online–or even strangers who share their interests on social networks.

2. Create Visual Content

Millennials are constantly on their phones being flooded by visual content.  So why not communicate in the same way that they communicate with the people in their lives?

They are also social, and much more willing to share their struggles and successes. If you want to reach them you need to be part of the conversation. Communication cannot be one way.

3. Personalize Content

Millennials want to feel like your content was created with their interest (not their wallet) in mind. When this is the case, they are more organically introduced to purchasing your products or services. Without ever being “pushy,” your educational content helps build strong brand-consumer relationships. People appreciate honesty, and brands with transparent campaigns win.

4. Be Interactive

Millennials need to feel as though they are being heard. In order to keep them involved, ask for their feedback.  You can do this by letting them rank your products and customer service.  This approach makes them feel like they have helped to develop their product so that they are more invested.

Some credit unions are doing this with credit cards; allowing the person to select their pricing, rewards, fees, and personalizing the card stock.

For more ideas on revenue enhancement strategies, listen to a recent podcast here.

5. Highlight the Experience

Millennials are attracted to “experiences” rather than things. Have you noticed how car advertisements have moved away from the car to more about the journey? This is millennial advertising.

They are also more “cause” focused than other cohorts and (all things considered equal) will pick a service provider that does something good for the world. Thus, leverage your focus on community service in your communications with them.

Be aware, that many millennials watched their parents struggle during the Great Recession and are very weary of getting over-extended. So they need to feel that you have their back, and are not just interested in making a buck off them.

Here is where the credit unions have a big advantage over the banks which are more clearly profit focused. Make sure you are educating these millennials about the difference between banks and credit unions.

For an in-depth explanation of other missed revenue enhancement strategies that credit unions should be leveraging now, listen to Larry’s full podcast here.

You can also see Larry at NAFCU’s Strategic Growth Conference on Wednesday, March 9 where he will moderate an informative panel discussion: “Earn it Without Burning It: How to Make and Save Money.”

Strategic Resource Management is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Vendor Cost Benchmarking and Negotiation Services.

3 Critical Stages of Third-Party Vendor Management

By Vanessa Stanfield, Insurance Solutions powered by Affinion

Did you know your credit union could be responsible for the performance of your vendors? No credit union wants to encounter regulatory trouble or face reputational risk; especially as a result of vendor activities. It’s because of that fact that vendor management due diligence is a topic of increasing importance.

But what is the right way to go about choosing  third party vendor? The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has provided clear direction regarding vendor due diligence. Additionally, the NCUA has deemed the following areas as critical in third-party vendor management: Risk Assessment & Planning, Due Diligence, and Risk Measurement, Monitoring and Control.

Risk Assessment & Planning

Risk Assessment

Prior to engaging a third-party relationship, assess the current risks and document how the vendor will relate to your credit union’s strategic plan. When conducting a comprehensive risk assessment, the key areas of focus are: credit, interest rate, liquidity, transaction, compliance, strategy, and reputational risk. In this discovery phase, your credit union can identify the current risks and establish expectations of the new relationship.

Due Diligence

There are four fundamental due diligence elements to consider when choosing a vendor: organizational, business model, financial health, and program risks. In these areas, your credit union can assess what degree of due diligence is required.

But remember- not all vendors are created equal. More complex vendor relationships with more risk will typically require increased due diligence; less complexity and risk means less rigorous due diligence. For a comprehensive report and the five key due diligence questions you need to ask your vendors, read the full whitepaper here.

Risk Measurement, Monitoring and Control

Credit unions must be able to continually measure performance and risk throughout the relationship with the vendor. To do this, your credit union should clearly outline the vendor’s responsibilities and policies before taking on the vendor. In the end, this will allow for proper vendor performance management so that you can ensure expectations are being met.

Credit unions should not think of vendors as a third party, but as an extension of their organization. Because of this, it is important to consider the three critical areas above when deciding on a vendor. As the NCUA has conveyed, the utilization of vendors does not in any way diminish the credit union’s level of responsibility and for that reason, credit unions should carefully select their vendors.

What Should We Ask Our Vendors?

To be confident that the vendor’s management programs are the right fit, credit unions must discuss the vendor in great detail and ask the hard questions. Failure to conduct thorough due diligence and effectively monitor these vendors place the credit union at risk. Again, not all vendor relationships call for the same level of due diligence and ongoing monitoring, but in order to determine what level is necessary there are key questions that your credit union must contemplate.

For an in-depth look at the five key due diligence questions that credit unions must ask when selecting a third-party vendor, read the full whitepaper here.

InsuranceSolution_4CAffinion is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for AD&D Insurance

Back-of-Card Branding Webinar Q&A

MC_backofcard_brandingAnd the questions kept on coming! One of our last webinars of 2015, “Preserving Credit Union Income:  The Impact of Back-of-Card Branding to Your Bottom Line,” sparked so many questions that Caroline Heller, industry expert and webinar speaker, decided to follow up to those we didn’t have time to address during the webinar.

To Catch You Up…

On average, approximately 20% of a credit union’s non-interest income is derived from payments.  In recent months, many institutions have seen some erosion of their payments-based income, but have not been able to specifically identify the source of the erosion.

This webinar helps your institution focus on one area of potential revenue erosion – back of card branding.  In addition to the brand mark found on the front of your debit card, there are usually one or more brand marks present on the reverse side of the card.  It is important to understand the implications of the back-of-card brand marks to your transaction routing and subsequent revenue stream.

Watch the full webinar here:

Click here to watch the presentation in a new window

Webinar Q&A

Caroline Heller, Vice President of Core Payments Solution Sales with MasterCard, responds to your questions:

1. What are a few of the key questions we ought to be asking our current back-of-card brand to ensure our revenue is not eroding?

  1. You may request these reports from your PIN Networks and/or your processor.  First, request reporting that separates PIN transactions from PINless. Ensure you have transaction count, amount, and interchange earned. These may come from various reports vs. one report. Second, request historical reports to look for trends of the above.  Look at a year ago (or two.) Is PINless increasing?
  2. Ask if your PIN Network supports dual message (aka “signature”) transactions or if they have plans to support in the future.
  3. Request current and historical Top Merchant Reports to look for trends.  Is their significant growth (above your overall growth)? This could be a shift from your other PIN network or from signature debit transactions now routing as PIN.  Compare the Top Merchants across all of your networks.

2. How do we know the optimal number of PIN POS Networks on the back of the card?

You may want to consider pairing down the number of PIN POS Networks on the back-of-card.  For instance, if you have 3, I would consider reviewing the economics and need for each network.  If it makes sense, I would limit to 2 networks.

3. Right now we have a rewards program that only gives points for signature debit transactions. Is that still okay, or what do you recommend?

I recommend doing a thorough profitability analysis on your portfolio including the cost of rewards and the estimated increase in usage before changing anything.  However, there are a few things to consider:

  1. When cardholders are encouraged to use their card for all purchases, regardless of signature/PIN, both transaction types tend to increase.
  2. The signature vs. PIN methodology will become more complex with EMV. For instance, a cardholder could enter their PIN, and the transaction is still routed dual message to MasterCard or Visa (what would have been a “signature” transaction prior to EMV).
  3. PINless transactions as they work today definitely are confusing to cardholders when they are motivated to sign for the purchase. The cardholder is not given a choice at the point-of-sale for these transactions when the PIN network is participating in PINless transactions.

4. Can you explain the term ‘exempt issuer’?

ExemptIssuer2I am referring to Section 1075 of the Dodd-Frank Act (aka “Durbin Amendment”).  One portion of the Durbin Amendment caps debit interchange with specific exemptions.  One exemption is for small issuers defined as an issuer with assets less than $10B.  These issuers are often referred to as “Exempt Issuers” when talking about debit interchange and profitability.

This ABA article details the competitive advantage of “exempt issuers” over “regulated issuers” relative to Durbin.

5. Are there any negatives to the issuers that opt out of PINless? Loss of small transaction volume, customer satisfaction, anything else?  

Generally speaking, we don’t believe there would be any negative repercussions were you to opt out of PINless, neither relative to volume or revenue, nor to customer satisfaction.

6. In the event that we were to manage opting out of PINless with our PIN networks, would those transactions which might route as PINless fallback on signature rails?

Yes.  These transactions would likely fall back on signature rails with no signature required.

7. I am an FI. To whom do I opt out of PINless with? MasterCard or my network?

You would opt out with PINless on your PIN Networks.

8. How is EMV going to affect routing? 

The Card Verification Method (CVM) on an EMV card authenticates the Cardholder, but does not dictate routing.  A cardholder could enter their EMV Card PIN, and the merchant can route the transaction to any of the applicable networks on the card including MasterCard or Visa.


MasterCard is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Credit, Debit, and Prepaid Branded Products. For more information, please visit www.nafcu.org/mastercard

©2015 MasterCard Worldwide Proprietary and Confidential

The information provided herein is strictly confidential.  It is intended to be used internally within your organization and cannot be distributed nor shared with any other third-party, without MasterCard’s written prior approval.

Information in this response relating to the projected impact on your financial performance, as well as the results that you may expect are estimates only.  No assurances are given that any of these projections, estimates or expectations will be achieved, or that the analysis provided is error-free.  No reliance can be made on this response and MasterCard will not be responsible for any action you take as a result of this response, or any inaccuracies, inconsistencies, formatting errors, or omissions in this response.   This response constitutes willingness, in good faith, by MasterCard to explore the possibility of a business arrangement between the parties and does not contain all matters upon which agreement must be reached in order for the proposed transaction to be established.

Adding LIFE To Your Credit Union

By Bryan Clagett, Chief Marketing Officer, Geezeo

Your members’ expectations evolve as they become more acclimated to technology, more financially stressed, and overburdened with life’s pace and demands. In case you have not noticed, the world is changing. Newly emerging competition is developing new bank-like products, and the definition of banking is evolving right before our eyes.

It’s time we step back and reevaluate how credit unions can provide more value.

Declaring you’re the financial partner for life is just not compelling, unless you have strong actions to back it up. Too often we forget that credit unions are enablers, and in fact have the ability to enable members to get the things they want and do the things they want to do.

With all the advances in technology, some things have not changed—like the basic needs of a household to address fundamental financial requirements, milestones, challenges and obligations. Life and money are inextricably linked whether we like it or not (or are willing to admit).

Importance of an Emotional Connection

The key for the credit union is to remain remarkably relevant throughout the “member” journey and to be there with logical products and services when members (or their households) could use them the most. Credit unions are missing very logical point-of-purchase opportunities, while not associating their products with the specific needs of a member at a specific, relevant time.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that people have an emotional connection to money and, perhaps more importantly, things and events. Emotion is a primary differentiator between transactions and a true relational connection, which (in my opinion) is the foundation of an engagement banking strategy.

How can you help a family prepare for a child’s education? How can you help a young couple get their first home? Can we help a couple plan a wedding? What’s the best way for me to get a car for my son? How do we help a family with a medical emergency? Can a bank resolve a small business’s cash crunch? In all of these examples, there are financial considerations and ramifications—and all present opportunities to credit unions.

Engagement Opportunities for Credit Unions

We need to put some LIFE into banking. LIFE is my acronym for “life infused financial experiences.” Milestones, like the examples above, represent obvious opportunities for credit unions to engage members and offer very relevant solutions while building deeper relationships and new levels of trust.

Life_weddingapp_geezeoWe have the data, the systems, the channels, and the people; we simply need to make sure we have the right solutions and services in place that will build systems and triggers that bring credit unions and their solutions to the forefront at the ideal time of need.

Now let’s try to put some ROI or business rationale around this. Bain and Company reports that members who are “emotionally connected” purchase 47% more than those who are simply “satisfied.” Members with a strong, committed relationship are 49% more likely to remain a member and twice as likely to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Bain also found companies that are loyalty leaders, grow revenue twice as fast as their competition and at a lower cost.

We should not fear disruption in the banking industry. However, we should recognize that life is disruptive, so we should find ways to reduce members’ financial pains. Credit unions have the chance to reduce friction while forming deeper emotional connections with members through recognizing and cultivating life infused financial experiences. This is a real opportunity for financial institutions and one that most industry disruptors don’t have the infrastructure or understanding to leverage.

Geezeo-A-Z-LogoGeezeo is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Personal Financial Management (PFM). For more More educational resources and contact information are available at www.nafcu.org/geezeo