Verity Credit Union’s Blog

Veritycu_logo Verity CU <veritycu.com>, a large Seattle-based credit union with a field of membership spanning the entire state, has been operating a public blog using Google's Blogger since December 2004 (click on inset for closeup), making it perhaps the oldest-running financial institution blog (let me know if you have one that started prior to Dec. 13, 2004). Veritycu_blog

Fourteen contributers are listed, more than 10% of the 105-person employee base. Each author has a profile posted online, making it a great way for members to get a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes activity.

Posting activity varies. In recent months, we've seen four or five lengthy entries. This month, there are 17 articles so far. Subject matter varies from the personal ("My trip to the dentist") to more salesy stuff about the credit union.

Comments are open, but little used. There were only two non-employee comments left in August.

The website counter shows 6,613 visitors.

Analysis
Offering a blog is an excellent way to show that you care about customers/members and that you are Web-savvy. We applaud Verity for their pioneering efforts over the past 18 months. But it's time for the CU to upgrade its blog.

  1. Improve the design with a masthead, better archive options, and graphic images that link back to the CU. Users expect more than the basic free blogger template from their credit union.
  2. Shorten the entries and add graphics and pictures.
  3. Keep the postings relevant. It's OK to have the occasional rant about Seattle traffic, but stick to things that matter to the reader. Most come to your financial institution to learn more about your company or your products. Let them go to a million other blogs for entertainment.
  4. Highlight the author of each entry. Currently, the Verity author is listed in small, faint type near the bottom of each posting. You want readers to get a sense of the people doing the writing, so it's important they see the name at the top of the posting.
  5. Improve the author profile info. Some author-profiles are quite skimpy. If you want credibility, the authors need to fully disclose their role at the credit union.
  6. Close the comments. Blog-comment areas are fine if they are used; however, a big ZERO down there just makes it look like you're visiting a ghost blog. If you do use them, make sure they are fully moderated, i.e., no comment goes live until approved by the blog administrator.

Blog address: veritycu.blogspot.com

What Not To Do: Verity’s 10% APY Come-On

Verity_cu_10apyNormally, we don’t pay much attention to radio ads, usually pressing the Seek button as soon as one comes on. But today, a particular ad caught our attention. It was for a 10% APY CD offered by Seattle-based Verity Credit Union (see inset) which accepts any resident of Washington state as a member. The term was 10-months and the maximum deposit was $1000.

While we admit this rate did get our attention, we don’t like this tactic for several reasons:

1. Bait-and-switch: Sophisticated depositors know it’s a teaser rate; and they will only leave their money on deposit long-enough to grab the $83 interest check. However, it’s the less-sophisticated that actually think this might be a real rate, that get sucked in only to be deeply disappointed once rates ratchet back to the standard 3.25% rate.

2. Too expensive: Depositors receive $83 in interest instead of $27, a before-tax difference of $56. We think the credit union would be better off providing a straight $50 incentive for new deposits of $5000+ and/or $25 for $1000+. Not only is this a lower cost for the financial institution, it’s more straight-forward for the customer, and could bring in a higher average balance.

3. Too exclusive: Only applies to new members or existing members that convince a non-member to open one of the CDs. Blasting an offer across the airwaves and homepage that applies to new customers only is a sure way to disappoint existing members. Furthermore, the website has no explanation of how to refer a customer or how to take advantage of the referral bonus. As a matter of fact, the website has no more information about the special other than what’s shown in the homepage graphic (see inset above). The graphic image is NOT clickable.

4. Cannot apply online: Maybe we’re biased, but we strongly believe that red-hot products advertised on the radio and on the middle of the homepage, should have an online application. Verity’s promotion directs interested parties to its branches or call center.

JB