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Social Media Marketing Education Programs

Social Media Education

We are happy to announce our very own CEO, Nancy Dibert, has partnered with the University of Delaware Professional and Continuing Studies to teach Social Media Marketing.

UD’s Social Media Marketing program now includes two new powerful programs: Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing and Advanced Social Media Marketing for Business. These programs will provide broad and deep coverage of in-demand social media marketing skills, including social media monitoring and listening, audience engagement, content curation, strategic planning, campaign execution, paid placement, measuring results and ROI and more.

Nancy’s deep understanding of social media and social media marketing is vast, expanding to a multitude of platforms, with a long list of proven results for many projects and clients. Being a social media expert means being a lifelong learner due to the constant evolution of the social media climate. We’ve always taken the approach of educating our clients about different marketing channels, including social media; partnering with University of Delaware for these programs just makes sense – it is what we do everyday. We hope you join us in one of our upcoming classes.

Learn more about the programs and register at http://www.pcs.udel.edu/socialmedia/ or download the flyer.

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5 Things Credit Unions Should Know About SEO

SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO is a term that’s thrown around a lot, but not everyone really knows what it means or what goes into it. We want to help demystify SEO for you, so you can help make your Credit Union website easier to find online for both your current customers and potential members!

 

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a fancy way of saying “Google Friendly”.

Google and every search engine, to be honest, is in the business of trying to deliver the best and most relevant results to people looking for answers online. As a result, you need to give the search engines relevant terms- keywords- to help them understand what your website content is all about, so it can serve it up as an authoritative website to people doing research online.

 

2. Understanding Key Words and Phrases.

If you’ve ever run a Google Adwords (pay per click or PPC) campaign, you know that you can “bid” on having your ad served to  someone based around a certain keyword. Popular keywords are very competitive and thus cost more per click than what we call longtail keywords, which are multiple words, or a phrase. Long tail keywords are much less expensive to buy for PPC campaigns, and they are easier to rank for in search engines.

 

For example, the keywords “car loans” is $8.14 per click and auto loan is $14.50 per click when we checked on Google’s Adword’s Keyword Planner tool.  What does this tell us?

 

The Keyword Planner tool gives you both the estimated traffic and the competition for these keywords- which means they are probably key phrases to work into your content, even if you may want to run any PPC campaigns on more location-specific keyword phrases.

 

Ranking in your local market for these words is going to be expensive, so going for more location specific and company specific keyword phrases, such as “[Your Credit Union] auto loans” or “[Your city/county/town] auto loans” will be more cost effective, and it will help you show up in more localized search as well!

 

When we write content for our Credit Union clients, we keep a list of their keywords and keyword phrases on hand, and we may even check with the Keyword Planning Tool what the local search volume is for those terms. Then we write the content with those keywords in mind, working them into the piece so it sounds natural. We also use those keywords in the “tags”- header tags, the title, and the meta-description, to help tell Google and other search engines what the content is about. This make sure that once the piece is published, it will have all the information Google needs to serve up our content in their organic search results, which will provide us with free website traffic now and in the future.

 

3. Building Organic Traffic- the traffic that pays you back.

One of the reasons you see so many companies adding a blog to their website is that blogging and publishing helpful, relevant, customer-education driven content is like catnip for search engines- and consumers searching for answers to their problems.  Once you have a great piece of content, adding the appropriate tags and spreading your article through social media will also help increase links to your content and signal search engines that your content is worth taking a look at- helping to boost its search ranking. In addition, that article will hang around on your website can continue to drive traffic for a long time- adding to your reliability as a trusted resource- another signal Google uses when providing users with the most relevant content.

 

4. Name Your Pages with Keywords Related to the Content.

Providing search engines with recent and relevant content helps boost your SEO- but don’t forget that you also need to ensure that the URL for these articles is related to the content. For example, you want an address that reads www.yourcreditunion.com/best-auto-loans-for-recent-college-grads vs. www.yourcredituion.com/page1/blog/october2017. Naming your page with keywords related to the content of the actual page will also help boost your search ranking- and it’s easy to do.

 

5. Don’t Forget Speed.

Another key to being found in the speed at which your page loads, both on a desktop and on mobile.  Google has a great tool where you can test the load time for your site https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-us. If your site is not loading fast enough on mobile, you may be losing potential customers- and keep in mind, reports estimate that close to 60% of all search is now taking place on mobile devices.

 

SEO can sounds big and scary, but if you know a few basics including these tips, you can help make sure your credit union website is doing everything it can to boost its search ranking, before you ever even consider running a pay per click campaign.  Investing a little time in developing your keywords and getting good at using them in your content is a bit like brushing your teeth every day- It’s the daily step that contributes to the long term health of your website and search ranking, and it doesn’t have to be painful at all!

 

Interested in learning more about SEO or how to implement in your marketing strategy? Send us an email at connect@epicmc2.com today!

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Email Marketing Best Practices

email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools your business can use. With well-earned opted-in subscribers, email marketing has perhaps the largest opportunity to be a return on your investment in turning subscribers into engaged customers.

 

But where do you begin?

Terms like click-through rate, conversion rate, or A/B split testing may sound daunting at first. We’ve done the legwork for you and identified email marketing best practices to kick your email marketing into high-gear!

 

First things, first: define your audience.

Think about who is on your email list. You may want to segment them into different categories such as ages 18-34, repeat customers, or customers you haven’t heard from in a while. You can use a tool like Constant Contact or Mailchimp to create email segments. You should promote your email sign-up on places like your website, blog, and landing pages.

 

Subject Lines, the most important part of your email.

You’ll want to create emails that people read, click through and encourage further engagement with your brand. First, you’ll want to persuade subscribers to open your email with a compelling subject line. The subject line is perhaps the most important component as it determines whether or not your email will be clicked on and opened. You may find success with a longer subject line, or subject lines with keywords. Use A/B Splits to test subject lines out and adjust accordingly. Try using action verbs and give readers a taste of what’s inside (while providing value). Don’t overdo the caps or emojis, readers will find this spammy. We all receive dozens of emails a day, what’s going to make you open an email?

 

Call-to-Actions

Create compelling call-to-actions (referred to as CTAs). In the body of the email you’ll want to include CTAs – this could be in the form of links to your latest offering, a flash sale, your blog, or an option to download your latest ebook, and more. Make sure to provide context to your CTA – to earn clicks try answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” Call to actions allow for consumers to continue down the consumer journey and hopefully to a conversion.

 

 

Email Design

Whether you use a template, hire a designer, or have a developer on hand to code your email, your email design should align with your branding, especially that found on your website. It should be obvious who the email is coming from, the transition from email to landing page or website should be seamless.

Create an email checklist before you send any email: do you have the right image to text ratio?  “Image only” emails go into spam, images may be turned off by users, and images may take more time to load. Try 80% images and 20% text as a good rule of thumb.

Do you have a text version available to support your HTML email? Having both versions ensures that however people choose to view emails in their browser that they are able to do so. Did you proofread the copy? Did you test to see how your email appears on different browsers or mobile devices?

 

Email Performance and Insights

The best way to evaluate the success of your email marketing campaign is to review your engagement after each email send. You should look for key engagement indicators including how many people opened your email, how many people clicked on a link in your email (and what links they clicked on), and who unsubscribed. These are valuable insights to determine if your subscribers are finding your emails useful. Watch these metrics over time to determine how often you should be sending an email – if engagement drops off when you send an email every week, try stepping down to once every other week or once a month, even. You don’t want to fatigue your audience.

 

A/B Testing

Another tried and true tip when it comes to email marketing is to A/B test your email. Put simply: this means changing your subject line, design, subject matter, or CTAs one element at a time, then sending your email to a significant sample size. Why this is important: you can make more informed future email marketing decisions about what gets your recipients to open and click on your content.

 

Make sure the unsubscribe option is obvious in your emails. Yes, you want everyone to love every email you send but sometimes this just isn’t the case – and it’s better than ending up in the spam folder.

Finanlly, send email that is valuable to your users and that will ultimately strengthen your relationship with them…that will keep your customers coming back for more!

Need help getting started? Drop us a line at connect@epicmc2.com and we’ll invigorate your email marketing!

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Tips for Making Onboarding Successful

Onboarding

One of the most important factors credit unions are facing today is attracting and retaining new members. Arguably, it costs more to acquire a new member than to keep an existing one. So, when you have won a new member’s business or have obtained an indirect member, how can your credit union make the most of its onboarding process?

 

Start with thank you.

A simple thank you communication can go miles in establishing brand loyalty and trust after your new member has opened an account.  You can send this thank you via an email or with a phone call. This will help start the conversation and introduce your brand to your member.

 

Follow up with personalization.

Send a personalized email with a simple call-to-action. You want to inform your member about what you can do for them through your products and services. Don’t wait until month 3 of their first interaction to begin onboarding them to your brand and your products and services. Tailor your messaging for them so it is relevant to their life stage, demographic, and lifestyle.

 

Timing is everything.

Research shows the most important time for new member communications is in the 30-120-day period. If they set up a checking account, have you followed up with an email about online bill pay? By day 60 have you emailed about moving to mobile banking or direct deposits? The opportunity then presents itself: the ability to cross-sell without going for the hard sell. You are constantly in communication with your credit union members and making multiple touch points to guide their experience of your financial institution.

 

Great onboarding should yield higher sales.

Look at this as an educational opportunity for your members. The members who are least likely to respond to your marketing messaging are those most likely to leave and close their accounts in the first year. Products and services don’t make members engaged and loyal: it is your brand, your response, and ultimately what you do for your member. Onboarding starts the conversation and allows for further opportunity for cross-sell.

 

Re-introduction to current members.

Onboarding isn’t just for new members. You can use onboarding to re-introduce yourself to those members who may have fallen off your radar.

Try a “win-back” campaign at day 7, 21, or 90 of member unresponsiveness. This could be a simple email campaign with FAQs, the latest offer, or a money-saving promotion. Even if you gain back a few members, this is a huge win in the long run.

 

You should create an onboarding system that works best for your credit union, one that will position you for the best results. An effective onboarding process establishes your credit union as an expert and allows you effectively cross-sell while retaining new members’ business.

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Content Marketing: A Great Tool for Your Credit Union

Concept Image

Credit Unions have a wide variety of financial services to offer their members, but current and potential members alike both need education about the products and services and general financial literacy knowledge to make the best decision for their financial goals.  They need to learn how they can benefit from offers and products, and how they can solve real, everyday problems and frustrations in their lives.

Content marketing is a great way to speak to these commonplace pain points and help educate consumers about how to find solutions. It sounds simple, but good content marketing involves a lot of planning so that your credit union can provide targeted audiences with the information they need to make a great choice and increase conversions along the way, whether it’s for a specific loan product or a new membership. 

What is content marketing? Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand products or services but is intended to invoke interest in the brand.  Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.

 

Content Marketing is Especially Important for Credit Unions

The financial services and products you offer can be complex. Members need to know more about them, and need that information in an easy-to-digest format. If you produce content aimed at educating specific user groups about your products and services, over time you will build a library of material that will help you educate members and potential members while meeting current marketing goals and plans. However, to be successful at content marketing, a lot of up-front planning will yield the best results and prevent frustration.

Content Marketing is really good about creating great information through blogs, video, infographics, e-books, and more- that is highly targeted to help customers (members) learn more and make great decisions. By taking complex subjects and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces, you can create helpful information for members and potential members to better understand what you can do to help them, without overwhelming them or making them feel bad in the process. In fact, creating content that helps you become their financial personal trainer, so to speak, will build trust and loyalty, helping your Credit Union to really stand out in a sea of financial services companies that can seem very much the same and interchangeable from the outside.

Define Your Goals and Metrics for Success Up Front

Much of content marketing starts with defining your problem and goal. You want to make sure you have a clearly defined set of goals by answering these questions:

  • What services or product lines do you want to expand or increase?
  • Who is most in need of these services- current members? New members? Both?
  • What do these people have in common?  
  • When are they most likely to need this product? Is there any seasonality involved?
  • What are some common questions that your consumers have on certain products or services?
  • Why is your product or service the best solution for their problem?  What are its advantages, and disadvantages?

 

Developing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) Goals up-front will help you outline your content marketing and provide a plan that works best for your credit union and your strategic goals.

If you put in the work to carefully craft content that your target audience wants, it will help you gain loyalty and brand recognition. Content marketing can bring clarity to products and services and help consumers along their decision path (consumer journey). Think about the ways you can incorporate content marketing for your credit union.

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Why Credit Unions Should Be On Instagram

Why Credit Unions Should Be On InstagramWith over 700 million monthly active users, Instagram’s primary age group is 18-29, which is the prime demographic for credit unions to target to grow their membership. What’s more? The photo-centric app shows a human side of your credit union, giving your credit union an edge over megabanks. It’s a great resource for business development and community engagement.

Getting Started

When you visit an Instagram page the first thing you see is a username, a photo, a short description, and the only clickable link on Instagram (barring ads). When choosing an image for your Instagram photo, note that it will be a circular image; we recommend using your logo for branding purposes. Your bio is your introduction to your audience: and you only have 150 characters including the ever-important link to your website! Make sure your mission and brand are clear. There’s also a place to update your contact info: add a phone number, email, and address so that Instagram viewers can easily get in touch with you. Now you’re ready to get going!

What should your credit union post on Instagram?

Imagery is key when it comes to Instagram. Use branded imagery consistently throughout all your posts, whether elements of your brand are included or you always have a your logo present whether on someone’s t-shirt, merchandise or buildings. Instagram is a great way to showcase pictures of your staff and overall community involvement. Money tips and quotes could also be shared in a picture format.

To be successful on instagram and social media platforms, you need to actively engage with your audience creating a conversation. Follow local businesses, organizations, and influencers within your community. Engagement is key, like and interact with their posts. You don’t want your Instagram channel to be one-way.

If you can, get employees involved. Employees, like your business development team, can capture the most humanizing moments of your financial institution.

Don’t be afraid to use hashtags! In fact, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. Try including:

  •      3-5 popular hashtags (In the millions of followers) ex: #instagood
  •      5-8 moderately popular hashtags (In the hundreds of thousands of followers) ex: #personalfinance
  •      3-5 keyword targeted hashtags (In the thousands of followers) ex: #netDE
  •      1-2 branded hashtags i.e. the name of your credit union

Creating branded hashtags allows people to follow your brand specifically and creates a visual index of your financial institution.

To recap, creating a presence on Instagram allows your credit union prime access to Millennials & Xennials, extends your brand’s digital presence, gives your audience a behind-the-scenes look, creates meaningful relationships, and gives a face to your financial institution.

Need help getting started? We can help! Contact us today for a social media consultation.

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What You Need to Know About Google Chrome’s Ad Blocking Update

Google Chrome is used by nearly half of all Internet users, and big changes in regards to how we use the browser are on the horizon. Come tomorrow, February 15th, Google will enforce ad blocking on all websites – desktop & mobile. The goal of this is to make the Internet viewing experience more navigable for all users by preventing ads from loading that are particularly intrusive.

On desktop, Google is planning to block pop-up ads, large sticky ads, auto-play video ads with sounds, and ads that appear on a site with a countdown blocking you before the content loads. On mobile, Google is planning to filter pop-up ads, ads that are displayed before content loads (with or without a countdown), auto-play video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll over ads, and ads that are particularly dense. Here’s what that looks like:

Google is not planning to wipe out all ads from Chrome, just ones that are considered bad using the standards created by the Coalition for Better Ads. The more annoying the ad, the more likely it is to be blocked by this update.

Passing, Warning, or Failing

Google is evaluating sample pages on sites based on the Better Ads standards and then giving websites 3 different ratings: passing, warning, or failing. The evaluation status of sites can be accessed via the Ad Experience Report API. Website owners can see more detailed results, such as specific violations, via the Ad Experience Report in Google’s Search Console. From the Report site owners can request their site be re-reviewed after they have addressed the non-compliant ad experiences.

So, what happens if your ad continues to fail and not meet Google & Better Ads’ standards? Site owners will be given 30 days to rectify any bad ads; if the ads are not to standard within the 30-day time period, Chrome will automatically begin blocking those ads. Chrome will show the user a message indicating that ad blocking has occurred as well as an option to disable this setting by selecting “allow ads on this site.” Here’s what that looks like on mobile:

What Early Results Show

 Google and by proxy Chrome’s goal is not to filter any ads at all but to improve the experience of all Internet users. As of February 12th, 42% of sites which were failing the Better Ads Standards had resolved their issues and are now passing. This is exactly the goal Google had hoped for: removing intrusive ad experiences from a user’s desktop or mobile experience.

The Takeaway

While Chrome will likely face criticism from the advertising world, if it achieves its goal of improving web ad standards, that’s a good thing for everybody: Internet users and advertisers alike. Google’s engineering manager Chris Bentzel is quoted, “We’re encouraged by early results showing industry shifts away from intrusive ad experiences, and look forward to continued collaboration with the industry toward a future where Chrome’s ad filtering technology will not be needed.”  

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8 Marketing Trends for 2018

marketing trends

 

How people interact with brands continues to evolve. User experience and personalization will remain a constant and will be a driving force in this year’s marketing trends. We’ve outlined the top marketing trends we predict will be at the helm of marketing strategy for 2018.

 

1. Leveraging Data and In-depth Understanding of Targeting Audiences

It will become increasingly harder to stand out and reach your target audience if you aren’t utilizing your consumer data. Technology and the growth of marketing tools make it easier to connect with your target audience in ways that were impossible or very expensive before. Today, there are many marketing automation and CRM solutions that allow for marketers to use their customer data and connect with audiences in large-scale, strategic, and affordable ways. Leveraging and implementing the use of data should be the foundation of any good marketing strategy. Your consumer data will allow you to engage with consumers where and when they want on a personal level.

 

2. Native Advertising

Digital ads have been the norm for a while now. In 2018, however, there will be more of a shift in paid media where the ad experience follows the form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. This makes sense as there has been increased emphasis on the overall user experience. A better, seamless experience will increase the response rate of your ads and will improve your ROI.

 

3. Content Marketing

By now organizations have realized that personalized and individual communications are the constant theme that is driving a lot of the trends for this year (and, really, for the past few years).  Consumers continue to favor individual, personalized experiences that are tailored to them, their interests and their immediate need. Your content should be well thought out and provide relevant information. Your content marketing should be focused on creating and distributing well thought out, relevant information that is valuable to your audience. Focus more on the quality of your content versus the quantity – make sure you are providing a value. This will help drive interaction with your brand and lead to conversions or desired action along with retention of your target audience. Incorporating a blog is a good platform for content marketing, read more about incorporating a blog in your website

 

4. Consumer Journey or Lifecycle

Emphasis on the consumer journey and how consumers interact with your brand throughout the decision, action and other various stages of their lifecycle. Implementing a strategy that prioritizes and integrates the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences should be on your to-do list for this year if it isn’t already. Personalized messages, retargeting and other techniques can be employed to support your consumers (and potential consumers) along their path to convert.

 

5. Incorporating Video

Ads on YouTube, short videos on social media, and other video components continue to increase in popularity. Standing out and capturing your audience attention is becoming increasingly challenging for marketers and brands. How can you stand out on social and digital channels? Create compelling visual aspects – especially in video form. The visual aspect of your message, and using video will help you engage your audience and capture their attention.

 

6. Transparency and Trust

Give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and your practices. Humanize your brand – you’re more than a logo, product, or service. Credit Unions and Community Banks are in a unique position. When we speak with Credit Unions and develop campaigns or strategies, we ask “what sets you apart from everyone else?” Often products and services aren’t much different from the competition, with only slight variances in price or features. So what will make a consumer choose your brand over another? Trust. Credit Unions’ brand is trust – members trust your organization, the branch manager, the financial representative that has helped them navigating buying a home or car. Trust and transparency will become more important to consumers’ decisions.

 

7. Location-based technology

You should be taking advantage of location-based technology providing experiences, messaging, and information. Geo-targeting can help you take advantage of your brick and mortar locations or other key service areas. Exploring the possibilities of targeting your audience based on location, both in real-time and historical, will allow for you to provide content that is more relevant to their lives.   

 

8. Convenience

All in all, consumers are flooded with information every day. They look for and will stay loyal to brands that provide them with personalize and relevant information that is convenient for them. The more effortless an interaction the better. Who doesn’t love it when things are easy and convenient?

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Facebook Algorithm Update: What Your Business Needs to Know

Facebook Algorithm Update - What Your Business Needs To Know

Well, Facebook has done it again on us: time for another Facebook algorithm update. Whenever Facebook posts an algorithm update, the social networking giant changes the types of content people see in their News Feed: some types of content get higher priority, while others are pushed deeper into our News Feeds.

So, what is Facebook’s newest mission to tweak its News Feed?

Facebook is going to prioritize the following 3 types of content:

  1. Posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people
  2. Posts that you might want to share and react to
  3. Posts from friends and family

 

Perhaps the most alarming News Feed change for brands and businesses is part 3 of the update: making posts from friends and family a higher priority than posts from brands and businesses. But hasn’t this always been Facebook’s mission? To serve only the most relevant, shareworthy, and meaningful content to its users? Simply put, yes. Facebook has spent years making sure you see only the posts you want to see in your News Feed.

It isn’t all bad news for brands and businesses. Parts 1 and 2 of the update largely speak to what businesses have already been doing on Facebook up to this point. Create content that people are compelled to like, comment, share, and react to or as Facebook says it themselves, “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.” You want to show up in the newsfeed alongside wedding and baby photos, create content that is buzzworthy and that gets people reacting. Facebook recommends the following types of content to keep your audience engaged:

  • Facebook Live (which may average 6x as many interactions as regular video)
  • Videos that explicitly prompt discussion
  • Posts in Facebook Groups
  • Posts especially relevant to local fans
  • News that starts conversations regarding important, timely issues

 

To recap: Facebook has changed its algorithm (again). What’s changing: more updates in your News Feed from friends and family. What’s not changing: share engaging content to reach the most of your audience. See, not so scary after all!

Need help getting your Facebook Business Page to reach the right audience? Send us an email at connect@epicmc2.com and we can help you right away!

 

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Is a Blog Right for Your Credit Union Website?

Is a blog right for your credit union website?Is a blog right for your credit union website? The simple answer is yes. A blog is one of the most powerful marketing and branding tools you have at your disposal. A blog for your credit union website accomplishes several major things:

 

  • A blog adds fresh content to your website for search engines to “crawl” i.e. gives you the opportunity to rank for keywords your customers may be searching for
  • A blog can rank high enough in search engine results to lead people to the rest of your website
  • Evergreen content (that which stays relevant over time) can direct visitors to your site month after month
  • Blog content is super-shareable on social media
  • Blog content answers your visitors most pertinent questions and positions you as a thoughtleader in the field

 

More website visitors, better site authority, content ready for social media, and helping your members find useful information: what’s not to love about a blog? But you may be asking yourself, “what types of things could I write about on my blog to help drive visitors to my credit union website?” We’ve done the legwork for you and identified a couple topics to help get you started:

  • Is it Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?
  • 10 Tried & True Tips for an Easier Retirement
  • Online Banking: What Is It?
  • The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Finances This Year
  • How to Get Started Consolidating Debt

 

….And the list goes on and on. The best blogs will be focused around the keywords your existing and potential members are searching for online now. Start with your customers’ pain points and make lists that are easily digestible and actionable. Providing real value will keep your customers coming back for more and more.

Need help on getting started on a blog for your credit union website? Send us an email at connect@epicmc2.com today!

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