Starting Over On The Web

Summit Credit Union launches a new, interactive website that more closely aligns with its core philosophy. The improved web presence aims to engage with members and beef up referrals.


Summit Credit Union ($1.7B Madison, WI), which prioritizes members and helps connect the member community, wanted its philosophy to be heard. However, executives felt those values were not fully reflected in Summit’s web presence, so the cooperative made sweeping changes to its website in May to engage members who would generate more referrals.

Summit embraced an attitude that echoed the cooperative mission of demonstrating a passion for helping members. This perspective led Summit to launch its web overhaul. “Let’s let people use our website the way that they want to use it,” Jamie Bay, Summit’s Marketing Manager, says of the goal for a more interactive site.

The Challenge

Summit had specific goals in mind as it developed a plan to launch a new site. First, the credit union aimed to connect existing members to strengthen its core foundation. Next, Summit wanted to foster more word-of-mouth referrals, what Bay says is its “most powerful referral tool,” to grow its member base. Finally, Summit wanted better access to one of the most-targeted potential credit union members: Gen Y. Like many credit unions, Summit recognizes Gen Y heavily uses technology to communicate, so it wanted to be accessible through the maximum number of tech-related channels.

Clearly outlining those priorities of the relaunch was Summit’s first step in preparing to formulate a strategy that would help them work toward those goals.

The Strategy

After extensive research, Summit made the decision to align its web presence with its philosophy and goals by completely reformatting its site from a flat, static site to a more engaging one.

Summit divided its website into three sections: life, community, and money. Then it gave each section a distinct goal:

  • Life. This section was a platform for Summit-generated relevant content for consumers. For example, recent post headlines include “Tailgating Saving Tips,” “How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?” and “Save On Back-to-School Shopping.” The articles here aim to address the daily money struggles that Summit’s members may face.
  • Community. Here, members can sign-in and interact with each other. Users can start discussions, comment on existing discussions and articles, share money tips, or even find out about community events.
  • Money. In this section, Summit promotes its financial products and services. This is the last section on the website. For Summit, categorizing its products and services as simply tools to help its members rather than the main priority of the credit union meant that a page selling products wouldn’t work as the first section that members landed on when accessing the site.

With a clear strategy, Summit prepared for the launch of its revamped site.

The Launch

The cooperative wanted members to be able to freely post comments and interact, but, as with all web-based platforms, there was some initial consideration regarding user postings and the potential for inappropriate content within the posts. Summit ultimately decided it would not pre-censor comments, which not only shows the credit union’s overall trust in its members, but also enables comments to be posted immediately, in a conversational fashion.

After the official launch, Summit was challenged to “keep everything fresh,” Bay says, with continuous posts in the Life section and the Do More endeavor, where Summit features its Project Money, Pay It Forward, and Do More team events. So far, the credit union has set deadlines for content and diligently honored them.

The Results

Summit’s revamped site was warmly received by members, Bay says.

The cooperatives member base grew by more than 1,122 members in the second quarter — from 119,509 in the first quarter of 2011 to 120,631 members in the second quarter, according to Callahan & Associate's Peer-to-Peer data. Summit monitors the number of registered users and analyzes the sharing of Summit-generated content with analytics. It's noted a gradual growth in site registrations that amounts to more than 3,000 registered users as of September from the May launch.

With more than 600 Twitter followers and more than 1,000 Facebook fans, Summit has also seen the community growth through its social media.




Sept. 26, 2011


  • Hi Elizabeth,

    Well written! What amazing success they have had. I will pass this along article along to our marketing department and CEO.

    Thank you.