With the online channel dominating consumers’ research
for financial products and services, it must be viewed as the
primary means of driving service, selling and interacting with
customers in a relevant way.
To achieve that level of sophistication, banks must understand each customer and his or her relationship to the products
he or she already consume. From a product standpoint, they
need to understand the “next best product” offering for existing
customers—which should take into account product profitability. Some of this information may sound like the same sort
of information you ask your customer service representation
to obtain from customers visiting the branch. Asking questions
that elicit the same type of information should be the focus of
your online channel.
If community banks need to know one thing about their
Web presence, it is that they are now required to think about
the way their website functions beyond the home PC browser.
Consideration of smartphone and tablet accessibility is a must
This may sound challenging, but other industries have
many successful examples from which to learn. Consider the
design of Apple’s product layout and Web navigation, as well
as Amazon’s tailored recommendations to additional products
based on each visitor’s specific needs (as determined by previous
viewing behaviors). Their ability to access personalized services
at any time from any device is what bank customers demand
in their online and mobile financial experiences.
Bankers have a lot of reasons, or excuses, for not offering a personalized, action-oriented website. Monetary resources, lack of
time to maintain updates and compliance issues are all legitimate
concerns. So what should be a part of a website refresh in 2012?
Here are a few fundamental actions that financial institutions
should be careful to take.
1. Provide good search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is more than a buzzword. Proper application of SEO
techniques provides greater visibility to the institution’s online
presence in organic searches and helps drive consumers to
the pages relevant to their needs.
Dubuque, Iowa-based Premier Bank (assets: $267 million), which went live with a new website in April, wanted
anyone Googling its name or searching for the availability
of certain financial products within its area to have the
institution included in those search results. A first step was
ensuring that any SEO embedded within the site was being
used to the fullest through the design—including placement of keywords in headings, subheads and finally the
content. It also created clean URLs for all of its subpages,
making it easier for search engines to crawl and index,
leading to greater search optimization. (An example of a
“dirty” URL not easy for a search engine to crawl: www.
site.com/q?is=page23. An example of what the cleaned
up URL would look like: www.site.com/free-checking.)
BankIowa (assets: $464
million), Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, updated its website
to ensure that it was
mobile-enabled. The bank
wanted to market the
institution’s availability to
customers regardless of
no desktop computer