Over the past decade, digital executives and teams at banks have made strides in digital selling by upgrading and improving their public websites — and more recently their mobile apps and sites. But conversion rates on many banks’ websites remain low — in some areas, well below 10% — even as consumers’ expectations for digital experiences rise.
To take their digital selling to the next level, digital marketing and sales teams at banks should look outside the banking industry for fresh thinking. One area to look for inspiration is retail: By adapting digital tactics that best-in-class retailers use, banking digital teams can make adjustments to their websites and mobile apps that boost conversion rates and sales overall. Forrester has just published a new report that outlines “What Banks Can Learn From Retailers' Websites.” Here are just three of the ideas we discuss in the report:
Merchandise around customers’ needs and journeys rather than product silos. Retailers have found success by merchandising entire site sections, and even microsites, around customer journeys and events. Yet our research finds that virtually all banks still use products as the organizing principle on their websites. In 2013, Wal-Mart created a complete "back to college" microsite with digital marketing on key landing pages. As a result of this and other digital merchandising efforts, Wal-Mart increased the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30% year-over-year.
Hot off the presses: We’ve just published our 2014 US and Canadian Bank Digital Sales Benchmark reports, in which we assess the public websites of the five largest retail banks in each country — as well as their mobile sites and downloadable apps for smartphones and tablets. Our benchmark looks at a range of criteria across four categories: discover, explore, buy, and onboard (see image below).
Read the full reports by clicking on the following links:
Here are some of the findings from the research:
Bank of America narrowly edges out the competition to take the top US spot. For the second year in a row, Bank of America earns the highest overall score among the five largest retail banks. The firm excels by simplifying the online application process (it takes just a few minutes and guides the user with clear feedback and progress indicators) while supporting digital shoppers with chat and click-to-call options. At the same time, Bank of America enables easy cross-channel shopping for digital researchers who want to move offline to apply, with branch appointment scheduling available online.
Now we’ve taken a look at 2015 and predicted a dozen ways digital banking will change in the coming year.* At the center of these predictions is what Forrester calls the age of the customer: A 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. To succeed in the age of the customer, digital bank executives must work with partners across their organizations to use business technology — which Forrester defines as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers — to deliver more compelling customer experiences to bank customers.
For several years, we have noted a shift in power from companies to customers. Customers call the shots; they can and do transfer their loyalty when they aren't catered to with engaging customer experiences. The age of the customer has reached the banking industry; as in other industries, banks must change the way they do business to move the customer center stage.
Thus, application development and delivery (AD&D) teams must work with their peers across the bank to develop and apply the technology, systems, and processes needed to win, serve, and retain customers, partnering with eBusiness executives leading digital banking initiatives to drive new digital innovations. And this is not just a minority movement: Forrester’s Financial Services Architecture Online Survey 2014 shows that close to 80 percent of financial services firms around the globe work on transforming their application landscape or plan to start doing so within the next two years.
To prepare for this transformation imperative, AD&D pros need to be aware of the key trends for banking applications; the emerging and accelerating architecture trends, products, and services; as well as their to-do lists for 2015, which you can learn more about in Peter Wannemacher's Predictions 2015 report. While some banks aren't yet ready to take full advantage of these trends, Forrester believes that AD&D teams must be aware of, learn from, and prepare for eight trends in 2015. Among them:
In his excellent book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande makes a compelling case for the power of simple checklists to avoid issues and mistakes during the decisioning process. Gawande's thesis is essentially this: A consistently applied, step-by-step checklist can be enormously valuable for a range of professionals from doctors to software designers to executives at major companies.
Add to this group the lowly mobile banking strategist.
[Quick note: If you read my old blog post about gamification, you may hope to earn more Peter Wannemacher Points. Well congrats! You just earned 150 more Peter Wannemacher Points! Plus, you can collect a digital badge if you read to the end of this post and send me an email!]
Fiserv’s current version of CheckFree RXP uses gamification to increase digital bill pay adoption among its bank clients - our research shows online bill pay is a critical secure site feature on banks' websites. So I spoke with Justin Jackson, senior product manager at Fiserv, about the company’s use of gamification. Right away, he made it clear that gamification is not just “building an online game for people to play” but the process of “taking cues from game design to better engage users.”
More than two years ago, Westpac – a bank in New Zealand – rolled out its “Cash Tank” feature for mobile bankers. Suddenly, customers could view key information like account balances without needing to log in (needless to say, it was and is opt-in-only). This new mobile banking feature immediately made a splash and was hailed as a small-but-impressive innovation. Other banks – such as Société Générale in France and Bank of the West in the US – offer similar pre-login information features.
This led folks like me to wonder: How might digital teams at banks take pre-login information further or make it even better?
Great digital strategy is often about pushing the limits – and not just in big ways. So Citi’s recent update to its smartphone apps is noteworthy for the bank’s decision to push the idea of pre-login information even further with Citi Mobile Snapshot. Citi customers who bank via their mobile phones can view not only balances but recent transactions without the hassle of logging in.
We spoke with Andres Wolberg-Stok, Global Head of Emerging Platforms and Services who shared with us a diagram that demonstrates the evolution of its mobile banking effort before and after Citi Mobile Snapshot (see below).
When it comes to mobile banking, customers' expectations are growing faster than the hair on a Chia Pet. So every year, Forrester reviews and scores the mobile banking offerings from the largest retail banks in the US across seven categories: Range of touchpoints; Enrollment and login; Account information; Transactional functionality; Service features; Cross-channel guidance; and marketing and sales. You can read the complete report here or by clicking on the link below:
Here is a sampling of some of our findings:
Chase and U.S. Bank tie for the top spot. With scores of 69 out of 100, Chase and U.S. Bank received the highest overall scores among the five banks we evaluated. Chase delivers the basics superbly, with a wide range of transactional features for transfers, bill pay, and P2P payments as well as strong cross-channel guidance for customers to contact Chase and find ATMs and branches. By contrast U.S. Bank stands out for more advanced features, including marketing and research for additional products, the ability to take a picture of a paper bill to enroll in bill pay, and the ability to pay another person using the contact list in a mobile phone.
In Canada, mobile banking is growing up faster than Justin Bieber. So from March 21 to April 9, 2014, Forrester reviewed and scored the mobile banking offerings from the five largest retail banks in Canada across seven categories: Range of touchpoints; Enrollment and login; Account information; Transactional functionality; Service features; Cross-channel guidance; and marketing and sales. You can read the complete report here or by clicking on the link below:
Here is a sampling of some of our findings:
CIBC earns the highest overall score with BMO and Scotiabank on its heels. With an overall score of 71 out of 100, CIBC received the highest overall scores among the five retail banks we evaluated, continuing the firm’s leadership in mobile banking since it launched its first iPhone app four years ago. But the other large Canadian banks are hot on CIBC’s trail: BMO and Scotiabank each earned a score of 70 out of 100 with impressive – and recent – overhauls of their mobile offerings. Scotiabank lets users apply for new products via mobile with pre-filled, mobile-optimized applications. BMO, meanwhile, ensures that all mobile money movement task flows are clear and consistent -- incorporating the same progress meter at the top of every screen.