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Why the financial services sector needs Conversion Rate Optimisation

Why the financial services sector needs Conversion Rate Optimisation

The financial services industry has often had a love-hate relationship with its customers. People need banks but are sceptical about how ‘honest’ they are. And after the global financial crisis of 2007-09, trust in banks sunk to an all-time low. Today, banks are well aware of this scepticism, tracking trust levels and net promoter scores (NPS) on a regular basis to look for better ways to understand and serve customers. Major institutions like the Commonwealth Bank have invested heavily in the digital channel with a team of more than 90 people who focus on user experience across its digital touchpoints. This has enabled them to obtain a sharper profile of their customers, which then translates to data that helps tailor services. A better experience leads to better engagement and a higher uptake of products and services. Why does the finance industry need CRO? As machine learning and fast data become more prevalent in the finance sector, many banks are looking at how they can leverage this dynamic data. Practices like CRO, where an organisation tests a range of experiences to find which combination provides the best results, can help optimise the digital experience and personalise the customer experience. Tests allow the collection of fast data, which leads to quick actionable changes so the bank better understands behaviour and values
Financial institutions are notoriously bad at speaking to customers: they are product-centric rather than customer-centric, which comes from an attitude of offering what they think customers need, they use complex jargon and they often overdo the legalese because of heavy regulation. Websites usually reflect this with long complicated forms and terms and conditions for people to read, which discourage visitors from continuing. All these are hallmarks of a pre-digital era industry struggling to attract and retain customers in a digital age.
However, it's this situation that makes CRO more important for the finance industry; the harder it is to sell a product laden with information, the more the sector needs to test and find the way that works to help customers select the right product. CRO provides live, fast data to understand how different information can be presented to better assist the user, and the user need only select their preferred option via a click. Customer acquisition Money is a sensitive area and causes people to behave in unusual ways, so designing a website for the financial services industry is not the same as designing an e-commerce site. Financial services and products are often seen as a 'necessary evil', so the site needs to overcome visitors' initial levels of scepticism, fear of getting into debt or being ripped off. This is where data-led design can assist.
Financial institutions spend a lot of money generating traffic but then fail to maximise their investment once the customers land on the site. Traffic is useless if visitors are not engaging in a way that ends in conversion. CRO uses real-time data to identify what visitors are doing on the site, where they might drop off, what areas they visit most and what questions they're asking. Organisations should be looking for a fresh approach to interpret and analyse this information so the data collected can then inform user design decisions.
Consumers behave and think very differently across industries so when an agency is designing tests for a website, the team should have experience and industry insights specific to that vertical driving the rationale. Good CRO agencies will have industry specialities, so consider this when you determine what will work best for you. Data, data everywhere As the market becomes increasingly competitive, institutions need to keep up with customer expectations to meet their needs at every touchpoint of their customer journey, including in the digital environment. The big banks have started using CRO and experimentation to drive media costs down and enhance the user experience once visitors land on the website. For example, ANZ has customised its home page hero banner based on who you are and what they know about you. In some ways financial institutions have a strange advantage because of a duty of care with how they collect data. Consumers are conditioned to expect that part of the process to receive a financial service involves filling out forms. CRO can help you optimise form fields in order to engage customers and convert them. Testing with CRO can focus on a variety of areas including page structure, customer requirements, purchase psychology, product and page story. Through continued testing and experimentation, you can start to ascertain customer insights and develop the ideal user experience.
According to Accenture [1], 67% of consumers would be happy to share more data with their bank or investment advisory firm if it translated into new benefits, and about the same number (63% for banks, 73% for investment advice) believe sharing data should deliver a more personalised service. Paired with CRO, the data-as-currency model means institutions can, and should, deliver changes that suit the consumer.
Developing customer intelligence Gone are the days of using intuition, focus groups or surveys to design a website that approximated what a customer wanted. What CRO gives is statistically proven clarity about real life behaviour. Optimisation programs help you understand the value drivers for customers, including the psychology behind consumer thinking and decision-making around money, which should then feed how you position and build your brand through your customer. The other benefit is agility. Years ago, if a website didn't work, the organisation would have to start the design process from scratch. The value CRO brings is the ability to run smaller tests so you keep delivering value for your customers while driving down the cost of implementation because they are smaller changes. The New Republique team has worked with a number of financial institutions and over time we have developed a solid understanding of how consumers think and behave when dealing with financial institutions. One example of how our insight helped a bank is with a credit card product. The client experienced high call rates from customers who wanted to activate their credit card, despite material sent with the card directing users online. We discovered that customers would return to the page where they first engaged with the bank for that card and so created an 'activate' button on that page. We increased the conversion of leads to customers by 64%, reduced unnecessary calls to the call centre, and increased the perception that the bank was 'easy to deal with'. PwC's report, Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond [2], states that "'customer intelligence' will be the most important predictor of revenue growth and profitability". CRO is the foundation of customer intelligence. Without CRO, you're guessing, and that's not a good investment in your digital strategy. If you would like to know more about the case study featured in this article please get in touch via email hello@newrepublique.com