14 Ways to Enhance and Differentiate Financial Websites
By Brenna Keough, Senior Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive
Many financial institutions look and sound alike. They all offer basically the same products and services — from standard checking accounts and home loans to online banking. This presents unique challenges to financial marketers looking to differentiate their brand from others.
When planning the next phase for your institution’s website, here are 14 different ideas you can incorporate.
1. Comparison Charts & Product Finders
Most financial institutions offer options for checking accounts, mortgages and more. For website visitors, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which of these options best meets their specific needs. Comparison charts give visitors a form of visual shorthand with at-a-glance formats that highlight important features and notable product differences, making it easier for consumers to make a decision.
Product finders serve a similar purpose, but require user input and answers to pertinent questions in order to receive personalized product recommendations.
With both approaches, visitors should easily know next steps — either learning more about a specific product, or how to apply online.
2. Lifestage Financial Solutions
Financial marketers can help website visitors select their life stage or financial need so that they can view recommendations for products, calculators, tools, tips, articles and more. Such “solution helpers” create a more personalized experience that is more aligned with the type of service people find in branches. For instance, instead of pushing home equity loans with a standard website promotion, a “solution helper” might highlight different ways such loans are commonly used — e.g., renovating a home.
3. Branded Blog
Delivering fresh content for website visitors and search engines, blogs are a perfect tool for banking websites. Blogs can feature a variety of information, from financial education and events to corporate happenings. Keeping your visitors up-to-date and giving helpful tips adds value to your website experience and encourages return visits. This can establish relationships and may contribute to additional product usage over time.
Crucially, blogs offer the opportunity to boost your search engine rankings. Just remember, Google demands that content about money needs to be of the highest quality. But this is good for you, since crafting quality content that helps enhance visitor’s lives can be a strategic competitive differentiator.
4. Financial Education Content
Covering topics from home buying to personal finance, educational content is extremely valuable to visitors. Articles should also contain keywords and phrases that can help drive search traffic at various stages in the consumer journey. Someone in the initial stages of buying a home might not yet be looking for a mortgage, but is probably searching for helpful home buying information. An article titled “10 Tips for Buying a Home” may be more relevant to these inquiries, giving your financial institution an opportunity to start building credibility and trust, which may ultimately lead to the consumer closing a mortgage with you. Financial articles and infographics are great way to boost a blog or resource center, and can even simply be added as pages to enhance an existing website.
5. Financial Calculators
Incorporating calculators into your financial institution’s website can improve the overall website experience for existing and potential consumers. When buying a home, getting a new car or even choosing a savings solution, there are many factors to be considered and compared, and calculators are a helpful tool that allows users to make more informed financial decisions. Also, if calculator pages contain content laden with commonly searched-for phrases, calculator pages can drive valuable inbound traffic to your website from search engines. Most financial calculators can be embedded directly into your website, and can even be customized to your brand so they fit within your unique design.
6. Quick Links
Commonly found in website mega menus and footers, quick links surface popular website pages such as online applications, helpful tools, useful resources, rates and more. Providing visitors with immediate access to these utilities, quick links are valuable for visitors, but can also support your bank or credit union’s business objectives. Online applications are obvious, but tools such as calculators can appeal to consumers still in the decision-making phase, and help to guide them from consideration to conversion.
7. Online Applications & Forms
Banks and credit unions are increasingly integrating online applications and forms on their websites. While it is important to effectively compete with other online financial institutions, there is an inherent value to offering such features, and they can enhance your overall banking and website experience. Online applications allow users to apply for an account or a loan anytime and anywhere they want, making it convenient and increasing the chances of conversion. And when users aren’t ready to take action but are interested in more information, forms provide a simple, secure way to inquire about a product or service, which generates leads for your financial institution.
8. Community Information
Many local banks and credit unions are very active in their communities, but don’t showcase this involvement well on their website. Highlighting these efforts can help financial institutions connect with their audiences because they convey a positive, highly relatable image of the bank or credit union. If you’re working with partners, it can also be a great way to build meaningful relationships in the community and with consumers. This type of information can be featured on the homepage, a separate page on your site, or using an existing promotional area.
9. Social Media Integration
If your financial institution is active on social media, incorporating that activity onto your website can enhance the overall experience for all audiences. Banks and credit unions often run interactive contests, offer special promotions, share financial tips and more to engage audiences on social media. Displaying that kind of content your site is a great way to encourage interaction with your website and brand as a whole. It also may help gain new followers for continued communication and strengthen existing relationships.
10. Landing Pages
Websites typically have a few design layouts that are used to contain all of the content, such as a homepage, category page (e.g. checking) and detail page (e.g. specific checking product). While these are essential components to any website, there are opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by creating a customizable landing page layout as well. These unique templates eliminate unnecessary elements on the page to keep the visitor focused on the desired call to action – supporting leads and conversions. Landing pages are best used for timely or temporary campaigns, and serve as the destination for all related promotions. As with all site pages but especially with landing pages, adding custom tracking to your landing pages will allow you to understand performance, and specifically which tactics are resulting in the most conversions.
11. Rates Management Tool
Often a major competitive differentiator, your rates are one of the most important parts of your website. They are typically featured in a single page or section, featured on specific product pages, and used in promotions throughout the website. Because rates change frequently, it tricky to keep track of where on your website they need to be updated. A rates management tool within your content management system allows you to centrally change a rate once, so it will update in each place it is referenced on the website. This not only ensures that visitors have most accurate information, it also makes it easier to manage a site and stay compliant.
12. Locations Finder & Management Tools
Most financial institutions have multiple branch and ATM locations. Keeping this information up-to-date and consistent throughout your website can sometimes be challenging, especially for institutions with a large amount of locations. A locations management tool within a content management system provides a central repository for all branch location details, making ongoing maintenance much simpler. For visitors, this information can be displayed visually on a map using pin markers. Users can filter and search for nearby branches based on their location, as well as get directions, making it easier to visit one of your bank or credit union offices. Most tools can also seamlessly integrate with third-party ATM networks, too.
13. Testimonials & Success Stories
Any bank or credit union can claim how great their products and services are. But having a glowing endorsement from an existing member or customer gives validity to these statements and can help generate trust. Financial institutions should add testimonials (short statements about a positive experience), or success stories (which tend to be longer, more detailed accounts) to their websites to add depth to the overall experience. While these can be incorporated into financial institution sites on a single page, they are more powerful if featured on relevant pages to drive conversions. Collecting them can be done in the branch, digitally as part of a survey, or even as a feedback form on your website that grants permission of use.
14. Membership Eligibility Finder
Specific to credit unions, an eligibility finder is an interactive tool that helps users determine if they are qualified to join. While most credit union websites provide standard information about who can join, membership eligibility finders engage visitors by asking a progressive series of questions to determine if they can become a member. This enhanced engagement approach offers a great opportunity to guide users through the next steps. Whether they still want to learn more about the credit union or are ready to apply for membership, relevant resources can be presented to the user based on their questionnaire responses.