Financial Institutions Face Analytics Challenges

  |  April 29, 2014   |  Comments

Although financial institutions want to improve their analytics strategies, they have a number of challenges that make it more difficult compared to other sectors.

Financial institutions need to step up their analytics games - but they have a much harder game to play.

Analytics provider Webtrends says that its experience shows that banks have to rise to the same consumer demands for ease of use as retailers and travel providers, even though they're subject to rigorous regulation and heightened privacy and security standards.

The top challenges for financial institutions come with taking on new customers: There's no one-click application for a loan or credit card. Forms are frequently abandoned, especially when they're started on mobile devices, so a best practice is for banks to encourage consumers to finish the process on a tablet or desktop, according to Michael Wilson, senior director of product strategy at Webtrends.

"Banks know that consumers engage in research on mobile, and they want to drive people from research to their website because they are much more likely to complete conversion on tablet or PC," he says. "So they are driving people across channels rather than getting them to convert on the original channel."

Another challenge is campaign analytics, Wilson says. While retailers often measure campaigns in the channel in which they take place, looking for response and brand lift, banks must wait until a new customer completes the conversion process and then analyze behavior across all channels. "Cross-channel learnings are valuable but not immediate," he says.

A third challenge is understanding the more complicated customer journey of someone who may start research on one device, continue it on another, and complete it - or abandon it - within still another channel.

Those were the challenges faced by Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed), the third-largest credit union in the United States. "We need to track our marketing campaigns, understand consumer behavior, and ensure that our online application flow is as user-friendly as possible," says Jenni Kirkruff, PenFed’s manager of online experience.

PenFed carefully tracks the application process and wanted to reduce "fall-off," when consumers give up on filling out forms. There are different applications for each of PenFed's products, which range from mortgages to auto loans to credit cards, and each must be approved by compliance officers. Each customer scenario, such as applying for a mortgage, has to be tracked separately in order to understand where the process falls short.

"There is so much information you need to get from them," Kirkruff says. "You have to make that tangible and very easy to get through so they do complete the application." As a credit union, PenFed still has another hurdle: Only members can apply for products. So in many cases, a consumer must first fill out a membership form before encountering still another one for the actual product. The task, she says, is "managing that prior application process and how to balance it out without making it miles long."

PenFed became a Webtrends customer in March 2013. The credit union uses Webtrends' products not only to optimize its forms and analyze online behavior, but also to track marketing across channels, not only digital channels but also print, billboard, radio, television, and direct mail. The performance of traditional media can be added into the mix via custom URLs.

Financial institutions have lagged behind the retail and travel industries when it comes to technology, Webtrends' Wilson says. "Banks are still going to IT and asking to get their first tag put on the site. These sites are a barren wasteland of tags, while retail and travel have 50 different tags tracking campaigns."

Image via Shutterstock.

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Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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