American consumers like variety when they go hunting for financial products and the web has provided these loan fishers with an endless sea of financial options. These cautious consumers take decisions about loans seriously and look at many options until they feel they have the right rates, fees, and institution.
These buying behaviors are complex and understanding how consumers search for and analyze loan options is key to optimizing buying experiences. A common mistake that many banks and credit unions make in analyzing and optimizing towards these buying behaviors is to assume that prospects make decisions in a single visit. For example, a new visitor that navigates to a financial site, then views the rates for a specific product, and leaves is typically considered a failed visit. But the reality is, smart consumers take time to contemplate their options.
It Often Takes Multiple Days and Multiple Visits
In our research using web analytics data and financial consumer survey data we see that the majority of users are taking their time to research and compare offerings.
As an example, let’s look at data from a large bank in Nevada:
- Visitors that started a mortgage loan on the banks website did so on their 3rd visit (3.2, actually)
- It took them another visit (4th visit) to complete the application.
- These visitors commonly used multiple traffic channels (i.e. search engines and direct URLs) across their visits
- Some pages such as rates were viewed in each visit, while other pages such as the organizational information were only viewed in one visit.
- The applicants overwhelming looked at product pages first before looking at rates pages or other types of pages.
- The average time between the 1st visit and the 3rd visit was 5 days.
Optimizing For the Multi-visit Conversion
With this data in mind, financial institutions should be optimizing for two distinct click paths simultaneously. The 1st click-path results in a visitor starting an application for a loan. The 2nd and equally critical click-path involves educating the visitor on the superiority of a loan product while persuading them to come back for another visit and more information as they progress through their research journey. These multi-visit click-paths also provide a great opportunity for progressive personalization as users expose more of their intent and interest with each visit.
Additionally, financial institutions should consider the varied buying cycles and customer journeys taken for each unique loan type or product when designing the experience.
Persuading Visitors to Return When Researching Products
Visitors are not only seeking great loan products, they are seeking sites that educate them about what makes a good loan and how to compare them. The web has taught these loan hunters to expect lots of easily accessible content and great tools and if they can’t find them on one financial website, they will quickly look elsewhere. The financial websites that provide education and functionality will drive engagement, repeat visits, and loan applications.
Understanding how visitors interact with financial institutions online is a vital component of developing a customer centric Service Design. This knowledge on complex buying behaviors enables growing financial institutions to provide superior experiences to the status quo and surpass stagnant competitors.