5 Reasons Why Banks and Credit Unions Need Responsive Websites Now

The decision for financial marketers isn’t should your site be rebuilt using responsive design, but rather when.

By Michelle Brown, Director of Marketing at ZAG Interactive

You might know the mobile statistics: 56% of Americans own a smartphone. 36% of American’s own a tablet. And in 2013, mobile device sales officially overtook desktop sales. What does this mean for your financial institution?

Bank and credit union websites often lag behind from a technology perspective; the financial industry is generally more conservative as a whole. But bank and credit union marketers need to listen up and pay attention, because mobile usage is growing steadily and it’s time to understand why you need to invest in a responsive website… soon.

Responsive design is an approach to building websites resulting in a single site that automatically adapts to predefined screen sizes. Unlike mobile sites or apps, a responsive website provides a full website experience for phone and tablet users, which should be music to the ears of any financial marketer trying to get site visitors to go beyond just logging into online banking.

1. You Must Be Mobile Friendly

There are many studies out there these days looking at who’s using mobile devices. A more appropriate question is, “Who isn’t using mobile devices?” Your audience uses phones and tablets at work, home, during their commute, at their children’s activities, and just about everywhere else. And frustratingly, 46% of mobile users report difficulty interacting with a web page, and 44% complain navigation was difficult. The fact is you shouldn’t be the one to decide which devices will offer the best experience for your website. These days, your users simply expect seamless usability on all devices. So, what do you need to know about responsive design?

( More: 30 Gorgeous —and Simple— Banking Websites )

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2. Consumers Get the Full Experience

Chances are your institution’s current website experience is highly task-oriented. They visit your site, log in to online banking, look up a branch location, and perhaps get contact information. If your institution has a mobile site, then typically all visitors are offered are links to these commonly requested items. In contrast, a responsive website offers a full site experience for users no matter how they are accessing your site, including marketing messaging, full site content, full functionality and more. This means a higher level of engagement, more opportunities to connect with your audience and potentially more ROI from your site.

3. Technical Ease, Simplicity & Convenience

Responsive websites are built off a single domain using one code set. Using fluid grids, flexible images and media queries, the sites adapt to targeted screen sizes (i.e. desktop/laptop, tablet, phone, widescreen). This means that no matter what devices hit the market, the site will adapt well. Additionally, sites built using responsive design and a solid CMS will have clean code, resulting in an improved page load time. That is a good thing, because 57% of online consumers will abandon a site after waiting just 3 seconds for a page to load. What’s more, sites built using responsive design provide the ability to hide non-essential content on mobile devices, resulting in a more efficient user experience. Be aware that when linking to third-party sites, like calculators and online applications, the vendors may not have a responsive solution in place, so plan accordingly so you don’t frustrate your visitors.

( More: What Do Consumers Really Want From Banking Websites? Simplicity )

4. Marketing

Responsive websites are inherently marketing-friendly. Google advocates responsive design from an SEO perspective because the site’s single URL means the page rank isn’t divided between mobile and non-mobile traffic. That said, responsive design combined with a solid inbound marketing strategy is the recipe for SEO success. Additionally, marketers should think beyond their primary website and consider developing landing pages and even email templates using responsive design. Your audience uses mobile devices for everything, so serve up what they need.

5. The Investment is Amortized

Custom websites designed and built with responsive design do carry a slightly higher price tag because of the additional design and development hours. However, because responsive websites target common device sizes, the investment is a one-time cost for the life of your site design.

Key Takeaways

For the last two years, responsive design has proven to be an essential tool in all digital marketers’ toolboxes. Looking at your site analytics, you will see that the percentage of phone and tablet traffic to your site is increasing every month and that trend is far from over. So the decision for financial marketers isn’t should your site be rebuilt using responsive design, but rather when. If a website redesign is in your institution’s near future, make sure that responsive design is on your must-have list. Your boss and your customers will thank you, most likely from their mobile device.

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