Most banking websites convert only a small portion of overall visitors. One of the reasons potential customers abandon digital channels is because they simply cannot find what they’re looking for or become overwhelmed by the decision of which product to buy.
If a customer was in a branch and asked ‘what are the fees for this product?’, a teller wouldn’t respond by sending them to a PDF link of a Product Disclosure Statement. Yet this is what many product pages do online.
One of the best types of web pages to help consumers find what they’re looking for and reduce abandonment rates is a comparison page. But rarely do companies invest in these pages even though they can make an enormous difference to online sales.
In this article we’ll look at proven techniques for how to create fantastic comparison pages and, in so doing, help consumers and increase online sales.
1. Allow consumers to add or remove products
Comparison tables provide consumers with the ability to control the information they want see. Allowing consumers to add or remove products in comparison pages is an important feature. With this feature consumers can narrow their focus to the information that helps them make their decision.
2. Allow expand and collapse of information categories
Comparison pages allow consumers to expand and narrow their focus when reading specific information. The best pages allow consumers to collapse the information that is not relevant to their question.
A useful way to find out how consumers would categorize information is to print specific types of information on separate cards and ask individual users to sort these cards in ways that make the most sense to them. Doing this with 8 to 16 people will very quickly give you an impression how to structure a comparison page. Test with users how they would categorize information about products, and build collapse and expand functions into your comparison page based on this.
3. Connect comparison tables to product pages and other essential pages
When consumers are considering a product they’re bound to have questions, such as “what are the fees associated with this product” or “what are the benefits of this product”. Comparison pages are the next logical destination for these questions to be answered. The best comparison pages have strong links from other pages on the website, so consumers understand the comparison page is a destination where they will receive more detailed information. Link comparison pages to other areas of the website to help the customer journey when making a decision.
4. Make essential information visible
When creating comparison pages it’s tempting to lower the priority of certain information. For example, putting fees and charges at the bottom of the page. The best comparison pages put the information that best responds to user questions up-front. This helps people answer the questions most important to them, and builds a sense of trust with the products they’re considering. Test with users what information they would like to see on the comparison page, and uses these preferences to order information appropriately.
5. Use icons and logos to make the page refreshing
Some comparison pages can look text heavy. The best tables balance out text with artwork so that the page is pleasant to look at and not confusing. This artwork could include images of the products, logos of the associated partners that create the products, or other iconography that helps people understand the table (ticks, checks, etc). The overall impression is to make essentially complex information elegant and simple to read. Balance out text-heavy sections of the table with artwork and iconography to visually simplify the page.
6. Ensure the apply now button is visible
The ultimate goal of the comparison page is to respond to customer questions and, in so doing, reduce barriers to apply for a product. So it’s important the method of application (whether an ‘apply now’ button or phone number to call) is clearly visible on the page. Ensure the call to action is clearly visible on the comparison page.
7. Display any relevant offers and bonuses
Specific product offers and bonuses provide additional motivation for consumers to apply. This information should be clearly visible within the page to encourage users to make their decision. When designing the comparison page, consider where to display special offers and how these will be updated. When this information is used, ensure the information can be easily updated when the offers change.
8. Takeover the entire page
There are differing schools of thought about whether comparison tables should take up the entire page (removing secondary navigation) or be just part of the page (leaving the navigation in-tact). My advice: If you’re displaying more than two products, take over the entire page for the comparison table. (similar to the Bank of America example at the start of this article). This removes distractions and also ensures the best use of real estate on the page to display multiple products.
9. Make comparison tables SEO friendly
In recent years websites that allow people to compare products between banks and financial institutions have grown rapidly. These websites are just a search engine away and offer an alternative destination for consumers. To win more customers, ensure your pages are SEO friendly and the product category (eg. deposit accounts) for your page is included in the page title. Making your comparison page SEO friendly is the best way to combat this and attract users to consider your products.
10. Display terms and conditions discretely
Many comparison pages list detailed terms and conditions on screen. No doubt this is because the legal team requires heavy-duty protection on these pages. But does this really improve a customer’s experience? Extensive terms and conditions can be confusing and overwhelming. There are new models for comparison pages which simplify the way terms and conditions are shown, while still making this important information readily accessible. Use simplified models for displaying terms and conditions, so this information is available but not overwhelming.
11. Optimize for Mobile
With many financial websites receiving between 30% to 50% of their traffic from mobile devices, optimizing comparison pages for mobile is essential. At first this may seem difficult. Your colleagues may ask, “How could we possibly fit all of this content on a small screen?” It can be done.
This example from AMEX shows how a comparison page can translate to mobile. Users are able to select specific cards to compare and, if selecting more than two cards, can swipe to see the full panorama of cards they have selected.
12. Look at other industry examples
The use of comparison pages across industries is continually evolving. There are always new examples of innovation in this space. As a result banks shouldn’t just look at other banks when refining their own comparison pages, but should cast the net more widely. By learning from other industry examples we can bring innovations to our industry. For example, look at how Samsung displays comparison information.
13. Continually test with consumers
It’s tempting to create comparison pages and then leave them to do their job. Continually testing the page will help identify further opportunities for improvement. There may be some questions that are not answered on the page which could provide directions for new content. At least every 3 to 6 months the comparison page should be tested again with consumers to spot these opportunities.
14. Evaluate whether to compare your products with other banking products
Some banking websites compare their products with products of other financial institutions. This allows financial institutions to tailor the comparison page content on their own terms, rather than leaving this to the control of a third party. This works incredibly well where the financial institution has a market leading product, which has strong selling points compared to the competition.
15. Consider web chat or proactive chat on comparison table pages
Comparison pages help people at key decision points where the customer is more involved in considering products. Live assistance can be valuable at this stage. Recently many banks have offered web chat or pro-active chat on these pages as a way to further engage consumers. Whilst ‘chat’ is not a specific feature of the comparison page, these pages provide excellent locations to offer these services to increase customer engagement.
Alessio Bresciani is a digital strategist and channel manager with over 15 years experience in digital, across marketing, e-commerce, online sales, and digital and mobile strategy. Alessio has worked for companies like Coles, ANZ and GSK, and as a previous lecturer in Strategic Foresight at Swinburne University has a keen eye on strategic trends. You can read Alessio’s blog, follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.