6 Steps to Personalizing Bank & Credit Union Websites

Financial institutions need to deliver a more customer-centric web experience, one that responds to consumers' specific needs. Personalization and customization are the key themes driving online UX today.

Personalizing a website involves tailoring content based on the characteristics of each individual user’s online behaviors. Users are presented content according to their buyer persona. Personalized web UX automatically serves up content to users based on these predetermined persona profiles, assigning the user to a particular profile based on data.

Personalized content is often determined by user behaviors (activities on the site) such as pages viewed, buttons clicked and forms submitted. Ideally, site personalization integrates other input — e.g., location-based tracking, subsequent user actions and historical user data — to trigger content that’s tied to an existing persona. This is the most straightforward approach to personalizing a website: a combination of geo-location, and actions taken on the website.

Read More: Building Buyer Personas for Banking Websites

How does website personalization work?

Website personalization for financial institutions requires a confluence of strategy, marketing, design and technology coming together to deliver the ideal user experience. First, you have to build the strategy around buyer personas. This in turn informs site architecture, design decisions and copywriting decisions. Personalized content can range from image-based promotions found in homepage rotationals to sidebar cross-sells and mega-menu banners. Personalized content can also include modules like slide-outs and “body well” text crafted to appeal to particular users.

After the buyer personas have been developed, geographic locations established and content created, the personalization process must be automated. This personalization is made possible by leveraging a contemporary content management system (CMS) with built-in personalization functionality. There are basic “out-of-the-box” personalization features available to help developers integrate buyer personas and set the rules for personalized content, while more complex personas often require custom development. To integrate location tracking (dictated by GeoIP detection), as well as tracking important user activities on the site (e.g., visited Home Equity Loans page), users’ activities are tracked using cookies that follow the user path as they click throughout the site. The project team should also set “tiebreakers” in the backend of the site, which determine the prioritization of content when personalization criteria overlaps amongst the user groups. While visitors explore the site, they are unaware of the sophisticated technology driving their intentionally relevant and valuable website experience.

Because buyer personas and personalization are informed by collected data, marketers should closely monitor site analytics and pour through conversion data (most often from form submissions) to adjust and refine personalization settings on an on-going basis.

What are the steps to financial institution site personalization?

1. Gather information

  • Meet with key stakeholders of your financial institution to agree on site’s intended business objectives
  • Consider your current marketing plan to align site promotions with forthcoming campaigns
  • Conduct consumer interviews or analyze available research to gain a deeper understanding of target audiences
  • Review site analytics to isolate visitor trends for mapping user activities
  • Analyze available big data about consumers captured from branch, public site, Internet banking and online applications

2. Craft Personas

  • Leverage the collected information to dictate the different personas
  • Isolate three to five primary personas based on the most common consumer characteristics
  • Make each persona as specific as possible, so the site can accommodate distinct needs of the consumer
  • Fill out the following profile information for each persona:
    • Picture – what representative photo best depicts this unique user group?
    • Quote – how would this person briefly summarize his/her financial status?
    • Profile – what is this person’s current financial status?
    • Demographics – what are this person’s gender, age, marital status and dependents?
    • Location – where does this user group live in terms of town, state, zip code and type of neighborhood?
    • Role – what best describes this person’s role in the workforce and society?
    • Technology – which channels does this person use the most among desktop, phone and tablet devices?
    • Motivations – how is the person aligning his or her finances against life ambitions?
    • Goals – which financial objectives are this person looking to accomplish?
    • Online Usage – how does this person leverage Internet technology?
    • Typical Behaviors – what does this person do when not at work?
    • Financial Tendencies – what saving, investing and borrowing activities is the person doing?
  • Review and finalize the personas with key marketing, design and development stakeholders

Consider the appropriate channels:

  • Leverage the financial institution website as the online hub for personalization
  • Accommodate personalized sections of content when designing or redesigning the site
  • Integrate and personalize inbound and content marketing tactics, including email and social media marketing, into the personalization plan
  • Evaluate how users are consuming content on different devices and its impact on personalized content

Create the tailored content:

  • Write specific messaging to appear on webpages
  • Design promotional content to show in specific areas of the site

Manage the messages:

  • Curate all text- and image-based content for personalization
  • Prioritize hierarchy of content based on user groups
  • Align the right content to appear to each designated persona

Measure and adjust:

  • Enable all personalization tracking available in the CMS to collect relevant data and performance indicators
  • Analyze available site metrics to develop new personas and related content
  • Review personalization usage to adjust existing personas and refine ongoing approach

Promoting personal connections between the financial institution and consumer

Banks and credit unions increasingly turn to site personalization to deliver a more gratifying, user-centric and relevant experience for customers and members. Personalized content increases brand loyalty to the financial institution, as it demonstrates understanding and consideration of unique consumer needs. Furthermore, personalization improves customer satisfaction, putting more tailored choices and customized content in front of the user at logical points in the sales funnel. By delivering a more customized web experience, the financial institution builds invaluable trust with the consumer, which translates into enhanced stickiness to the personalized services of the bank or credit union. These kinds of deep connections established through buyer personas and site personalization creates a stronger, mutually beneficial relationship between the financial institution and consumer.

Chris Rinaldi is a Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. To discuss your digital strategy needs with ZAG, call 860.633.4818.

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