Many financial services websites are for the one-way communication of what’s used in a brochure or poster. Some might also have a form to get in touch. Some sell products.

This is good. But as an industry, financial services can do better.

Many financial services firms are making the same three mistakes. It’s time to change.

Mistake 1: Lack of support from the organisation

Many departments within financial services firms don’t understand the value of their website, mainly because it has not been communicated clearly enough.

We’ve seen this first-hand. One of our customers even wanted to switch off their website before working with us!

Organisations often don’t provide sufficient budget or headcount for ongoing development, improvement, and management of the website. They try to cover the upkeep of the website from within the overall marketing budget, rather than treat it as its own discipline and argue internally for a separate budget.

All this can be resolved through:

  • A digital measurement framework
  • Cross-departmental engagement workshops

Cross-departmental engagement workshops, particularly with front-office sales and service providers, as well as back-office staff, allow you to show the whole business the value of your website in delivering for the company. You might also get invaluable feedback and suggestions for improvement!

Developing a digital measurement framework – something we do for all our customers – is vital in allowing you to focus on the measures that really matter to support decision making, through analysis of metrics based on the customer’s journey and their stage in the conversion process.

The digital measurement framework will enable you to easily define your business objectives and identify how your digital marketing strategy and tactics support these objectives – all of which allows you to easily report on the value of your website to the whole business.

Digital measurement framework infographic 
Digital Measurement Framework

Mistake 2: Fragmentation of digital experiences

Another mistake financial services companies make when building financial services digital products is that the digital experience, both from an internal and external perspective, can be completely fragmented.

Often, there is no connection between the website and the full life cycle of the customer. There are numerous web and digital touch-points, with content replicated in multiple places, as well as an inability to collect data to drive personalisation. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the website is a ‘one and done’ exercise.

Our experience has shown that to combat the fragmentation of digital experiences, it’s important to:

  • Identify the equivalent of a digital brand guardian or accounts auditor – give someone the role of ‘web guardian’
  • Audit all web platforms and domains so you know what you have
  • Create integrated tools that sit on a common technology stack
  • Conduct content modelling that allows full flexibility across multiple touch-points and devices

Mistake 3: Not speaking to real customers to shape the web experience

It’s easy to get blinkered in our thinking. We get caught up in doing things the same way we always have, or we forget to do the things we should because we’re so busy with our day-to-day job of getting things done and keeping people happy.

Creating digital experiences for people without asking what they actually want is like spending a huge amount of money on a present without knowing who you're buying for – they might not actually like it or even use it!

But this happens all the time.

There’s an easy way to fix it though – just conduct user research by facilitating workshops with customers to get their input on website content and functionality before you develop, and at every step of the way during the lifetime of your website.

It’s time to think digital products

Making the online journey easier, and helping customers and potential customers reach their goals, must be the ultimate aim of any financial services marketing function.

Marketing teams need to stop and ask, “What are the issues my organisation is trying to solve for its customers? How can digital help? How can I craft a digital product that delivers value for my customers, both internal and external?”

We know it’s not easy. It takes a step-change in how you think. To help you kick things off, we pulled together four lessons we’ve learned from doing it first-hand.

1. Shout about digital, but not as a channel

Your website is an important marketing channel. It’s your kid. Maybe it was once but a glint in your eye and you’re the one that brought it to life with your agency partner. You’ve seen it grow up, nurtured it, fed it, worried about it. You might even have hired a whole team who are dedicated to looking after it.

But your website doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the entire organisation.

In fact, it’s more correct to say that your web platform belongs to the entire organisation.

You need to start to shouting about the strength of your web platform, not your website.

2. Build it before people know they need it

What will your customers – inside and outside your organisation – need 2 years from now, in 5 years’ time, 10 years later?

Will it be talking to one of your staff (or even each other) in real-time, signing up for a service in one touch, being able to play around with all their data to make the best of their money?

Whatever it might be, you need start creating ‘the thing’ that delivers explicit value for your customers, before they even know they need it.

They'll thank you later!

3. Deliver in phases and never forget your goals

The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, once said, “If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.”

In the world of digital products, nothing is ever complete and finished, but there is always a goal, or multiple goals – if there isn’t, you have to questions why you’re building it.

Follow the HEART principle when it comes to goals.

  • Happiness – do people find the product helpful, fun, and easy to use?
  • Engagement – do they enjoy the product content and features?
  • Adoption – do new users see the value in the product or feature?
  • Retention – do they keep coming back to complete a key action?
  • Task Success – do people find the product quickly and complete tasks efficiently?

You need to constantly measure the signals that show uptake intent and the metrics that indicate success for each one of these goals.

Don’t be afraid to change things if they’re not working, and be confident by re-doing 'done' features.

4. Build products that are digital

Marketing teams need to start providing all products and services via digital.

Sell access to your digital tools. Sell users access to data. Provide tools to help others build tools. Become a digital business.

The whole world across various industries is changing in this way, and financial services cannot afford to be left behind.

Financial services marketing teams that choose to reconsider their role in the organisation and create digital products that solve a specific problem or provide tangible benefit will find they get better marketing outcomes.

It might be time to think about building a digital product…

How can we help?

We’ve spent over a decade working with companies in the financial services industry, helping them to adapt their website into a digital product for the benefit of internal and external customers, crafting memorable digital experiences that keep people coming back time and time again, and making the marketing team look good to the boss and all their colleagues.

If you’re up for the challenge of changing how you think about your website, and want to explore a digital product, we’d love to hear from you – just get in touch.