Monday, November 28, 2005

Banking as Retail

Recently, while working the audience at an online retail event where the company I work for was presenting, I came across an individual who was actually in the financial services space. After brief introductions, he spent the next 5 minutes telling me about how he had virtually no professional resources available to help him do his job better the way online retailers do. So, he decided to come to an online retail event and see what he could glean.

I was ecstatic that he was there because, in fact, the sales side of Financial Services IS retail! Retail banks and consumer products retailers face many of the same challenges online, and retail banks can learn much from looking at the successes (and failures!) of their compatriots in the products space. To be successful, retail banks will have to start thinking of themselves, at least partly, as retailers. And from my experience, most retail banks are along ways away from this.

One of the best ways to start learning from products retailers is to look at the web analytics reporting that successful retailers have armed themselves with. Many of these powerful reports are applicable directly to retail banks and other financial services outfits. Some that immediately come to mind are:

  • Products reporting with revenue (yes, you can do this even if you don't transact money online!)
  • Products attributed to campaigns (which campaigns yield the most applications? the most revenue? the most valuable traffic?)
  • Cross sell reporting (how effective are you at getting applicants to add products to the "sale"?)
  • Product affinity reporting (what products are likely to be purchased by the same customer?)
  • Segmented conversion reporting (what types of visitors to your site are most likely to apply for specific types of products? to apply for multiple products over time?)
  • Campaigns reporting (onsite and offsite; which are successful, which should be scrapped)

The above list focuses on the public side of retail bank websites - the truly retail side. Of course, there is also the authenticated side, which is part self-service and part retail. In many cases, it makes sense to incorporate transactions and product sales from the authenticated side into the products reporting described above.

Also, you may have noticed that I left out "scenario analysis" reports from the list above. It's not that I don't think they're important -- they are crucial -- but I've left them out because scenario analysis reports are best used as part of a program of application conversion improvement (i.e. figuring out why applicants drop out of the process and fixing the problems causing them to drop out). They're not well suited to provide overall products reporting, though many banks continue to focus their reporting efforts on scenario analysis. In doing so, they're missing the huge opportunities that become apparent when the right reports provide the right insight.

Over the next few posts, I'll be focusing on how each of the above types of reports can help retail banks be successful online. I'd like to hear about your experiences with web analytics, too, from either a retail or financial services perspective.

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