Interview by Karen Tunks
How can banks make their small-business websites more competitive?
We recently asked Glen Senior, president of The Small Business Company—who has worked with Bank of America, Comerica Bank, The PrivateBank, and Pinnacle Financial Partners on small-business website strategy and content development—about what he is seeing that’s working well (and not so well) on bank small- business websites.
With regard to bank small-business websites, what do you see that’s working well?
There are a number of banks that have good small business websites—First Citizens Bank, Bank of Hawaii, and KeyBank are a few examples. Their visual appeal and navigation quality are good and they offer a lot of product information. However, the quality and/or quantity of small-business resources they offer can be improved.
The best bank small-business websites that I have seen offer a variety of small-business resources and have four characteristics in common:
- Uncluttered design featuring clear, succinct content.
- A well-planned, well-thought-out content strategy that has an intended purpose.
- Content that is segmented and based on the specific pain points business owners experience.
- Content that is relevant across every business type and focused on the topics of finance, marketing, capacity and capability.
What do you see that’s not working so well?
The biggest mistake I see lots of banks making is having absolutely no small- business content at all on their websites. These banks are missing out on a lot of benefits. Content attracts, engages, and educates potential small-business customers and existing customers; it establishes credibility and strengthens brand; and, importantly, it can move potential small-business customers along the buying path.
Another mistake many banks make is offering content that links to external websites, like the Small Business Administration (SBA) or other sources of free business content. No content is truly free. If it is free, it’s likely there is an advertorial or promotion for another company’s products, which could compete with the bank’s products. Even if the content is being offered by a nonprofit, the bank is still losing the opportunity to engage with the small-business owner and make further contact.
How do you see this evolving over the next year to two years?
Over the next year to two years, content will become a staple commodity of banks, just as checking and savings accounts are commodities today. Every bank will offer a business plan template online. The key will be for banks to create content that differentiates them in the marketplace.
Mobile will continue to become increasingly popular with consumers. They will consume nearly all of their information on the run and on smaller devices. Banks need to focus on creating mobile-friendly content that can be accessed on all devices, everywhere and anywhere.
The trend toward video as a way for people to consume content will continue. Business-oriented videos will become more animated, less people-focused, and feature deeper content focused on solving real challenges and problems. Content will also become more “gamified” in the next couple of years. Banks need to be aware of these trends.
Can you share some banks that have good small-business websites?
ANZ Bank of New Zealand is a good example. It offers a variety of resources—organized by business stage (start a new business, grow my business, and exit my business)—that are relevant, helpful and interactive.
Clydesdale Bank is another good example of clean, clear, clutter-free design. Its Better Business Support website positions the bank as the place business owners can come to for advice and help on starting or managing their businesses.
Meridian Credit Union also does a nice job with their Small Business Resource Centre. Their site is clean, clear, clutter-free and offers a variety of tools and information to help small-business owners manage their businesses.
What kinds of results are you seeing banks achieve with their small-business websites?
One bank we’ve worked with has seen time on their website increase 21 percent and their monthly unique visitors increase 24 percent month-on-month since they launched their small-business content.
Another reports that adding business content to their website has generated a big increase in traffic, increasing the number of small-business leads and prospects for their sales team.
And one other company we’ve supplied e-learning action plans to reports that its e-newsletter open rate increased 47 percent five months after the e-learning was made available.
Karen Tunks is the marketing manager for Clarity Advantage.
Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.