The Missing Link: What Your Online Loan and Deposit Application Provider Is Not Telling You

By Melanie Coleman 
Data continues to play an increasingly important role in marketing. C-suites and boards of directors are beginning to understand that vanity metrics such as clicks and impressions tell only part of the story.
As marketers, our challenge is to continue to dig deeper, anticipate the questions coming, and effectively illustrate the value add of each effort. The problem most marketers run into is when they dig into the online application and find themselves stuck facing a virtual black hole, forced to plead with internal teams to provide application completion reports and manually tie data together. Not exactly something most marketing teams have the bandwidth to take on. But why does the black hole exist in the first place?

The blame game

Until recently, online applications were viewed as a checkbox. Something banks had to have in order to stay competitive but put no real thought into their performance. However, performance is exactly where a bank’s path to growth–and marketing success–lies.
Case in point: If your checking campaign is driving 700 clicks a month to “open now!” but you are only getting 11 completed applications, there’s an issue. Sure, not all clicks are valid, but there is also a clear disconnect happening between “open now” and completion. So, who’s to blame? If you’ve pointed the finger at marketing, you are not alone. But more often than not that blame is misplaced and continuing to ignore the real culprit will continue to lead to a loss of business and lack of growth for your bank.

Coming together

The good news is online application providers of all sizes are beginning to allow analytics tracking to happen within their consumer online loan and deposit applications. This is a huge win for marketers and banks as it gives a clear picture into the full user experience that consumers have with the organization. For example: If you are marketing that you are a technologically advanced bank, but your online application is 12 pages long and is not easily accessible on a mobile device, then you’re contradicting your message. Gaining this new data-based insight into your online application performance is critical to understanding completion and drop-off rates, as well as which marketing channels are truly converting to completed applications.

Learning to speak data

Data feels like the latest buzzword in marketing–and for good reason. Adding a simple snippet of code can provide marketing teams with a treasure trove of information on user behavior. Understanding what your website is doing and how users are engaging with your properties (yes, that includes social media channels as well), is a critical first step before understanding cross-domain attribution. Don’t currently analyze data? Now is the time to start!  Ensure the appropriate analytics tag is placed, or better yet, find a qualified partner to tag your entire site and create a report focusing on KPIs and your audience.

Taking the next step

As marketing becomes more of a science, it’s imperative that marketing teams and c-suites understand the data behind the entire user journey. The online application is a critical component to this, as it is where users become customers. A word to the wise: You may not like the findings. It may force you to reconcile with some uncomfortable truths such as a 95 percent drop-off rate (yes, we’ve seen that), or that your marketing efforts are not working. So, what will you do: Continue status quo, or start on the path to true growth?
Melanie Coleman is the senior manager of strategy at Pannos Marketing, an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email mcoleman@pannosmarketing.com.
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