Admit it: If you’ve ever worked on creating a website for a bank or financial firm, the project was likely driven by back-end technology. The development of sites for these firms is usually owned by the tech department with some input from the marketing, brand, creative services and product teams.

That’s why so many financial websites are focused on completing transactions and not on providing stellar prospect and client experiences. Many of these sites are merely tolerated by visitors, who use them to do what they need to do and no more.

Here are eight things you can do to transform your site from a transactions-only dead-end to a well-designed (and loved) marketing and sales machine.

  1. Conduct a competitive review. Does you site look like those of your competitors? If there’s no significant difference, you're not providing prospects with reasons to do business with you rather than them. (You’re also not encouraging current clients to deepen their relationship with you and not leave for another firm.) Your site should speak specifically to the clients you want to attract and retain, and clearly reflect your brand and its differentiators.
  2. Digitize your brand. If your brand hasn't been updated to be digital friendly, get with it! It can help you feel sure your identity, messages and images will resonate in today’s digital world.
  3. Create personas. Do you really understand who’s visiting your website? If not, you should develop personas that describe them (including photos, ages, demographic information, online behavior, personal habits, household information, education and more) and their expectations for visiting your site. Personas aren't once-and-done. You should reference them every time you develop a new page, transaction experience or section of the site. It's a good check to make sure it will resonate with the people you're targeting.
  4. Develop consumer journeys. It's critical to map out every step consumers take through your site. You must think through everything you want them to do from the time they arrive at the site (or before) to when they make a contact or complete a transaction (and after). Opportunities to cross- or up-sell and deepen relationships should be included, as well. The only way you can get your website visitors to their ultimate destination is by mapping their journeys.
  5. Tell a coherent story. Use your customer journeys to check whether the content on the individual pages of your site (including transaction screens) links up. Does it tell a clear story that propels visitors forward? Or is it disjointed, making it hard for people to navigate and comprehend?
  6. Test. Learn. Repeat. Consistently test your website with your target audience before and after it's launched. Use wireframe and prototype testing prior to launch and A / B testing after. You never know when changing a small factor like the color of a button, navigation order, photo or call-to-action could have a big impact on results.
  7. Remember: Data is your friend. If you're not monitoring site metrics, you should be. Watching things like time on page, clicks, heat map activity and abandonment rates is the only way to know how customers are responding to your site content and overall experience. It gives you the power to fix issues in real time and optimize things that are working well.
  8. A picture is worth a thousand words. The smaller the screen, the more images matter. Smartphone screens can be hard to read, especially for aging consumers (often those with the highest assets and demand for financial products and services). Intelligent infographics, informative videos and evocative photos are often the clearest ways to deliver information and get people to take action.

Need help bringing more marketing and design into a tech-driven site? Check out Carpenter Group’s perspective on digital marketing. We’ve developed well-designed and strategically solid sites that generate results for many well-known financial companies. Contact us to discuss how we can move your site from a transaction trap to a sales and marketing machine.