How Banks Can Make Better Use of Google Analytics

In 2017, Google Analytics is entry level stuff, but we are floored by how many banks are not taking advantage of the service on their website. We know when a bank isn’t using Google Analytics (GA) as we can see the source code on every bank’s site and see if it has the Javascript on it that communicates with GA. For most banks, their web presence, including mobile, touches a lot more people than branch visits or face-to-face meetings.  Google Analytics is an analytics service, provided by Google, which allows users to track and report traffic in detailed form. In this article, we take a manager-level view on what GA is, what it does and how we use it to turn data into actionable banking profits. If you don’t use GA, or you use it, but the data never makes it out of your IT group, then read on.

 

The Technology

 

GA is the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet and is offered in a number of free and subscription versions.  The service generates detailed real-time statistics about visits to a bank’s website; it allows managers to analyze visitor traffic and understand the needs of the bank’s clients and prospects.  GA can help banks find new customers, help to create more effective messaging, assist in determining key revenue opportunities, and help identify the impact of digital marketing on sales.

 

The service functions because of snippets of JavaScript code that gets placed on every page of a website that can be tracked. These page tags are collected and sent to a Google data collection server. Not only does site information get recorded but Google also tracks where visitors had been before, the time and length of the visit, and campaign that directed them to a site.

GA can be used by sales and marketing, IT, business analysts and customer service.  However, we will focus on how sales and marketing can use GA to drive additional value from commercial products and services for community banks.

 

GA Application For Commercial Banking

There are four key areas where GA can provide insight to commercial bank managers:

 

Audience Reporting: These reports show how many people come to the bank’s site, when, for how long and their key characteristics.  Geography, the type of device used (Apple vs. PC, Web vs. mobile, etc.) and how many of those visitors are returning are just some of the statistics that can be gleaned. Here at CenterState, for example, we closely track the percentage of mobile customers that access our website as that has proven to be a good predictor to how fast our actual customers will use mobile to access our electronic banking products via mobile. These statistics help determine our level of investment each year. In the same vein, we also closely monitor the geographic distribution of our website users as that often uncovers where we might invest more marketing or branch dollars. Given the long sales cycle for bank products, we often look for ways to increase the number of returning users to the site in order to increase conversion rates.

 

We also track demographics of our audience (gender and age) in order to better tailor content, types of graphics, font size, and language. Here, bankers can gauge the effectiveness of some marketing tactics as it can validate if the message is reaching the target audience. If the bank is trying to penetrate a new market, showcasing preferred pricing in that market on the website may be a good strategy.

 

Below is a sample GA Audience Overview Report:

 

Google Analytics at Banks

 

Acquisition Reporting: This information shows how people get to the bank’s website and the referring sources. Organic searches are those where visitors come to the bank’s website after searching Google, Yahoo or Bing and other search engines. Seeing this data helps bankers determine if they should advertise on a given search engine and what to advertise. If banks see traffic from Google that is only on their site for seconds, it may be an indication that potential customers are not finding what they want. By analyzing keywords used in the searches, a bank may figure out that a number of Florida users desire a “health savings accounts” which may prompt a bank to offer the product (which we did).

 

In similar fashion, once that type of search is uncovered, a bank may want to purchase ads or keywords around “health savings accounts” and then track traffic the campaign’s effectiveness. The campaign may start from the search engine, go to the bank’s website and then all the way to conversion (if you allow accounts to be opened online). 

 

Of course, you can track direct visitors that come to the site without a traceable referral source, such as typing your URL into their address bar or using a bookmark on their browser. These clients and prospects are most often directed by business development, lenders or branch managers as well as referral networks (lawyers, accountants or business partners).  Most community banks would want to maximize their bank familiarity in the local community to maximize this traffic source.

 

Other referral sources may include links that your network partners put on their website, press releases, content marketing efforts or other links from non-bank properties. Knowing these sources are invaluable to see who is effective and referring business and traffic. In addition, you can also track links from email and social media campaigns to again see what efforts are working and which efforts are not.

 

Below is a sample GA Acquisition Overview Report:

 

Google Analytics at Banks

 

Behavior Reporting: Perhaps the most valuable bits of information for a bank is the basic usage data on what is being clicked on. “Pageviews” are most important and represents the total number of pages viewed on the site and includes repeated views of a single page.  If a bank wants to test the interest in a product or service, various products can be placed in proximity and pageviews are measured to discern level of interest across products.  Additionally, understanding “Unique Pageviews” represents the number of individual people who have viewed a specific page at least once during a visit.  This information is a better indicator of overall population interest. 

One of our favorite measures is “Average Time On a Page” which is a good indicator of interest. Banks can set up various products on the site to test interest.  The goal for banks is to increase duration per visit by providing useful content or unique offerings.  Banks may offer videos, downloadable white papers, calculators, chat functionality, and now artificial intelligence driven bots that offer financial advice in order to increase average time on a page. 

A bank’s “Bounce Rate” measures the percentage of single-page visits or the number of visits in which people left the site from the same page they entered on.  Many community banks are creating content to engage users and decrease bounce rates. Pertinent and helpful content promote the bank as a thought leader and expert to their client base.  Having bank expertise in a particular vertical (such as medical practice, hospitality or multi-family) creates a closer relationship with customers and leads to higher bank profitability.

Finally, the “Behavior Flow Report” lets managers see the path that visitors take on the bank’s site. That is what navigation is used, what pages are visited and where a user exits. This is helpful for example, as managers can test how engagement with users through free content results in sales. 

Below is a sample GA Behavior Overview Report:

 

Google Analytics at Banks

 

Conversion Reporting: When you get the above down, the next evolution in your GA training, particularly for your marketing department, is the “Conversion Report” that shows what actions users take and how effective the site is to getting them to buy the bank’s products, open an online account,  generate a lead or a request a meeting. If you don’t do any of these already, you should as your website is ready to work hard for you and to become one of the most productive assets that you have. Combining both education, product information and a way to convert customers is one of the keys to successful digital marketing.

 

The “Goals Report” provides a measure of the total number of goal completions made on the bank’s site.  A goal may be an application for a business loan, signing up for an event, request for consultation with a lender or simply a request for someone to contact them. The “Goal URLs Report” shows the pages on your website where visitors convert.  Managers must determine which pages lead to the most conversions (again a conversion may be a sale (such as opening a CD account) or some other defined criteria (such as a lead generation). 

 

Goal Flow” and “Conversion Path Reports” will track multiple steps in the conversion process that users take to achieve the desired goal. This will identify where in the conversion process people drop out before making the goal. For sophisticated and specialized products that are typical in commercial lending, the goal for most banks will be a request for meeting or request for more written information based on specific needs. This is where ease of site use and useful information and education will aid the prospect in achieving the goal.

 

Below is a sample GA Conversion Path Report:

 

Google Analytics at Banks

 

Conclusion

 

GA can help a community bank target its site to reach a specific user it wants to attract (based on age, gender, demographics or geographic location). It can also help banks determine the effectiveness of content.  GA also allows banks to view behavior flow across multiple pages to tell managers exactly which links visitors click and how they convert to being clients. The ability to identify visitor engagement and the follow on to conversion is critical for many community banks and will become even more important in the future. Google Analytics allow banks to capture data on their customers that isn’t obtainable in a branch. Where a branch can maybe manage 2,500 customers, a good website can be selling for you to hundreds of thousands. We know way more about you if you hit our website than if you walk into our branch. Banks need to leverage this source of valuable customer data in order to achieve a more efficient and a more engaging sales process.