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Importance of a website for a financial company

Preamble :
This white paper aims at informing CMO’s and their digital marketing personnel
about the importance of a website for a financial company and throws light on a
lot of relevant aspects and also busts some famous website myths.

Preamble :
This white paper aims at informing CMO’s and their digital marketing personnel
about the importance of a website for a financial company and throws light on a
lot of relevant aspects and also busts some famous website myths.

A website as define classically is “A set of related web
pages containing content such as text, images, video, audio, etc. A website is
hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the
Internet or a private LAN through an Internet address known as a Uniform
Resource Locator (URL). All publicly accessible websites collectively
constitute the World Wide Web (WWW)”.

I would however define a website in a single line “A
website is a company’s branch that is open 24X7 and caters to a range of
stakeholders across all functions of the business
”.

General point
pertaining to a website
:

  1. The site is the face of
    the company 24X7.
  2. The old idiom – The first
    impression is the last impressions holds true for a website.
  3. The site is not just for
    your prospects and customers but caters to a vast range of stakeholders such
    as; employees (Yes employees do visit the site and not just the Intranet),
    prospects, customers, agents / distributors, vendors, job seekers, media
    personnel and also competitors. Occasionally the CEO too visits the site.
  4. Users expect to find what
    they are looking for your site in a matter of seconds (Average – 12 to 14 secs).
  5. With every additional
    click the chances of losing a customer go up by as much as 20%.

Must haves of a
financial website
:

  1. The URL must convey both
    the brand and the business line. Take for example the URL www.icicipruamc.com, it indicates
    very clearly that this site is for ICICI Prudential AMC, using the term
    AMC in the URL makes it clear that a user can get mutual funds on the site,
    needless to say the URL is very critical from an SEO Perspective as well.
  2. Product line must be
    clearly visible on the homepage so a user can click and read about the
    product they are looking for.
  3. Considering online buying
    has picked up in the financial domain the buy online functionality needs
    to occupy a position of prominence.
  4. As BFSI Sector moves to
    online buying to cut commissions and increase the speed of transactions; the
    website must showcase benefits of buying online upfront. Eg; Paperless
    transaction, instant issuance, etc.
  5. Do allow access for a Live
    Chat or Call so people can get their queries resolved instantly as they
    search for information / transact on your website.
  6. Promotion area in the form
    of banner space on the homepage so the latest product offering can be
    showcased and maximum traffic from the homepage can be sent to the
    particular page.
  7. Hygiene level SEO; let me explain – On
    an average only 40% – 50% users who come to a financial site come directly
    by typing URL or retrieving it from their bookmarks, the rest come to a
    site by searching it on Google. Hygiene level SEO allows people to find you.


Multiple Roles
played by a website
:     

Considering the website caters to a multitude of users across
categories the roles it plays are very varied. Given below is a list of the
multiple roles and what needs to be done to play all these roles effectively.

Role played

Some Illustrations

Salesman

Online
sales, Showcase product range, explain product, give calculators, FAQ’s, etc

Company
Spokesperson

Provide
company info, upload press releases, new coverage, etc

Business
opportunity

Generate
leads, get quotations, etc

Customer
Service

Resolve
queries, branch addresses, e-Mail helpline, toll free numbers, etc

H.R.

List
vacancies, showcase company achievements, etc

Marketing

Showcase
product literature, use site to promote latest campaign, use site to
communicate with branches, etc

Operations

Facilitates
an online purchase followed by issuance of a policy, unit statement, etc

As we can clearly see above the website is no longer just a
4 page brochure turned into an HTML. It plays a central role in the
organization and thus needs a far larger focus not just from the CMO and the
Digital Marketing Personnel or the I.T. Team but from the entire senior
management.

Important points
to be kept in mind
:

Running a site for a financial company is a challenging task
and keeping the below points in mind would be of immense help

  1. Ensure that everything
    that goes up on your site is ratified by the respective teams; Eg. Vacancy
    posted to be ratified by H.R., NAV ratifies by Ops Team, Product material
    ratifies by product team, etc.
  2. Hygiene SEO needs to be in
    place; have elaborated on the same above.
  3. Ensure that your site has a robust
    analytics installed so you can track. While Google Analytics is a great
    tool to have (and it’s also FREE) you could also opt for paid analytical
    tools with comprehensive reporting such as Web Trends or Omniture.
  4. Review your website
    analytics every month religiously as it can tell you a lot about your
    website such as; visits, time spent, exit pages, engagement, etc. When you
    look at this data closely you could take a lot of learning’s back which
    might not only be restricted to the website or the web but otherwise as
    well.
  5. Content is the King.
    Ensure that you keep adding / refreshing content as not only does it help
    your SEO Score but also keeps the customer coming back for more.
  6. If customers don’t come to
    your site, take the site to them. Put up a Facebook, Twitter handle and
    communicate to your customers and using this pull them back to the site.
  7. Site Audit – Site Audit
    would allow you to know how your site is faring, there are many free tools
    available for the same online however the best idea is to allow your
    existing digital agency who handles the website to do this for you on a
    quarterly basis.
  8. I.T. Report – As a CMO you
    need to know if your site is up and running on a 24X7 basis for your
    business. The I.T. Team can give you simple reports with statistics such
    as up-time, time take by the site to load, etc which would let you know in-directly
    if your customer has a good experience on the site. Check with your I.T.
    Team and you could get these figures on a quarterly basis.
  9. Invest in having a full
    time experienced and dedicated webmaster who can monitor, run and nurture
    the site for you.
  10. A lot of people access
    websites from their mobile phones and devices such as tablets and iPad.
    Ensure that your site is built in such a manner that irrespective of the
    devise a user has, the site and all the features must load correctly.

About the Author: Paurush Sonkar is a Digital Evangelist for the BFSI space with over 9 years of experience across all facets of Digital Marketing. His digital knowledge and domain understanding of the entire BFSI Sector (Life & General Insurance, Mutual Funds & Broking) is impeccable. He is empanelled with AFAQ’s Campus an initiative by AFAQ’s as a trainer on Digital Marketing and regularly teaches and preaches Digital Marketing at B-Schools. He regularly writes white papers on varied aspects of Digital Marketing keeping the BFSI Sector in mind. He is a strong believer in the fact that BFSI Sector can scale new heights if they embrace Digital Marketing. He can be reached at paurush.sonkar@gmail.com

Other Articles by Paurush: The emergence of the DMO in BFSI Sector

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