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Conversion Rate Optimization for the Banking and Financial Services Industry

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Conversion Rate Optimization for the Banking and Financial Services Industry

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.



Banks, credit unions, and other financial services providers can benefit from website conversion optimization practices that allay people’s fears and skepticism, build trust in the bank’s online channels and encourage the uptake of their online products and services.

Money is a highly sensitive matter for most people.

The human brain treats money as a finite resource. Given that people are also hardwired with loss aversion, they are naturally cautious about who to trust with their money or their financial information.

Hence, the biggest challenge for banks and others in the financial services industry is to overcome people’s trust issues by delivering online experiences that engage their existing and potential customers.

Banks, credit unions, and other financial services providers can benefit from website conversion optimization practices that allay people’s fears and skepticism, build trust in the bank’s online channels and encourage the uptake of their online products and services.

First, Define Your Conversion Goals 

Most banks’ notion of an online experience is anchored on the online banking portal.

Hence, most bank websites exist chiefly to allow existing customers to access e-banking services for performing account-related transactions (bills payment, transfers, etc). It’s no surprise the “Login” button is the most clicked-on element on the home page of any bank website.

But you have to go beyond this narrow idea to meet the changing needs and expectations of multiple bank stakeholders: from investors to employees to customers. Bank websites have tremendous potential especially in the post-COVID world as more and more customers increasingly prefer to take their banking online. And by banking we mean the entire spectrum of products and services that you offer.

This potential can only be realized when you have clearly defined conversion goals for macro and micro conversions on your website.

Conversion: Macro and Micro Conversions

Conversion happens when an online visitor completes a desired goal on your website.

Conversion actions can be classified into macro or micro conversions. A macro conversion occurs when the visitor takes an action that corresponds to the primary objective of a website. For instance, a purchase transaction on an ecommerce site or a form submission on a lead generation landing page.

Micro conversions, on the other hand, are actions taken by a visitor that primes them for the ultimate conversion event. This can be in the form of newsletter sign ups, product information downloads, and other actions that signify intent and engagement. 

Setting Goals for Your Website Conversion Optimization

Goal-setting is the first step to optimizing your bank website.

You have to decide what business or revenue goals you want to achieve with your website so you can choose the conversion actions you want your visitors to take. Your goals will influence the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll be using to gauge the outcomes of your website optimization efforts.

Here’s an example:

  • Business Goal: Increase revenue on products and services
  • Website Goal: Increase sales of products and services from new customers or increase the customer lifetime value of existing clients
  • Key Performance Indicators: Conversion rate, Abandonment Rate, Customer Lifetime Value

Once you have defined your business and website goals, you can then map out specific macro and micro conversion actions (eg. opening an account, applying for a loan online, or scheduling a call with a business banker). For instance, if you’re keen on increasing credit card applications, the desired conversion actions can be:

  • Macro conversion: Application form submission for a mortgage loan
  • Micro conversion: Using comparison tool to compare different loan features; Reading blog article on mortgage loan benefits

You also need to collect benchmarking data to diagnose the current state of your website in terms of traffic, conversions, and user experience. This data will be useful when you’re tracking and measuring any changes on your key performance indicators (KPIs).

You May Want to Rethink Rotating Home Banners

Rotating banners or image carousels became a popular design element because it let you squeeze more messages on limited website real estate.

In other words, the rotating banner was a solution to multiple and often competing priorities by different departments or entities within the company.

However, big rotating banners used as hero images often do more harm than good especially when it employed movement:

  • The human brain is hardwired to pay attention to movement. Motion triggers people’s survival instinct so a moving banner can be very distracting
  • On the flip side, online visitors have come to associate rotating banners with advertisements so they may also do their best to ignore them

So if you still have a rotating banner on your homepage, it’s about time to audit its performance. When you think about it, having a rotating banner on the homepage is a tell-tale sign of an inability to prioritize. They’re there as a last-resort solution to “show everything.”

But prioritization is key to matching your online visitors’ intent. You need to prioritize content that’s mission-critical to your website conversion goals. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Prioritize based on revenue objectives. This means ensuring that your most profitable product/service gets preferential treatment.
  • Use your analytics tool to find out what products or services get the most visits. If it corresponds with one of your website goals then it deserves permanent real estate on your homepage.

Use Visual Navigation Instead

Instead of a rotating banner, have a visual navigation on the main content area of your homepage or category pages. The visual navigation usually consists of image links to important product or service categories on your site. This allows you to show multiple product or service categories to visitors without distracting them.

The visual navigation also gives visitors an idea of the breadth and width of your product and service offerings while letting them self-segment into the ones they’re interested in.

Use visual emphasis in your visual navigation to draw attention to your most important products. Place them higher up or make them bigger than the others to highlight their preferred status.

An Acceptable Use Case for Rotating Banners

If you want to put rotating banners to good use, reserve them for showing testimonials or customer reviews. However, you should still remove any movement. Let users decide whether they want to scroll through the banners or not.

Providing Options for Calls-to-Action

Conversion rate optimization is about making it easier for online visitors to accomplish their tasks on your web pages.

You can’t do this if you have no idea what they’re trying to do on your site. 

Designing an effective website begins with understanding what online visitors come to your website for. You can analyze on-site search, deploy online surveys, or use other user research methods to find out what tasks the majority of your online visitors are trying to complete on your website. 

From your findings, you should see what macro and micro conversion actions are actually happening on your site and create or optimize your calls-to-action around them.

Your calls-to-action (CTAs) should be clear and easily understood by online visitors. The messaging and button text should be aligned with the action that you want visitors to take. It should also match visitor intent on the page:  “Apply Now” if the page is for bottom-funnel visitors who want to send an application, “Read More” or “Learn More” if the page caters towards research tasks.

Design-wise, the rules for CTAs are pretty simple:

  • CTAs should have a different color from the rest of the website theme so they stand out.
  • They should look clickable.

For pages with more than one call-to-action, make sure that there is a clear visual hierarchy to guide visitors on which button is more important. Either make your primary CTA button bigger or use only text links for the less important buttons.

The Ongoing Challenge of Third Party Platforms

Like most banks, you're probably using third-party platforms for processing online applications. This presents several challenges for your website optimization efforts:

  • Many of these platforms don’t allow third-party tracking code, so measuring actual conversions (submitted applications) is hard, if not impossible.
  • Users may be alarmed and lose trust when they click through and are taken to a third party site, causing them to bail out.

In the first scenario, you have to create other means for conversion attribution, such as measuring click throughs from your landing page to a form hosted on a third-party platform. Then you can monitor the trends in sales and revenues to determine the impact of your optimization efforts.

The second issue is about maintaining consistency. Online visitors are often wary when they’re taken to a page outside of the website they’re on, especially if the default “speedbump” alert says they are leaving the bank’s website and going to a site that is out of the control of the bank.

At the very least, modify the speedbump language (if you need it at all) to let the visitor know that while they are leaving the bank’s website, they are visiting a trusted partner to complete the application process. It’s important the page they’re taken to has your logo and other branding elements so visitors know they’re on a page that’s legitimately related to your website.

The Key Elements of a Landing Page

Landing pages are great when they’re focused on a single objective, such as when you need specific pages to drive your pay-per-click or other marketing campaigns to. 

In fact, your category and product pages should be designed like landing pages: Their sole objective should be to get online visitors to complete the transaction.

Landing pages perform best when they follow the principles of conversion-focused landing page design, which are as follows:

Trust and Security

Having a trustworthy website is essential in converting online visitors. But the bar is undoubtedly higher for banks and other finance-related businesses. Customers not only expect your website to be modern and professionally designed, they also want assurance that they’re dealing with a highly dependable, reputable business who can be trusted with their money and their sensitive personal data.

To earn online visitors’ trust, you need to convey that the bank will act in the customer’s best interest and protect their data. Display data privacy guarantees, industry awards and other badges that show customers that their data is secure and will not be compromised. You can also reassure them that their information will not be shared with third-party entities without their consent, or that their application will not affect their credit rating.


It won’t matter how trustworthy-looking your landing page is if it’s disconnected from the visitor’s intent. Imagine a visitor who clicks on a pay-per-click ad for your savings account promotion that promises a $300 account opening reward but finds nothing about the offer when they get to your landing page. You can expect that they’d immediately leave and may even feel misled by your ad.

To ensure relevance, your landing page needs a strong headline that matches the keywords and messaging in your ads or any upstream source used to get visitor traffic.

Value Proposition

A landing page’s value proposition tells visitors the benefits of taking up your offer. It convinces your online visitors that taking the desired conversion action is worth their while.

Your landing page can include bullet points of benefit statements that let visitors know what value they’re getting when they take action on the page. For instance, if your landing page is meant to convince online visitors to apply for a loan, then it needs to point out the benefits of obtaining a loan with you instead of your competitor (eg. lowest interest rates, special discounts related to your promotion, etc.).

Clarity and Distraction-Free

Clarity is all about communicating transparency and honesty on your landing page. This is important for finance-related matters which are high-risk and high-involvement for consumers. Online visitors need to be reassured that you’re being upfront about your offer and that there are no hidden catches somewhere.

You can achieve clarity in your landing page with a clear information architecture, good copywriting, having a clear call-to-action, and removing clutter from your landing pages. The less distractions there are on your landing page, the easier it will be for online visitors to consume important content and make the decision to take the desired conversion action.

Ease of Use

A landing page should be easy to navigate and understand for visitors. It needs to be free from usability and user experience issues that prevent online visitors from accomplishing their goals.

A common point of friction for banks is the use of long, involved forms. While most banking clients already expect financial applications to require some amount of information, there is no reason you can’t make the experience look and feel easier for them. For instance, you can set expectations by telling your online visitors what kind of information they’ll need to have with them at the beginning. You can also include progress indicators so they know where they are in the form-filling process.


More and more people are using their mobile phones, even for important transactions, so your landing page has to be optimized for small screens. For starters, you need to make sure your landing page doesn’t have any noticeable design issues on mobile as this can make it look broken. Always check if there are alignment issues, warped images, or buttons that look out of place as these things erode visitor trust.

Use available technology to deliver a great mobile experience to your visitors. This means consider use of predictive input for form fields where applicable to save people the hassle of typing, and other things that will help your online visitors easily accomplish their tasks on the landing page.

Avoid Optimization Pitfalls

Make sure to dig deep into data to avoid optimization pitfalls such as optimizing for the wrong things. For instance, it is possible to increase conversions for certain products to the detriment of your more profitable products and services. This can result in higher conversions but poor revenue outcomes.

How Well Does Your Bank Website Convert

If you are interested in obtaining a complimentary 30-minute review of your bank’s website, contact us today. We’ll review your bank’s home page and then set up a time to share our observations from CRO best practices.

Request a Website CRO Review


Special thanks to our friends at SiteTuners for collaborating with WSI Digital on the creation of this article. As a leading conversion rate optimization agency, SiteTuners and WSI work together to help websites maximize their conversion strategies to generate more leads, produce greater income, and maximize visitor experience. 


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