A bank account is an inevitability for most people. And because bank products are often commodities, a common misperception in direct banking is that there’s no need to drop millions of dollars into a marketing budget. But this is a seriously flawed line of thinking.Online banking

Marketing dollars are just plowed into the wrong thing. Resources shouldn’t go to flashy campaigns—instead, they should go to helping offer prospects and customers the optimal online experience.

Think about it. If you neglect this aspect of marketing, you are inherently providing a terrible customer experience. If your landing page isn’t compelling, you won’t get prospects from consideration to conversion. And if for some reason they do make it to the final step, you’ll turn potential customers off if your application is a cumbersome time-suck.

So what should direct banking marketers focus on first? The first customer touchpoint: the sign-up process. Here are two fundamental basics to follow that’ll start a potential customer’s online banking journey off right.

Know where your customer is coming from

Your pages should be set up to know what the prospect’s path was before getting to your website, and it should be tailored to what they already know. Does a prospect who has interacted with several of your banners and then clicked on a branded paid search ad really need to know more about your brand or the product’s capabilities? They already know what your brand is based on their journey, so tailor the landing page to closing the deal.

Here’s an example. Simple and Moven are innovative niche players in the banking industry, but they know their prospects and know how to close the deal. Their strategy is basic, yet effective.

Prospects provide information to receive an invite to join these small institutions. When the invite is sent to the prospect, it’s tailored to that prospect’s information. And when they click the invite, they’re not taken to a landing page that highlights how great these companies are—they already know this based on their request for an invite. Instead, they’re taken directly to the application, which is mostly pre-filled with information they already provided.

Each field you add to the application reduces your chances of closing the deal

Signing up for a banking product requires some key information to verify that consumers are who they say they are. Otherwise, all the other details are a waste of time. You may think you need information about annual income or how they heard about your product, but you don’t. It’s just an unnecessary burden to the customer.

And simplicity isn’t just important in what you’re asking, but in how it’s presented. Do you need five different pages for one application? Does the application really need a bunch of radio buttons and features that aren’t mobile friendly? Have you even thought about what the application looks like on a mobile device?

Offering a great customer experience should be the cornerstone of marketing in the banking industry, and if you make the online sign-up process simple and easy, prospects will reward you with brand loyalty—and their dollars.

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Rhett Brackeen is a digital marketer with extensive experience in the financial services and consumer industries. He’s currently AVP of Digital Marketing at Barclays, and was previously on the digital marketing teams at Capital One and ING DIRECT. Before Rhett got into digital banking, he spent time at GlaxoSmithKline and 3M.