Chase is doing the best job at reaching small business prospects online, followed by PNC and USBank, according to Web researchers Change Sciences Group.
The most remarkable thing that the study turned up was how much better of a job the top performers are doing at making their case to small business prospects, says Steve Ellis, one of the report's authors. "They use their sites to clearly demonstrate that they have a business focus, and they give prospects a clear idea of what it is like to be a customer of the bank through the site," Ellis tells Marketing Daily.
The top banks are winning over prospects with integrated offers and engaging online experiences, according to the 55-page report from the New York-based company. The report covers prospect user experience for learning about small business services on 10 leading bank sites. Banks for the competitive set were selected based primarily on asset size.
The remaining seven banks evaluated, listed in order of their rank, were Wells Fargo, HSBC, TD Bank, Citibank, Bank of America, BB&T and SunTrust.
Prospects visit bank sites looking for information about services. The best sites provide service information, but also go one crucial step further: They show prospects what it is like to be a customer, building trust and increasing the likelihood that prospects will pick up the phone, visit a branch or click on apply.
"Marketers should take away that having a small business section to the bank site that has a series of static, text-heavy pages describing small business services is simply no longer a viable way to present small business services online," Ellis says.
Most bank sites are not up to par when it comes to reaching small business targets. For starters, it is often harder than it needs to be to find the business section of the site from the bank's home page. Most home pages default to personal banking with a link to business in the global navigation -- or worse, in a toolbar area, where users have to hunt.
The study revealed that 90% of sites fail to answer at least one question that users have. All sites lack some content that some users consider persuasive. Seven of the 10 sites have instances of navigation design that pose challenges to some users, and 10% of sites lack design elements that help users stay focused and on track.
One of the 10 sites make entering some data through forms harder than it needs to be and 30% of sites have instances of visual design that are perceived by many users to be less than professional. Finally, 10% of sites have visual design elements that are perceived as incongruous or inconsistent.