Financial services marketers are missing the boat with their home equity Web sites, according to a report from Change Sciences Group.
Most sites do not adequately support people comparing equity offers and make applying online harder than it needs to be, according to Steve Ellis, Change Sciences partner.
"We think the big take away from this report is how far most of the sites reviewed fall short when it comes to supporting people who are shopping for home equity loans on the site," Ellis tells Marketing Daily. "Nearly all the sites require way too much work for too little reward. In a lot of cases this means having to pick up the phone to call a lender or actually going through the apply process -- all just to find out if the offer is going to be competitive. This simply isn't a viable business strategy (if these firms are looking for any traction from their sites)."
Of the 10 sites evaluated in the 59-page report, Wells Fargo, Citizens Bank and Bank of America are doing the best job in ramping up their home equity presence. The three financial services institutions score well for different reasons, Ellis says. "Wells has a very clear and concise rate quote process," Ellis says. "Citizens does a great job communicating its unique value proposition and recognizing prospect goals. B of A scores well because it has a top performing online application process."
Home equity consumers are on a lender's site to do one thing: Get a fast, meaningful sense of what the lender has to offer. Yet nearly all of the 10 sites reviewed fail to support some aspect of this critical goal. Eighty percent of sites fail to answer at least one question users have and all lack some content that users consider persuasive.
The seven other sites evaluated were BB&T, Capital One, US Bank, PNC, Chase, Citibank and HSBC. Key areas of improvement needed include communicating clear and concise offers and optimizing the online application process.
Historically, home equity lender Web sites have been much like their mortgage cousins: poor stepchildren to the bank's dominant phone and branch channels. Lenders may have had a home equity Web presence, but it was little more than a brochure. Those days are gone, but remnants of them remain.
When it comes time to apply online for a loan, most lenders also fall short. While it is true that home equity loan applications must request similar information and disclose similar legal information, the way this is done varies greatly. For example, the longest home equity loan application requires roughly double the data entry effort of the shortest online apply process.