Your lobbies are open again – and consumers are returning to some of their normal ways. Recovery is here, at least for now. Customers of your some of your competitors were put off by their institution’s response – or the inability to get a PPP loan, mortgage assistance, or other form of relief. Most of the banks we work with have told us they’ve acquired new customers that were upset with their previous institutions. In fact, one of these customers remarked: “I was a customer of [large mega-bank] for 15 years, and they couldn’t help me with my PPP loan, so I found you.”

Another bank we work with saw a four-fold increase in the number of clicks on their Google Ads since March – meaning far more people were searching for banking services. As reopening began, their call and email volume increased dramatically with people inquiring about deposit accounts and business services.

Even if you’re not running digital ads, your website is very likely getting more traffic than it did before. It’s true that the majority of traffic is current customers looking to log in to online banking. But that remaining 20-30% is new potential customers looking for specific information. If your website is not optimized for these customers to reach out to you easily, or to quickly find the information they’re looking for (and by quickly, we mean under 1 second and in one click!), then you are missing out on potential new customers.

Businessman standing in front of a blackboard

Your website can work harder to grow your bank. Make sure it is set up to get these potential customers to contact you. Here are three focus areas things you or your team can do today:

  1. Make sure it’s super easy to contact you.
    a. Install an Online Chat tool. Easy to install and inexpensive, these tools can help people chat with someone directly at the bank. They are not for discussion of account or other sensitive information, but can handle frequent questions about hours (important as you may have a different schedule right now), password resets, and other general inquiries. You will have to establish a process for your team to monitor the chats, but it’s easier than it sounds, and many responses can also be automated.
    b. Put a Phone number and an Info/Sales email at the top of the home page (your main number is fine if you have multiple branches). You’d be surprised how many websites make you find the “Locations” page in order to get at a phone number. For new customers having a simple question, this tiny amount of friction could be enough to make them go elsewhere. The internet user is very fickle!
    c. Ensure your site looks good and is usable on mobile. Pull it up on your smartphone – I bet you haven’t done this in a long time, if ever! Over 50% of your traffic comes from smartphones and tablets today, and that number is ever-growing.
    d. Put mobile and online banking info front and center. And not just general messages: call out specific features like P2P tools, bill pay, card monitoring, and so on. This will show new customers that they can do what they need to remotely, and you will also drive adoption of these features from current customers.
  2. Get Google Analytics installed if it’s not already, and pay attention to these metrics.
    a. “Audience” shows the percentage of new vs. returning visitors to your site, a good proxy for net new customers vs. current customers. The average community bank has about 70% returning and 30% new visitors.
    b. “Acquisition” shows where users are coming from. Healthy bank websites often have 40% or more of their traffic coming from search (aka Google). Some current customers search for you rather than just typing in your URL, but it’s another good proxy to show how visible you are in Google’s eyes. If your percentage is low, it may be time to evaluate a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) project.
    c. “Behavior” shows what these visitors do once they get to your site. Pay attention to bounce rate (the percentage of visitors that leave after only visiting one page) and Avg Time on Page (how long they spend on the site before leaving). The best bank websites have bounce rates in the low 80s (which sounds high, but typically a big chunk of these are people visiting your home page and then “leaving” for online banking), and time on page above 2 minutes. Worse than average numbers mean you stand to gain from some website optimizations.
  3. Differentiate by showing how you’re helping your community.
    People are tired of hearing about your COVID response – it’s time to switch to an upbeat, recovery-focused message. Make a new page that tells the story of how your bank is helping your local area – number and volume of PPP loans, grants you’ve disbursed, donations you’ve made, overtime your team has put in, quotes from customers (name them if you can) – any way your team has gone the extra mile. Link to this page from your home page slideshow images or put a big bright banner on the site – “How Our Bank is Helping ”.
     Potential new customers on your site are also visiting 5-10 other bank sites as they’re doing their research, and while your big competitors may have similar messaging, it will not be dialed in to the hyperlocal area(s) you serve.

As reopenings proceed, more and more customers fed up with their current institutions are doing online research and thinking about switching. By optimizing your website with these focus areas, you’ll increase the number of net new customers reaching out to you to open accounts. If you don’t, these fickle website visitors will quickly hop to your competitor’s sites before ever contacting you.
How does your bank stack up?

About the Author

Dan Novalis is President & Owner of 2Novas Inc., a community bank advertising agency based in St. Louis, Missouri. To contact Dan, email, call (314) 743-6691, or visit