By Eric Watson
Global Online Strategist, MotionPoint
Thanks to the Internet and the empowerment it grants global consumers to conduct business with financial institutions, there’s never been a better time for banks, insurance companies and other financial services organizations to launch translated websites to reach underserved customers.
In North America alone, increasingly affluent demographics such as U.S. Hispanics and Chinese Canadians are valuable, and still largely untapped, markets. By catering to these customers in their preferred languages—and offering products and services tailored to their needs—organizations can increase their customer bases and revenue.
Here are five trends that are informing these progressive companies’ moves as they engage new consumers.
Trend #1: Serve Customers in Their Preferred Languages
Based on our data (and a dollop of common sense), it’s clear that people prefer to conduct business with companies that transact in their preferred language. Companies that embrace this ethos can win big. One major bank translated its English-language Canadian site to serve the thriving French-speaking market. This site has seen 60+% growth each year since its launch.
Engaging Chinese-speaking Canadians paid off for another North American bank. Its new Chinese site saw a 40% increase in sessions in its second year.
Trend #2: Customers Respond to Localized Online Services
When customers are served in their preferred language, on-site engagement skyrockets.
For example: sites that serve U.S. Hispanics and Chinese Canadians in-language generate see over 30% of their site visits come from returning visitors. Our research indicates these customers are accessing their online banking—suggesting a high level of trust with these progressive institutions.
We believe the remaining 70% of users are investigating different products and services. Offering information on these offerings increases conversion rates, we’ve found.
Trend #3: Tailored, Helpful Content Resonates with Consumers
We’ve found that financial services companies see successful results when offering tailored, highly-relevant content to their global customers.
An example: institutions that showcase their cross-border banking services, or highlight educational content (such as a helpful “how to” on building a positive credit history) earn trust and transactions.
We’ve seen this content resonate with users. After one bank presented this kind of tailored content, sessions to those website sections accounted for up to 50% of site traffic. This approach also helps differentiate banks in search results, particularly among prospective customers. If these prospects find the right resonant messaging on-site, they’re far more likely to convert.
Trend #4: Wisely Serve Mobile-First Consumers
Smartphone and tablet adoption is especially high in many emerging markets. Understanding mobile use among these consumers can help inform which markets deserve localized mobile websites or localized smartphone apps.
Let’s look at the Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic demographic. Our data indicates that nearly 65% of all traffic to our localized financial services sites hail from mobile devices. Most of these devices use the Android operating system.
In Canada, we’ve seen a nuanced difference between two sub-sections of Chinese Canadian consumers: those who communicate in Simplified Chinese (common among mainland China immigrants), and those fluent in Traditional Chinese (who typically hail from Hong Kong and Taiwan).
Consumers fluent in Simplified Chinese are mainly desktop PC and laptop users. In contrast, those who communicate in traditional Chinese far prefer using mobile devices. More than 70% of the sessions hailed from smartphones. Apple iPhones and iPads amounted to more than 50% of all website sessions.
Trend #5: Improve Content in Localized Mobile Apps
We noticed an interesting trend among the Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic market during our research. Many of financial services firms offered localized smartphone apps for these consumers. Despite this, most of their mobile websites saw far higher levels of engagement. Why?
We believe it’s because the apps focused exclusively on mobile banking, and didn’t provide information on financial products. Consumers had to visit the Spanish website for this info.
We certainly understand that a website is traditionally the optimal channel to provide the in-depth information associated with these products. However, by localizing and offering this content in-app, banks can greatly reduce the barriers of entry between new customers and the products they’re keen to learn about. This can lead to a better user experience, and higher conversion rates.
Eric Watson is a global online strategist with the Global Growth team at MotionPoint Corporation.