How to Improve Online Conversions with MeridianLink’s Opening & LoansPQ
There has been a historic shift in retail banking these last few years.
Five years ago, a typical credit union was originating approximately 20% of its product applications on the digital channel. Recent industry trends show that by the end of 2022, the average credit union will get more product applications on their website and mobile application than from branches.
That’s right, folks. At last, for the first time ever, most applications for loans or new accounts are coming from the digital channel. Meanwhile, executives in financial circles have been challenged at every turn to redefine how to offer their unique services and support on the digital channel.
In the early 2000s, a credit union’s main competitors were other financial institutions within a 15-mile radius of their branches. Now, with a quick web search, prospective customers can choose among 10,000 financial institutions. Which one will they pick, and why? Probably not the one with the most complex loan application process.
MerdianLink, a familiar name in the game, has the most widely used Application Programming Interface (API) for deposit and loan applications amongst credit unions. More than 60 of the top 150 domestic credit unions are running MeridianLink Opening (formerly XPress Accounts) and/or Loan Origination System (LOS) (formerly LoansPQ). Today, most credit unions are running the same out-of-the-box hosted interfaces, which means there is plenty of room for improvement to optimize the user experience and collect more qualified applications.
By customizing an integrated interface with the MeridianLink API, credit unions can provide a friendlier experience that is unique to their brand and service offerings. As a result, some Finalytics.ai clients who have implemented these steps have seen volumes increase by 200-300% within five weeks after launch.
There’s a Ten-Step Program for That
To avoid a few costly lessons, here are ten steps our engineers at Finalytics.ai recommend to improve onsite conversions by way of launching new online product applications (OAO/LOS) with a MeridianLink API.
If this is the first custom product application for your organization, consider choosing a single product line to start with (i.e., deposits or loans).
Review all existing data on application starts, application completes, funnel progression, field progression, time to complete, etc. Find out which steps and fields are causing confusion, drop off, and hesitancy.
On a MeridianLink deposit application, the SSN field causes the most drop-off and the citizenship field prompts the longest pause. As a result, the average pull-through rate for Credit Unions is approximately 28%.
Set goals based on quantifiable opportunities. Some examples are to increase monthly completed applications by 1,000, or to shorten average application completion time to five minutes.
Be daring. Develop an all-new application with the product team, UX team, and engineers unconstrained by legacy systems. Try to develop an experience that allows for quick decisioning with as few fields as possible.
The teams will think through the dependencies of each field. Try ways to make it easy to populate form fields (i.e., address lookups) and ID image scanning. Test which fields should be on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd screens for optimal form completion rates. Consider which fields can be gathered after the application has been completed. (i.e., application source).
Based on the project goals and wireframes, the technical team can now assemble the required technology and components.
The engineering team will also need to review the MeridianLink API documentation for XPress accounts (OAO) and LoansPQ (LOS).
Based on the wireframes and the brand guidelines, the designers will next create graphics for the front-end engineers to build out an HTML prototype. The designers at Finalytics.ai recommend doing usability testing with great care.
Remember, the goal of usability is not to determine if people like the application but rather how quickly and easily they can move through the steps. The prototype can also be used for web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) testing and load time testing.
The engineers then implement the interface logic with the MeridianLink API components. Depending on the project goals, the application can hand off data points to MeridianLink one step at a time or collect all the data to send everything at once at the end of the application.
As the application development and integration elements are completed, the testing team can start internal testing, browser testing, WCAG testing, and security testing (i.e., penetration testing, testing for XSS/SQL Injection).
Data analysts work with the engineers to implement all front-end tracking. With the new customized interface, you will also have better tracking capabilities in application fund campaign performance, approvals, and activations.
A seasoned engineering team can provide data to better integrate back-end data with front-end web analytics. Finalytics.ai engineers provide full-funnel reporting with attribution for all content and traffic sources.
Once everything is tested successfully, and tracking is working correctly, it is time for a beta launch. For the extremely risk averse, consider a “soft launch” with only a small percentage of the audience (i.e., 10%) on the slowest night of the week.
Inform the contact center of the launch and be prepared for a full roll-back in case of issues. After the beta launch is successful, it is time to switch all traffic to the new application and direct focus toward the project goals set in Step 3.
Now that the funnel is optimized, you should start seeing higher application completion rates (i.e., 35%-55%). This means it’s time to start increasing traffic to the top of the funnel, ideally with Deep Personalization and improved traffic acquisition.
Finalytics.ai offers a platform providing Deep Personalization to combine online banking behavior and other data with machine learning. Using pre-determined insights and specialized algorithms, the program can know which product promotions and messaging (i.e., rates, service/support, branding, geo-personalization, etc.) to offer that will drive the highest level of application starts.
What Were Those Steps Again?
To summarize, the steps to optimize using the MeridianLink API are:
- Pick a Product Line
- Establish Benchmarks
- Set Goals
- Wireframe Application
- Define your Tech Stack
- Design and build a prototype
- Implementation and Internal Testing
- Data tracking and Dashboards
- Beta Launch, Full Launch, and Monitoring
- Feed the Top of the Funnel
How Finalytics.ai Can Help?
Credit unions, often known for personalized service and support, are having some serious sit-downs lately about ways to offer this same level of service through their digital channels. The Finalytics.ai team brings industry data to these conversations to identify ways to improve efficiency and revenue.
For example, in the months after the launch of a new online application, the Finalytics.ai team monitors the funnel data weekly to ensure that progress is being made toward the established goals. The data team analyzes weekly data to find points for ongoing optimization. Funnel performance data is shared with the traffic acquisition teams to optimize application completion, approval, and funds. Performance and data reports are also shared with the product and content teams to improve different areas of the public site. The data analysis is further used to continuously improve the Machine Learning models that are driving the onsite personalization.
If your credit union does not have this expertise in-house but still wants to improve online application performance through digital customer experience, consider asking an expert. Our team at Finalytics.ai would be happy to help.