10 Steps to Increase Product Applications with the MeridianLink LoansPQ API

Mark Ryan

November 26, 2021

The Finalytics.ai team works to improve the conversion performance of the digital channel for Credit Unions including funnel optimization on top of industry leading platforms such as MeridianLink. For more information, please reach out to us at hello@finalytics.ai or 650.218.4441.

For Credit Unions and Banks, there is an important historic shift happening in 2021 and 2022. For the first time, the majority of product applications across the industry are coming from the digital channel. Five years ago, a typical credit union was originating approximately 20% of the product applications on the digital channel. Based on industry data, by the end of 2022 the average credit union will get more product applications on their website and mobile application than from branches.

This shift forces credit unions to define how they offer their unique services and support on the digital channel.  In the early 2000s credit unions main competitors were other financial institutions within a 15 mile radius of their branches. Now as consumers go online to find financial products, they can find options from more than 10,000 financial institutions. Credit Unions, which have led the industry in service and support, are now optimizing their digital experiences to offer a clearly differentiated high service offering online.

MerdianLink is the leader for deposit and loan applications amongst credit unions with more than 60 of the top 150 credit unions running MerdianLink Opening (formerly XPress Accounts) and/or Loan Origination System (LOS) (formerly LoansPQ).  Today the majority of these Credit Unions are running the same out-of-the box hosted interfaces.  With a custom interface, integrated with the MeridianLink Application Programming Interface (API), credit unions have the ability to quickly launch a friendly interface customized around their unique brand and service offering of the credit union.

Below is a step-by-step process for launching a new online product application (OAO/LOS) using the MeridianLink API to improve onsite conversions.

  1. Pick a Product Line: If this is the first custom product application for your organization, we recommend picking a single product line to start with (i.e. deposits or loans).
  2. Establish Benchmarks: Review all existing data on application starts, application completes, funnel progression, field progression,  time to complete, etc.  You’ll want a good understanding of which steps and fields are causing confusion, drop off, and hesitancy. The Finalytics.ai team brings industry data to these conversations to understand where the opportunities are for improvement. For example, the average pull-through rate on a MeridianLink deposit application for Credit Unions is approximately 28% with the SSN field causing the most drop off and the citizenship field causing the most pause.
  3. Set Goals: Once you have reviewed the benchmarks,  set goals based on quantifiable opportunities.  For example, set goals of increasing monthly completed applications by 1,000 and average application completion time to 5 minutes.
  4. Wireframe Application: With the product team, UX team, and engineers develop a new application from the ground up.  At this phase don’t be constrained by legacy systems.  Be daring and try to develop an application that would allow for quick decisioning with as few fields as possible. The teams will need to think through the dependencies of each field.  Where possible, discuss ways to make fields easier (i.e., address lookups) and ID image scanning. Try different sequences of fields to determine which fields should be on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd screens for optimal form completion rates. Ask questions such as which fields can be gathered after the application completion (i.e., application source).
  5. Define your Tech Stack: Based on the project goals and wireframes, the technical team can begin the definition of the technology platforms and components. Elements such as hosting platforms, server side scripting technologies, JavaScript libraries, 3rd party integrations (i.e., ID Verification), security monitoring,  uptime/load time monitoring, security auditors, and funding platforms (i.e., Plaid). The engineering team will also need to review the MeridianLink API documentation for XPress accounts (OAO) and LoansPQ (LOS).
  6. Design and build a prototype: Based on the wireframes and the brand guidelines,  the designers can create the graphics needed for the front-end engineers to build out an HTML prototype. The Finalytics.ai recommends usability testing done carefully. 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.
  7. Implementation and Internal Testing: The engineers will begin implementing the interface logic and implementation with the MeridianLink API components. Depending on the project goals, the application can had 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 as well as security testing (i.e., penetration testing, testing for XSS/SQL Injection).
  8. Data tracking and Dashboards: The data analysts can work with the engineers to implement all front end tracking.  With the new customized interface, you will also have the better tracking capabilities such as tracking campaign performance in terms of application funds, approvals, and activations. The engineering team can provide dataLayer calls to integrate back end data with front end web analytics. Finalytics.ai team members provide full funnel reporting with attribution for all content and traffic sources.
  9. Beta Launch, Full Launch, and Monitoring: Once everything is tested successfully and tracking is working correctly, it is time for a beta launch. We recommend either launching with a small percentage of the audience (i.e., 10%) or launching on the slowest night of the week. The contact center will need to be made aware of the launch. The team will need to be pre-pared 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 start realizing the project goals of increased product applications online.
  10. Feed the Top of the Funnel: 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 with Deep Personalization and improved traffic acquisition. Finalytics.ai provides a Deep Personalization platform using machine learning that uses data on visitor (prospects and members) behaviors to determine which product promotions and what types of messaging (i.e., rates,  service/support, branding, geo-personalization, etc) will drive the highest level of application starts.

In the months after launch of the new optimized application, the Finalytics.ai team monitors the funnel data weekly to ensure that progress is being made toward the establish goals. The data team is also analyzing weekly data to find points for ongoing optimization. Funnel performance data is shared with the traffic acquisition teams to help optimize campaigns toward application completes, approves, and funds. Reporting data is also shared with the product and content teams to optimize difference areas of the public site. The data analysis is also used to optimize the Machine Learning models that are driving the onsite personalization.

Finalytics.ai uses industry expertise and leading technologies to improve site performance and increase online applications.  For more information on how Finalytics.ai can increase qualified product applications for your site,  please contact us at hello@finalytics.ai or 650.218.4441. 

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