Without a doubt, the most common question Forrester analysts get are questions around industry best practices. To help answer that question, Forrester annually ranks the top banks in Canada and the US on how well they meet the goal of online acquisition. In 2010, we ranked six banks in the US and six in Canada to answer the best practice question. In 2010, Royal Bank of Canada topped our Canadian ranking and Bank of America and Citibank shared the top spot in the US.

Overall, we are finding that bank Web sites are doing a better job of meeting the needs of financial service shoppers. Online applications are getting better especially at firms like Citibank. On the merchandising side, Royal Bank of Canada has made huge strides via a recent set of redesigns of the content portion of their Web site.

But there is a ways to go. North American bank Web sites have to move beyond providing content and tools on their Web site to true merchandising. To get there, they will need to get more intimate with how consumers shop and buy financial products — considering shopper segments, goals, and expectations.  Additionally, they will need to vastly improve the user experience of their Web sites as evidenced by the generally less than stellar scores received on user experience reviews conducted in the US portion of our review in the US and Canada.