Over the past decade, digital executives and teams at banks have made strides in digital selling by upgrading and improving their public websites — and more recently their mobile apps and sites. But conversion rates on many banks’ websites remain low — in some areas, well below 10% — even as consumers’ expectations for digital experiences rise.

To take their digital selling to the next level, digital marketing and sales teams at banks should look outside the banking industry for fresh thinking. One area to look for inspiration is retail: By adapting digital tactics that best-in-class retailers use, banking digital teams can make adjustments to their websites and mobile apps that boost conversion rates and sales overall. Forrester has just published a new report that outlines “What Banks Can Learn From Retailers' Websites.” Here are just three of the ideas we discuss in the report:

  1. Merchandise around customers’ needs and journeys rather than product silos. Retailers have found success by merchandising entire site sections, and even microsites, around customer journeys and events. Yet our research finds that virtually all banks still use products as the organizing principle on their websites. In 2013, Wal-Mart created a complete "back to college" microsite with digital marketing on key landing pages. As a result of this and other digital merchandising efforts, Wal-Mart increased the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30% year-over-year.
  2. Use video to inform and educate digital shoppers. Digital teams at retailers have been investing in video content for years: As far back as 2011, more than three in 10 retailers we surveyed found videos to be an effective marketing tactic on their websites. For example, footwear and apparel retailer Ariat includes embedded videos within most product pages on its website. These videos include product info, but they also include how-to content for digital researchers (see screenshot below).
  3. Prioritize mobile as a full-fledged marketing and sales touchpoint. The recommendations in our report focus largely on retail and bank shoppers' experiences on PC-based websites. But we also look at what banks can learn from their retail peers when it comes to mobile marketing and sales. The first step is the most basic: Offer product information and marketing on mobile touchpoints, such as the bank's mobile-optimized website, downloadable smartphone apps, and tablet apps. Banks would be wise to look at how retailers are selling via mobile and adapt those tactics for their own efforts.

We’ve outlined more tactics and best practices in our “What Banks Can Learn From Retailers' Websites” report.

Are there other tactics digital teams at banks should borrow from retail? We’d love to hear your ideas and feedback, so post a comment below or send us an email!