Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

Digital intelligence: How do prospective Australian credit card customers compare providers and how can your brand gain an advantage?

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With 84 cards offered by the top 12 providers, Global Reviews data shows the credit cards industry in Australia are driving up aggregator usage as in-market consumers struggle to find the best solution that meets their needs.

Our recent Q3 2020 Australian Credit Cards Conversion Optimisation (mobile) benchmark shows that the number of credit card providers, coupled with the number of individual product options provided by each, is causing huge market fragmentation. More recent brand initiatives are also compounding this problem with new cards being introduced to the market without older ones being removed.The majority of brands are missing out on key opportunities to tailor a prospects search journey to enable cross brand comparison and avoid the aggregator snake pit. With so much choice, brands are pushing consumers to aggregators where they can make sense of all the cards on offer. From Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 our data shows a 35% increase in the number of in-market credit card prospects using an aggregator when looking for a provider. The challenge this presents is that those who visit an aggregator are 24% more likely to choose a card provider based on low fees than those who do not visit an aggregator at all. Brand fate in this hugely competitive marketplace is being decided by the aggregator.

But the brands can provide more tailored journeys directly from the search engine result which will drive higher numbers back to brand websites and help prospects make choices.

The Global Reviews Q3 2020 Credit Cards (mobile) study shows, that 57% of in-market credit card prospects, who have a provider in mind prior to conducting research online, go on to change their mind and switch to a different provider once doing research and being exposed to further online offerings. 33% of in-market credit card prospects have no brand in mind prior to completing online research. This is a huge opportunity in this market.

If we follow the pathway from the search engine based on Q3 2020 data, we can plot out some key opportunities for brands. Our upcoming credit cards webinar on the 26th of November will go into much further depth than this blog.

At the search engine, the top keywords used for search are Credit card at 10%, Best credit card 6% and Credit card comparison 3%.  Once a search result has returned, the mouse chase begins and the journeys that providers are offering from SEM to onsite experience are leaving many daunted.

With so many products available in the market key tools which help prospects find information quickly include bullet pointing information and providing tools which can bypass long scrolling pages and help prospects get to information quickly. Santander have used this approach to drive conversions in the UK current account market. Most credit card providers are too reliant on match to needs and comparison tools which sit deeper within their onsite sales experience to provide a tailored experience.In an advert competing for top spot on the popular key word “credit card” NAB offer credit card deals and offer comparison. To explore all of the options visitors must scroll the page. With few friction points within the text, visitors must also read full body text to understand the differences between the options. Are NAB asking too much of visitors?

Well-known brands like Westpac and NAB cut through the market with high brand awareness but, providing 14 cards between them inhibits conversions and undoes early top of mind leadership. The experience provided here is replicated on many sites and lead to comments from customers like:

It was difficult to look for a card and I needed multiple clicks. Wish there was a comparison table”

“The choices are overwhelming”

“There’s so much info that it’s daunting.  In the end it all reads the same to me.  Very cluttered and too many options.”

“There are a lot of credit cards out there! Even a single provider has many to choose from. This can get a bit overwhelming unless you really know what it is that you are looking for”

By comparison Coles and HSBC who together offer 7 cards yet achieve higher final conversion rates – combined total of 14%- , compared to Nab and Westpac. – combined total of 12%. Even more alarming for Nab is that fewer choose them for a credit card after completing research online than those who would choose them beforehand.

HSBC’s top promoted SEM result in Google promotes just one product the “HSBC Platinum Credit Card” with a quick pathway to signing up as well as features and benefits bullet pointed. But more can be done.So what can the credit card providers do to provide a better comparison experience to prospective customers while also driving their own conversions. 

Credit card providers in Australia can learn from approaches being taken by brands like Budget Direct to provide hyper targeted comparison experiences from the very beginning of the research journey, the search engine. Credit card providers are too reliant on comparison tools which sit deeper within their onsite sales journeys to provide a comparison experience.

In a recent motor insurance study, Budget Direct achieved significant uplift in conversion figures surpassing the majority of their competitors. Budget Direct’s brand recall was 43% points lower than market leader AAMI. However they manage to become the #1 visited website during the task, and #2 shortlisted and #2 finally preferred.

A key reason for Budget Direct’s success is that SEM advertising is tailored to the search terms entered and thus the experience is more relevant while also maximising the top listing opportunity. In the case of “compare car insurance” for example Budget Direct appear in first place and the advert is optimised to the keyword.

Budget Direct tailor the landing page to provide tools and content to target the compare process. This search pathway which began on the search engine also compares how visitors can save more money with Budget Direct against the competitive set.

When a prospective motor insurance customer searches by brand name, Budget Direct promote a search result where the message is more relevant to the consumer’s mindset – they are specifically searching for AAMI – so using a sentence that is action based followed by a compelling proof point is more likely to gain attention than by using an alternative brand name.

Again the landing page reinforces the ad promise and focuses on convincing the consumer why they should switch to Budget Direct away from AAMI and the key word terms searched by.

If credit card providers are going to offer so much choice, how providers enable prospective customers to simply discern the differences between offerings is the key to winning in this marketplace. In our upcoming webinar, Gerard Farrell CEO of Global Reviews will detail insights from our Q3 2020 Australian credit cards study and how

  • Providers can gain an advantage at both the earlier search and on site comparison journey
  • Learn from evidence led best practice comparison experiences provided in other industries around the world
  • Gain competitive intelligence on who is doing comparison well in the Australian credit card market, and who need to improve.

Register here to take part CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

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