The dreaded online credit application page: Consumers wish to reveal as little personal identifiable information about themselves as possible, while marketing, legal and finance departments want to get their hands on as much personal information as they can.
So what happens? Marketers push for the maximum amount of form fields that customers will tolerate, designers experiment with enticing styling, while legal, well, let’s face it: attorneys with specialized knowledge of FTC regulations governing online credit applications usually don’t share the same concern for user experience as UX professionals.
This debate surely hits home with readers of this blog. Online credit applications are fairly common on auto manufacturer websites. The logic goes: Once in-market consumers have built their vehicle online, they’re likely salivating at the thought of ownership. Filling out a credit application to see if they qualify for a loan or lease is a no-brainer. Enter: long forms, uncomfortable questions and too much legalese.
Gotta get me one
For one Razorfish automotive client, the solution for its captive finance division’s daunting credit application was to dangle a carrot for customers who had configured a vehicle online. The “carrot” was provided courtesy of a vehicle module, which consisted of a picture, description and feature list of the vehicle the user just assembled. Pretty cool – just like when I was a kid, with that framed photo of a muscle car next to my piggy bank: “if I save enough, one day she’ll be mine!”
Credit-seeking customers who haven’t built an online vehicle are served an application without a vehicle module. If you had to guess which application had a higher conversion rate, common sense might lead you to believe that the application with the vehicle module would prevail. But, as you can see in the within page dropoff percentages depicted above, that was not the case.
Don’t touch that
Overall conversions on the credit application left plenty to be desired, so the Razorfish Consumer Insights Group conducted a site-side study over two weeks to understand user behaviors (within-page tracking) and attitudes (survey).
We found that more than 26 percent of credit visitors engaged with the vehicle module. What makes this significant is that these visitors were far less likely to complete the application. Our behavioral study showed visitors had a blast tooling around with the vehicle module. They clicked on their vehicle, played around with the monthly terms and down payment amount. But this ultimately distracted them from the desired task at hand: complete the credit application. As a matter of fact, the majority of abandoners last clicked within the vehicle module.
By employing a hybrid agile process for rapid UX (user experience) and Creative prototyping, the client’s account team at Razorfish was able to devise a new online credit application that no longer included a vehicle module, yet kept potential customers engaged (see Figure 1 above).
Former Razorfish User Experience Lead Alexander Weishaupl, who worked on the application redesign, adds: “Without the contribution of the Consumer Insight Group’s Advanced Optimization technology, we wouldn’t have known down to the form field level where friction forced abandonment; their data helped our designers focus on fixing the things that were making it hardest for customers to successfully complete the application process.”
Additional roadblocks to conversion
The vehicle detail module was not the only obstacle to a higher conversion rate. It turns out there was also a 92 percent error rate because visitors didn’t know they had to read the Terms and Conditions first. Upon further investigation, Razorfish determined that error messaging was poorly handled through inundating visitors with unclear messages. Furthermore, the most common error that users encountered was related to the password field, which generated a 46 percent error rate. These findings presented a tremendous opportunity for Razorfish UX to revise the credit application’s messaging.
The results were immediate and impressive. With all of the above issues addressed – by removing the vehicle detail module, addressing error handling and redesigning the Terms and Conditions – the credit application completion rate increased 34 percent in the one-week post-launch period, when compared to the one-week period prior to the redesign.
In our current economy, marketers are expected to make data-informed decisions and must be equipped with the insights to do so. Proprietary technology and capabilities like Razorfish Advanced Optimization is just one example of how an agency can provide actionable insights.
Lead image appears via Chase Auto Finance; remaining images provided by the author.