Everbank Takes Gold in Change Sciences Ranking of Small Biz Banking Online Sales, BB&T is Runner-up

Small Biz Banking Ranking from Change SciencesI’ve had a consumer account at Everbank since shortly after it launched in 1998. And I’ve continued to be a fan, both of the bank, and of its co-founder and product-guru Rob Foregger’s subsequent work at Personal Capital and others. But I hadn’t realized that Everbank excelled on the small biz side.

Change Sciences, which quantifies and compares bank user experience in various verticals, ranked Everbank #1 in its just-published report (subscription) on online sales of small-business banking services.

As you can see from the methodology below, Change Sciences is looking at the discovery and sales process for small biz banking, not the actual online banking experience itself.

Everbank took first by a solid 3-point margin over runner-up BB&T. Most of the big banks were bunched just below BB&T. PNC Bank and US Bank were just a point lower and BofA was just two points lower. SunTrust and Wells also finished four points under BB&T.

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Everbank offers an extensive menu of business benefits via mouseover dropdown menu (6 Aug 2012)

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Note: Change Sciences methodology (from its website)

Each site is evaluated (via desktop browser) against a series of criteria by a Change Sciences analyst. The analyst reviews pages and screens that are part of a critical user task. As the tasks are evaluated, the analyst does three things:
• Looks for predefined user-experience characteristics and features.
• Evaluates the page for ease of use or usability, and applies heuristics accordingly.
• Looks for unexpected enhancements, which we call pleasant surprises.

Tasks evaluated:
• Getting a first impression
• Learning about the bank’s approach to its small-business customers
• Finding out about checking and lending products
• Learning about online banking
• Getting to apply options

E-Mailbag: Everbank Addresses Falling Rates with Three Deposit Options

With the personal finance news full of reports of falling deposit rates, EverBank strikes back with an eye-catching email overview of its high-yield deposit choices:

  • Yield Pledge Money Market
  • Yield Pledge CDs
  • FreeNet Checking

The bank's yield pledge, to always offer a rate in the top 5% nationwide, helps take the customer's mind off the actual rate itself, which may not be as high as they'd like (see screenshot below). Not that EverBank isn't competitive on rates. The bank still offers 5% APY's in a number of key deposit products including its Money Market account and most CDs. And it sweetens the pot for new customers with 3-month introductory rates of 6%.

Analysis
Nicely done email with an appropriate, and eye-catching graphic, to-the-point copy, personalization, the yield pledge, and links to all the right places.  

Grade: A

Email header 

Sent: Tue 9/25/2007 2:04 PM
From: EverBank News [service@everbank.com]
To: <your email address>
Subject: 3 high-yield accounts – to fit your style

Personalization: First name in salutation

Email body

Everbank’s Latest Multi-Currency CD: World Energy Index

Some companies are so innovative, you take them for granted. Five that come to mind, in no particular order:

  • Yodlee: account aggregation, credit card-based bill payment, mobile banking
  • Vancity (Canada): microcredit, green banking, blogging, community involvement
  • Wells Fargo: simple expense tracker, blogging, Second Life
  • PayPal: email-based payments, confirmation via twin deposits, integration into eBay (before it was part of eBay)
  • Prosper: Social lending, open API to most of its aggregated data, groups, auction style, Facebook app (game)

These companies are all relatively famous, but one that doesn't get nearly as much press, but has long pushed forward on a number of fronts is Everbank. From its website design (here), product marketing (here), to its foreign-currency certificates of deposit (here), the Jacksonville, FL-based bank continues to shine in an increasingly crowded online space (all previous coverage here). 

My inspiration for this post (see note) was the bank's marketing email today announcing its World Energy Index CD, a multi-currency certificate pegged to the currency of four western countries with better-than-average energy resources: Norway, Canada, UK, and Australia. I have no idea if this CD is a good investment, but I do know that Everbank has proven that even the narrowest niches can be profitable using the reach of the Internet.

Everbank Email

Header:
   Date/Time received: July 17, 4:07 PM (Pacific)
   From: Everbank News [service@everbank.com]
   To: James [jim@netbanker.com]
   Title: A new CD with a powerful combination – energy and currencies

Customer type: Current checking account customer

Personalization: First name in salutation

Landing page: none (homepage link only) 

Other offer: Third-party investment newsletter offer (link on right-hand side goes directly to newsletter publisher, Agora Financial Publications, landing page here)

Note: I have had an account for ten years at Everbank. Therefore, I see more of their marketing material and tend to write about them more frequently.

Everbank Previews its New Homepage

Everbank brochure front Everbank customers received snail mail today (see inset) announcing a newly designed website and multi-factor login procedure that debuts May 20. The company also changed its corporate "look," adopting a sage green and slate blue that looks modern, but more serious than the lime-green and orange Web 2.0 pallet.

While we'll miss the old look, which featured our Online Banking Report Best of the Web logo in two places (see screenshot below), it was time to move forward. The old look not only was a bit dated, but also too cluttered.

The new design can be previewed now via a well-done, though slightly too long, video at <everbank.com/preview>. The key functional change in the new design is the move from a product-oriented main navigation to a more take-oriented approach. The five main navigation choices in the top bar are:

  • Products
  • Research & Planning
  • Customer Service
  • About Us
  • Contact Us

Secondary navigation is provided by tabs in the middle of the page.

From a marketing perspective, the homepage now features a single product in a highly visible spot. The upper graphic stands out well with the sweeping lower border (reminiscent of the famous Nike swoosh), while the three lower "banner ads" have been eliminated. The overall effect is a much more focused homepage which should drive more applicants to the core offer, which in the preview is the bank's 6.01% FreeNet checking 

A few other details Everbank cleaned up with the new design:

  • Single sign-on button instead of choice of four
  • Site-search box, instead of a link to the search function
  • Exposure to more rates across more products
  • Site map added in to link at bottom of page (not shown below)

One thing that surprised me about the new design was the removal of the toll-free telephone number which is prominently displayed in two spots on the about-to-be-replaced homepage (in the top-right corner and in a bold red font, about halfway down the right side). Perhaps, the bank is attempting to "right-channel" more visitors into the online application. It will be interesting to see if the bank brings the number back after a few months with the new design.

Grade: Overall, it looks like it will be an A or A-, but I will hold off final judgement until it goes live and can be fully evaluated. Maybe it's just me, but I still like the page they used six years ago (see last screenshot). It was short-lived, so it must not have driven enough sales, but it sure was a refreshing look compared to the typical bank website, especially six years ago. For more info, see our Online Banking Report on homepage design here and previous coverage of the topic here.  

New Everbank homepage design

New Everbank homepage coming 20 May 2007

Previous design

Current Everbank homepage 26 April 2007

Everbank circa 2001 (April)

Old Everbank homepage April 2001

Snail mail brochure (inside)

Everbank Takes on ING Direct with 6.01% Checking Account Campaign

Everbank launched its "What are you waiting for?" campaign today by giving away 2,500 free subway tickets at 6:01 AM in lower Manhattan. The time was chosen to coincide with the 6.01% APR promotional start-rate on its FreeNet checking account (see Note 1). 

The campaign targets ING Direct's soon-to-be-released Electric Orange checking account, which currently pays beta users 3% on balances under $50,000 and 5.3% on balances greater than $50,000 (see Note 2).

Everbank launched a microsite called <whyruwaiting.com> with direct comparisons to ING Direct (see screenshot below).

Everbank <whyruwaiting.com> landing page CLICK TO ENLARGE

Clicking the large Compare Banks button in the lower right leads to a comparison to ING Direct and several other major competitors (see screenshot below):

Everbank "whyruwaiting" comparison to WaMU, ING Direct, Bank of America and Bank of Internet CLICK TO ENLARGE

The campaign has not been extended to the Everbank website, which shows a banner for the 6.01% offer, but no mention of "Why are you waiting?" (see screenshot below). 

Everbank homepage with 6.01% FreeNet checking banner CLICK TO ENLARGE

Clicking through the banner leads to the following page:

Everbank's FreeNet checking landing page CLICK TO ENLARGE

Notes:

  1. The 6.01% is a promotional "teaser" rate is good for three months, then resets to the "regular" rate which are currently as follows: 
       Under $10,000 = 3.25%
       $10,000 to $25,000 = 3.30%
       $25,000 to $50,000 = 3.60%
       $50,000 to $100,000 = 4.00%
       More than $100,000 = 4.41%

    The minimum deposit is $1,500 and the maximum that earns 6.01% is $100,000.

  2. ING Direct customers can also easily transfer funds into the companion savings account which pays 4.5%. ING's Electric Orange account began rolling out in waves to its 4 million savings account customers in December (see coverage here). Coincidently, I received my invitation yesterday (see screenshot below). 

    Email invitation for ING Direct's Electric Orange checking account CLICK TO ENLARGE

Everbank’s Latest Email Newsletter

Everbank <everbank.com> has been an active emailer, sending a newsletter every few months for the seven years I've maintained an account there. The newsletters have always been chock full of content, from general finance topics to detailed discussions revolving around the bank's unique currency- and commodity-related products.

The newsletter design has evolved with the times, from plain text in the 1990s to the well-designed HTML missive we received last night (see below). The short headlines letter encourages customers to click through and read the full document at the Everbank website (see End Notes).

Email Sample
Date/Time: Oct. 11, 2006, 8:59 PM (received 10:24 PM Pacific Time)
From: EverBank [service@everbank.com]
To: James
Title: Are commodities worthy? Find out in the latest EverBanker newsletter
Personalization: Dear <firstname>
Signature: EverBank Customer Care

Everbank Oct newsletter CLICK TO ENLARGE

Analysis
Email
There is little to criticize. The short email is direct and to the point. Its layout lends itself well to viewing within the preview pane. The small "did you know" box adds an element of interest, and the drop-shadow makes it stand out. 

With four major articles, it makes sense to send just the headlines and ask the reader to click through to the website to read the full article. However, the bank should use the standard convention of hyperlinking each article directly to the appropriate place on the website.

The bank does include two hyperlinks to the Web-based newsletter, a "click here" in the first paragraph and a "read it today" at the end. However, for even better usability, the bank should add a big shiny button that leads directly to the Web version.

Web-based Newsletter
The website demonstrates good usability in its layout and content. A synopsis of each article is provided on the main page and users click through to read the complete article. It's useful and well-written information, better than a lot of what you read in mainstream consumer-finance publications. We especially liked the "whatever happened to" look-back at some recent initiatives, such as Check 21, and the overview of consumer-protection laws.

As good as the newsletter is, we couldn't stop thinking that it would work much better as a blog. That way, readers could pursue subject threads and more easily peruse all that Everbank provides. The bank could also experiment with accepting comments to make the whole experience more interactive.

Overall grades:
Content: A+
Email design: A-
Website (newsletter) design: A

End Notes
Click on the following link to see a screenshot of the newsletter landing page.

Newsletter Landing Page (here's the link)

Everbank_newsletter_11oct06_landing_1

Everbank Reinforces Interest Rate Increase with Email

Everbank_emailThere is nothing like a long run of rate increases to make your deposit customers happier. You might as well take some credit; it probably won’t be long before they move in the other direction.

So every time you raise rates, make sure to let customers know with an email message. Of course, this assumes competitive rates. If you are increasing from 0.45 percent to 0.65 percent, you probably want to keep that to yourself.

EverBank raised checking account rates Jan. 1 from 3 percent to 3.5 percent depending on balance levels. On Jan. 3, it sent an email with the subject (click on inset for closeup view):

You’re earning more with EverBank – interest rates rise again!

Analysis
EverBank’s message is straightforward. Here’s what they did right:

  • Included security graphic/link in upper-right corner
  • Kept copy concise and to the point
  • Included a chart showing rate by balance level; subtle encouragement to add funds
  • Reinforced free online banking and bill pay (underneath chart)
  • Cross-sold its Yield Pledge Money Market and CD for those looking for better rates; Yield Pledge products are guaranteed to offer a rate in the top 5 percent at BankRate.com
  • Included toll-free phone number
  • Signed by real person with real signature; in this case, Frank Trotter, president

And a shorter list of improvements:

  • Personalization helps make a message look genuine, but there’s no personalization in the salutation: "Greetings EverBanker!"
  • Clicking through the security graphic leads to a generic page full of links to terms and conditions; the bank should create a page that specifically addresses users’ security concerns, especially regarding phishing emails
  • The bank should improve its unsubscribe function; currently, it’s an all-or-nothing choice triggered by sending a blank email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line; that’s easy for users, but the bank’s just lost an opportunity to query the customer in more detail about what they do and don’t want to receive via email
  • Weak P.S.: "The FreeNet Checking Account gives you the yields and the service you deserve. Bank on it!"

Grade
Overall, we’ll give it an A-

JB

Everbank Goes on the Offensive Against Latest Phishing Scheme

Everbank_homepagel_phishwarningIf you are a smaller bank or credit union and are phished for the first time, you might consider the approach Everbank took in response to a phishing incident today.

The bank took the unusual step of sending an email to its customers warning them about the fraudulent email (click on the screenshot below for a closeup). They even included a copy of the phishing message at the bottom of the warning. Everbank_email_phishwarning_1The bank also posted a small red-outlined box on its homepage (see inset) with a link to the same email message.

Analysis
Although it may seem futile to send an email warning about a fake email, we think it’s a good idea if the phishing episodes are infrequent. The big targets such as Citibank or PayPal can’t do this, not with dozens of attacks every month; however, smaller companies should consider proactive email communications, but no more than a few times per year, otherwise customers won’t pay any attention.

Most users will realize the Everbank response is genuine, because it doesn’t ask for any customer information, especially when they compare it to the fake message at the bottom of the screen.

Yes, some customers will be even more confused. But hopefully their calls to customer service will provide you with a chance to put them at ease. There are costs associated with these anti-fraud efforts, but that’s part of the trust involved in being in the banking business.

JB

Everbank Markets to SmartMoney List

Everban_asiancd_email_previewEverbank <everbank.com> dropped an email solicitation (click on inset for closeup) to the registered users of SmartMoney.com. The message featured the bank’s newest specialty CD, the Asian Advantage which rewards depositors with above-market Everbank_asiancd_basket_2returns IF the dollar falls against a bucket of Asian currencies.

Last week, the Internet-only bank dropped an 8.5 x 5.5 inch postcard mailer with a similar theme. Recipients could respond by calling toll-free 800.926.4922 or going online to www.everbank.com/asiancd.

Analysis
This is a great example of deposit product email marketing.

  • Focuses on the unique selling benefits
  • Good graphics and copy
  • Landing page with a minimum of distracting navigation choices
  • Visible call-to-action with Apply Now! button

We like the opening sentence in the postcard better than the email (see below). With an advanced investing strategy, the direct statement of how the user will earn a profit is more understandable. However, without the results of the bank’s testing, it’s difficult to know which pulls a better response.

   Email: "There’s a great new way to invest in the active and healthy Pan-Asia currency market."
   Postcard: "Do you want to profit if Asian currencies gain on the U.S. dollar?"

Screenshots (links will not work):

  1. Everbank’s Asian CD full email
  2. Everbank Asian CD landing page
  3. Previous article on Everbank foreign-currency deposits

–JB

Everbank’s MarketSafe CD

Everbank_marketcd_2 When I was a deposit product manager in the late 1980s, I worked on a project to bring out an equity indexed certificate of deposit. That project died, one more merger casualty, but I've always been intrigued by the product.

Over the years, a number of banks have offered market-indexed CDs, but they've never been much more than a niche product. That's OK. More than half of Amazon's book sales are from titles not found at retail bookstores. The Internet is a great place to mine the niches. Everbank has already proved that by moving nearly $1 billion worth of foreign currency-denominated deposits.

Analysis
The problem with equity indexed CDs is that they are crummy investments. By the time you pay for the hedging, marketing, and bank overhead, there's not much left over to pay the investor.

Let's look at Everbank's latest incarnation. The MarketSafe CD provides a total return based on a relatively complicated formula that averages S&P 500 prices at six-month intervals during the five-year term. In an up market, the CDs typically return 40% to 60% of the S%P gain (click on inset below).

The main selling point: Investors are guaranteed a minimum 5% total return over the five years (APY = 0.98%). The CDs are FDIC insured up to $100,000 with a minimum investment of $1500.

Everbank_marketcd_returnsBy Everbank's own figures (click on inset), its CD would have only beaten the S&P 500 index eight times during the previous 31 five-year periods beginning with 1970-1975. And by our estimates, the return would have beaten a normal 5-year CD more than half the time, 17 out of 31 periods. But only twice did the MarketSafe CD beat both the S&P and a regular CD.

Expected returns would be higher if the investor simply bought a mix of regular CDs and S&P indexed funds. The most conservative would be an 82% CD, 18% S&P mix that would still return all principal even if the S&P went to zero (assuming 4% CD APY). For the less conservative, a 67% CD, 33% S&P split would still return the principal even if the S&P dropped 40%. You get the idea.

But the target market for MarketSafe CDs is probably someone that never invests in equities. For that person, the MarketSafe is a reasonable way to put a little money "in the market." From Everbank's perspective, it's a nice addition to their unique deposit product line.

Addendum: View full screenshot of MarketSafe CD page

JB