We arrived late last night in Zeist, an even smaller town than the place I grew up in the North of Holland, and had a nice chat with Eric before heading for a good night’s sleep. I must admit that I’m running under 5 to maximum 6 hours of sleep per night lately but hey, can’t commplain, I didn’t have to get up at 4:30 this morning like Dennis‘ fine Indextools.
Lack of sleep is partially my own fault as I’m into some readings and tend to forget the time but also because I’m working on a couple of projects in one of my favorite sectors, banking. As some of you might know, my background is partially in banking and insurance (Swiss Life and Deutsche Bank) so I felt compeled to blog after the fine presentation I saw this morning by Jos Verwoerd from Postbank here at the Webanalytics Congres in Zeist (The Netherlands). Also note that his presentation was made by his co-workers, amongst which he cited Ewout Vis, who’s holding a workshop this afternoon that I’ll also be attending. I’m afraid I didn’t catch the name of the other guy but I’m sure we’ll have some interesitng discussions this afternoon.
So, back to Postbank. The positions of ING and Postbank in terms of financial services providers is an interesting one only just to start with by their history and where they actually came from: the privatisation of the former postal services. I wrote my end paper for my degree in Economics on the Concentration of the Dutch Banking sector some… fifteen years ago now. Ouch.
And as you might gather from the many turmoils around Dutch banks lately, this is not a minor player on the Duth market, to say the least.
The presentation started with a F1 picture of the Renault pit stop guys – sponsored by ING of course – anxiously looking at a screne. Jos Verwoerd asked the audience if they thought they were looking at the race. He replied they were probably looking at data 😉 Ha, I could already imagine those gauges getting clause to the red area and possibly some drivers smelling smoke into his little speedy machine.
Yes, data. “Meten is weten” (measuring is knowing) has apparently become the company mantra lately that gathers brands such as Postbank, ING & RVS.
An interesting movie popped-up the screen, recapitulating their vision about the Internet. Yeap, they get it and are certainly aware of teh challenges ahead! It ended with a quote that I’d like to share, from Morgan Stanley, which goes like this: “The first 10 years of Internet were a warm up of what is about to happen”.
It reminded me of my former employer as he literally told me that I was an ideologic fool with all my Internet stories… That was 5 years ago. Ouch again.
In any case, Mr. Verwoerd is, in my eyes, a very capable but also lucky man. Managing an “Internet Retail” team of 90 FTEs, divided amongst Development/Ontwikkeling (17), Expoitation – assuring continuity and security – (42) and Management/Beheer & Services (31).
It’s within Beheers & Services that one finds 9 FTE working on web intelligence. Wow! These guys measure, test, report and analyse data. Sounds like a great team!
So, what about Postbank.nl? They have on average 600 000 visits/day and peak at something like 1.2 million. When? around payday 😉 The most busy months? December for yearly bonusses and May for holiday paychecks. Top peak? 780 000 page views an hour. Their online communication was straminh ahead!
If you imagine it, Postbank.nl’s traffic could fill up Ajax’s Arena soccer field up to 25 times!
How would that work out related to the number of people that actually walk into their agencies? He didn’t say but did mention that in 1 month, Postbank.nl gets more visitors than all the IKEA store visitors in the Netherlands gets within 1 year. And he thought that IKEA was crowded 😉
I wounder how IKEA’s online traffic measures up to their off line world. Could be an interesting sector ration 😉
In any case, imagine what a 1% increase in conversion rates of such huge traffic could mean to the bottom line of a company.
So, Postbank has invested, has staffed as you just read and has set-up processes.
The positioning of the Web Intelligence unit (can I call it that?) is clearly independant and delivers data based information related to sales, services and transactions to other departments.
Their customers are marketeers – in charge of their product based comunication budget – product managers and segment managers. They also work closely with the Customer Intelligence BU.
Customer Intelligence is more responsible for customers, as their name states clearly and would be more in charge of CRM projects. Between the Web Intelligence BU & the Customer Intelligence one, bridges are being built in the form of data integration where information is “shot” up to a datawarehouse a plugged into a CRM systems. Web Intelligence holds more a Channel perspective
In terms of processes those fine Web Intelligence guys & gals (I hope) go, for any new online venture, from the Global Interaction stage towards the Functional Design before adding the finishing touch through the use Visual Design. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one considering the vernishing on the canevas as a less important aspect 😉
Tools use: (do we really care? yes, ok then) Omniture for Postbank.nl, Moniforce for the online banking and something custom called FORMS. For bannering, AddJuggler (nice logo by the way) and last but not least, testing with Memetrics.
Someone funnily asked in the audience that Omniture also did that as well, right? Interesting question: between TouchClarity and Memetrics, who does what actually between serving the 2 different pages and measuring them, ideally with statistical significance. Some one should defintly right a post about that! Sieg?
Mr. Verwoerd pursued by explaining the pixel battle episodes within his company – didn’t Patricia Gildea at the Emetrics Summit in London also mention that last year ? – and showed a nice Omniture overlay. Most vendors have such features, they’re usually rather good and rater usefull from time to time. Yes, I like those as well.
Postbank.nl has clearly defined spaces on their homepage for sales, branding, services and transactions. They have defined processes for which campaigns are shows at which place on the homepage. The central piece is for branding and usually relays the off line communication.
Someone in the audience asked about measurement of this branding box, at the end of the Q&A. I was happy to hear that the question was dismissed with a smile towards the Communication Manager. Not one of my favorites either but still brewing on it personally as this brand issue did come back and often from Dutch or German counterparts. Funny Europe 😉
The fresh Dutch audience learned about the improvement cycle: collect data & analyse, understand & test and conclude & change.
Surveys were also briefly discussed where the Postbank had apparently asked their users for suggestions about how to improve their online communication plateforms. A page entitle “Het kan altijd beter!” (it can always be better) popped-up. The best idea was rewarded with a 100€. Pretty cheap if you think about how much this improvement could add to the bottom line but rest assured, the choice of the best idea was done democratically through voting (Web 2.0 feautres) and the final top 10 was selected by ING top management.
Seems like these guys have their fingers on the pulse (vingers aan de pols). There are indeed interesting days ahead, certainly if you see that a group like them has dedicated resources to their online communication and fostering the kind of company philosophy to promote change and positive evolution. They’re even aware of P2P private loans.
I’m proud to be Dutch again, orange is such a lovely color but yesterday’s chocolate had another taste. Er is werk aan de winkel mensen!