Study Suggests Long-Standing Web Metrics Are Often Misused Tools

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Credit unions using long-standing web metrics are using the data for the wrong analysis, according to a new report.

The new "Credit Union E-metrics Study-2003" suggests that credit unions are using web metrics to assess operations performance and marketing support rather than to measure member satisfaction, return on investment or to support strategic planning. The study was authored by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was distributed during CUNA's GAC. It culminates a six-month research project sponsored by the CUNA Mutual Group, CUNA, the CUNA Technology Council, and the Information Technologies Credit Union Association. Research was conducted by the University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium (UWEBC).

"We conducted this study to get a sense of how online metrics are being used by credit unions nationwide to assess and improve the effectiveness of their Web strategy and online services," said John Hollander, assistant vice president, business development and sales for CUNA. "We also wanted to know which online services are offered most to credit union members."

Results identified page hits, visit frequency, page views, website security and active pages as most frequently used by credit unions to gauge operational results, said Alfonso Gutierrez, UWEBC assistant director for research and education.

"Credit unions are attempting to increase member value while obtaining a reasonable return on investment through their web-based services," Gutierrez said. "Yet, web metrics that reveal business value have a very low deployment rate, and we don't see that changing anytime soon. Our focus group noted the lack of available and affordable tools to capture necessary e-metrics data for this purpose," he added.

Other findings:

* E-metrics are in the early stages of evolution for small and medium-size credit unions. Most metrics collected are constrained by data processors and application service providers' capabilities.

* Only 25% of credit unions use formal tools (software packages) for collecting e-metrics and Web analytic data.

* Successful web-based service implementation stories demonstrate how the balanced use of internal metrics and customer-focused measurements provide a sustainable advantage in the e-business journey.

Regarding the provision of online services, the study indicated deposit accounts/home banking is by far the most popular and mature online service offered by credit unions, followed by automatic transfers, bill payment and various loan products such as consumer loans, credit cards, personal/cash loans, home equity loans, and mortgages.

Among the additional findings:

* Customer service products have the lowest adoption rate but promise relevant potential in the near future.

* One-half of the 22 online services listed in the survey have adoption rates greater than 50%.

* Larger CUs, on average, tend to offer more online services.

* Trends toward emerging services, based on adoption potential, include electronic statements, bill payment, bill presentment and alert messages.

"The project team compiled information from a representative group of credit unions having different sizes and locations," said Gutierrez.

Information gathering and analysis methods included an online survey, a focus group with eight credit union executives, and in-depth case study.

"The good news in this study is that credit unions continue to make progress in the ever-changing and challenging e-commerce arena, due in large part to the way they are leveraging technology advancements," said Jeff Milbrath, VP-web channel development for CUNA Mutual. "However, it appears most credit unions still have a ways to go before they fully understand whether investments in their websites are paying off."

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