Banks hankering for ways to make small business customer acquisition more cost effective and profitable may find help-for a fee-at Net Earnings, a new Web site that offers one-stop shopping to this potentially lucrative yet somewhat elusive market segment.
With Web-based content aggregation all the rage, Net Earnings hopes to differentiate itself with software that speeds the credit scoring process and allows loan applications to be accepted or rejected in real-time. Customers will be able to browse loan products listed on the site from participating banks and then either apply at the Net Earnings site or connect directly to the bank's Web site.
As an added service, Net Earnings will track customer activity and behavior at its site and, for an as-yet undisclosed referral fee, will supply banks with qualified leads as well as tips on how to market to them, says CEO Michael Grossman. "It's true there's a tremendous amount of heterogeneity (among customers), but there are also common concerns," he says.
This would not be the first time that banks are forced to compete on price. A former product manager at Intuit, Grossman says that financial services providers will ultimately have to go to where their customers are. But unlike Intuit, he says Net Earnings will also market the loan system-in development with Fair, Isaac-as a customizable bank-branded solution. "One of the big challenges every bank has is how to generate traffic to its own Web site, and our thought is that that's not mutually exclusive from participating in other sites that will help you generate traffic," says Grossman.
The question is whether Net Earnings can generate enough traffic to make it worthwhile for advertisers to sponsor the site. At press time, www.netearnings.com was getting an average of only 200,000 impressions, or hits, per month.