"As advertising continues to evolve, so too must the strategies that companies use to reach their target audiences," says Jeffrey Herzog, CEO of iCrossing, an interactive marketing agency "Companies should continue to pay attention to how consumers search for their businesses and search in general."

These are highlights from How America Searches: Financial Products and Services, the third in a series of studies commissioned by iCrossing and conducted by Harris Interactive. The report provides a detailed understanding of how U.S. adults use the Internet to learn more about the financial products and services they utilize for money management.

The initial findings reveal that searchers for financial products and services merit serious attention from retail financial services marketers and that a c onsumer's sophistication increases when searching for financial products and services online. These consumers tend to be well educated, report having above-average credit, and are interested in applying for financial products and services online. Moreover, the vast majority (70 percent) of these online adults live in homes with high-speed Internet access, widening the messaging opportunities available to marketers trying to reach them.

In addition, consider these points:

  • Among online financial searchers, 46 percent have a college education or better, 64 percent have annual household incomes of $50,000 or more, nearly half (48 percent) follow through on their searches by applying either on- or offline for a financial product or service, and 74 percent report having excellent or good credit.
  • Substantial cross-selling opportunities exist among the very population of financial searchers itself. Overall, 72 percent of online adults said they are interested in learning more about financial products.
  • General category-related terms are by far the most important factor in searches for mortgages and home equity loans.
  • Online adults who searched for brokerage accounts also expressed interest in online trading accounts (60 percent), retirement accounts (39 percent) and insurance (39 percent).
  • Time and convenience were the primary reasons financial searchers cited for choosing to convert their interest to action online as opposed to in person or on the phone.

Harris Interactive conducted the study on behalf of iCrossing between February 22 and 24, 2006, via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,472 U.S. adults (aged 18+). Data were weighted to reflect the total U.S. online adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and amount of time spent online.In theory, with a probability sample of this size, Harris points out that one can say with 95 percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of online adults aged 18+ had been polled with complete accuracy. Sampling error for various sub-samples, including those who use search engines to search for financial products and services (638) such as credit cards (300), mortgages (220), checking accounts (218), savings accounts (215), home equity loans (127), brokerage accounts (160), and other financial products and services (143), is higher and varies. Harris says that this online sample was not a probability sample.
To receive a complimentary copy of the report, please visit http://www.iCrossing.com/reverse_direct_marketing/search_report.htm .

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