So, you’ve taken your bank’s brand about as far as it can go in the classics—radio spots, print advertising, local TV… but what of the new class of branding outlets? Namely, the digital realm? While not all marketing strategies or budgets or internal teams are built alike, there’s a quintet of areas you should emphasize at the core of any financial institution’s digital campaign rundown.
Here’s a starter pack for digital marketing pursuits worth the squeeze.
Getting to the top of the page is the ultimate prize for any brand worth its salt. Search results can be a game-changer for getting your bank or credit union the recognition it deserves. Gone are the days of the yellow pages, where institutions with “1st” in their names got the prized placement at the front of the phone book. The internet’s phone book is driven by search engines and making sure your brand is top of mind whenever someone is looking for financial services is mission-critical for your long-term success. So, what does amping up your search marketing game really look like? Well, it takes on the form of two distinct columns—in column A is organic search, and in column B is paid search. And much like nutrition, you need a little from both columns to make headway with brand equity online.
The all-natural way to get your brand to the top of the results page is through organic search efforts. Let’s call this “the long game.” While you won’t need to put money behind every effort in order to see results, this level of growth takes commitment to a long-term strategy. The more valuable your website and its subsequent pages are to a potential user, the higher your organic search value.
Retire old or outdated content. While this won’t improve your SEO directly, it will provide a better navigation experience for your user and help them find relevant topics faster.
Plan for the keywords you want to rank for. Do your research and leverage free tools to help you identify retail banking keywords and where your website currently performs with current ones. Go as far as to write down your plan so you can keep track of your efforts.
Stick to long form content. While there’s no “correct” length, 1,500+ word long form content performs better. Search engines see content depth as synonymous with expertise. This will rank you higher than shorter form content for expansive topics.
Retail Bank Paid SEO Marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO) and SEM are vital to a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. SEO helps to build your site’s authority and visibility in organic search results. Paid search helps attract people to your site by targeting your personas.
Knowing your target audience’s demographics helps to tailor keywords, ad copy, landing page, and offer to their specific needs. For example, when advertising mortgage services to an audience of mostly young couples and parents, you might include keywords like “first home” or “building a life together” or “bigger home for a growing family” in your ad or landing page copy.
Is your audience mostly wealthy executives looking to invest? You’re better off using financial phrases like “great investment,” “house flipping,” and “great ROI” instead.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the fast-growing approach to reaching potential new customers online via various search engines like Google and Bing – which you shouldn’t ignore.
Banks and credit union can use paid search to target people searching for financial services.
Much like organic search efforts, the more niche you get with your targeting tactics, the better your results. Consider targeting keywords that your competitors are targeting, for example, to capture more of the mindshare of the communities you serve. And if you have a specialty in a particular niche product area, emphasize that in your efforts to corner a particular market.
Location-based keywords are hugely beneficial! Even financial institutions with nationwide branches or without any physical branches at all can benefit from local searches. Almost half of all searches are local, and Google favors local results.
Social Media Marketing
Much like search, social media includes two primary pathways—an organic one and a paid one. And both are important for overall brand awareness in the marketplace. Let’s talk through what each brings to the table and how your team should approach both avenues.
You might be aware that algorithms drive the attention you get when it comes to organic social media—and that algorithm ebbs and flows with time, including downgrading business-page content on platforms such as Facebook. Thankfully, content-creators have answered the challenge by finding new ways to make marketing content all the more engaging in this new era. Your organic social content should find ways to promote your organization’s culture, including events, new developments on your teams and demonstrating how your bank or credit union gives back to the community. It also should focus on digestible, quick-hit tips and tricks that hone in on financial education—the how and why of managing your money.
Start by creating a content calendar. This helps you plan ahead, fill in any content gaps, and, best of all, saves you from any massive headaches.
Next, get a scheduling software and use it to create a content plan. You can pre-plan your social content well in advance, as well as build out a regular content calendar to keep team members accountable to the progress of your page.
Lastly, engage with your audience. Time to flex the “social” aspect of social media. Responding creates value for you and your consumers. The algorithm detects your responsiveness which can boost you ranking in search engines.
Live videos are a way to connect with your audience on a more intimate level because it allows them to interact with your business in real-time. This creates a seamless trust and loyalty between brand and customer.
Sure, product videos are great, but they’re structured and well-thought-out. Live videos are raw and unrehearsed. This creates a personal connection that forms a level of trust in your brand, and hopeful retention.
Live videos give a sneak peek into who you really are and can help humanize your brand in an authentic way.
Now when it comes to paid social, your banking brand’s digital campaigns should identify some key differentiators to stick out amongst the noise of newsfeed advertising:
First, know your audience. Have a clear impression of who you’re targeting before you start building out a campaign. You should also know your product value proposition—what separates you from the competition, and how are your banking products and services better than the competition down the street and the national competition online and in the app store.
Research what demographics are typical of your customer or member base. This will drive your channel selection—as not all social networks are built alike when it comes to appealing across generations. Say your average member age is 55—then Facebook might be your most active channel. Or say you have a goal this year to bring on more customers younger than 25—it might be worth it to investigate campaigns on trending video platforms like TikTok or Instagram Reels.
You may feel like display ads have been declared officially deceased—and that’s true, at least in the traditional sense. While the old days of a pop-up ad that disrupts your desired activity might be dead and gone, the new style of display marketing has brought new life to this visual style of reaching customers.
Try Google’s responsive display advertising. This makes ads more dynamic, malleable and, well, responsive to viewer needs and wants in real time. And YouTube has transformed its platform with skippable and short-form pre-roll advertising that reaches audiences in massive numbers.
With the right audience insights, you can engage in programmatic advertising through niche display networks, serving ads on popular websites that you might not otherwise have access to—reaching audiences that might be otherwise difficult to attract or altogether unreachable.
Speaking of campaign tactics unfairly labeled “dated,” your bank would be hard-pressed to find a more direct form of communication than email. According to Not Another State of Marketing 2020, 78-percent of marketers saw an increase in email engagement last year. And according to Hubspot 73-percent of millennials, the generation that came of age using social media, say they prefer to get emails from businesses. If your bank does not have an email marketing strategy in place, you may be losing out on strengthening the relationship and lifetime value of your customers.
The purpose of sending an email is to inform and engage your customers. You want to provide them with useful information and humanize your bank. One easy way to accomplish this is through simple ‘welcome’ and ‘happy birthday’ emails. Marketing automation can simplify this process. You can even turn your welcome emails into an onboarding series of informative emails with minimal effort.
Even as the engagement with this form of digital marketing has changed and evolved over the years, it’s still one of your most customizable and right-to-the-point ways of building share of wallet with existing customers and creating dynamic content that can cater to the habits and website usage history of a given customer or member IP. And who doesn’t like seeing things that speak directly to who they are as a person and what they truly need out of their bank or credit union?
Prioritize creating proper landing pages. The selection and drafting of content for your landing pages should rank at least as high as the quality of your ad. The ads bring in potential new customers. The landing page must sell your products and services to them. Therefore, having an ad that clicks through to your homepage, or to your “New Accounts” page, is far less effective.
You should have different, tailored landing pages for different ads, ad groups, and products. Ad campaigns are more effective when you create dedicated landing pages.
The more aligned the landing page is with the user’s keyword, the more likely they are to convert. If a user clicks an ad triggered by searching “small business account features” then lands on your homepage which doesn’t mention the keyword, they’ll likely bounce. This costs you their business and the cost of their click.
While short-form blog content and written pieces can help build your SEO value and your prowess on the search engines, you must also develop a larger content strategy.
Step one: is take your official—or unofficial—FAQs from your customer or member services team and identifying the key challenges facing today’s financial consumer.
Step two: respond to those questions with digital tools that lead consumers down the path to the right product or service… that just so happens to be offered by your banking brand.
Make your content unique, all-encompassing, and truly remarkable. That could take the form of general financial lifestyle advice, guiding a person through a common banking process – like applying for a mortgage or starting a retirement savings, or it might be a series of educational videos. Whatever the case, make your content engaging and worthy of a click, or, in some cases, of sacrificing a name and email address in exchange for access.
Whatever your goals as a banking brand, digital campaigns are essential to making relevant choices in the 21st Century. The above is a great way to get a baseline on your efforts. The next step is working with an agency to take your digital game to the next level.