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How Pay-Per-Click Ads Pay Off for Financial Institutions

Fierce competition in the financial industry can make it difficult — if not impossible — to rank organically on the coveted first page of search engine results. That’s where pay-per-click advertising comes in. Here’s what you need to know.

By Michelle Brown, Director of Marketing at ZAG Interactive

Studies have found that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search engine results. Sometimes you want a high ranking, but for some search terms that’s difficult to achieve with organic search engine optimization (SEO) tricks. That’s when an investment in pay-per-click (PPC) marketing might be the right solution. (In other words, ads on Google, Bing and Yahoo!)

PPC is a form of search engine marketing that involves placing ads on search engines and entering a bidding competition for ranking on specific keywords. Although advertisers pay for each click on these ads, the nature of pay-per-click marketing gives them the ability to quickly produce real results and contribute measurably to sales.

Generate immediate results

Unlike other forms on search engine marketing, financial institutions can get immediate results with pay-per-click advertising. The moment a campaign is enabled, your ads appear on search engines to consumers that are actively searching for the terms and phrases associated with your campaign.

PPC systems provide financial institutions instant exposure to individuals that are actively searching for the banking products and solutions being promoted. This is especially advantageous for seasonal or other temporary promotions, as there is zero wait-time to achieve prominent rankings that could lead to a click, and subsequently a conversion. Since Google has the majority of the market, their AdWords program is the best place to start, but if your budget allows, a similar campaign on Bing will help maximize exposure.

( Read More: 5 Tips To Maximize Google Adwords For Small Banks & Credit Unions )

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Separate campaigns for each product/ service

With pay-per-click, financial institutions have the ability to create different ads for each banking product or service they want to promote. This enables you to write very specific ad copy that is more likely resonate with your target audience, increasing the effectiveness of your ad and the chances it will generate a click-through. For example, if someone is searching for an auto loan, an ad explicitly promoting your auto loan offerings will be more appealing to them than a general ad for your lending capabilities. The more targeted the ad, the better the conversion rate, so spend time setting up the right ads at the beginning.

Drive visitors to specific landing pages

A great ad that doesn’t convert is a waste of your marketing budget. Ideally you want consumers to enter your website on a landing page that directly pertains to their search, as it increases the chances that they will find information applicable to their banking needs and take action. In order to generate results, it’s imperative that your landing pages be well-developed with compelling information in a clear, actionable format with minimal distractions.

Target visitors geographically

Pay-per-click advertising offers the ability to very precisely target consumers in your specific geographic coverage area. This is incredibly valuable for banks and credit unions with a limited geographic footprint. If you are a Connecticut-based bank or or a Charlotte-based credit union, it doesn’t help you when your ads are seen by people in Maine.

When you set up a PPC campaign, part of the initial process should involve identifying the geographic areas where your campaigns will run. This vastly increases the chance that a legitimate prospect will see and click your ad.

( Read More: 12 Common SEO Mistakes Financial Marketers Make )

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Cater to mobile audiences

Researchers estimate there are 30 billion annual mobile searches annually, and 45% of those are “goal-oriented.” Google and Bing have recently unveiled the ability to separate ads for mobile users, so take advantage of available mobile ad features, such as a click-to-call buttons or maps/directions. This will increase your performance and maximize your chances to convert.

Additionally, remember to look at the mobile experience holistically, as the effectiveness of your efforts will be significantly dependent on the mobile-friendliness of your destination pages.

Test multiple ad versions

Naturally, some ads are going to perform better than others. With pay-per-click, financial institutions can run multiple ads within an ad group campaign, which facilitates performance comparison. If you don’t do basic A/B testing already, you should start.

Track results and measure ROI in Google Analytics

As with any marketing effort, to achieve for optimal results it’s important to constantly monitor performance and continually make campaign adjustments. Google Analytics allows financial institutions to do this by rather painlessly, tracking conversions and return on investment with minimal web code updates. This information provides real-time performance analytics from which you can quickly funnel through an ROI calculation. Then you fine-tune your execution to generate even stronger results.

Bottom Line: A comprehensive search engine marketing presence for any financial institution should include both pay-per-click advertising in addition to ongoing search engine optimization in order to generate targeted, steady inbound traffic.


Michelle Brown is the Director of Marketing at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. Brenna Keough, an Interactive Marketing Specialist at ZAG, also contributed to this article. To discuss your search engine marketing questions or needs with ZAG, call 860.633.4818 or send an email.


Michelle BrownMichelle Brown is the Director of Marketing at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. To discuss your search engine marketing questions or needs with ZAG, call 860.633.4818 or send an email.

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All content © 2014 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

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