How Much Should Financial Marketers Spend on Google AdWords?

What percentage of your marketing budget should go to search campaigns on Google? This study from The Financial Brand runs the numbers.

Every year, The Financial Brand looks at what banks and credit unions across the U.S. are investing into their Google AdWords campaign. For this study, we analyzed 50+ financial institutions, looking at how many keywords they use, their monthly/annual AdWords budget, and then comparing their investment to their asset size and overall marketing budget.

Banks At-a-Glance:

  • On average, banks spend $1 on Google AdWords for every $53,300 in assets they have.
  • Average % of bank marketing budgets dedicated to Google AdWords: 1.9%
  • Median % of bank marketing budgets dedicated to Google AdWords: 3.9%
  • Average annual Google AdWords budget as a percentage of assets: 0.00188% (median = 0.00293%)
  • Banks using Google AdWords buy an average of one keyword for every $37.8 million in assets they have.

Credit Unions At-a-Glance:

  • On average, credit unions spend $1 on Google AdWords for every $9,500 in assets they have.
  • Average % of credit union marketing budgets dedicated to Google AdWords: 7.4%
  • Median % of credit union marketing budgets dedicated to Google AdWords: 9.7%
  • Average annual Google AdWords budget as a percentage of assets: 0.01057% (median = 0.01705%)
  • Credit unions using Google AdWords buy an average of one keyword for every $5.6 million in assets they have.

( Read More: 10 Tips to Maximize Your Bank’s Google Adwords Campaign )

Insights and Analysis

Three of the four biggest retail banks in the U.S. invest relatively little in Google AdWords. BofA, Citi and Chase only allocate around 0.5% of their overall marketing budget to search marketing. Wells Fargo is the only exception: they invest approximately 2% of their marketing budget into AdWords campaigns. In all likelihood, organic search results are so strong for big banks — a byproduct of their size and brand awareness — that they don’t need to pay for ads on search engines. They are probably only investing in geographic areas and particular keywords that need a boost.

Many of the most successful financial institutions on Google Adwords (based on click-through rates) allocate roughly 2-3% of their marketing budget to the initiative.

There is a wide array of variables that can affect an institution’s AdWords budget: number of keywords used, competition for keywords used, keyword bids, daily budget cap, search volumes, geographic targeting, and whether you’re buying broad terms or exact phrases. There can be significant variance in cost between two very similar, subtly different terms (e.g., “checking account baltimore” vs. “free checking accounts baltimore”). You should thoroughly research your options using tools like SpyFu.com and Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner before committing to any course of action.

Financial institutions focused on issuing credit cards spend significantly more on their search marketing campaigns than others. The credit card market is fiercly competitive, and keywords for “credit card” related terms on Google AdWords drive budgets higher.

Financial institutions without branches like Ally, Schwab and USAA have to compensate for their lack of any physical presence with a greater investment in marketing — not just Google AdWords, but across the board. On the low end, Schwab and Ally are spending roughly 10% of their marketing on Google AdWords, while USAA could be spending up to a third or more.

Credit unions spend proportionately more on Google AdWords than their bank counterparts — over 5 times more. Smaller institutions might have to stretch (or even overextend) to find any real traction with paid search campaigns. Another explanation might entail the geographic specificity of a credit union’s footprint.

( Read More: Spy on Your AdWords Competitors with SpyFu )

Banks Using Google AdWords

Bank Monthly
Budget
Keywords
Used
Daily Paid
Clicks
Assets
(billions)
% of
Marketing
Budget
Wells Fargo $2,101,514 35,405 14,900 $1.3 trillion 1.9%
USAA $1,970,925 23,247 17,200 $62.0 38.1%
AmEx $1,063,779 16,409 10,500 $38.5 33.1%
Chase $949,897 25,187 9,600 $1.9 trillion 0.6%
BofA $882,993 26,970 9,600 $1.4 trillion 0.7%
Schwab $804,814 11,833 6,400 $97.9 9.9%
HSBC $727,853 15,811 8,660 $179.9 4.9%
TD Bank $691,560 10,039 5,450 $215.4 3.9%
Ally $626,155 5,107 2,760 $92.1 8.2%
PNC $422,355 9,807 3,780 $298.5 1.7%
US Bank $391,836 7,002 3,480 $356.6 1.3%
BMO Harris $389,507 1,601 2,760 $90.8 5.1%
Citi $380,043 3,147 2,360 $1.3 trillion 0.3%
Citizens $374,310 9,807 2,110 $98.3 4.6%
Capital One 360 $242,302 3,394 1,140 $234.8 1.2%
SunTrust $215,261 6,283 1,980 $167.5 1.5%
1st Bank (CO) $147,692 1,256 1,050 $13.4 13.3%
First Tennessee $130,988 1,876 1,000 $24.0 6.6%
Bank of the West $127,896 574 719 $65.1 2.4%
Frost $121,419 5,846 987 $23.5 6.2%
Key $109,029 371 577 $88.1 1.5%
Comerica $93,256 706 445 $64.6 1.7%
Bank of Arizona $90,901 487 410 $4.6 23.5%
Fifth Third $79,445 892 358 $123.3 0.8%
First Niagara $75,193 739 426 $37.3 2.4%
TCF $59,945 610 327 $18.4 3.9%
ANB $49,482 629 326 $2.1 28.3%
Huntington $47,214 1,091 288 $56.4 1.0%
MidFirst $38,192 467 262 $9.6 4.8%
Simplicity $12,659 29 49 $800 million 18.2%
Banner $6,138 20 25 $4.1 1.8%

( Read More: How Pay-Per-Click Ads Pay Off for Financial Institutions )

Credit Unions Using Google AdWords

Credit Union Monthly
Budget
Keywords
Used
Daily Paid
Clicks
Assets
(millions)
% of
Marketing
Budget
Navy FCU $266,962 4,874 224 $55,503 3.3%
PSECU $183,767 1,260 1,020 $4,119 45.4%
Desert Schools $94,572 459 631 $3,222 14.3%
BECU $87,847 419 559 $11,904 7.9%
Logix $69,791 1,924 695 $3,703 25.0%
Oregon Community $54,486 430 348 $1,182 19.8%
Meridian Trust $47,689 205 268 $284 185.5%
PenFed $40,978 8,710 391 $16,841 4.3%
Cross Valley FCU $35,409 1,041 270 $159 150.7%
Neighborhood $25,863 205 128 $332 38.8%
UICCU $16,608 56 67 $2,161 7.8%
Kitsap $13,408 53 47 $961 14.3%
Delta Community $9,723 274 60 $4,500 2.8%
Generations $8,180 47 37 $438 5.4%
Denver Community $6,546 12 9 $257 17.9%
Columbia $6,227 21 12 $943 3.9%
Colorado $5,688 21 11 $118 65.8%
Tinker $2,525 46 24 $3,139 0.8%
Unitus $2,429 18 14 $933 2.6%
Sooper $2,134 13 3 $276 9.7%
Kirtland $1,956 29 11 $664 2.5%
Marisol $1,251 5 2 $33 21.7%
Fitzsimmons $771 13 5 $165 4.4%

( Read More: Google Data Reveals Banking Trends )

Average Bid for Keywords on Google AdWords

Keyword(s) U.S. Monthly
Searches
Cost Per
Click
Clicks
Per Day
CTR Number of
Advertisers
mortgage 165,000 $6.38 2,300 2.00% 93
mortgage rates 301,000 $6.95 347 1.30% 64
home loan 6,600 $10.97 394 2.20% 59
refinance 22,200 $13.32 495 2.30% 60
auto loan 14,800 $4.71 411 2.50% 59
car loan 14,800 $6.26 312 2.10% 92
home equity loan 33,100 $10.19 65 2.00% 78
credit union 90,500 $4.33 414 1.30% 30
checking account 9,900 $25.80 334 2.40% 81
debit card 14,800 $6.59 154 1.60% 51
direct deposit 9,900 $4.70 57 1.30% 21
mobile banking 3,600 $3.24 24 1.40% 42
cd rates 49,500 $12.29 119 2.00% 57
savings account 8,100 $18.70 306 2.00% 64
credit score 201,000 $8.94 757 2.30% 38
personal loan 22,200 $4.63 333 3.20% 77
boat loan 1,890 $2.12 7 1.20% 72
motorcycle loan 2,400 $4.88 4 1.40% 88
business loan 4,380 $16.41 114 1.90% 89
business checking 870 $23.26 48 2.30% 88
credit card 74,000 $7.88 2,440 1.80% 42

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