10 Clues Your Bank Needs An Online Advertising Tune-Up

How do you know when your online advertising efforts need a tune-up? Here are 10 clues that your financial institution's online ad strategy needs some love.

The signs and symptoms of a weak or ineffective online campaign are rooted in the structure of the campaign setup, as well as how it is executed and analyzed. The evidence can be blatantly clear in some instances, but in others it make take a little more effort to diagnose when there’s a issue. You bring your car to the mechanic when it starts making unusual sounds or when it doesn’t perform as expected. You go to the doctor when you are ill or there is a pattern of unusual symptoms. Take a look at these 10 clues and see if it’s time to send your online ad strategy to the clinic.

1. All your eggs are in one basket. If you are only placing search (text) ads, you are missing out on the branding and visual impact of image display ads. You are also missing out on influential social interaction offered by social ads. Not everyone is ready to buy immediately and by incorporating ads with social and visual content you can plant the seed for when they are ready to make a move.

2. You are running only display image ads. This is often the first step financial institutions take when branching online with their advertising efforts. It’s really easy to execute when a traditional media sales rep says he can run your ad online and he takes care of creating it and placing it for you. But by only doing this, you are missing out on arguably the most important segment of your audience, those researching and ready to make a financial decision, which is in large part found via online search.

3. You haven’t considered the impact of mobile. Mobile has come on strong in the last year. If you aren’t thinking about how to reach people on their mobile devices you are missing a huge portion of the online population. Some campaigns we’ve run have had up to 80 percent of the traffic come from either tablets or smartphones. Most campaigns are averaging 20-40 percent from mobile devices!

4. A search for the word “bank” plus any of your branch towns reveals nothing about you. Not being found in your own local area should be a community bank’s worst nightmare. Remember those Yellow Page ads where you spent a fortune to show up in the sections (banks, mortgages, investments, etc.) you wanted to be seen in? The Yellow Pages of today are found in online search and if you can’t be found via search, you are invisible online.

5. Reams of reports… or worse, no reports at all. Beware of both ends of the spectrum. There should be a respectable, but not overwhelming, amount of reporting coupled with intelligent analysis. Quality counts here. If a report is produced there should be some take-a-way or learning gained from it, not just hmmm that is interesting.

6. You aren’t using a landing page to track campaigns. Landing pages are valuable tools in leading visitors in the desired path. They provide a direct call-to-action about the specific product advertised. If someone called into your bank and asked about an IRA you wouldn’t likely go through the list of all of your deposit products with them. If you are running a campaign for Jumbo Loans, please don’t send people to your mortgage page on your website which lists all of your mortgage products. Use a landing page designed specifically to sell the product you are promoting.

7. Your landing page or your website is not mobile friendly. Landing pages which are mobile optimized respond or change based on the device being used. When someone is viewing the page from a smartphone they should have the opportunity to click-to-call. Online advertising campaign success is as much dependent upon the visitor’s experience when they click, as the creative aspects of the ad and where the ad is shown.

8. You aren’t testing. If you aren’t testing, you aren’t taking full advantage of one of the primary benefits of online advertising. Fundamentally, campaigns should perform better over time. Test landing pages to determine if one design is preferable to another. Utilize variations of ads. Draft a few different text ads, or better yet, create ad groups focused on specific keyword themes. Design different display image ads and sizes. See what works best and do more of that.

9. You aren’t tracking. If your website or landing page doesn’t have analytics installed, that’s a telltale sign of a campaign with critical missing parts. Once you get Google Analytics or another analytics software installed, be sure to code your landing page with event tracking, so that you can get valuable insight into where people are going once they land on your page and which elements of your online campaign is driving that activity.

10. You have entered into a 6-month or longer contract to get the “best rate.” This was how a lot of online advertising was sold five plus years ago, but not today. Today’s online market is the auction, where prices fluctuate depending on a number of unknown (thank you Google!) factors including competition and bids. Don’t commit long-term unless the channel is a proven work horse. For most financial institutions, staying nimble will allow the best chance of success.

There are a lot of moving pieces to an online campaign, even after it’s been built. If you have begun advertising online, use this checklist to improve your campaigns and get the most from your precious marketing dollars. If you haven’t started advertising online, keep in mind that 97% of people start their search for financial products online. That’s an audience you can’t afford to ignore.

Tara Hershberger is vice president of media for Pannos Winzeler Marketing, based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Winzeler is a national leader of interactive marketing and social media for community banks. Website: Pannoswinzeler.com; Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @Tarahersh.

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