A Comprehensive Guide to Retargeting for Banks and Credit Unions

For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting is a wickedly effective tool that helps financial marketers reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away. It's so smart, so powerful and so scalable that every bank and every credit union can — and should — be using it right now.

As the costs for traditional marketing tactics continue to rise and results continue to decrease, effective targeting and marketing media mix has never been more important for the bank and credit union marketer. One way to improve your results is to supplement your investment in offline channels like direct mail, email and mass media with online tools that can optimize your overall investment.

Due to the ability to target interested consumers as they proceed through the purchase funnel, financial marketers are increasingly leveraging digital retargeting to influence financial service buying behavior.

What is Retargeting?

Have you ever done research or shopped for a product online and then realize that the ads on your computer start to talk to you about what you were interested in? For instance, look into new car options on Cars.com, Edmonds.com or another automobile shopping site and you will begin to see highly targeted ads for automobiles popping up like a virtual auto showroom on your computer. This is possible because of retargeting.

If the retargeting is done well, the ads you begin to see will most likely be in the category of car you were searching for (luxury sedan, compact car, minivan) and will almost always highlight dealers in your area because of geotargeting.

It comes as no surprise to today’s consumer that the internet knows almost everything about us due to the tagging, tracking and monitoring that is done on an amazing amount of ‘big data’ flowing in the digital universe. Technology and digital tools have the ability to process our digital footprints almost as fast as we surf the web, predicting what we might do next and what we may be interested in purchasing.

Unfortunately, retargeting is not always perfect (we send a lot of mixed signals during our online sessions), but despite the occasional misfire, the 2012 Display Advertising Study from Bizrate Insights found that the majority of consumers (60%) were neutral on the tactic of retargeting, 25% appreciated the ads because they “remind [them] of what [they were] looking at previously”, and only 15% do not like the process. Also noted was the ‘convenience’ of being able to visit a web site that users already were intending to visit (28%), and the proactive offering of more information on a desired product or service (21%).

From a marketer’s perspective, retargeting allows you to customize the overall prospect or customer experience and maintain consistency across all customer touch points. In other words, the retargeting does not need to stop with online ads, but could extend to email and even direct mail as part of an overarching cross-channel strategy.

Types of Retargeting

The two most popular forms of retargeting are search retargeting and site retargeting, due primarily to the accuracy and scalability of these tools. But there are other forms of retargeting that a bank and credit union marketer should also be aware of:

1. Site Retargeting. With site retargeting, the consumer has already visited your site. By ‘tagging’ them, you can deliver your message as they continue using the internet (like the auto example). Site retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses simple a web code to anonymously “follow” your audience all over the web. All you do is place a small, unobtrusive piece of code on your website — it’s unnoticeable to your site visitors and won’t affect your site’s performance. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the code drops an anonymous browser cookie. Later, when your cookied visitors browse the web, the cookie will let your retargeting provider know when to serve ads. With site retargeting, dentification of intent is important. A customer visiting your site to find out hours of a branch is a much different target than a prospect investigating credit card rates.


2. Search Retargeting. Targets individuals who have searched using keywords or phrases relevant to your business (loans, checking, investments, mobile banking, etc.). With search retargeting, assumptions are made around intent and the consumer’s stage in the purchase funnel. Just because a person searches a term doesn’t mean they are ready to buy, but with more people shopping online before a purchase, this is a very important tool.


3. Email Retargeting. As the name suggests, this tactic leverages the actions taken by a customer receiving an email from you. With email retargeting, it is important to differentiate between a customer who just opens an email, a person who visits a landing site after opening an email and a person who simply discards the email.


4. Social Retargeting. Mostly done with Facebook, this form of retargeting engages consumers who have visited and engaged with your company’s Facebook page (or blog, YouTube site, etc.) using properly placed pixels on keywords.


5. Dynamic Retargeting. This tactic combines search terms used prior to visiting your site with where on your site the prospect or customer visits. This form of retargeting hones in on the intent of the visit and allows for more specific creative messaging.


6. CRM Retargeting. One of the most exciting new forms of retargeting, this form of retargeting takes your postal mailing or emailing list that you will be using and finds the digital address of the consumer’s computer to serve reinforcing ads to. While the match rate still is only about 30-40%, the power of a reinforcing message across both online and offline channels can lift results by more than 100% compared to a single channel only.


Benefits of Retargeting

Retargeting has been found to be a highly effective marketing tactic based on reach, cost and performance. This is because we are reaching out to consumers who have already indicated a desire to search, shop and/or purchase the services we provide. This strategy also is being used more and more for brand. The challenge, however, is that there is limited scalability of this strategy since it only includes people who have indicated an interest as opposed to a mass audience that many online strategies include.

Lloyd Lee, SVP/GM for direct and digital agency New Control, says the benefit of retargeting is clear.

“Among all offline and online channels, retargeting is often the most efficient acquisition strategy on a cost-per-account basis,” Lee explains. “For our clients, retargeting has almost become an ‘insurance policy’ as it ensures that we are capitalizing on all of the traffic we are driving to a client’s site from all of the offline and online acquisition efforts. It is at the core of most of our clients’ digital strategies.”

Tips for Retargeting

As with any marketing strategy, there are certain guidelines that can improve results. Mr. Lee offers these tips to find success:

  • Develop Relevant Audiences – Understand the needs of your customers and places they go to satisfy those needs. For instance, if a customer or prospect has abandoned a loan product page, don’t retarget for a checking account.
  • Creative is Key – Retargeting success is dependent on good copy and design. Clarity of why the prospect should respond and how to respond is the foundation since you only have a split second to get your prospect’s attention and have them take action.
  • Simplicity – Make it easy for your prospect to get what they are looking for. If a prospect responds to a retargeted ad, get them to their desired destination with a single click.
  • Test – As with any direct marketing initiative, testing (and measuring results) is the key to success. Test ad sizes and creative (including visuals, offers, etc.). Test audience selection and networks that you will use for retargeting. Finally, test frequency and cadence of communication.

Opportunities for Banks and Credit Unions

While later to the game than most industries, the larger and mid-sized banks are enjoying the benefits of this digital strategy. Smaller organizations are also starting to test the waters due to the potential for results at a time when budgets are tight.

If you are unsure of whether you should include retargeting in your 2014 marketing plan, simply look at the number of visitors to your site that leave before opening an account, applying for a loan, activating an online banking account or responding to an email or web banner.

Worse yet, look at the number of potential customers that abandon their financial ‘shopping cart’ before completing an online account opening form or credit application. These are people who have been compelled to visit your site and begin the purchase process, and have either gotten cold feet or decided that the number of hurdles you have placed in front of them are too severe. It’s as if a person sat down at your new account desk and left midway through the account opening.

For financial marketers, retargeting is a great supplemental strategy that can improve the results of programs you are currently doing. Test search and site retargeting to get your feet wet or include CRM retargeting to one of your upcoming direct mail or email campaigns. Chances are you’ll be glad you did.

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