The Most Underrated Marketing Tactic For a Bank

Banks are no strangers to running marketing campaigns. They often have marketing departments managing 10+ ad platforms at any one time. Their digital ad budget is usually focused on a healthy dose of Google Search Ads and Facebook/Instagram Ads.

But one tactic has gone under the radar from many banks. It may even be considered an out-dated or even old-fashioned digital tactic. Yet in many of our campaigns, this platform outperforms Google Search Ads with a lower CPA (cost per acquisition). Any guesses? 

It’s Google Display (or banner) ads! 

Wait, what?!!  Banner ads?  Yep, we were just as surprised as you.

What are Google Display ads?

Google Display Ads appear on most of your favorite websites. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be static or animated.  Because Google Display Ads are within the Google Ads platform, their targeting capabilities are unmatched as in addition to typical banner ad targeting, you can layer in data from your Google Search and YouTube Ad campaigns.

Is every banner ad a Google Display Ad?

That being said, not every banner ad you see is on the Google Ads network.  Many banner ads are managed through various third party ad platforms, also known as DSPs (demand-side platform). These platforms allow advertisers to easily purchase banner ads without the hassles of manual ad optimization.

The issue with DSP-purchased banner ads for banks and credit unions is that with fewer targeting options and automated ad management, their performance suffers. This just reinforces the misperception that banner ads are good for brand awareness but bad at creating new loans and account openings.

Where are Google Display Ads in the sales funnel?

It’s important to distinguish where Google Display Ads appear within a bank’s sales funnel.  So first of all, the sales funnel is a model that illustrates the stages that a customer goes through from when they first become aware of your loan products/accounts to when they become a customer. The funnel typically has five stages: awareness, interest, consideration, decision, and action.

Awareness is the very first stage of the sales funnel. In this stage, customers are just becoming aware of your loan products or account options. They may not even know they need what you’re offering quite yet. This is where many banks focus their Google Display Ads budget.

In the “interest & consideration” stages of the sales funnel, customers are starting to learn more about your offerings. They may be doing research on their own or listening to what others have to say. Many banks start retargeting campaigns utilizing Google Display Ads in this stage. Strategies targeting potential customers in this stage are often referred to as ‘middle of the funnel’ tactics.

When customers hit the “decision & action” stages of the sales funnel, they’ve decided they want a new loan or bank account. They’re just trying to determine the best deal. This is often referred to as “the bottom of the sales funnel” and it’s where banks often focus a large portion of their digital ads budget on Google Search Ads. 

How Are Google Search Ads Different From Google Display Ads?

Search Ads usually have the most conversions associated with them because they only appear when someone is in their moment of need, searching for a specific loan type or bank account.  So your ad appears at the top of the Google search results, they click on it, and that Search Ad gets the credit for the new customer.

Which Google Ad format is more effective for a bank?

Don’t get me wrong: Google Search Ads work very well to create conversions.  But they can be expensive.  So expensive that our marketing attribution data shows that despite targeting potential customers higher in the sales funnel, Google Display Ads often keep pace with Google Search Ads and in some cases, outperform Google Search Ads in loans/accounts produced and CPA!

So if I had my druthers, what would I do?

Alas, we ask ourselves this question a lot…and we should because we’re always trying to optimize ad performance and ad spend on behalf of our clients!  But back to the question, “what would I do?”  I’d focus a majority of the ad spend for three to six months on the tactic with the most conversions/lowest CPA: Google Display Ads.  Then we’d focus on the number of conversions gained and CPA to determine when we hit diminishing returns.  Once this ceiling number is established (and you’ve gained a lot more customers), I’d follow the same ad approach with Google Search Ads, then move on to other ad platforms, higher in the sales funnel.

By the way

There’s a good chance your bank might have a tough time attributing new loans and accounts to specific ad campaigns and ad spends since Google Ad & Analytics data is siloed from your online banking portal data.  In other words, the majority of community banks and credit unions have no way of directly aligning ad clicks to closed loans and new account openings.  But the good news is we’ve developed a solution to empower banks with this level of data insight so reach out to our team if you’d like to learn more.


Top Three SEO Tactics For Credit Unions in 2022

It’s difficult for credit unions (CUs) to rank on page one of Google for many of their highest quality keywords because they must locally outrank national banks. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process used to improve the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). By  optimizing the website content, structure, and on-page elements like titles, meta tags, and anchor text, credit unions can improve their ranking for relevant keywords and outrank the national banks.

To get better results with SEO for your credit union website, here are the top three the most effective strategies to implement in 2022:

Technical SEO

The first step in any effective SEO strategy is to ensure that your website is technically sound and compliant with Google’s guidelines. This means your website must be well-coded, fast loading, and free of any errors or crawling issues.

Having a fast-loading website is a big deal in Google’s eyes.  They do not want to push traffic to a site that takes a long time to load. Some things that credit unions can do to speed up their website include optimizing images, reducing HTTP requests, and caching static files. You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GT Metrix to assess your website’s loading speed and find ways to improve it.

Screaming Frog is a great tool for identifying technical SEO issues on your website. It crawls your entire website and reports on any errors or crawling issues, as well as any duplicate content. 

Ahrefs and SEMrush are more comprehensive SEO tools that can help you improve your website’s ranking in SERPs. It includes a variety of features like site audits, backlink analysis, keyword research, and rank tracking.

It can often take a few months before you see any results from technical SEO. However, if you can fix all the errors and optimize your website for speed, you will see a big improvement in your website’s ranking.

Technical SEO can be intimidating because it often involves (minor) code-based updates, so it’s important to start with the basics and work your way up. So the first step in the technical SEO process is to assess your site speed and identify easy fixes.  Things like optimizing image sizes, reducing HTTP requests, and caching static files are easy to do and can make a big difference in website load speed. Check out GTMetrix to help with this since it’s fairly comprehensive and it’s free.

Next, you should perform a website audit to identify and fix any crawling issues or duplicate content on your website.  We’re big fans of using Screaming Frog to help us perform SEO audits.

Next, you should optimize your website for speed. This can be done by optimizing images, reducing HTTP requests, and caching static files. You can use a tool like GTMetrix to find ways to improve your website’s loading speed.

Create helpful content

One of the best ways to improve your credit union’s SEO is to create content that is helpful, informative, and keyword-rich. This content can be in the form of blog posts, infographics, videos, or even just well-written descriptions of your products and services.

When creating content, make sure to include relevant keywords that you want to rank for. But don’t stuff your content with too many keywords; this will only hurt your chances of ranking in SERPs. Aim for a keyword density of 1-2%.

Make sure your content is easy to read and understand. Use short paragraphs and sentences, and break up your text with headlines and bullet points.

One of the best ways to ensure that your website content is high quality and helpful is to develop a content calendar and stick to it. A content calendar can help you plan and organize your content ideas, as well as schedule and regularly publish them.

When creating a content calendar, it’s important to include both long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals might include increasing website traffic or improving conversions, while short-term goals might be to publish one blog post per week or create a new infographic.

It’s also important to plan out different types of content. This might include blog posts, infographics, videos, social media posts, and even email newsletters. Having a variety of content types will help keep your website fresh and interesting for visitors. For some ideas, use Buzzsumo or search Google News to find relevant news topics to reference to bring your content to life.

Creating and using a content calendar is an effective way to improve the quality and visibility of your website content.


SEO is all about getting your website to rank higher in search engine results pages. One of the best ways to do this is by getting other websites to link back to yours.  This is referred to as a backlink and it helps show Google that your website is valuable and worth ranking higher for specific keywords.

There are a few ways to get backlinks for your credit union website. The first is to focus on getting local backlinks from news outlets, Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or any local trafficked website.  Chances are your CU has been mentioned numerous times but the author of the article did not link your CU in the article.  So you can simply email them and ask them to link back to your site. 

Another way to get quality backlinks is to reach out to financial bloggers and ask them to link back to your site. You can find a list of financial bloggers at sites like Feedly, Alltop, or ProBlogger.

When reaching out to bloggers, be sure to include a brief introduction about your credit union, as well as a link to your website. You can also offer to write a guest post for their blog or share one of their articles on your own social media channels.

You can also create helpful resources, like infographics or eBooks, and then reach out to other websites and ask them to share these resources on their site.

If you create helpful content that is relevant to their audience, most bloggers will be happy to link back to your site. Just be sure to follow their guidelines for linking back, such as using proper anchor text and dofollow or nofollow links.

Getting backlinks from high-quality websites is one of the best ways to improve your credit union’s SEO.

By implementing tactics around these three SEO strategies, you will soon be out-ranking many national banks for many of your keywords.


The Most Powerful Marketing Concept You Keep Ignoring

What’s the most misunderstood, underutilized and even ignored concept in online marketing?

Data-driven analysis

Marketers tend to want to spend all their brainpower of generating killer strategies and ideas, designing brilliant marketing automation, and writing hooky ads. But if you don’t analyze before you create, you’re wasting your money.

In some ways, it’s the oldest problem in marketing. Claude Hopkins, the father of modern advertising, railed against ‘creative’ ads with no analysis behind them a century ago. 

And yet the problem persists in the modern, online age. Even though analysis tools are more powerful than anything Uncle Claude ever dreamed of!

So what does data-driven analysis look like for a business?  Well, it varies a bit based on each situation but here’s how we typically attack it:

  • Analyze user data, Google Analytics, and advertising data to uncover the service or product’s actual aha moment (instead of its assumed aha moment) 
  • Uncover opportunities by analyzing competitor data
  • Utilize surveys to gain deeper insights since data often creates more questions than it answers

Data-Driven Analysis in the Real World

For example, an ag tech company that builds cloud-based drip irrigation software hired us to increase their user base to gain user data and to ultimately increase their retention. 

So, instead of leading with a popular growth hack that’s helped similar startups, we first committed to analyzing their data and making relationships between KPI-based data points they never analyzed.

We followed this following sequence: We reviewed their Google Analytics data and current/past user data to establish their baseline KPI metrics, and compared them to the metrics they were using.

  1. We reviewed their Google Analytics data and current/past user data to establish their baseline KPI metrics, and compared them to the metrics they were using.
  2. We lined up the KPIs for each segment of their product suite, then analyzed the lifetime value of each segment against its specific cost per acquisition.  
  3. We loaded all the data into Microsoft’s PowerBI platform to visualize the trends between these previously separate data sets.

Results That Changed Their Business 

From this we noticed a correlation between their highest-valued organic traffic visiting their most underperforming product segment. This opened their eyes because this product was primarily viewed as a value-add to the main product offering. The data also suggested they were spending the majority of their time promoting the segment that appeared to make the most revenue but to their surprise had the highest cost per acquisition when factoring in the year-long sales cycle; it also had the highest churn rate! This data confirmed the fears of the founders that something was wrong but they couldn’t put their finger on it.

Spotting this trend enabled them to pivot their business by focusing on the value add product to build initial interest, build loyalty, then focus on up-selling their customers into higher tiers of their service.  

The results have been staggering over the past year:

  • 5x client base
  • 68% of clients upgrade to higher tier
  • Churn is down 58% YOY (year-over-year)
  • Retention rate has also improved by 73% YOY 

All of this before one creative ad was ever written.

Growth Hacking For the Win

By the way, it turns out had we started our relationship with this company with that popular marketing tactic that works with many of our clients, they might have gone out of business! That specific hack focuses on acquiring real-time user data from Facebook mixed with grabbing competitor data. Then modeling the competition’s ads and beat them to the punch with a more compelling product, pitch, placement, and price. It works almost all of the time. Yet had we begun our service with this hack, our client might have gone out of business by now because their burn rate was outpacing their sales cycle and they were unaware of it.

This is where businesses waste a ton of time and money: instead of doing the work themselves, they implement tactics and growth hacks that worked for similar companies and get limited results, at best. 

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Aggregate their data (user data, analytics, marketing, surveys, create new data utilizing Facebook)
  2. Create and prioritize numerous tests that can be continuously run
  3. Focus this effort on your entire customer funnel: activation, acquisition, referrals, monetization 


Cutting Through the Marketing Noise

“I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion… If everyone thinks one thing, then I say, bet the other way…”  — Al Pacino as salesman Tony Roma from Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) 

Your greatest enemy as a marketer is not your competition. It’s not the economy. It’s not even the IRS.  

It’s noise.

If your marketing message doesn’t cut through the noise, it will be lost. 

Notice we didn’t say ignored. Nor did we say considered and dismissed. But lost

It will evaporate into the ether without ever being heard or seen by your target customers. It will be drowned out by the incessant din of all the other marketing noise being blared at your potential prospects. All day. Every minute.  

In fact, according to an advertising specialist, Americans are exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 ads and brand messages each day. 

It may sound like marketing is useless when you consider how much competition you’re up against, but marketing done right is still highly effective and offers a worthwhile return. So, how do you cut through the noise to market effectively? Keep reading to find out.

1. Be Where Your Customers Are (And Where Your Competition Isn’t)

One of the first tricks to getting heard by your target customer is to be where your customers are, and where your competition is not.

At a recent seminar, a very successful marketer explained how he had spent a fortune on:

  • Facebook and got thousands of clicks but no conversions
  • Google ads and broke even on his CPA (cost per acquisition) 
  • Email lists and made a few sales but not enough to create any lift

Then he hit the jackpot and raked in a ton of quality leads that converted at high profitability.

What was the traffic source?

Full-page newspaper advertisements!

That’s so old school that it’s downright embarrassing, right?

Not if it helps your target customers find you. In the end, revenue is more important than the “coolness” of a channel.

Many marketers have a preference for trendy marketing channels and will stick with them no matter how much the costs increase or the returns decrease.

When the conversions on Facebook and Google decrease by 25% YOY, the majority of marketers won’t even question the validity of those two channels. 

Instead, they’ll dig their feet in deeper and focus on CRO (conversion rate optimization) instead of trying to reach customers outside of their sandbox.

Now, the newspaper may not be where your target demographic spends their time, but what other advertising media are you overlooking because it’s not trendy or because ‘nobody else is doing it?’

Are you thinking like everyone else? Or are you looking for advertising media your competition has overlooked?

2. Talk About Your Customer’s Challenges (Not Yourself!)

One surefire way to get ignored by your target customer is to only talk about yourself. Talking about your CEO or detailed product features is, frankly, not going to stop your customer from scrolling past your email, social media post, or ad.

If you want to catch a prospect’s attention, talk about the challenges they’re facing. They’ll feel understood, especially if you use the same language they use when describing their challenge themselves. Even better, they’ll feel like you’re a credible option when they’re ready to purchase a solution because you’ve already shown that you understand them.

3. Stop Selling Your Product & Start Selling Solutions

Now that you’ve shown you understand your audience’s challenges, you can start selling your solutions. But don’t confuse solutions for features. 

Instead of selling a credit card with 3% cash back (a feature), sell an easy way for a customer to save up for their next vacation (a solution).

When you sell features, you’re talking about yourself. When you’re selling solutions, you’re talking about your customers. 

Solutions are much more likely to catch someone’s attention because they’re very tangible, plus they speak to something your target audience is struggling with (trying to save money). It shows that you understand them and offer an automated, effortless way to put away cash for something that matters to them, like a vacation. 

Deciding how to position your solutions so that they resonate with your target customer can be a challenge, which is why you need a plan for testing your strategies.

Start Cutting Through the Noise

If you’re ready to stop wasting your time and money on ads that no one will see, then you should start by looking at your data:

  • Customer data in your CRM
  • Google Analytics
  • Competition data
  • User surveys
    • Your goal is to learn about where they spend their time online, where they look for solutions to their challenges, where they look for the solutions you offer, etc.

Then based on your data-driven analysis, create a series of hypothesis-based tests about your customers. Center these tests around:

  • How you acquire clients
  • Various methods to get from a ‘Freemium’ client into a paying one
  • Creating referral incentives
  • Ways to get your existing clients to purchase more services   

Once you’ve determined the kinds of tests you’d like to run, you’ve got to figure out which channels you want to test. Below are some less conventional channels we’ve used in the past to help our clients gain traction.

Less conventional marketing tactics

We recommend picking just one or two new channels first and seeing if you get results. Soon, you should start seeing an impact as you gain market share while your competitors are still duking it out on Google & Facebook. And more importantly, you’ll uncover new customers at a lower CPA!

What are some ways you’ve cut through the noise in your industry and gained significant traction?

If you’re struggling to cut through the noise yourself, it may be time to get assistance with your marketing strategy from a digital marketing company like ours. Get in touch if you’re ready to get started. 

Hairdressers styling a man dressed up as an Hippopotamus

How Well Do You Know Your Clients?

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I Don’t know which half.

-John Wanamaker, advertising and marketing pioneer

This quote gets dropped around marketing circles all the time. Wanamaker lived back in the nineteenth century when determining which HALF of your marketing was wasted was a difficult proposition.

So how has Wanamaker’s quote remained relevant 100 years later? Because advertising has always lacked one essential thing: feedback systems

The feedback systems available to marketers at that time were slow and inaccurate. And the ones that did exist were often ignored by marketers. Why because they thought ‘Getting your name out there’ was more important than testing and tracking.

And the situation hasn’t improved much since Wanamaker’s day because many marketers still refuse to build one of the most powerful feedback mechanisms into their sales funnels: Surveys.

Surveys Help Build Marketing into Your Product

Dropbox owes much of its early growth to surveys.  They asked ‘How disappointed would you be if Dropbox went away today?  40% of the respondents said they would be EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED which indicated they had a very loyal user base.  This lead them to create one of the most successful SAAS referral systems to date.  

At the time, Dropbox was using AWS (Amazon Web Services) for their cloud storage service and they had a ton of excess space.  So by creating a referral program that rewarded their users by increasing their storage space, both Dropbox and their customers got what they wanted: 

  • Their customer’s eyes bugged out when they referred Dropbox to their friends to get up to 32gbs of storage.
  • Dropbox won because this excess storage space within AWS didn’t cost them anything extra. 

As a result of the program, their customer’s LTV (lifetime value) substantially increased and their CPA (cost per acquisition) went down.  This opened up many new advertising channels for Dropbox which put them on the fasttrack for world domination.

And it all started with a survey.

it’s All About Creating Feedback Loops

Surveys are one of the simplest but most profound feedback mechanisms available to you as a marketer. Savvy marketers SHOULD always be gauging their clients? satisfactions and dissatisfactions with their product or service.

Do they love it? If not, what don’t they love? How would they like it changed so they will love it? And once we get them to love it, how do we get them to refer others?

Yes, many of these questions are basic but I find the majority of marketers commit the sin of thinking they know their audiences inside and out.  You may know your audiences better than anyone else in your company but your audiences likes and dislikes are a fickle thing that changes more than we’d like to admit.  So surveys are a great way of aggregating real-time data to optimize your customer’s experience as well as minimizing the steps your potential customers take to discover your product’s aha moment.

Have you had a lot of success utilizing surveys?  I’d love to hear a few questions you use to illicit some great responses!

As we’ve helped businesses gain product market fit and scale growth hacking protocols, we’ve used four to five different surveying tools.  All of them have pros and cons but for my money (partly because it’s awesome and free), Typeform is hard to beat.  Btw, we’re not compensated by them in any way, this is a true recommendation! 🙂