Attribution: The Missing Key to Credit Union Marketing

As a financial institution, it can be very difficult to attribute a return on investment (ROI) on your marketing campaigns. Sure, you can use the Google Tag Manager to track all of your digital marketing efforts on Facebook and Google, but what happens once your potential member applies for a loan? For the majority of community banks and credit unions, they push their traffic to an online banking portal to run their credit. This is where the digital trail of many marketing campaigns goes dark, because Google won't connect the dots between the clicks from your ads to new loan applicants because this data spans across two separate datasets.
Photo Author Crystal from Flickr

As a financial institution, it can be very difficult to attribute a return on investment (ROI) for your marketing campaigns. Sure, you can use Google Tag Manager to track your digital marketing efforts on Facebook and Google, but what happens once a potential member applies for a loan? 

The majority of community banks and credit unions push their traffic to an online banking portal to run their credit. This is where the digital trail of many marketing campaigns goes dark. Google won’t connect the dots between the clicks from your ads to new loan applicants because this data spans two separate datasets.

So why does marketing attribution even matter? 

Being able to correctly attribute ad clicks to loan applicants helps you know if what you’re spending on Google and Facebook ads is effective, which helps trim waste. 

This knowledge will empower you to increase or decrease your budget or even change your ad creative if you discover that an ad you thought was driving traffic to your site is, in fact, not. 

Fortunately, there are many ways that financial institutions can solve their attribution problems and measure marketing results accurately! Keep reading for our top ways to nail your marketing attribution and get the best ROI possible.

Common Credit Union Marketing Tactics

Typically, credit unions market themselves through a variety of channels, such as:

Yet, credit unions have been slow to adopt digital marketing strategies in comparison to large banks. In 2019, just 27% of credit unions said that the adoption of digital channels was a priority. Meanwhile, 63% of banks said the same. 
The biggest opportunities for credit unions lie in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Unlike social media ads and display ads, SEM ads and organic search results appear when a user is actively searching for a solution in a search engine like Google. They may type “credit union near me,” “credit union loans,” or “best credit union San Francisco” and get the following result:

To increase the chances of having your credit union featured higher in the map view search results, you should regularly ask customers to leave you a review.

Factors like the number, quality, and recency of reviews all affect how your business ranks in the search results listing.

Having a larger number of positive reviews also helps you draw in more and better leads because consumers rely upon the referrals of others to make decisions about everything from which running shoe they should buy to which restaurant they should eat at. 

There are many unobtrusive, effective ways to ask your loyal customers to leave you a genuine review. Get a jump start with this article about 16 ways to get more and better reviews

Another very important strategy is to keep your Google My Business (GMB) listing information accurate and up to date. If your operating hours, product offering, telephone number, or any other important business information change, your GMB listing should reflect that. The easier you make it for customers to find you and get in touch, the better.

Challenges With Credit Union Digital Marketing

Compared to large national banks, credit unions tend to have smaller marketing budgets, which is often reflected in how well (or poorly) their websites convert traffic. 

Though they may spend money on paid advertising to attract the attention of potential members, they’ll convert that traffic at lower-than-average rates if their websites are slow, outdated, or provide a poor user experience. 

Since only 14% of millennials and 19% of Gen Xers are credit union members, the average credit union loses hundreds of potential members every month to bigger banks.

This is why attribution is key for any credit union to gain the upper hand over the big banks.

When investing in online and offline marketing efforts, credit union marketers need to be able to track what works.

And therein lies the biggest challenge AND opportunity in credit union marketing. 

Where Attribution Goes Astray

Attribution is important because it puts an accurate value on every piece of your marketing campaign! However, accurate attribution isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem.

For example, when a potential member clicks on a digital ad, goes to your website, then clicks to apply for an auto loan, 90%+ of these transactions are no longer tracked. 

You might be thinking, “Wait, doesn’t Google Analytics (GA) track all the clicks and conversions on our website?” 

Not necessarily. 

You can only track clicks to loan applications if you can compare the IP addresses of applicants and new members with the IP addresses of those who clicked on your digital ads. However, GA does not allow you to export IP addresses from its platform.

But don’t worry, we have a simple way to help you set this up (covered below) so you can track these metrics yourself.

Another challenge is understanding the full cycle of the buyer’s journey and that it usually takes many exposures to your brand before someone becomes a customer. 

For example, many credit unions utilize Facebook and Google advertising platforms. Let’s say that somebody searches Google for a home loan and clicks on a credit union’s search ad and then converts to become a customer. That Google ad is typically given credit for the conversion. 

However, if a proper attribution system were in place, the credit union would have learned that before that person clicked the Google ad, they had first clicked on three Facebook ads over the previous 6 months. Only when the person finally found a home they liked did they search Google and click the ad there. 

In this example, Facebook ads played a crucial role in brand awareness and building trust (which moved the customer through the buyer’s journey), allowing the Google ad to convert months later when the time was right.

Without correct attribution, a credit union may think that their social media ads aren’t converting effectively and reduce their budget. However, in reality, those social media ads played an essential role in capturing new business and should remain a priority.  

How Attribution Improves Your Results

Creating an attribution process that acknowledges the customer journey is such a huge opportunity to improve your marketing strategy. It allows credit unions and community banks to level the playing field with national banks because, despite their size, the majority of national banks have still not installed an attribution model.

So what is attribution? In a nutshell, attribution means assigning an output to a particular input. In our case, you can assign a new member signing up or a new loan application back to a specific ad. 

With accurate attribution, you can discover:

  • Which ads are most effective
  • Where you’re wasting money
  • Where to focus your marketing campaign going forward 

Pretty good stuff, right? So let’s get into the technical side. 

How To Solve Marketing Attribution Issues

Now that you understand the opportunities that attribution presents, let’s look at how you actually set it up. It takes just 5 simple steps.

  1. Choose An Analytics Platform

Google Analytics is great to track clicks on your site, and you can even track specific conversions on your banking portal, but there’s a limitation: GA will not give you the names or specific IP addresses of traffic that came through the website. To get your attribution right, you’ll need to rely on more than just Google Analytics.

We recommend using Mixpanel, a third-party analytics platform that allows you to drop a pixel on all of the traffic that enters your website. Mixpanel will allow you to automatically align the IP address of an ad click to an IP address of a loan applicant or new member. 

  1. Download A List Of IP Addresses 

Then from your banking portal, download a list of everyone who signed up to become a new member or applied for a loan in a set time period, and make sure the list includes IP addresses.

  1. Compare The IP Addresses With Ad Clicks 

Using Mixpanel, compare the IP addresses of newly acquired customers and/or loan applicants side-by-side with IP addresses from ad clicks. 

  1. Compare Phone Numbers Too 

In addition to IP addresses, you’ll want to integrate data from phone numbers as well if you include them in your ads. 

CallRail is a great tool for attribution because it lets you set a different phone number for each of your ads (but still seamlessly routes all customer calls directly to the main line of your business). It makes it really easy to track which ads are getting more phone calls. 

Just as with IP addresses, you can download a list of customer phone numbers entered into your banking portal against the numbers used to call from an ad.

  1. Automate The Comparison 

You can monitor your conversions in real-time using the Mixpanel dashboard. Or if you already have a robust CRM, you can utilize Zapier to set up a marketing automation and automatically compare the IP addresses from your banking portal conversions, phone calls, and ad clicks.

Setting up attribution might seem daunting if you’ve never attempted to do so. However, if you take just one step at a time, it’ll all be set up and ready to use in just a few weeks. Then the fun begins as you start tracking and assigning better values to your marketing efforts. 

Future-Proof Your Credit Union Now

Some notable credit unions have recently closed their doors and other community banks have consolidated into larger banks to survive, which means now is the time to invest your resources into attribution. Utilizing your marketing dollars to the best of your ability will help you gain a competitive edge and attract more great customers to your institution. 
If you’re not sure where to start with your marketing or want an expert eye to help you set up attribution and analyze the results, get in touch with our team. We’ve helped many community banks and credit unions like yours grow their business with smart, strategic marketing, and we’d love to help yours too.

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