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.

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