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Banking on Digital: Marketing Strategies for Financial Services

On Tuesday, July 23, 2019, Workshop Digital and Google teamed up for "Banking on Digital: Marketing Strategies for Financial Services", a webinar that discussed marketing strategies for the financial services industry. David Kinney, Senior Paid Digital Marketing Analyst at Workshop Digital, was joined by Alex Atilano, New Business Manager at Google Marketing Solutions, for an informative, insightful conversation.

Learn as we discuss how digital marketing for banks can help your team drive results. And if you missed the webinar, check out the video below.

Why are moments important in financial services marketing?

“Would your brand have been able to win my moment? That’s the question we’re answering today.” - Alex Atilano

Alex claims we’re living in a world of moments and that there has been a fundamental shift in consumer behavior. Mobile has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven moments. Consumers’ attention spans are much shorter, they’re taking non-linear paths to purchase, and brand loyalty is waning.

Businesses must consider their customer needs in the moment. These are moments of “I want to buy, I want to know, I want to do,” says Alex. Brands must deliver an experience that’s relevant and meaningful. They must consider the immediate needs of their consumers.

How life events shape intent.

Although life and finances are in a state of constant change, events tend to follow a pattern. From entering the workforce to marrying; to family growth and career advancement; to major promotion and retirement: there are predictable changes that prompt new financial account openings.

These changes often revolve around seasonality. More and more, consumers search for information using mobile devices. What does this mean? That digital can help predict user behavior and intent. And that Google can activate on these life events.

“You can engage with these users when they’re in the midst of these important milestones, or when they’re more likely to make purchases,” says Alex. Search intent and machine learning helps uncover the best time to reach audiences—not only through specific keywords, but through the ability to target audiences that are experiencing specific life events.

Google activates on the following components:

Address them like you know them.

Next, Alex reviews how people approach people they know in social situations—those with whom they’ve expressed a shared interest. For example, you'd gravitate to someone with shared interests at a party, right? She extrapolates this scenario into the business world, claiming that companies can now share ads with people who are most likely to engage with their products or services.

This insight can be culled from customer profiles, purchase history based on CRM data, or the fact that they’ve visited a website or app in the past. There are other factors—including search intent and real-time behavioral and interest signals—that draw on contextual data points like location, device, or engagement with platforms and products like YouTube or Gmail.

Regardless of how you understand your audience, remarketing is a powerful tactic. It can provide users with a connected conversation across devices. “This presents an opportunity to personalize and make your interactions meaningful,” says Alex. “It’s timely because you’re reaching customers at their convenience. And it’s efficient as you’re spending budget on those most likely to convert.”

Extend your reach with Similar Audiences.

“If you want to elevate your remarketing game, extend reach with Similar Audiences,” explains Alex. Through data-based information and machine learning, Similar Audiences empowers businesses to extend their reach based on characteristics of people who have previously visited a website. This means they can reach more people who are most like their audience pools.

Alex ends her segment by claiming that data also improves the traditional creative approach. In the past, creative and media worked hand-in-hand to inform campaigns. Now, data has entered the mix and informed the traditional approach. Audience insights from Google Consumer Surveys and YouTube analytics facilitate personalized, targeted campaigns. For example, you can deliver dynamic creative that directly reaches a couple saving for their honeymoon.

Control the message

“50% of consumers could not easily find information to make a sound financial decision.”

David begins his section with this statistic from a Google/Accenture study, which, he claims, illustrates both a disconnect and an opportunity. "This says that there’s a lot of room for improvement in this area," he says. "As a marketer for a financial institution, you should be looking at this as a green flag to improve your digital presence."

So, what do you do? “You want to make sure you’re addressing your customers as people,” says David. This is done by controlling your bank marketing messaging with proven tactics like paid advertising.

How paid search is involved in customer messaging.

Users search online to learn just about everything. As Alex reviewed, they’re searching for things in the moment and when they’re at their most engaged. For a new area of business, first impressions are even more important. And paid search helps banks control their messaging.

“First impressions are important, even more so in the digital space,” said David. “One of the best things about paid search is that those users are already actively seeking your goods or services. You don’t have to worry whether you’re reaching someone who’s interested in your brand, because they’ve already showed intent by searching for something related.”

Without relevant paid advertisements, you run the risk of creating dissonance with your prospects. For example, a lack of brand presence allows outside agents to curate the message. Plus, marketers don’t have as much control of the message on organic search results, especially when there are immediate, major changes that customers need to know about.

PPC multiplies the value of digital marketing for banks.

Next, David discusses how Workshop Digital helped a regional bank handle a major acquisition. While a merger and acquisition is a threat to current customers, he claims that it also represents an opportunity to gain new ones. Customers need to be informed of these changes—and it’s up to the brand to control that message.

“Paid search does not work in a vacuum. It allows you to control your messaging and make sure you are accurately portraying your brand across all your marketing and advertising efforts.” - David Kinney

Paid ads and customized landing pages allow banks to control messaging in ways that organic can’t. They allow them to ensure that ads are accurately portraying their brand across all bank marketing and advertising efforts. This helps control the message across all touchpoints, channels, and product lines. They also keeps customers informed of important, foundational updates—like name changes that may be the result of mergers and acquisitions.

Helping clients control their messaging.

Workshop Digital recently helped a regional bank navigate a major acquisition. While major changes like this come with inherent risks, they also represent an opportunity to appeal to a new audience. However, current customers need to be informed of these updates—and it’s up to the brand to control that messaging.

As David reviews, in our particular situation, we saw a large increase in branded searches during our client’s merger. If users stumbled across organic search results, they would have seen an outdated home page, which would have left them confused and stranded. What’s more, multiple news outlets had covered the merger, which redirected traffic from their page.

Through paid ads, we were able to deliver useful, high-converting pages to our client’s audience. We leveraged messaging focused on building trust and convenience and used different ad copy for current customers, qualified customers, and non-brand searches. Existing customers were promised the same great service; new ones were delivered messaging about an innovative, new bank with convenient features.

Here are some ways that Workshop Digital built and optimized our client’s PPC efforts.

Ad Copy & Landing Pages

  • Created new ad copy and sitelink extensions to inform customers of changes.
  • Dedicated paid search landing pages that consolidated useful information while still driving conversions.


  • Targeted zip codes of each branch with radius targeting to ensure we were advertising to users most likely to open an account


  • Curated separate messaging for customers and non-customers to ensure users were seeing the most relevant information

Promotional Offers

  • Ran a promotion shortly after the merger to entice customers in new geographic areas to open account

After helping the bank navigate its acquisition, we noticed an increase in data. Six months after the account’s inception, we increased branded conversions and decreased branded costs per conversion. Conversions by product type were led by branded mentions, at more than 76%. These positive conversion rates show a successful acquisition. Through branded search, our client expanded into a new geographic market and informed a new audience of their branch.

How can you win moments for your customers?

Ultimately, you must understand your audience. You need to ensure that you're in control of your messaging and that customers are receiving the right information. And you need to make sure you’re treating people as people and reaching them in a way that they expect.

To wrap things up, David leaves us with three main takeaways and claims that if financial teams are able to accomplish them, they're one step closer to digital advertising success.

How can digital marketing for banks help your team?