Banks: A Lesson in Saving

Jonny Darling Insight Leave a Comment

Irish banks are marketing like fury in a bid to stay liquid. Capital deposits are the bedrock of any bank. Although ECB interest rates are plummeting, banks are grappling for customers by offering competitive current and deposit account rates. We’ve been bombarded by television, print and billboard media that screams out for our business – our money in other words. How does that translate online? Of course, there are banner advertisements dotted all over Irish portals like, but with 81% of Irish web-users visiting search engines every day1, the value of marketing within this channel cannot be discounted.

First port of call will generally be the quick fix – Google Adwords. It’s instant search engine exposure, at a cost. Marketing managers of old relate to this model, whereby creative is built, media purchased, and the campaign goes live. It gets results! Adwords offers a premium opportunity to see in Google results. With 30% of Irish search users clicking on “sponsored links”1, Google ads guarantee digital presence, on a pay per click basis. Where they differ to the traditional mechanic of say, buying screen-time, or negotiating print agreements at a fixed cost, is that the market (Google, its’ advertisers and its’ users) determines how much it will cost to achieve an eye-catching placement on the results page.Returning to the cash-strapped banks, it pays to employ savvy Google Adwords management in determining choice of keywords (those search terms for which the advert appears to users of Google), and instruction on the threshold (maximum cost per click) of willingness to pay. Banks may be tempted to corner the market. It can seem all to obvious – the bank is offering an attractive interest rate on its’ savings account, so for every time someone in Ireland (be careful not to flog financial products to the U.S by default) queries Google in relation to “savings accounts”, the bank’s advert should show up. Do this, and according to Google, bank’s can anticipate a cost of as much as €3.79 a click2!
Instead, go back and engage in keyword research – Google indicates that on average 4,400 searches are conducted a month with “savings account” in mind. Lateral investigation into the minds of Irish Googlers reveals the low-hanging fruit that doesn’t fall far from the savings tree. “High yield savings accounts” is a term typed into Google in Ireland just as many times as “savings account”. Closely followed by “high interest rate savings accounts”, “instant access savings account”, and “high interest checking account”. In-depth understanding into the psyche of the relevant digital market delivers the competitive advantage to leverage campaign initiatives to an efficient, targeted level, where media wastage is curtailed and advertising impacts on consumers at the right stage of the research life-cycle. Think about it logically, will a generic inquiry about savings accounts, or one that specifies that the customer is in the market for an instant access savings account convert more frequently? Immediately with the latter, banks are poised to deliver a savings product to suit, rather than an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all solution. Better still, they’ve saved €3.79 for every visit to the bank’s website, as these niche terms, with lower numbers of competing advertisers3, cost less!

Success with Adwords can be the catalyst that swings marketing managers attention to the rest of the search results page – the natural listings. The attraction of course is that no money changes hands with Google in this instance. For the business to feature in search results, their website must convey through comprehensive, specific content the market needs to which the bank caters. In steps that elusive acronym; SEO (search engine optimisation). All the website optimisation in the world may be in vain however should that priceless consumer insight previously gleaned from Adwords not be employed. In this market-led search industry, an intelligent SEO strategy will heed market signals and adapt to consumer choice. A cursory overview of the Google results pages displays marked differences in how many website pages an Irish bank’s website has to contend with depending on search conducted, 33 million when it comes to “savings account”, vis-a-vis, quarter of a million on “high yield savings account” (7% the number for “savings account”). Given that savings account queries, qualified by product feature, have both search volume, and are proportionately uncompetitive, the green fields of natural search marketing roll out into the distance.

1Interactive Return, survey conducted at Search Marketing World 2009, Dublin, Ireland.
Average CPC varies depending on keyword settings, and advertisement’s historical performance (quality score).
The results page on features 25 advertisers in the sponsored links panel for the term “savings account”. “Instant access savings account” by comparison registers less than half (10) that number of Google Adwords competitors.