Bidding & Optimization Strategies for the Modern Search Marketer
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Qualifying the Financial Services traffic that is sent to your sites/landing pages/online applications is becoming a reoccurring theme for the majority of clients. I hear, “Great, my traffic is up because you increased my Click trough Rate; and you also have a lower Cost per Click, but how do I know that I want that traffic?”
It’s a really good question that I think everyone should be asking: How do I get the most qualified traffic available to my site and ultimately convert? In the current economic state, advertisers need to be aware now more than ever that not all users will be eligible for the products you are marketing.
In order to keep marketing costs and application processing fees down, I suggest testing out any combination of these three strategies:
1. Engine Selection – Your placement selection (Google, Bankrate, etc.) will always be based on two factors, budget and acquisition costs tied to that engine. By testing and evaluating performance of multiple engines, you will have a better understanding of how that specific engines user base searches and selects products.
If you live by the idea that Google is the only engine that you need to be in, you are doing your client a disservice by not exploring all of the great “alternative” search engines and rate table aggregators out there. By utilizing these “other” options to drive traffic, Rosetta has seen on average a 10% decrease in conversion costs. This improvement allows for new engine testing, and could even open the door for expanded budget.
2. Keyword Selection – Savvy marketers constantly evaluate their keyword selection regardless of account type, but within Financial Services accounts I propose a more refined approach to assess performance. Search query trends are constantly changing based on what people see in everyday life, so testing new types of keywords (good credit, excellent FICO, high rewards) will allow you to stay on top of how people are searching and converting on your product. Obviously, depending on your product type and targeted consumer, you will need to continually refine your negative keyword list in order to ensure that your ads are showing to your desired audience only, by utilizing search query & sub-phrase reports.
Add in some examples – probably need to make a graph in excel, but here are the google insights for Good credit, and free checking to show how things change
(You can see search traffic vary greatly with reagrds to search volume on such a general search query such as “free checking” over the past few years. This basic representation is reason enough to stay current and up to date with search trends (Source: Google insights for Search))
Targeted Ad Copy – Internet users shopping for Financial Service products are typically concerned with one major factor – Rate. A consumer will sign on for a product with an institution that they know little about, but only if they feel that they are getting a good deal.
Displaying your offered rate in your ad copy lets you put your best offer out there for your audience, builds trust with the consumer and helps make your ad stand out. A displayed rate helps to disqualify traffic that may have clicked your ad and abandoned the application once a rate was disclosed
Since implementing rate focused ad copy, Rosetta has seen up to a 42% increase in Click through Rate (where budgets and overall strategy has remained consistent), in copy where the offered rate was the most competitive offer displayed. Keep in mind that your rate may not always be “best in class”, so I suggest continuing to test various copy options in order to stay relevant and appeal to your full audience. Even with a less than competitive rate offered, you are still only gaining traffic that knows what it will be offered and is dedicated to your brand/product.
Area for Opportunity: Only 2 out of 11 ads are displaying rates on this SERP to help draw attention to their ads opens up space on the SERP for more rate options
Landing Page Functionality –With a strongly focused landing page, you can work to exclude traffic from starting and even finishing your application that most likely won’t be approved. For most financial service advertisers this can significantly reduce backend application processing costs for the institution. Rosetta leverages threes capabilities often for most clients and handles this work in house within their Search & Media team.
Through specific landing page copy, or text, you can let your audience know exactly what type of user you are looking for (through credit type or even desired loan criteria). One extra measure to take would be to implement qualifying drop down boxes on your landing page to act as a lead scrubber. This way you can still encourage clicks while assessing traffic by strength/quality.
By collecting basic customer data on the landing pages, you can direct the stronger leads (desired FICO score, confirmed desired product interest, etc.) into the online application while weaker (less than desired FICO score, desire for product outside of goal, etc.) leads can be directed to a call center representative (contributing volume to the offline channel). Positive impacts seen through drop down implementation have been a 92% lift in online application approval rates, and a 57% decrease in overall acquisition costs. Outside of a sheer cost standpoint, user experience has been improved by sending “weaker” leads to the call center to speak to a representative about all option.
(Gathering information about your landing page visitors can help you determine where you would like to send traffic – online application (strong lead that fits your desired product and FICO requirements) vs. offline call center(lead that may not be ideal with regards to FICO and Product requirements that would be best served speaking with a call center rep))
There is no single, sure fire way to eliminate all traffic that you don’t seem relevant from traveling to your site, online applications, or even call centers. By utilizing any combination of these tactics can help to improve you’re your traffic quality and start to impact your backend marketing costs in a positive way (which is why we do what we do).