Reaching Customers in an Online World

By Adam Baer

You’re a savvy bank marketer and you’re doing everything by the book. You’ve sent your e-newsletter to your ever-growing email list, your print ads are in all the right local papers, and your online banner ad is being seen thanks to your local publishers. But could you be doing more? Is there a better way to advertise your financial institution online? As the world continues to move in a digital direction, these options may give your bank the leverage it needs.

Search engine marketing.

Not to be confused with search engine optimization, search engine marketing (or SEM), refers to the paid search listings that appear at the top of search engine result pages. The most popular search engine is Google, which garners 77% of the global search traffic each year, followed by Bing and Yahoo. The greatest benefit of search engine marketing is that it enables marketers to reach potential customers through each step of the marketing funnel—from those doing research on buying a home to those who are ready to purchase a vehicle and need the perfect auto loan.

SEM is a proactive form of marketing that allows you to reach those actively searching for a product. Imagine a potential customer searches “apply for a mortgage” and the first result they see is yours. That’s valuable messaging and positioning. With the capabilities to reach such targeted prospects you might see higher conversion rates than with other forms of online and digital advertising. SEM is considered part of pay-per-click advertising (PPC), so you pay only when someone clicks on your ad.

Display advertising.

If you’re looking to build brand awareness across the web and want to target consumers who visit high traffic websites and sites that are relevant to your products, display advertising is the perfect solution. Display advertising allows you to utilize many targeting and creative options to reach potential customers.

Options include something as simple as a static image shown across the Google display network (2 million websites!) to a mobile adhesion banner. This type of mobile ad is scroll proof and stays on your mobile screen even as you’re scrolling. Today, reaching consumers on mobile devices is an absolute must. Display advertising also provides data-driven targeting opportunities with programmatic buying. Programmatic display advertising uses third party data to specifically target consumers that fit the profile of someone who is most likely to click on one of your product ads.

Social advertising.

The average person spends nearly two hours per day on social media, so it’s an important advertising channel to incorporate into your online advertising strategy. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the platforms you’ll want to consider focusing your advertising.

  • Instagram, as a result of Facebook ownership, has enormous reach. And it partners with trusted leaders in the marketing data industry to offer high-value targeting options for its users.
  • Are you trying to market a home equity line of credit? Facebook allows you to target homeowners that meet certain age requirements—and exclude those consumers who just bought a home and don’t yet have the need, or home value, for a home equity line of credit.
  • LinkedIn offers the opportunity to reach those in the business community who may be looking for a business credit card or commercial equipment loan.
  • Twitter lets you target potential customers by interest as well as by who they follow.

Video/YouTube advertising.

Ready for a mind-blowing stat? YouTube as a whole—and YouTube on mobile devices alone—reaches more people in the 18-49 age group than any cable network in the U.S.

Are you rethinking your TV buys yet? YouTube advertising offers several options:

  • In-stream video advertising that runs before, during or after YouTube videos
  • Video discovery ads that show alongside related videos in search results
  • Un-skippable 6-second bumper ads that show before, during or after videos.

YouTube is owned by Google so you have access to the same specific behavioral and interest-targeting options that you find on the Display network, allowing you to target consumers that are watching videos related to your products. Like social advertising, video advertising on YouTube allows you to reach large numbers of people and target specific users, making it a powerful marketing option or alternative to traditional TV buys.

Facebook is in this arena as well, allowing you to post videos directly to newsfeeds across mobile and desktop devices. According to Facebook, people return to their newsfeed an average of 14 times a day, providing ample opportunity to get your message to customers and potential customers alike.


Are you converting your website and landing page visitors? If not, do you want to keep your message and product top of mind? Retargeting provides a great opportunity to continue marketing to consumers while they go about their online lives.

Here’s how it works: A consumer who is researching an auto loan finds their way to your website, checks rates and gets a feeling for the type of banking institution you are. They are not ready to make a decision, so they move on. A few hours later they go online to read the news or check the weather, and while they’re finding out that tomorrow is going to be a perfect beach day, they see an ad for your auto loan special.

Social networks also utilize retargeting, so while the potential customer is lounging in the sun and scrolling their Facebook feed, they’ll see an ad reminding them of your low rate auto loan. Retargeting is valuable on its own but can deliver a one-two punch when paired with your other online advertising. Be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want your customers feeling like they are being bombarded by your advertising.

As consumers increasingly rely on the Internet for information, marketing for financial institutions is quickly moving away from more traditional channels. Luckily the online marketing options are varied. And when combined with measurable data they are very powerful in attracting new customers.

Adam Baer is the digital marketing manager at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award winning, full service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, branding, digital marketing, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.