Your Website: It’s Not the ‘Field of Dreams’

By Amanda Rowe

Your website is your busiest branch. In the present day and age, there’s no getting around that. However, some banks remain hesitant to invest heavily in developing and driving traffic to their website. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t build a new branch and then decide not to put up a sign. Likewise, your website needs a signpost (or two) and directions to help potential customers find it. It’s not the “Field of Dreams”—the old “if you build it they will come” approach does not work. Not without giving people a nudge in the right direction.

Let’s look at some numbers shared recently by a $300 million bank with four branches:

Branch Transactions (all branches combined)

Website Activity

Doing the math, that means they’re getting 824 percent more new visitors to their website per day than all their branches combined.

So, how do you get people to your website?

  1. Launch promotion

Treat your website launch like it’s a branch opening and make a big splash. Utilize product specials with a supporting digital campaign to generate interest and drive traffic to your website. You can also make it fun with a giveaway or a website scavenger hunt to get people excited about exploring your new site.

  1. Search optimization

It should go without saying that in today’s world, ensuring that your website appears in search results is paramount. Having your website optimized for search engines is typically part of the process when the website is built. But that doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. As algorithms change, it’s important that you make updates to your website to account for the new norm. Quarterly SEO scanning can help you stay on top of it so that you can make adjustments to stay current with the latest standards.

  1. Social media

One of the key components of a strong SEO strategy is backlinking, and your bank’s social media platforms are an easy way to accomplish this. Not only does linking to content on your bank’s website across social channels achieve this, but it also gets the information front and center with your followers. Blogs, articles, and educational resources are all ideal content that can be shared across social channels with a link back to your site.

  1. Digital marketing

The most surefire way to drive traffic to your website is through digital marketing. This can come in many forms, ranging from a banner ad on your local newspaper’s website all the way to a fully integrated campaign across multiple digital mediums. And budgets can vary from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Considering all these variables, it can be a challenge determining the best place to start. Begin by identifying the campaign goals, whether that is raising brand awareness, opening checking accounts or increasing mortgages. Then, determine the most effective outlets to achieve those objectives. The bonus here is that, in addition to driving traffic to your website, you’re also helping the bank achieve its strategic goals.

  1. Retargeting

Though this is a subset of digital marketing, let’s discuss it separately. Retargeting provides you the opportunity to bring repeat visitors to your site by staying top of mind. Create audience segments that support your strategic goals, and then develop ads that speak directly to those segments. For example, if a visitor to your site is looking at mortgage rates, the remarketing ad might feature a recent blog post with tips on applying for a mortgage, or it could drive them to a calculator to learn how much house they can afford. By taking advantage of the existing content on your website you can ensure that there is enough variation in the messaging that it doesn’t become stagnant.

  1. Utilizing your data

Along the way, keep an eye on your analytics so you know what is positively impacting your website traffic and which pages people tend to show the most interest in. Use tracking tags or codes on any content you post or digital ads you run, so that you can easily identify the source of any new traffic. Heat, scroll and click mapping will also help you gain an understanding of what visitors are doing once they hit your website. Are they scrolling down your homepage or immediately clicking through to a product page? Analyzing the behavioral patterns of your visitors will help you optimize your site to increase pageviews and session length.

When it comes to supporting your website, there isn’t just one answer. In reality, it takes a combination of all the above to ensure you’re driving consistent traffic to your website. You don’t have to do it all at once, however. Determine the baseline for where you are now and add from there. Use the data at your disposal to track what is working and build upon those successes. Wherever you choose to start—just by recognizing that you need to actively drive traffic to your website—you’ll already be a step ahead.

Amanda Rowe, CFMP is senior vice president of delivery at Pannos Marketing based in Manchester, N.H. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.