“What do I need to open a checking account?” and “What is the best savings account?” are two trending bank-related searches that are becoming popular. In years past, potential bank customers used to put in a utilitarian “checking account” to search banks offering checking accounts. Now, given changing search engine algorithms, better content, and more comfort using conversational searches people are using complete sentences in their search query. As a result, some banks are leaping ahead of the competition by leveraging this trend. In this article, we explore this trend and show how banks can take advantage of this change in bank marketing.
Technology Is Driving Behavior
As technology changes, so does behavior. The rise of Siri, Alexa and other voice-driven digital assistances have made potential customers more comfortable ask full questions when they search. For example, Google reports “do I need” search up more than 65% over the last two years. “How much do I need to save for retirement?” or “Do I need a health savings account?” are just two popular one for banks.
The other trend that plays into this is the production of content by third-parties such as NerdWallet, US News, Forbes, and others. These entities produce reports such as the “The Best Checking Accounts” design to come to the top of your search query when you ask, “What are the best checking accounts?” Content production in this area train searchers to form a search query in the form of a natural language full question.
Google As A Deity
As a result of voice queries and content feedback loops, humans are talking to Google more often the same way they talk to a priest for advice. Google has become a trusted confidant for many questions. Five years ago, people typed in just “bank account.” Over time, this morphed into “opening a bank account” to today where “What do I need to open a bank account?” is rising in popularity.
Putting This Into Action – Intent and Collateral Creation
Smart bank marketers can take advantage of this trend in several ways. Outside of search, bank marketers should consider deriving the intent of a potential customer first and then produce content or marketing collateral accordingly. Usually, a bank marketer would just produce marketing collateral on a savings account. However, leveraging machine learning, we know that intent is what matters. A person looking for a high-interest rate savings account has an entirely different psychographic profile than a person looking for a checking account that sweeps into a savings account to help with tax savings. By adjusting the marketing material, a bank can almost double their effectiveness in the form of more conversions.
Putting This Into Action – SEO
Many banks have robust keyword campaigns to drive search engine optimization (SEO). Banks that want to leverage conversational searches would purchase additional keywords in the form of a question. Below are some of the top bank-related natural language searches and their associated national cost per click (CPC) to purchase the keyword phrase.
In addition to keyword phrase purchases, banks should consider altering their website to include some of these phrases in headlines, highlight boxes, downloadable content, calculators graphics, and frequently asked question pages. Further, banks may want to partner/advertise on related content sites such as NerdWallet and others to drive website traffic.
Banks like USAA, Wells Fargo, and Radius Bank use the above techniques to leap over their competition. Purchase “checking account” and you will pay up to $25 per click to appear at the top of the page. Here you will be competing with about ten banks including most of the majors for the 33,000 searches that take place each month. Purchase “What do I need to open a bank account” and that will have much less competition, have higher click through rates AND cost you around $4 per click to appear at the top of the page.
One insight in bank SEO is that one of the most common bank search terms are around the concept of “How much do I save.” This search concepts manifests itself in many ways but “How much do I save for emergencies,” “how much should I be saving,” “how much should I save for retirement” and so on are among the most popular search phrases in banking outside of location. Of those, one of the most popular is “how much do I need to retire,” a phrase that, in about 15,000 times per month in the United States. Luckily for community banks, purchase that key phrase so your ad comes to the top of the page is a paltry $0.97 per click.
There are also a great many search queries around what it takes to open an account. Next to savings, searches around lines of credit, qualifying for loans and what documents are needed for getting a mortgage are all popular.
Finally, we also point out that while not as popular, searches around “How do I get an SBA loan,” “What is a treasury management system,” “How do I get a check scanner,” “How do I open an HSA account” and millions of other specialty niche banking phrases get about 300 or more searches per month and have much higher conversion values than your average retail checking search.
Also, as can be seen above, one of the most popular searches are location-based searches where a person is traveling, starts a new job, or moves into a new neighborhood. While conversion rates are much lower, you can see the sheer volume can help drive traffic. While any bank with a good location page will come to the top of the search query without paying, we point out that banks may want to try to purchase your competitor’s search terms such as “Wells Fargo near me” if you happen to have a Wells branch near you and you want to try to siphon off traffic.
Optimizing bank search is an evolving art form that is supported by data. Understanding these techniques can not only make your marketing budget go farther but double your return on investment. Try creating more content for natural language searches and start testing the purchases of key phrases to drive traffic.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on September 18, 2019