For the most part, the financial services industry has taken to the web and is engaging in customer acquisition using modern techniques. Search marketing.
Search marketing is different than advertising on social media. On social media, a financial services brand can target by interests and demographic attributes. Search marketing is actually further down the funnel. When someone types a search term into Google, there is already an intention to find something. Getting search right can reap powerful results.
It turns out that 41 percent of marketing executives have never tracked how their competitors are performing in paid search, according to Adthena. Yet when surveyed, CMOs at financial institutions ranked their own performance ahead of their competition (70 out of 100).
It's not just fintech firms outperforming the big banks. Large FIs have learned and gained competence in search. Five of the top 10 companies in the finance search market are in the Fortune 100.
There are banks that are excelling at search marketing. A recent report by Adthena pitted 150 financial institutions against one another to see who was outstanding and who was lagging. Using an AI-powered, Whole Market View, the research firm analyzed the finance search market and created the CMO Search Intelligence Index.
This information is important for CMOs who can use this data and rankings to benchmark their own search marketing activities. It also helps them to learn best practices from the FIs with a good handle on SEM.
Bank of America ranks atop the leaderboard for SEM. The blended score combines Market Leadership, Search Excellence, and Brand Ownership. Other names like Citi, Allstate, and GEICO were missing from the leaderboard, bringing into question the strength of their SEM.
When it comes to Market Leadership, Bank of America excelled in its search term coverage and share of impressions and clicks. "To hold its perfect Market Leadership score, Bank of America must continuously monitor the search strategy of its top competitors and maintain a strategic advantage," the report said. "It can also expand its search term coverage to reach a wider audience and grow its market share."
Rankings for Search Excellence are based on search efficacy and efficiency. This shows through in click through rates, cost per click, and the average position of search results. Bank of America shines here too. It's worth mentioning Hilton, which through its credit cards competes on search as a financial services firm.
"To continue to defend its leading position in Search Excellence, Hilton should review its customer journey and ensure it’s providing a clear and valuable call to action at every stage to drive further engagement," the report recommended. "The company can also closely monitor new competitors entering the credit card search market, as increased competition can have a big impact on its performance.
Lastly, Brand Ownership has to do with the value of a company’s brand in SEM. Companies must defend their brand and keywords with SEM, ensuring that competitors don't move into their turf.
Companies performing strongly in this attribute use their brand effectively, capitalizing on searcher intent and making it easy for prospects to take action. If a company performs poorly in Brand Ownership, customers may find it difficult to find a company online, diminishing the value of a brand (on and off search).
Here, Wells Fargo scored 97, ranking near the top of the results. The firm's highest score was in this Brand Ownership category, helping make it a leader in the finance search market. "The bank effectively presented its brand throughout the customer journey, maximizing its transaction opportunities and brand exposure," the Adthena report said.