Budget Season for Banks, Part 2: Where to Spend Marketing Budget

Posted by Mikki Ware on August 3, 2017


In part one of our series on Budget Season for Banks, we discussed the importance of reviewing the past year in marketing. What did you spend, how much, and what was the return on investment? What processes could be improved, and what tools do you need to accomplish your goals? The key to moving forward, is to look back at what worked, and what should be benched. Once you have reviewed your year, it’s easier to allocate budget to high performing initiatives and the tools needed to execute them.

You have, no doubt, heard about the “digital disruption” in fintech – social media, mobile banking, AI, and payment services have taken the banking industry by storm, changing the way banks and financial services companies do business. Some businesses have even started allocating “innovation budgets” to cover technologies that might spring up during the year.

According to Business Insider, more than 40% of banks have dedicated more than a quarter of their budget to digital initiatives.

As you begin planning for 2018, and have ear-marked digital as one of your goals, here are four channels to consider:


Social Media Advertising

Facebook offers targeting by demographics, behavior, interests, and allows you to create custom audiences for each campaign. Choose your placement, boost posts, and define campaign objectives. The benefit of Facebook advertising, beyond the ability to create hyper-targeted campaigns, is cost effectiveness. Set a daily, weekly, or monthly budget (as little as $20 for a week), and Facebook takes care of the rest.

Average CPC: $0.55 (Nanigans)

Twitter provides the same targeting options as Facebook, as well as device and keyword targeting. Create sponsored tweets that include images or GIFS, and set campaign goals such as clicks to your website, mobile app promotion, or increased engagement. The benefit of Twitter advertising is the ability to cut through the noise on Twitter and reach your targeted audience.

Average CPC: No data published

LinkedIn is similar in targeting to Facebook and Twitter, including an option for sponsored content. Target by job title and function, industry and company size, or by seniority. You can also use Sponsored InMail for sending personalized messages directly to your target audiences. LinkedIn is valuable for loan officers or financial advisors who need to reach referral partners, or prospects who might not be on Facebook or Twitter. However, LinkedIn tends to be a bit pricier in terms of cost per click.

Average CPC: $5.74 (Hubspot)


Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is on the rise, and set to account for 58% of all online advertising in 2018, according to a recent study. Don’t think of mobile ads are limited to display ads showing up in Google or Yahoo; in-app advertising is the new darling of mobile. As consumers spend more and more time on app-based mobile devices and smart phones, it makes sense to leverage your bank’s mobile app by hosting a few ads. Research firm Technavio found that in-app advertisements tend to have higher conversion rates. Don’t have a mobile app? Make app development priority number one for the new year!


Paid Search

While you’re spending money on advertising, it couldn’t hurt to throw a few bucks into Google and/or Bing. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) gives your search rank a boost, and offers a variety of options for display and retargeting. Paid search can be a bit trickier, as it involves keyword research and basic knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO). Buying expensive, broad match keywords, or failing to exclude negative keywords, can result in your ad turning up in irrelevant searches, high cost per click, and poor quality leads. How much you spend depends on your overall budget, but on average, retail banks spent $1 for every $53,000 in assets.


Social management & compliance software

You’ve obviously got your work cut out for you in 2018, and with all this momentum, it would be tragic to let your social media presence suffer. Create efficiencies and reduce friction with your compliance team by investing in technology. Software ranges from the very inexpensive ($0 per month), to the very high-ticket, on premise platforms in the $60-$70k a year range, and all points in between. Generally, software companies will charge an annual subscription, plus monthly user fees. So, before you start researching, make decisions about what features are “must-haves” versus “nice-to-haves.”

At a minimum, bank must-haves are:

  • Archiving
  • Approval processes
  • Team management
  • Web and social media monitoring
  • Multi-network publishing
  • Web-based/in the cloud

Nice-to-haves might include:

  • Content management
  • Professional services 

No matter how much you plan to set aside for digital initiatives, these four channels fit most budgets. Don’t feel you should dive in cannonball style – choose one or two that jive with your goals and save the others for 2019. Grow your budget as your digital strategy becomes more sophisticated.

In the third and final installment in this series, we’ll take a more in depth look at financial technology (fintech), and what might be on the horizon in 2018.  


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Topics: social media management and compliance, budget season

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