Using Integrated Media to Position Financial Services Company As Industry Thought Leader

Brief

Coegi’s financial services client wanted to use content marketing to establish themselves as a marketplace leader by growing brand presence alongside a competitive landscape and providing value to financial professionals and consumers through retirement planning content that educates, supports, and inspires action. 

To accomplish this, Coegi and the financial services firm strategized to establish a B2B2C content strategy focused on reaching both financial professionals and retirement-aged consumers through partnerships with well-known publications.

Highlights

17.8
Million Impressions


188,000
Clicks


110,000
Total Engagements

Challenge

The brand leverages a B2B2C model. While the majority of their objectives focus on targeting financial audiences, it is also important to increase brand awareness with consumers to aid in the sale of their products.

Their primary national advertising objectives are twofold:

  1. Brand Awareness – Increasing awareness of the corporate brand across consumer, financial professional, and prospective retail audiences. 
    • Extending their brand promise and messaging into the B2B space
  2. Thought Leadership – Establishing brand recognition and trust among financial professionals and consumers 

The brand had an opportunity to increase brand awareness with consumers. The data showed that unless they were already customers, consumers were less familiar with the brand. The consumers that did know the financial services firm believed their key differentiators were their ability to grow their investment and provide competitive fees. But there were bigger issues at hand:

  1. Consumers were still learning about annuities in general and, therefore, were difficult to convert into purchasers
  2. Financial professionals were not frequently recommending annuities, including the client’s

Solution

Partnering with the brand, we focused on the following key areas to help gain market share:

  • Helping change financial professionals’ perspectives about the value of annuities 
  • Positioning the brand as a trusted leader in the annuity space
  • Explaining how the brand’s solutions can provide value within a sound financial plan and, in turn, how it will help the financial professional grow their business

Based on the brand’s content calendar, the teams assembled a smart strategy to show Coegi would use content marketing partnerships and advertising to help raise their market share by slightly over 1%:

  1. In a traditional advertising driven industry, we would lean harder into digital channels to keep up with innovation, connect with users, and build a data-driven strategy that would differentiate them from competitors.
  2. We would focus these dollars to more cost efficient and effective channels that align to a digitally-minded consumer.
  3. We would work alongside established publishers to continue to build its digital presence and opportunity via a content strategy that would solidify their position as an industry thought leader.

Choosing digital content partnerships required an exercise of evaluating: audience, content quality, distribution, reach and value. This analysis pointed to these front runners: Kiplinger, Investment News, Bloomberg and Barron’s. The goal was to maximize reach with large publications (Barron’s & Bloomberg) while maximizing engagement with niche publications (Investment News & Kiplinger), authentically aligning the publisher’s editorial content with the brand’s subject matter experts. 

Results

Across four publishers and twelve pieces of content, the campaign generated a total of 17.8 million impressions, 188,000 clicks, and 110,000 total engagements from October – December 2022. Niche publications like Investment News and Kiplinger had the highest engagement rates, both publications reaching an average time on page of over 4:00, while larger publications like Bloomberg and Barron’s garnered the largest reach, with 10M and 15.4M unique views respectively. Consumers resonated with a more indirect approach to annuities by tying content to timely, relevant topics such as women and the recession, while financial professionals resonated with a more direct approach. Coegi extended content reach across platforms by layering programmatic and social campaigns, accounting for 28% of overall impressions.

The Kiplinger content piece “How to Get Retirement Income You Can Count on for Life” had the highest page views (24,516) and longest average time on page (4:39), indicating the importance of applying statistical research in a relevant, easy-to-digest format. Investment News podcasts garnered an average of over 1,000 downloads, on par with their engagement benchmark for Retirement Repair Shop, and “Demographics & the Coming Retirement Crisis” had the most downloads with a final count of 2,184, exceeding the benchmark by 118%. 

Bloomberg exceeded their contracted content impressions by 26%, and shorter, snackable content performed better on publications with high reach and numerous sponsored placements. The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s content “Psychology of Retirement Planning” program delivered 43,000 page views, exceeding the page view goal by almost 40%, while “Retirement Uncertainty” resonated with financial professionals and high net worth individuals, resulting in strong engagement as users spent 40% more time than average.

Key Takeaways

Through data-driven media and targeting recommendations, relevant content partnerships, and innovative thinking, this campaign was able to reach the target audiences in authentic environments by providing educational and informative content. This success was driven in part by tailoring content to different audiences and platforms, and applying statistical research in a relevant, easy-to-digest format. As the partnership between Coegi and the financial services brand continues, we will no doubt continue to see impressive results and strive to keep finding innovative solutions to enhance the traditional financial services advertising model.

Growing Scale and Efficiency Reaching Financial Services Professionals with Search Marketing

Brief

Coegi works closely with a financial services company whose advertising focuses on establishing themselves as a marketplace leader by growing brand presence alongside a competitive landscape and providing value to financial professionals and consumers through retirement planning content that educates, supports, and inspires action. 

This financial services firm partnered with Coegi to reach financial professionals and retirement aged consumers through a B2B2C omnichannel strategy. One component of this strategy included search engine marketing, which presented robust opportunities though with initially limited scale. 

Highlights

-92%
Cost per Click and Cost per Action


2,504%
Increase in Impressions Served Against 1st Party Audiences


$4
Cost per Action Compared $49 Before Optimizations

Challenge

The financial services company wanted to drive sales growth opportunities by engaging with prospective advisors through relevant content, utilizing first party CRM lists across a variety of channels to ensure media was reaching their specific audiences. The pull nature of the search channel resulted in minimal scale and high costs, impeding the impact of this channel within the media ecosystem.

Solution

In order to continue to reach these niche first party audiences while maximizing exposure across all possible channels, the team incorporated discovery ads. Adding this placement provided a higher volume of page visits at a lower CPA while maintaining tight control on users exposed to the ads.

Results

By expanding inventory to include discovery ads, the team was able to lower CPA and CPC by 92%, while increasing impressions served against the first-party audiences by 2,504%. This shows the importance of utilizing all inventory options to maximize platform results.

3 Ways AI is Shifting the Search Marketing Landscape

With the rise of AI-powered technology, user search behavior is in a constant state of change. Voice assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, have transformed search queries into colloquial conversations. Google Lens has made visual searches a reality. ChatGPT has emerged as a new prompt-based search engine. All of these developments create new ways of searching and present a challenge to marketers to determine how to navigate the search landscape as user needs and preferences evolve.

The Continuous Evolution of Search Behavior

Voice Search

Speaking to technology as if we are conversing with a friend has become a natural instinct in this new tech age. Picture it. You’re driving to your parents’ house for dinner and notice you’re low on gas. What do you do? *raises phone to speak* “Hey Google, can you tell me where the nearest gas station is?” Voice assistants have created an easier, frictionless, and in this case, safer option for getting the information you’re seeking in lieu of physically typing your query into a search bar. More than 1 billion voice searches occur each month globally, which is predicted to continue to grow. 

How should marketers adapt?

In response to the longer, question-based queries that voice assistants have introduced, search teams must modify their approach to keep pace with changing search behavior. Since 27% of voice searches take place on mobile devices, it’s critical that marketers either maintain the mobile-friendliness of their brand’s site or create a microsite that is optimized for mobile devices. A mobile-optimized site will create a more seamless search experience for users who start their quest for information using a voice assistant. It’s also important to develop a content strategy on your brand’s site based on keywords related to your product and/or service offerings in order to rank higher on search results pages. Quality content increases the likelihood of being the trusted source selected to answer a user’s voice question.

The gas station example also alludes to the fact that voice searches are used frequently in a local context. Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) teams need to collaborate together to develop a local search strategy to ensure your brand is at the fingertips of a user’s inquiries regarding surrounding businesses and services. If applicable to your brand, maintaining a local-friendly site as well, including store locations and hours of operation, will help place your brand at the forefront of a local-based search. 

Visual Search

Advances in technology have made visual search another avenue for information seekers. Google Lens, which launched in 2017, is the predominant platform leading the way for visual search. To visually search, a user can either upload an image directly from their camera roll or capture a new picture in the Google app, and Google will analyze the image to provide relevant image and content results. For example, if you come across a plant on your morning walk that you want to know more about, you can take a photo and Google will provide relevant search results, such as the plant’s name, care instructions, or a shopping ad of a local nursery where you can purchase said plant.

Google shared that people use Lens for 12 billion visual searches per month, which is a 4x increase in just two years. With this kind of YoY growth, visual search most certainly needs to be a consideration when planning a brand’s search strategy.

How should marketers adapt?

Visual search makes product images the hero of the ad, so it’s key for marketers to focus on creative. Maintain your brand’s product catalogs, ensuring all offerings are up-to-date and highlighted with high-quality imagery. For example, if you’re promoting travel coffee mugs, having all color options available in the product catalog will provide a seamless search experience. If a user visually searches for a pink mug, the product ad will provide a link to purchase the pink mug that best fits their interests.

It’s also imperative to understand which visuals drive your audience to make that all important click to navigate to your brand’s website. Creative A/B tests should be a core component of your search strategy in order to nimbly optimize toward the highest performing images.

Generative AI

Let’s not forget about the elephant in the room – Generative AI. AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT, have emerged as a supplementary search engine. Currently, ChatGPT generates responses for 10 million searches per day compared to Google at 8.5 billion searches. While Google firmly maintains first position in the search volume leaderboard, ChatGPT search volume continues to grow, and therefore, must be proactively accounted for.

How should marketers adapt?

Generative AI chatbots are creating a rise in colloquial, prompt-based search queries which will flow over into conventional search engines. As a result, marketers should deploy new long-tail keywords to keep pace with these new search queries. In addition, these longer phrases will require a marketer to distill intent and provide relevant, concise information within the ad or evergreen website content to help keep engagement high. 

Generative AI can also be utilized as a research tool to inform your brand’s content strategy. Monitoring chat bot inquiries can help you understand what consumers are frequently searching for before purchasing a product or selecting a service. As general themes are identified, create content that proactively answers those questions and update it regularly based on changing inquiries.

AI is igniting rapid changes in the search landscape. The key to navigating these uncharted waters will be understanding the impacts to search behavior and the changes in consumers needs and preferences. Maintaining a nimble, test-and-learn approach will help marketers find the secret sauce to their ever-evolving search strategy.

Paid Search Strategy: Fundamentals Before AI

In 2023, paid search strategy conversations are being peppered with never-ending buzz around GPT and advanced automation. With the possibility of Google losing its lion’s share of the search market, along with rapid tech evolution taking center stage and reshaping SERPs, search marketers need to be diving in to understand and apply these trends headfirst. 

Right?

Well…yes and no. Being at the forefront of digital transformation is a must. However, this cannot be at the expense of abandoning tried and true best practices. 

We must embrace AI and emerging technology, while maintaining fundamental marketing tactics, in order to create a sophisticated, yet flexible paid search strategy that supports the business goals.

The Value of Going Back to Basics

Truth: AI algorithms will drive efficiency and conversions for your goals.

False: AI algorithm will drive the RIGHT efficiencies and conversions for your goals. 

If your efficiency is producing lower cost per clicks but lower quality website traffic, it’s no longer efficiency at all. Without proper inputs and guardrails, AI can begin optimizing to a keyword that is not driving results or the wrong conversion metric for your key business objective. This is why I encourage all performance media practitioners to be cautious about over relying on automation in your paid search strategy. 

So before you begin exploring the latest tech advances, make sure you master the three key fundamentals of paid search advertising:

  1. Measurement
  2. Research
  3. Optimization 

Paid Search Advertising Fundamentals

#1 – Measurement: What’s Working and Why?

Testing new paid search strategies and ad formats is all well and good, but those tests need to be strategically set up and measured to ensure they are feeding into your broader marketing strategy and business goals. Identify the leading indicators of success for your search campaign using both front-end and back-end tracking.  

The prevalence of zero-click search makes tracking front-end metrics more complicated, but also more important than ever. Find creative ways to monitor if your content is adding value and optimized to show up in featured snippets or other rich results? Complementing paid search efforts with organic SEO is key to success here. 

On the back-end, look at meaningful signals, such as time on site, path to purchase, and exposure-to-conversion frequency requirements. These insights will help you improve campaign effectiveness and refine the customer journey. 

Lastly, use search volume tools and in-platform forecasting to identify the budget required to reach your share of voice, impression and reach targets. 

Client Application: We consulted a large swimwear brand on their search strategy. With a list of over 46K target keywords, they faced a nearly impossible task to understand share of voice and make smart optimizations. We made these recommendations to streamline their search strategy: 

  • Consolidate spend to hours when people are most likely to be searching for swimwear
  • Group themed keywords together to better understand intentionality and select the best keyword + ad option to serve 
  • Create larger ad groups to allow machine-learning to learn faster and deliver better performance 

#2 – Research: Aligning the brand and the user

Now, with a strong foundation of measurement beneath our feet, we can craft a sound strategy by knowing the business inside and out. 

First, analyze the brand’s position in the marketplace. 

  • How much share of voice do you have for branded vs non-branded terms? 
  • How intensely is the competition spending in your core markets? 
  • What pricing/brand power exists for the category? 

Tip: If you already own the category, don’t waste money by overinvesting in branded search. 

Second, evaluate opportunities and highlight the unique value proposition for the brand’s products or services. Keyword research, competitive analysis and audience understanding should all play a role in the search ad copy and creative content. 

Tip: Incorporate your audience’s language in your search copy – use their lingo, not your own.

Third, support conversion-based ads with more educational content. Highlight thought leadership articles, how-to videos, landing pages and downloadables to prime your audience. Even within the shortened conversion window of performance media, relevant, high-authority content can play a large role in the user decision-making process (and your SERP ranking). 

Tip: Create your organic and paid search strategy in tandem to make this process seamless.

#3 – Optimization: Fueling the improvement loop

Searching for a surefire way to continually improve your paid search strategy? Look no further than an iterative test and lean process. There are numerous things you can test, just be sure to manipulate one variable at a time so you can understand which actions are impacting your outcomes. 

Here are a few common things we regularly test in our paid search strategies: 

  • Broad vs exact vs phrase match keyword targeting (in-market audiences vs new users) 
  • Google vs Bing
  • Various audience groups and layered targeting
  • Ad group and keyword variations 
  • Copy and creative pairings using dynamic ad insertion

Start by testing the most basic elements of your campaign. Make sure you’ve established statistical relevance, then adjust and refine as you go. This will establish a sound SEO taxonomy to expand upon. 

Timing also comes into play with paid search optimization. Consider the following tactics to stretch your search budget: 

  • Dayparting: Create a time window to run paid search campaigns based on when users are most likely to be searching. For example, your local Starbucks may only run search ads in the morning. Google Ad Scheduling offers insights into peak search hours. 
  • Day of Week: Select particular days to serve search ads based on audience behavior.  For instance, B2B brands commonly only run search on weekdays. 
  • Seasonality: If your business is impacted by seasons, holidays or major events, ebb and flow your budget accordingly to maximize efficiency. Read how Coegi leveraged seasonal search to drive year-end giving for a cryptocurrency brand

Next Steps: Amplify Your Performance With Technology

Technological advances will only continue to enhance the discovery experience. Creating a fundamentally sound search strategy with flexible options will allow for opportunities to scale and take advantage of these newer search trends and capabilities

Remember: AI won’t work for you unless you set it up for success with the right fundamentals of measurement (to the conversions that matter), research, and data-driven optimizations. 

For more best practices view our Paid Search 101 article.

Paid Search Advertising 101

Do you ever wish you could wave a magic wand to drive your customers through the sales funnel faster? Something that cuts the time needed to build awareness and pushes them straight through to consideration? Good news – one of the most tried and true digital marketing tactics can do just that. Enter: paid search advertising

Organic Search vs Paid Search

When looking at search engines as a marketing opportunity, it is important to know the distinction between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Pay-per-Click (PPC) Advertising. 

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to be more appealing to search engines. This increases the chances that your site will show up organically in search results. SEM is a marketing channel where you create search ads to show when specific keyword queries are searched and then pay when your ad is clicked. 

While you can implement some aspects of SEO in a SEM campaign setup, SEO primarily requires time and human resources to optimize website content and performance whereas SEM requires that plus financial investment in search networks such as Google and Bing. The best results occur when SEO and SEM are integrated and seamlessly optimize toward your overarching business goals.

Broad Match, Exact Match and Phrase Match: Keyword Targeting Options

Exact match keywords are what they sound like: targeting searches that match exactly to your target keywords. Broad match expands your reach to show your ads in searches related to your terms. An example of a broad match targeting is if a brand targets the phrase “low carb diet plan” and then has their ad show up when “Mediterranean diet book” is searched. 

Phrase match provides a middle ground between in between exact match and broad match. With phrase match, your ad will show up for searches that include your targeted terms but can include other relevant words. These other relevant words are often adjectives and additional descriptors helping the user narrow their search, but your ad will still show.

Use a strategic combination of these keyword targeting options to show up in the highest opportunity searches for your brand. 

Responsive Search Ads vs Dynamic Search Ads 

Responsive search ads are the most common ad type within Google Ads. This format allows marketers to add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. The search algorithm then cycles through and tests, optimizing towards the combinations driving the greatest amount of desired actions based on your campaign objective. Responsive search ads are great for those looking to create flexible ads that can be tailored to reach and influence multiple audiences. 

Dynamic search ads pull headlines and other ad content directly from a brand’s website. These are excellent for targeting people who know exactly what they want and are using intent-based search terms. Google’s algorithm can pick up on things from your website that you may not think to add manually. If you are looking for an ad format that constantly updates with your website, dynamic search is a great choice.

Best Practices for Paid Search Campaigns

Building a search campaign differs from programmatic or social campaigns. Audience data targeting is of lesser importance. Instead, targeting keywords in your search campaign that are most relevant to your audience’s queries is of the utmost importance. Conduct in-depth keyword research to understand what people are searching, how the target audience speaks, and what information is most valuable to them. Then, further the reach of those terms using both broad match and exact match search terms. 

To maintain high-performing search campaigns, it’s important to consistently monitor search terms. With broad and phrase match keywords, it’s possible to show up for terms that do not align with your brand or campaign goals. Monitor your Google Ads or preferred SEM platform for terms your ads appeared for, and regularly update your exclusion list for words and phrases you no longer want to appear alongside. This process helps ensure all campaign traffic is relevant, thus minimizing marketing budget waste on low potential terms. Keyword blacklists also help optimize for cost per click (CPC), driving greater efficiency towards terms that are more likely to produce results for your brand.

Why You Should Incorporate Paid Search Into Your Marketing Strategy

Paid search marketing is a must-have advertising channel for most any brand. There’s a multitude of reasons why, but the primary benefits are:

  1. Cost efficiency: Only pay for ad clicks rather than impressions, which may or may not provide any value. 
  2. Competitive advantage: Ability to strategically target and bid on competitor search terms to place yourself as the alternative or preferred brand. It’s an excellent tool to level the playing field among businesses, assuming your budget is able to compete.
  3. Conversion-driving: Paid search is a strong driver for site traffic. Highlight your most high value landing pages or educational content by showing up for common search queries. 

Implementing paid search in your marketing mix is highly influential, especially for driving lower down-funnel results. It presents a unique avenue to reach audiences with high intent. If a user is searching for terms that demonstrate interest in the product or service, they are immediately exhibiting more value than a user who simply sees a banner ad. In the latter case, you are hoping to pique their interest. With search, they are already interested or in-market for products or services similar to yours, and are that much closer to selecting your brand. 

Everyone uses search engines, make sure your brand does too. Test out various keyword tactics and ad formats using both organic and paid search to find your competitive edge. Then, use these tips to fast track your company growth. 

Need a strategic partner to manage your digital marketing advertising campaigns?

Contact Coegi for a discovery call today. 

Coegi Partners

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