SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions Part Two: Setting and Measuring Goals

By clearly defining your goals, estimating what they’re worth and establishing a system for measuring them, you’ll be able to picture a more successful marketing destination for your bank or credit union and gain a bird’s-eye view of how to get there.

Do you know why your organization needs SEO or an Inbound Marketing Strategy? Do you know what your FI’s goals are? What they’re worth? How you’ll measure them?

“Every good campaign begins with the end in mind.”

Before you jump on your horse and race off into on-page and off-page SEO glory, make sure you know where you want go and that there’s a system in place with which your organization can measure its efforts.

In this second article of Edge’s SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions series, we’ll provide some wish-I-would-have-know-before-I-started tips that your bank or credit union can use to start measuring your current and future progress, not only within your Organic Channel, but for all your digital channels.

Document your business objectives. Write them down.

Start by asking yourself, “What does a win look like for this campaign?

Often new partners and clients come to us mid-execution. They’re in the thick of one digital campaign or another, and when we get the keys and look under the hood at their analytics we find that no goal tracking has been established – or that they are targeting goals that don’t help them achieve their business objectives.

This is aimless marketing. If there’s no target then you’re certain to miss.

You don’t get in your car because it drives or because lots of other people are using one. You get in your car because you have a destination in mind – somewhere you want or need to be. So before you peel away in your shiny, new Inbound Marketing muscle car, take the time to envision what a win looks like.

And, because SEO and Inbound marketing strategies are more like the Baja 1000 than they are a drag race, it may be more helpful for your team not to picture what the finish line looks like, but rather focus on what a healthy, successful pace feels like. Having clearly defined quarterly and annual goals will serve as helpful checkpoints along the way.

When we identify lack of focus or weak tracking as an issue, we take a step back and establish clear goals and a means of effectively measuring them. This lays a solid foundation from which you can build a stronger SEO strategy upon – one that’s both measurable, profitable and fit for the long road ahead.

Close up of faded white finish line painted on cracked asphalt.

With long term campaigns like SEO the “finish line” may not be as glorious or as sustainable a goal as just maintaining a steady upwards pace with checkpoints along the way.

Identifying measurable goals

Set goals that are realistic, optimistic and specific.

We took a look at one of our client’s analytics and saw that their Organic Channel comprised just 10% of their total traffic. Yet nearly 60% of their total lead generation goals were converting within that organic minority. So we asked ourselves…

“What would it look like if we increased their Organic Channel to 20% (optimism) of their overall traffic by the end of the year (specificity)? It is an attainable goal (realism) and it would be huge for their business (additional helping of optimism).”

Then we documented it as one of our objectives and started building strategies to achieve our goal, and indeed we saw their leads rise proportionally alongside their Organic Sessions. Leads, I should mention, that came at a much lower Cost Per Acquisition than they do within their paid channels.

Measuring progress

Once you’ve documented your goals and objectives, it’s time to make sure you have the tools in place to measure your progress.

Take a look at your website analytics software to make sure that it is set up and tracking properly. For most of us this means Google Analytics, but for an elite few it may also mean Omniture or another enterprise-level, paid tool.

Ideally you’ll want to have at least two Views set up in Google Analytics.

First, the unfiltered View that captures all the data coming in from your website, and second, you’ll also want to create an optimized “Marketing View” with filters in place so that you’re only measuring the traffic that matters to your marketing goals.

It’s likely that if you took a look at your Google Analytics you’d find that you have one view set up for your web property, and that view probably has some limited filtering applied to it. If this is the case, I’d suggest making this your official “Marketing View” and renaming it as such. Then, create a new view without any filtering applied to it and name it your “All Web Site Data” or “Unfiltered View”. Giving your Analytics Account, Properties and Views descriptive names like these helps your team and partners navigate and communicate about your data more efficiently.

*Note that changing the name of an existing Account, Property or View in Analytics does not effect your data, but you should definitely let your team know before you make this change.

Optimizing your analytics marketing view

There are quite a few optimizations and syncs that you can make that will improve the quality and scope of your data, but we’ll keep it simple and just cover the essentials here.

1) Use IP address filtering to exclude internal traffic.

2) Filter out junk referral visits and bot traffic. These include:

  • Ghost referrals, nefarious Spam Bot Crawlers like semalt (a.k.a. best-seo-solution.com) and fake referrals like maridan.com.ua and blog.ranksonic.com.
  • Well behaved bots and spiders

The goal of these first two Analytics optimizations is to only be measuring the traffic that matters to your marketing goals. Bots can sometimes be nice. Ukrainian referral spam is seldom nice. Neither are likely to open a free checking account at your bank or credit union any time soon.

3) Sync your Analytics with Webmaster Tools and AdWords (if you’re running Paid campaigns). These integrations will increase the scope and quality of your data.

4) Check your website’s privacy policy to make sure it’s current and covers data collection and cookie usage for Google Analytics, Adwords and other services you may use to collect data on your marketing website.

Two places you can go to get everything you need to get this done are:

5) Once your privacy policy is updated, you can then set up the Demographics and Interest reports, which provide even more useful insights into the makeup of your online audience.

6) Most importantly of all though…take the time to identify all the conversion activities of economic significance (aka goals) on your website. Think completed loan applications, lead generation forms as well as membership applications.

Then establish tracking for these goals within your analytics software ASAP, so that you can start accumulating this critical data which will act as a guide for you to make better, more profitable marketing decisions.

A list of five common website goals for Financial Institutions.

Each goal, when converted, should redirect the user to its own unique ‘Thank You’ page, so that you can easily assign differing values to each and give the user an even more relevant post-conversion experience.

Assign economic values to your goals

Once you’ve identified and set up tracking for your onsite goals, assign a trustworthy estimate as to what each goal is worth to your bank or credit union.

With shifting rates and countless borrower variables it’s nothing near elementary math to arrive at some of your goal values (like loans and lifetime customer value for example), but I can assure you it’s worth the effort to be able to tell if your campaigns are working for or against you.

“Until you’ve assigned values to your goals you will NOT be able to properly measure your efforts.”

So don’t get caught up on distilling a precise dollar amount down to the second decimal. This freezes many an organization in their tracks and keeps them from arriving at a trustworthy estimate which will allow them to make decisions based on value rather than on volume.

It’s one thing to know at the end of the quarter that you increased Organic Sessions by 7%. That’s great, but when you have economic values in place for your goals, your data takes on a whole new dimension. You can now report back to your team, not only that sessions or time on site increased, but that you achieved a 5-to-1 Return on Investment and that your efforts increased revenue by $120,000 last quarter.

Conversely, tracking economic goal values may tell you that you’re spending far too much on a certain campaign and it’s time to head in a different direction.

A good place to start when assigning economic values to your goals is with your loan products. What is a trustworthy estimate for the average return on each product?

Values for your other website conversions will likely be distilled from your higher-value goals such as loan products or lifetime value of a member/account holder.

For this reason I would also suggest investigating the average lifetime value of a customer and the cost per acquisition (CPA) for each goal as well.

Analysis and reporting

You’ll need to assign or hire someone to report regularly on the performance of your website and digital marketing channels, including Organic and Referrals. This is key.

Benefits of Regular Digital Reporting - Slide

Having someone you trust, with a skilled eye, regularly (at least once a month) taking the pulse of all your online efforts can help ensure that opportunities are not missed, issues don’t become full-blown problems, your main traffic sources are healthy – and the goals you have set are being met.

A good analyst will let you know where you’re currently at, where you’ve been and where your digital efforts might be taking you. They will also keep you informed as to what it’s all worth.

Set goals. Assign values to them. Dig into your analytics and start measuring the structural growth of all your digital marketing endeavors today.

SEO Strategies Series: What’s Next?

In Part 3 of the SEO Strategies for FI’s series we’ll go all the way mobile as we discuss the importance of adopting and designing a progressive, mobile-first website and how to get there.

This series on SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions has been adapted from a presentation I gave at Connect15 in Austin, Texas. View the full slide deck from the original presentation to access other Inbound Marketing resources like Edge’s One-Page Content Strategy Template.

If you missed Part 1 in the series, go back and read SEO Strategies For Financial Institutions: Opportunities and Obstacles.

Are you looking for ways to improve your bank or credit union’s digital marketing? Let us know what your biggest challenges are, or if you have any specific questions regarding inbound marketing for your organization.