Edge’s Other Side Notes

Curating the best news and advice for marketers and credit unions during the COVID-19 pandemic to help your team navigate these uncharted waters and reach the shore on the other side.


Digital banking goes from ‘alternative’ to ‘standard’.

“…the coronavirus has now clearly made remote banking the preferred choice. All demographics, not just younger generations, are wary about going back to physical branches even as they begin to reopen, with as many as 49% of consumers indicating they would avoid taking a loan out if it required a physical visit to a financial institution.”

EDGE NOTE: We’ve seen our client’s online traffic come down from historic peaks in the stay-at-home spring months, but as it came down it settled on much loftier plateaus than where it was a year ago. Indicating, as Komorov says in his article, “Concerns around safety drove everyone to bank online at the height of the pandemic. Newly discovered convenience will keep them online.”

How the ‘Great Comeback’ Will Be a Time for Credit Unions to Shine by Gilad Komorov, Chief Revenue Officer at Lightico.


It’s more important than ever that your website answers both new and classic member questions. Leverage your digital branch for more efficient team and member support.

Caroline Platkiewicz writes that “there is a gap in knowledge for most credit unions as to what their members really want to know right now.” In addition to surfacing answers to classic FAQs like “What is your routing number?”, she offers up a super-helpful checklist of the new questions all CU websites should be making it easy for their members to get answers to, such as:

1) New Hours and Locations of Operations

2) Health and Safety Protocols

3) Transitioning to Remote Banking

Check out Caroline’s post for the full list.

EDGE NOTE: We can help modify your website so it better answers your member’s questions and serves their needs. If you’d like help improving your CU’s digital branch, we’re just a few clicks away. Get in touch.

The Importance of Member Support by Caroline Platkiewicz, senior marketing manger for SilverCloud.


Royal CU in Wisconsin offers 5 lessons learned as they transitioned a mainstay in-person event to virtual one.

Large-scale events are one tool credit unions use to connect with their communities. Is it possible to continue to engage with communities and make a positive impact, while following state and local guidelines?

EDGE NOTE: As we examine how other organizations are adapting their events, and consult our own clients our main takeaway has been that it can be done and sometimes with even greater affect.

As McHugh points out in her article, the first step is to “identify the key elements that make your event uniquely special and do your best to include them in the transition.” Check out the article for more great insights gleaned from their experience.

How Royal Credit Union Took Its Annual Charity Race Virtual by Jennifer McHugh, Vice President of Community Engagement for Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wis.


If your brand is the preacher, then your content should be the practice.

The best brands align what they say with what they do. Those that don’t, risk getting called out. Your content should always put into practice what your brand preaches, and now that means double checking for message consistency – in your text, visuals, and any other format you use.

EDGE NOTE: Harris has a ton of great insights regarding sensitivity and relevance in her article. A brand that is alive and well is one that is relevant to their audience and always considering their changing needs. Be sure to also read the note below from May 21st for more insights to approaching your brand’s creative and messaging during a crisis.

A Quick Audit to See If Your Content Passes a COVID-19 Exam by Jodi Harris, director of editorial content and strategy at Content Marketing Institute


Study shows Covid-themed ads in April didn’t perform any better or worse than regular ads. What mattered most was relevance and scrappiness.

“80% of the ads that we saw in April were not Covid-related; they were straight-up ads,” said Tara Walpert Levy, VP of agency and media solutions at Google and YouTube.

What’s more, Covid-themed ads did not perform any better than regular ads on the site.

Although advertisers are not making many Covid-specific ads for YouTube, they’ve still tailored their messages for the moment — restaurants have pivoted to advertising about delivery, while retailers are highlighting curbside pickup, for instance.

EDGE NOTE: Covid-19 sort of turned everybody into overnight underdogs, from late night hosts at home to huge brands scaling way back on production – just trying to do what they can with what they have. And who doesn’t like an underdog?

At Edge, some of our clients pivoted to Covid-themed creatives and some kept what they had going. The only ads that didn’t work were the ones that didn’t run at all.

Cost and competition have been way down while demand for online services rose steeply, allowing the persistent brands to capture market share at reduced costs.

YouTube exec says Covid-themed ads don’t perform any better, but ‘scrappy’ ads do by Megan Graham for CNBC.com


Great partners anticipate the needs of their clients, attempt to see things from the other’s point of view and embrace experimentation.

“In the past couple of months, we’ve spun up entirely new business models and transformed how we work with clients. We’ve learned to forego a five-page brief when a one-pager or even a simple email will do. This is an opportunity to spend more time actively working to help our clients and less time talking about it.”

How to be the partner your clients deserve in times of crisis by Jared Belsky, Chief Executive Officer, 360i


Does your website promote accessibility for all demographics at a time when the ability to access services and information online has never been greater?

“The prevalence of disabilities and impairments impacting one’s use of a computer or mobile device increases with age, so our seniors are more likely to face obstacles when websites are not coded with website accessibility in mind. This is a demographic that represents 16-percent of the United States population, including seniors.”

Thanks to COVID-19, Website Accessibility Has Never Been More Important by Sean Bradley, AudioEye’s Co-founder, President, and Chief Strategy Officer


To pause or not to pause: 1% budgets prove better than nothing in keeping the data and ROAS flowing.

During last week’s PPC Town Hall, Navah Hopkins made a passionate case for keeping campaigns on at minimal cost. This week, Mike echoed her sentiments.

“I’m reluctant to pause campaigns, having done that in the past with bad results. If we think a client will come back in a few weeks, we’ll wind stuff down to 1-cent budgets and leave it there. We’d rather spend a little bit than pause entirely,” he said.

“Interestingly enough, some European campaigns for one of our US clients have been on these 1-cent budgets. There was some trickle of clicks coming through. Every now and then you get a sale, so the ROAS was staggering at 500x. Of course, those outliers don’t make for very pleasant reporting!”

EDGE NOTE: Our clients who either kept their campaigns running or launched new campaigns during the crisis found their ads in a landscape or reduced competition, CPC and dramatically less expensive Costs per Conversion.

PPC Town Hall #8: 7 Digital Marketing Lessons from Australia by Ashwin Balakrishnan, Content Marketing Lead at Optmyzr


“In the presence of uncertainty, people tend to seek out rituals that make them feel secure.”

The psychology behind why some people won’t wear masks by Scottie Andrew, CNN.com


Lowe’s new chief brand and marketing officer emphasizes common them of empathy and uncovering your brand’s core identity during this crisis.

Marisa Thalberg took over as Lowe’s executive VP and chief brand and marketing officer in February. She says advertising in the midst of a pandemic is “less about being very commercial and promotional in our messaging and a lot more about how do we really express the heart of this brand.”

Lowe’s New CMO On Pandemic Marketing In the Age of Social Distancing by Adriannne Pasquarelli for AdAge


HubSpot’s COVID-19 Benchmark Data showing ‘cautiously optimistic’ signs this week.

“After several weeks of concerning declines in deals created and deals closed, we are cautiously optimistic about this week’s data. While it’s certainly too early to call these trends a “rebound,” the numbers suggest that companies that had paused “business as usual” in the last seven weeks are beginning to move forward in a new normal.”

Edge Note: Check out HubSpot’s aggregated data from 70K+ companies around the globe to see how metrics are shifting in response to COVID-19.

After Weeks of Decline, Sales Metrics Showing Signs of Recovery [COVID-19 Benchmark Data] by Kipp Bodnar at HubSpot


“Credit union members are suffering more.” Gallup pole of over 3K Credit Union Consortium members points out three member priorities.

“Now looking to their credit unions to reduce unnecessary stress and increase peace of mind, members highlighted three key needs: Crisis relief, answers and advice, and easy access to staff, tools and explainers.”

“As this is “probably just the beginning” of a decline in financial well-being for credit union members, according to Gallup, the way members feel about their credit union now could affect how loyal they are after COVID-19 — and how they compare their credit union to competitors.”

Are Credit Unions Doing Enough For Member Well-Being Amid COVID-19? by Raychel Lean for Credit Union Times


Establish pre- and post-pandemic baselines for your marketing data and measure more frequently to track shifts in audience engagement.

“It’s time to rewrite the rules of your measurement program and account for the evolving external factors and the possibly changing internal factors.”

“Once you make this metrics analysis a regular weekly routine, you’ll find it easier to spot and react to trends to deliver the content your audience is likely to want in a way they’re likely to consume it.”

Metrics Matter More During COVID-19 Than They Ever Did by Ann Gynn, Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine 


Gotta go digital. The demand for more exhaustive at-home banking services has never been higher.

“Chicago-based cybersecurity technology company OneSpan, provided guidance financial institutions can take to quickly digitize more of their core processes – from commercial and small business lending, to remote account opening – in order to provide the digital services people, without the ability to visit a branch, really need now due to COVID-19.”

Edge Note: Click through to the article for an outline of 10 processes FIs can take digital in order to better serve their member’s needs.

Digitizing Processes for At Home Credit Union Members by Roy Urrico for Credit Union Times


Craig Mawdsley’s piece for Think with Google reads like one big pull quote filled with empathy and insight for how to help guide and transform brands during this time.

“It’s OK to feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing. If you didn’t feel that way, you’d be truly terrible at your job. Feeling uncertain, in uncertain times, means you have the emotional intelligence to thrive in the future. But don’t let the uncertainty paralyze you. Think like a caring human being with the resources to help millions. Then act accordingly, in the mutual interest of business and society.”

Edge Note: Mawdsley goes on to remind brands, not only that the best ways to make it through this crisis through continued investments in ad presence and flexible strategies, but that being more human now and on the other side is the best longterm strategy. Be sure to click through and read his whole article.

“The data tells us people are looking for two things right now: help and comfort. If you’re able to help them to navigate the current situation, tell them about that. […] as long as you’re thinking like an empathetic human being, you can’t go wrong. Don’t be self-serving; don’t be cynical; don’t talk like an organization. Do the right thing, and keep doing it when the coronavirus situation ends.”

How to lead brands through ‘the steepest learning curve of our professional lives’ by Craig Mawdsley, Joint Chief Strategy Officer, AMV BBDO for Think with Google


Oregon State Representative and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek highlights the work of Edge client Lines for Life for creating a Virtual Wellness Room for essential workers.

Tina Kotek, from her daily Coronavirus Update emails.


This crisis is an opportunity to re-evaluate outdated rules and system weaknesses often set in place by lobbyists.

“Other than looking at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s website multiple times each day to check the state-by-state projections of the coronavirus, I’ve lately spent most days checking updated regulations that have all of a sudden turned into it’s-not-that-important-anymore rules.”

“This COVID-19 world has exposed nearly all of why we do what we do and why we are what we are as an industry and country. It appears all of that has been based on how good lobbyists are for banks and businesses. Who lives, who dies. What businesses are considered essential, what businesses should be closed. For instance, in Williamson County, Texas, if you run a small business, let’s say a florist shop, you are closed and considered a non-essential business. But, if you are a Mattress Firm or Bass Pro Shop, you are open for business and absolutely considered an essential business.”

“Right now, our country is entirely exposed to every weakness. Find those weaknesses, fix them and apply new ideas to help everyone, and not just Mattress Firm and Bass Pro Shop.”

Everything Has Been Exposed: Time to Call It Out by Michael Ogden, editor-in-chief for CUTimes.com


Demands for contactless payments and more comprehensive mobile banking experiences are rising and not likely to fall off too much after the pandemic. Use your digital marketing to highlight your mobile and online banking tools, service and support. It will serve you members better and likely win market share.

The flight to digital means many members are trying out certain features and services for the first time, Giorgio said. And that means more people are reaching out for guidance and support as they learn.

“I think the automation that we’re kind of forcing them to really get to know — the simplified ways of paying, or the ways that they’re going to be learning these new experiences — I think that’s going to naturally extend as we go back to normal.”

4 Things Credit Unions Should Do Now to Help New Digital Users by Tina Orem for CUTimes.com


Credit unions continue to vie for a place at the economic recovery table next to some names that might be surprising under any other administration.

World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon was named Tuesday evening to one of 17 Trump Administration task forces that is supposed to help re-open the economy. […] So was Walt Ehmer, president of Waffle House.

But not one credit union representative appeared among the 220 members of the “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”

Trump Administration’s 17 Economic Recovery Task Forces Have No Credit Union Representatives by David Baumann for CUTimes.com


Bidding algorithms don’t have a script for what’s going on right now either and providing context is just one of several valuable roles an agency partner can play during this time.

Machines can’t provide context to what’s happening; agencies can — and must.

For those brands that can keep spending a certain amount, there’s a lot that agencies can do to help. […] After all, while consumer sentiment is cautious, people are spending up to 30% more shopping online according to this article “COVID-Consumers: Pessimistic, but spending more online” by Search Engine Land.

5 Things PPC Agencies Need to Do to Survive the COVID Crisis by Ashwin Balakrishan, Content marketing lead at Optmyzr 


Ad Age offers a look Coronavirus creative trends and warnings to tread lightly in anxious times.

Repurposed footage, solos shoots, Zoom backgrounds and leaning into the joys of home all make an appearance in the top 10. Sound familiar? “If brands can give people a lift in these anxiety-ridden times, it could work in their favor, but they need to tread carefully. Images of happy families in close quarters may not sit well with those who are alone and isolated,” Jardine writes. “A fast feeder telling people to eat junk food while stuck to the couch may not be the best idea when obesity is thought to contribute to coronavirus complications.”

10 Creative Trends In the Time of the Coronavirus by Alexandra Jardine for Ad Age


Care first, profit second: Infuse your creatives and content with empathy to appeal to your customers as people, not statistics.

“The problem for marketers is how to build human connections with customers. That’s where you need to focus more on empathy. The empathy that comes naturally with person-to-person interactions must be purposefully sought in online marketing.”

“Despite all the innovations in information technology, humans haven’t fundamentally changed. We still value relationships and appreciate connecting with others. Remember how important the human dimension is. It’s something we easily miss in our fast-paced digital world.”

Why Marketing Needs More Empathy by Teodora Gavrilut, Marketing Manager at Bannersnack


The head of Google’s Growth Lab stresses the need for “organizational agility” over short-term growth during the pandemic.

“As the scale and severity of the pandemic became clear, we realized that we had to revise our 2020 plans and shift priorities and resources. We went through a “stop, start, continue” exercise: Stop anything that wasn’t mission critical; start any COVID-19 related work; and continue any crucial work as normal.”

“As the situation continues to evolve, we, like many of you, are striving to find ways to be helpful. We know that brands have a role to play. But now is not the time for self-promotion or upselling. Our guiding light in all this is to ensure we’re addressing the needs of our users. And we’ve shifted our campaigns accordingly.”

“Yes, in the short term, much of what we’re doing may not immediately impact the bottom line. But the foundation we’re shoring up and building upon will ensure we continue to drive responsible and sustainable growth in the long run.”

Inside Google Marketing: Agility is the new growth by Matthieu Pellerin, founder and head of Google’s Growth Lab


FI search performance on the rise since late February

Wordstream monitors PPC performance across tens of thousands of advertisers and noted this shift in how COVID-19 has affected Google Ad results within the finance industry.

Wordstream Chart: Change in Financial Search Ad Performance since COVID-19

Chart Source: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2020/03/18/covid-19-google-ads-data

Demand and Opportunity Align For Finance Industry

Wordstream’s research in the chart above shows finance CTRs up 23%, while the cost of a click has fallen by 27% on average. The conversion rate shift, up a slight one percent, doesn’t seem like much until you take into account the dramatic uptick in click-through traffic.

Specific to our accounts at Edge, we’ve witnessed dramatic performance shifts in line with Wordstream’s findings. Most notably, we have seen our conversion rates (CVR) slide up even further.

Across all accounts from FEB 23rd to April 12th, we’ve seen:

  • +20% Avg CTR Increase 
  • +13% Avg CVR Increase 
  • -19% Avg CPC Decrease
  • -25% AVG CPA Decrease


The latest projections show that, here in Oregon, we are staying home and saving lives and we need to keep it up.

“There is strong evidence that current interventions have significantly reduced the burden of COVID-19 in Oregon,” says the latest report from the Institute for Disease Modeling and released on Saturday by the Oregon Health Authority.

With current interventions, the total number of required inpatient beds will remain constant or begin to decrease by May 18th.

“At this stage, any relaxation of current aggressive control measures is likely to result in epidemic resurgence,” the report says.

The latest projections are based on “the best available evidence as of April 10th” and considered preliminary and subject to change as more data become available, IDM says.

‘Strong evidence’ that interventions have ‘significantly reduced’ COVID-19 in Oregon by Elizabeth Hayes, Staff Reporter for Portland Business Journal


In uncertain times the demand (and online search) for solid financial help is on the rise.

From March 8, 2020, to March 14, 2020, search behavior on Google for “financial help” grew 203% over one week. […} In fact, during the week from March 8, 2020, to March 14, 2020, Google searches for apps in the Finance category grew 31%.

Even in this challenging time, it’s possible for brands to engage with consumers in ways that are relevant and helpful, and that don’t come across as tone deaf or self-serving. Helping to build people’s confidence and alleviate concerns about their financial security amid uncertainty is one of the most important things financial service brands can do right now.

The question finance brands should ask themselves isn’t whether to show up for consumers, but how to do so in ways that address their most pressing questions and concerns.

…working individually with customers to find solutions tailored to their specific circumstances.

How consumers navigate financial wellness in a time of uncertainty by Stephen Arthur & Mike Henry, Financial Services Industry Directors, Google


It’s time to beef up your mobile and online banking resources and training guides, as consumer interactions move from the physical to digital branch.

The CUNA report cited research from the Memphis, Tenn., consulting firm Strategic Resource Management, Inc., that 79% of the banks and credit unions it surveyed March 17-25 “have provided more education on the use of remote channels as a means of weathering the crisis, and 82% rated their online and mobile channels as ‘vital’ to operations during the pandemic.”

Expect Major Shifts In Habits In a Post Coronavirus World by Jim DuPessis


Marine Credit Union President/CEO Shawn Hanson on his CU’s commitment to their employees and community during this pandemic…

“Our mission is to advance the lives of people from a place of financial need to a life of ownership and giving back to our communities. Our mission compels us to respond to the crisis with courage. We want to help people remain on their feet and have money to spend in our communities.”

His CU is also “making compassion calls to elderly members for wellness checks and to help them obtain groceries and household essentials.”

CUs Step Up in Big Ways to Support Employees, Members During Coronavirus Crisis by Peter Strozniak for CU Times


Data shows that brands that remain present and relevant during recessions often bounce back quicker…

Many budgets were cut during past financial crises, and some companies are doing that now. But is cutting back on spending the smart thing to do? Studies show that companies that protect marketing budgets during recessions tend to do much better in the ensuing recovery period. Examples of companies innovating and leaning in during downturns are easy to find, including brands such as Toyota, Staples and Target.

IGNORE SHORT-TERM PANIC TO RECESSION-PROOF YOUR BRAND by Nancy Smith, founder of Analytic Partners for Ad Age


Action and Empathy: Adjust your ad copy to be both helpful and sensitive to your audience.

The top consideration for many marketers as the implications of coronavirus became clearer has been budget. But there’s a real opportunity for those that focus on messaging during this time.

Be sure your ad copy reflects how your company is responding to this new environment. Clearly communicate empathy for your customers’ current situation.

Paid search ad copy strategies during coronavirus by Ginny Marvin, Third Door Media Editor-in-Chief and Search Engine Land Contributor


Focus your messaging on your community and productive use of any downtime…

If your business is able to continue spending marketing dollars, we encourage you to plan initiatives that support healthcare professionals, frontline workers, and vulnerable people. Be mindful of the words and images you select for blog posts, landing pages, search and display ads, and e-commerce listings.

If you’re experiencing a lull, leverage the downtime to improve your relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Reconnect with your employees, build backup plans for the brands you nurture, and develop flexible processes to quickly scale up to usual levels of spend when the storm passes.

PPC During COVID-19: 5 Ways to Optimize Your Search Ads by Ashwin Balakrishnan, content marketing lead at Optmyzr


Credit unions in Iowa use new technology called Remote Online Notarization (RON)

As Iowa suspends the requirement for a notary to be physically present for signing real estate documents the “West Des Moines-based CUSO LenderClose is providing the technology, called remote online notarization (RON). It uses audio-video technology to share documents electronically, confirm identity and conduct the signing and notary process in a face-to-face, virtual environment.”

“Our members expect us to live out our values, one of which is that our members matter more than their money. It’s our intention to always consider the person behind the transaction and that is precisely what LenderClose helped us achieve today. We look forward to scaling this out to the rest of our borrower membership over the next several weeks and months.”  -Collins Community Credit Union President/CEO Stefanie Rupert

Remote Online Notarizations for Credit Unions Launch in Iowa by Tina Orem for Credit Union Times


What you do with your marketing now matters will matter later. Don’t hide your light.

“The more helpful brands can be, the better they’ll fare now — and even more importantly, in the long run. Eighty-four percent of U.S. consumers surveyed say that how companies or brands act during the current market is important to their loyalty moving forward. These are trying times, but we’ll all get through it together and hopefully come out even stronger on the other side.”

Google search data reveals how brands can help during the coronavirus pandemic by Tara Walpert Levy for Think with Google


Coronavirus Response Pages will be fixtures of our websites for some time.

Edge Note: Coronavirus Response Pages, or C-FAQs, will be fixtures of our websites for the foreseeable. So rather than make them be just quick notes, make them useful.

Consider them to be a table of contents that quickly links the user to all the relevant and up-to-date information they need. Take the time to build a structure that serves the user well and allows quick access to the most up-to-date info.


Edelman survey highlights how consumers want to know that brands are doing what they can with what they have.

People are more likely to purchase something from a company during and after the coronavirus crisis if that company speaks out appropriately about the pandemic now, according to a new survey from Edelman.

The big picture: Data shows that consumers overwhelmingly want brands to speak out regularly during the pandemic, but that they don’t want to be sold anything that isn’t going to help make the situation better.

Brands risk losing business if they don’t properly address coronavirus by Sara Fischer at Axios


How to update your Google My Business pages if your location must close temporarily…

Businesses affected by COVID-19: Guidance on updating info and temporary closures: https://support.google.com/business/answer/9773423.


“Where we once were consumers, we are now connectors and protectors…”

“What does this mean for brands? It means that they just got a new competitor from a tertiary category: community. How brands choose to use that information is up to them, but my recommendation is that they embrace and react to what consumers will be asking themselves: Why am I spending this dollar? Who am I spending it with? And, what greater good will it serve? It is my belief that only then will any loyalty be gained in this new dawn of consumerism.”

COVID-19 Will Change Consumerism Forever, Opinion Piece by Lyndsey Fox for Ad Age


Pause or Proceed? What’s a marketer to do in this sudden new time without a script?

“Perhaps more than ever, PPC pros must make sure brands and organizations are present when people are searching. And let’s face it…we’ll undoubtedly have a LOT more searching going on via Google and Bing” in the coming weeks as consumers adjust their lives. And as people go deeper into social distancing, we’ll see even more searching on Amazon to further replace brick-and-mortar shopping.”

“While businesses often knee-jerk their budgets down in times of uncertainty, now may very well be the best time to up the spend on PPC. Social distancing means more people will buy online. It’s essential and responsible to be sure to capture the surge in online shopping.”

Five Things PPC Pros Can Do NOW to Keep Commerce Moving In The COVID-19 Era by FREDERICK VALLAEYS of Optmyzr

Photo credit: Zack Stack

How Can We Help You Right Now?

Let’s talk

Demand Up, Costs Down: Unprecedented Market Conditions for Credit Unions

Crises have an uncanny ability to curb old habits and mold new ones.

Within the financial industry, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of and demand for online services. What was seen as an option before is now a necessity. 

While many industries are experiencing negative effects from the impact of COVID-19, financial institutions find themselves in an interesting and unique situation. Members and potential members are more active online than they’ve ever been and the cost to compete in this normally expensive vertical is falling. 

The CU clients Edge serves have seen a combined increase of over 10% in their Organic Channel users from February 23rd to April 12th, 2020. 

Looking at all our FI client’s channels combined during the same period, they are up an average of 10.5%. 

The few clients that did experience cross-channel slowdowns over the previous period did so only because they chose to either temporarily pause or significantly reduce their display budgets.

Social distancing mandates in every state, coupled with branch closures are bringing in the late adopters of mobile and online banking driving up demand for online services, while competition for space in the SERPs and on publisher sites is loosening.

Unique Market Conditions: Consumer and conversion activity is up, while cost per conversion and cost per click are declining.

Demand and Opportunity Align For Finance Industry

Wordstream monitors PPC performance across tens of thousands of advertisers and noted this shift in how COVID-19 has affected Google Ad results within the finance industry in a recent article.

Their research shows finance click-through rates (CTRs) up 23%, while the cost of a click has fallen by 27% on average. The conversion rate shift, up a slight 1%, doesn’t seem like much until you take into account the dramatic uptick in click-through traffic.

Wordstream Chart: Change in Financial Search Ad Performance since COVID-19

Specific to our clients, we’ve witnessed dramatic performance shifts in line with Wordstream’s findings. Most notably, we have seen our conversion rates (CVR) slide up even further.

Across all accounts from FEB 23rd to April 12th, we’ve seen:

  • +20% Increase in Avg Click-Through Rate 
  • +13% Increase in Avg Conversion Rate
  • -19% Decrease in Avg Cost Per Click
  • -25% Decrease in Avg Cost Per Conversion

While the decision to pause or proceed ad spends looms large in the minds of many brands, the data show a rare opportunity for FIs who keep their brands relevant and steady during this crisis – demand is rising and the cost is falling.

Credit Unions are built to serve their communities and this unprecedented situation puts them at the forefront of people helping people – and being able to do it even more effectively than ever before.

Stephen Arthur and Mike Henry, Financial Services Industry Directors at Google put it this way in their April 2020 Think with Google article:

“The question finance brands should ask themselves isn’t whether to show up for consumers, but how to do so in ways that address their most pressing questions and concerns.”

Be Here Now and Increase Loyalty Later 

Increased attention and conversion activity is available now with the same budget, PLUS the longer term benefit of the enhanced intrinsic value proposition of your brand being there for your field of membership now.

“Studies show that companies that protect marketing budgets during recessions tend to do much better in the ensuing recovery period.” 

That’s according to Nancy Smith, founder of Analytics Partners, a firm that looks at data from hundreds of billions of dollars in marketing spend across more than 700 brands in over 45 countries.

Smith goes on to say that pulling the media spends almost guarantees losses during a recession, “On average, brands that removed media investment suffered an 18 percent loss in incremental sales.”

We know your credit union is playing a key role in supporting your community right now and will throughout the eventual recovery ahead. Harness this opportunity to say, “This is who we are and this is what we’re doing to help.”

Being present and relevant now for your audience will pay dividends in member loyalty and brand strength on the other side of this as well.

This entry was posted with significant contributions from fellow Edgers: Stephanie Chadwick, Zack Stack, Austi Baudro & Matt Neznanski. // Photo credit: iStock

Going Alone or Going Together: Fear vs Hope-Based Marketing Strategies

Lately, as we connect with our marketing partners, we’ve replaced the usual “how you doin’?-good-okay” at the start of each call with a time of active listening. 

As we provide our ears as sounding boards, we’ve noticed the surfacing patterns of very real fears and very powerful hopes.

We fault no one for their fears during uncertain times, but be cautious that you aren’t enacting short-sited strategies based on them.

Fear Sells Today, But Ignores Tomorrow

As marketers, we are acutely aware of what a prominent role fear can play in decision making, as it is one of the top emotions that drive a customer’s decision to either consume or avoid. And it gets over used.

It is the hammer many marketers use to smash all the other tools in their tool box. Fear may sell today, but it doesn’t build a very good tomorrow.

Just look at most political ads… many lift not a finger to inform audiences about policies or inspire positive change, but only foment action or in-action based on fear. The informed voter pays them no mind.

An Invitation To Be a Better Brand

In this time of unique crisis, we are noticing something different: brands leading the way with hopeful, encouraging messaging and even remarkable acts of generosity.

These acts are emanating from both smaller and bigger brands – even some that we normally wouldn’t harbor much empathy for…

  • Verizon: free long distance, discounts, waiving fees and increasing shipping speed. Now just please restore Net Neutrality.
  • xfinity: issuing $22 credits – every little bit helps.
  • New York Times: allowing free access to coronavirus coverage

The most encouraging and inspiring message I found in my inbox this morning wasn’t a note from my mother (who is a saint, btw), but it was from PayPal’s CEO. PayPal?!

“Many businesses today are stepping up to help, because no one business can do it alone. We’re calling on companies across the financial ecosystem, to come together to help the most vulnerable during this crisis. We all need to support our employees and look for ways to help our customers navigate these waters. In the last few months, we’ve seen generosity and kindness, intergenerational support and solidarity, and remarkable fortitude. It is during times like these that courage and generosity and resilience make a difference.”

Dan Schulman, PayPal President and CEO

Then he says this, setting apart these words in their own paragraph for emphasis, “We are here to help our customers.”

Now, I haven’t used PayPal in years, not since its business associate eBay essentially became a thesaurus for the term “hidden fees”, but their stock just went up in my eyes.

The brands that differentiate themselves by being generous and who provide relevant support, encouragement and relief to their audiences through the dark days ahead will emerge stronger and brighter when the sun shines again.

Beacons of Reassurance

There is a call out there now, louder than ever, and it is not to abandon hope, but to embrace it. It is a call to use your marketing as a beacon of reassurance in turbulent times.

Our agency partners with a clutch of amazing credit unions throughout the United States.

We feel honored to support their marketing teams during this time as we know that these member-owned financial institutions will play significant roles in the economic support and recovery of their local communities.

The subject line of a recent email from one CU summed up everything their members and potential members need to hear right now: “Financially impacted by COVID-19? We’ve got your back.”

Fear-based vs Hope-Based Marketing Strategies

There are two routes a brand can take to get the other side of this pandemic:

  1. The Insular Route: fear-based, protect what’s mine, others are out to get me
  2. The (We’re-In-This) Together Route: hope-based, generous, encouraging common security

The Insular Route takes a “me first” approach that fails to look at the horizon beyond today.

Brands that take this route often fail to adapt their messaging, products and services to new realities. They seek instead to simply maintain.

In a sense, they will persist in their own fear-induced denial. They are inclined to shrink their presence for fear that being bold simply means having more mouths to feed.

Contrast this with brands who pro-actively resolve to travel the We’re-In-This-Together Route.

These are the brands who offer life boats to their current customers and provide space aboard to pull others out of the water with products, services and kindness that meets them where they’re at.

The brands that differentiate themselves by being generous and who provide relevant support, encouragement and relief to their audiences through the dark days ahead will emerge stronger and brighter when the sun shines again.

This is a key moment in history where brands have the opportunity to differentiate themselves and not only stand apart, but stand beside their key constituents which will, in the end, make them stand above the rest.

Scrappy Optimism Fuels Adaptation

We also understand that not all businesses will have the footing right now to pull others aboard their proverbial life rafts. But that is not to say that they aren’t still able to take the Together Route by adapting.

Kimberly Bell-Jessop of Nil Organic Tea makes some of the best teas you will find anywhere.

Heck, she made a tea drinker out of this ardent coffee consumer the first time she let me sample her Coastal Coconut blend a few years ago.

I used to find her teas at the Portland Saturday Market where she says the majority of her revenue originated from in-person sales.…and hope to find them there one day again soon.

Kimberly was refreshingly transparent when she reached out to her audience via email about how her family are adjusting their lives and business.

She began with gratitude, then expressed her uncertainty (something that unites us all at the moment) and then invited her audience (current and former customers) to join her as she adapts her business to focus online instead of in-person.

“We are excited about the creativity that is to come with shifting our focus online, and honestly hopeful that we will be okay, but to say we need your help is an understatement.”

Kimberly Bell-Jessop, Owner/Founder of Nil Organic Tea

In that one short paragraph, she perfectly describes the scrappy optimism and need for community that is inherent when a small business chooses a hope-based marketing strategy.

Paralyzing Fear and Blind Optimism Be Damned. Hope Is What We’re After.

Renowned philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm, a German Jew living in the era of Nazis, provides us with a wonderful description for reviving and adapting our messaging – for being scrappy optimists. 

“Hope is a decisive element in any attempt to bring about social change in the direction of greater aliveness, awareness, and reason.”

Erich Fromm, The Revolution of Hope

If you ask the team at Edge, hope is the higher route that we take together – and the one we’ll always recommended to our partners big or small. 

Besides, the view of the other side is almost always better up here.

And with that…I think I’ll go have a cup of tea.

One more quick note…Edge has been a work-from-home company for almost two decades. We’ve assembled some of our favorite tips and commiserations in the posts below.

Make Work from Home Work for You

Here at Edge, a virtual office space has been part of our day-to-day landscape for almost 20 years. As social distancing becomes the new normal, working from home is becoming an option (or requirement) for many folks.

And we understand all too well the challenges of conquering your work day from home. So we’ve gathered some tips directly from our team about how they stay connected and productive while working at home.

Our Top Work-from-Home Tips

1) Create your own space

However you can, set aside someplace where you can get into “work-mode,” even if it’s just a corner of a room someplace.

Gavin Heslop: Ideally, you’ll be able to find a space to help alleviate new distractions you will face when working from home. Working from a high-traffic area makes you susceptible to being distracted by others’ activities.

A designated workspace can also allow you to signal to others that you are at work: a closed door, or the use of headphones, perhaps.

For meetings, you’ll want to ensure that your space is quiet enough to be able to hear your colleagues, but more importantly that you are the only one in your space that they can hear.

Austi Baudro: When I began at Edge, I didn’t have an actual office. I typically would work downstairs on an over-cluttered desk filled with art projects and messy papers.

Having a dedicated workspace was essential to my productivity. My husband and I ended up renovating the room across the hall. Now, it’s MY office where I can close the door and get some serious work done uninterrupted.

Stephanie Chadwick: Working from home is not for everyone. It works best to have a space with a door that you can close.

Over the past almost 20 years that we’ve been in business, our work-from-home situation has varied greatly. At one point, we had newborn twins in the house and a barrage of grandparent and nanny helpers coming and going.

During this time, I would have important conference calls with CEOs, CMOs, COOs (you get the picture). I used our master bedroom closet, the quietest room in the house, to make this work. Clothing is a natural noise insulator – and on the plus side, instead of doodling on a memo pad, I could organize my shoes.

Granted, I wasn’t permanently parked in my closet, though for some, that space could convert really well.

2) Set a schedule

As much as you hated that daily commute, it gave you some time to separate work time from home time. Find a way to signal to yourself (and everyone you share living space with) that you’re done for the day.

Zack Stack: I’ve worked from home for almost two decades now. I love it, but switching from professional Zack to Dad and/or Husband Zack can be a bit jarring.

For me, buffer activities between work and home help me flip that switch in my head that tells me work is done for the day. These buffers often consist of gardening, biking, taking a walk or a run, or just heading to the park to shoot some hoops. All way better than sitting in a car.

When I return to my home I usually find I’ve left my work day behind me and I’m more present for my family.

Jennifer Hall: My family has always been so gracious with my work from home set-up and respecting the time that I am working, but it is equally important to be sure I adhere to a “close of the business day” time.

I can easily work late into the evening if we have no plans but that is not healthy to a good work/life balance. Being aware of when the workday should end, helps my family to know when they can expect me to begin transitioning from working women to mom and wife.

3) Have a Familiar Routine

Monday morning isn’t Saturday morning. As much as possible, make sure a work day feels like it should.

Zack Stack: This might sound like the anti-work-from-home suggestion, but get dressed for work, or at least pretend like it’s always casual Friday.

People always say, “Oh, it’s great working in the semi-permanent, pants-optional home environment.” But I’d hate for my boss to show up at my door one day to find me in sweatpants, Crocs, and my Hillsboro Hops T-shirts from four seasons ago and think I’ve given up on both work and life.

Austi Baudro: Set a lunch time. I’ve found that setting a specific lunchtime helps me to stay productive in those afternoons where sometimes it is hard to focus. Sometimes, I’ll make a lighter early lunch and then take a walk to help clear the brain fog.

Stephanie Chadwick: Have a clear picture of where you’re going to start the next day before “signing off” for the night. I find that 15 minutes of prep before I shut my laptop for the day helps me jump in quicker the next day.

4) Get Outside

Granted, we’re all at home now because we’re trying not to spread disease. But nobody can stare at a screen all day.

Jennifer Hall: To avoid the feeling of being shut-in, it’s important to physically get up from your desk or to walk away from your workspace and to literally come up for air – fresh outdoor air.

Use your breaks to tend to your garden, walk the dog, or take a stroll. Getting outside, whether for 2 or 10 minutes at least twice a day, has proven to boost productivity, sharpen mental focus, relieve stress, and in general promotes a positive attitude.

5) Communicate early and often

Working remotely means you’re not going to be seeing colleagues at the coffee station or parking lot. Make a concerted effort to check in daily (or more).

Zack Stack: One of the biggest challenges we’ve found for employees transitioning to a work-from-home environment from a shared office is social isolation. This has proven especially true for younger employees who may live alone and crave interpersonal connections.

When you spend the day working by yourself it’s even more important to reach out to others during and at the end of your day.

Also, when you’re relying on text messaging programs for a majority of your comms, don’t forget that voice is sometimes the better medium. When it would take a novel to describe something, when you’re planning creative, or as soon as you see your tone being misconstrued. That’s when you know it’s time to “go audio” as we say.

Austi Baudro: Every Monday, I send out a list to our team to set the top priorities of the week. It not only helps our team, but it helps me to list out my own priorities. Sometimes I will even number these in order of importance to make sure they are completed at the appropriate time.

Stephanie Chadwick: Talking via audio instead of wholly relying on Slack helps you feel and stay connected more personally with those on the other end of the line. Adding video to the mix when possible helps increase the humanity factor as well.

Tools of the Trade

Matt Neznanski: At Edge, we use a range of platforms to stay in contact, share ideas, and work together. There are many options, but here’s a breakdown of some of our faves.

1) Collaboration and Communication

Everyone’s got email. We like Gmail and the Google Suite because files can be collaborated on in real-time and everything works well together.

We’ve always got Slack open for team updates, questions, and water cooler chat. If, in the office, you’d just walk over to someone’s desk for something, use Slack instead of email.

We also host internal meetings in Slack, using their in-app calling. We don’t always use video for those, but it’s available.

We couldn’t get by without Asana, a work management platform that keeps our projects outlined, tasks sorted, and task-related communications in one place.

2) Meeting notes, project documents, lists

Collaborative documents in Google Drive (which allow for simultaneous real-time changes) are a huge benefit when you need to work together and have a single source of truth for a document as well.

Be done with multiple versions of docs hanging around! (This is a solid move even when you’re all back in the office.)

3) External meetings

For meetings with people outside the Edge team, we use Zoom. We like how stable the system is and how simple it is to share screens.

4) File sharing and screencasts

We’re big fans of Droplr for sending big files, annotating screenshots, or capturing video of our screens for troubleshooting, training, and more.

We're calling this "controlling what you can when things feel out of control."

Balancing Work and Kids

Even our home-office day-to-day is turned upside down now that our kids are out of school and daycare. Here’s what we’re doing to cope with that.

1) Schedule blocks of time

Austi Baudro: Now that my boys (ages 7 and 2) are home with me, I have to schedule blocks of time to go outside or play with play dough or get out those magnet blocks that put good ‘ol Lincoln Logs to shame.

Now, my day looks more like 30-minute blocks of work time and 30 minutes of play.

Realistically, I have my laptop and phone in hand at all times.

Talk with your co-workers and communicate when you will be unavailable. Try to limit calls during these times or schedule them when you know you have extra help.

2) Schedule their time

Matt Neznanski: The one thing I always forget about my kids (ages 6 and 3) is how structured school and daycare is.

Blocking out free play, academics/art, and quiet time is huge for us to combat boredom.

I blame the schedule, too: “Schedule says it’s quiet time. Who am I to argue?”

Also, I’m amazed at how often they eat. Never mind the toilet paper, we’re stocked up with crackers, dried fruit, and cereal.

For a much more in-depth discussion of balancing a house full of people with full-time work for years, check out this great post about establishing a more flexible work-from-home life with kids from Edge partner Stephanie Chadwick.

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