10 Content-Length Best Practices for Quality and Ranking

Clients will often ask, “How long should my content be?”

And my answer has often been that there is no magic word count. Instead of fretting about content length I encourage them to simply take the time it takes to fully unpack their argument, present their product or answer the questions most vexing their audience.

However, the problem I’ve noticed for most clients isn’t that they’re writing Melville-esque tomes and need someone to rip the pen from their still quivering hands. It’s that they’re writing too little.

Both search engines and humans will skim right past thin content. You cannot prove you’re an expert by pasting two tweets together and calling it good.

While there is no cap on content length, research suggests Google favors more text over less.

This has less to do with some hard word count being baked into the algorithm than the simple logic that quality, audience-centered content takes more time to unpack.

10 Content Length Best Practices for Quality and Ranking

  1. Your #1 aim should always be to delight your human audience.
  2. If you want a page or post to have a decent shot at ranking the bare minimum of words expended should be 300.
  3. Core page content (home, about, products and services) should be kept more succinct. Get to the who, what, where and when without burying the lead. You may tease your audience a little with the how and why, but save these to be fully unpacked in your blog. Depending on your subject matter, keep your core pages to 300-600 words. Link out to your blog for expanded explanations and help.
  4. Blog posts are the appropriate forum for diving deeper into the how and why of what you do. It is where you display and prove your expertise and compassion for your audience by anticipating and fully answering their questions, which are quite often valuable long-tail keywords. 
  5. Think about your audience’s time. Some propose the ideal length of a blog post to be around 1,600 words, or 7 minutes in reading time. I’d argue, somewhat unscientifically but passionately nonetheless, that the sweet spot these days is in the slightly shorter range of 3-5 minutes of concentrated reading time. I don’t think there’s any need to be legalistic about this so long as you’re doing your best to craft quality content and respect your audience’s time.

The more questions you answer, the more likely you are to be found and trusted by an audience primed to become customers.

  1. Format your content for maximum readability. The longer your post is the more reliant it will be on proper formatting to be both readable and scannable. 
    • Introduce each section of a post with an H2 heading
    • Avoid overly long paragraphs, or walls of text
    • Use bullets points for lists 
    • Pay attention to spacing throughout so that it’s uniform and ample enough to properly separate paragraphs, list items and images
  1. Read 5 articles on your topic before you begin writing. This has many benefits, including helping you approach your subject in a well-rounded manner by increasing your own expertise. It can also help you flesh out your article by providing more meaty bits to offer your audience, which you may not have otherwise considered. Just be sure to cite your references. 
  2. Read your content out loud before you publish. This is the best way to identify redundant language and ensure your content is a pleasure to read.
  3. Cut the fluff. If what you’re writing doesn’t add value to your audience’s day, or is overtly self-promotional then it’s more likely to act as an anchor than a buoy for your brand. 
  4. Finally, don’t forget the images. Including relevant images, charts and/or graphics is known to increase user engagement via time onsite and reduce the bounce rate. Try to include at least one supplementary visual element in addition to your page/post’s hero image.

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Saying ‘Thank You’ Real Good

How to use thank you pages for better goal tracking and customer experience

You wouldn’t receive a gift from someone and not say “Thank You,” right? Of course not. When a person takes the time to click through and take the action you recommended, it’s more than a gift to you – it’s a lead and a potential customer.

On the web, we say “thanks” via a thank you page that sets the tone for the customer experience.

A thank you page, sometimes called a success page, is the page that loads after a user completes a conversion activity on your website. Submitting a lead generation form, purchasing a product or subscribing to your newsletter, are all potential conversion activities.

It serves as a clear way to let people know the action they took was successful and acknowledges your care for them extends beyond the conversion.

Why Use Thank You Pages?

Because the thing you want even more than a conversion is a customer.

Thank you pages are a great way to show that you care, nurture a new lead and build some trust. They also have some benefits for improving your goal tracking and understanding your customer’s journey.

Thank You Pages Provide:

  • More opportunity to encourage secondary conversions and sharing of your content.
  • A better starting point from which to engage and nurture new prospects and/or customers.
  • Better tracking and integration with Google Analytics.

From a strictly friendly, relationship-building perspective, a thank you page is courteous and provides a chance to start a second conversion process.

That could be another product, an inquiry, or additional content. That, in turn, can help paint a clearer picture of who the prospect is and how you can serve them better.

From a goal tracking perspective, having a unique thank you page URL for each goal gives you the ability to easily and accurately track each goal activity on your site separately. It also allows you to assign more specific and accurate marketing values to each conversion activity you track.

Set Up a Thank You Page In 4 Steps

Step One

Make sure each of your sites goals/forms redirects to its own unique thank you page URL. Create a thank you page template for your website, so you can quickly generate new TY pages when you need them.

Step Two

Set up a Google Tag Manage (GTM) Trigger so you later establish tracking in Google Analytics and any other platforms such as Google Ads or DV360.

Google Ads will actually use the goal that you’ve set up and optimize your campaign around it.

If you’re running paid search or display campaigns, you can also use these thank you page URLs to enhance your Remarketing Campaign Lists.

Step Three

Thank You page URL naming conventions. Start the URLs with a TY page naming system like /thank-you-/ and then continue the slug with a goal-specific name like /…for-subscribing/ or /…contact-form/

  • The complete slug might look like this: /thank-you-newsletter-signup/ or /thank-you-white-paper-download/ or /thank-you-contact-request/ or /thank-you-demo-schedule/ or /thank-you-mortgage-loan-submission/
  • Always start your TY page slug with “/thank-you-“
  • A consistent naming system helps set up more precise and individualized tracking in Google Analytics and makes it easy to filter and locate these specialized pages on your site and in your analytics

Step Four

Use the simple Thank You Page Best Practices listed below to optimize your TY pages to better serve your customers, build trust and encourage the desired next steps.

Thank You Page Best Practices

Remember that the thank you page is a great place to help set the user’s expectations by letting them know what the next step is. Also…

  • Restate the core value proposition, confirming the action they just took
  • Let the user know WHEN, HOW & WHO will be following up with them (if applicable)
  • Let the user know how they can track their inquiry (if applicable)
  • Link to where they can find more information about the specific product they just purchased or applied for
  • It is also a great time and place to request a secondary conversion such as “Newsletter Sign Up” or “Refer a Friend.”

A proper thank you (page) can do much more than help track conversions. It can build immediate confidence and boost customer trust.

Edge can help optimize your marketing and track more of what matters.

Get In Touch

Benefits of Display Advertising: Putting Wind In the Sails of Your Primary Digital Channels

UPDATED: December 10th, 2021

Attribution and giving credit where credit is due

It is still the case for much of Digital Marketing when it comes to reporting that 100% of the credit goes to the last-clicked channel. 

This can be a stumbling block at times for teams investing in and trying to measure the value of a strong digital display initiative and traditional display.

This is because spending is easily measured and attributable to specific efforts, while the value returned from that money spent is often more diffused.

In no other channel is this more the case than Prospecting Display.

Why do we run display ads in the first place? It can sound a bit counterintuitive, but the reason should not be to get display conversions.

Display me the money!

It makes complete sense when an advertiser boosts their display budget that they expect to see an on-platform result beyond more impressions and clicks.

If you’re this advertiser and you give a darn about revenue and justifying your ad spend then naturally you’ll want to see attributable, on-platform revenue grow in step with your burgeoning budget.

While on-platform conversion activity, positive revenue growth and ROAS are not an impossibility, these metrics should actually be considered secondary to the positive impact your display initiatives are having on three other channels: DirectOrganic Search and Paid Search.

Why we run display ads in the first place

Now is a good time to stop and think about why we run display ads in the first place. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but the reason should not be to get display conversions.

Granted in some verticals, with some products and depending on the budget levels you can, of course, achieve a steady stream on-platform conversion activity, but if you stopped there you’d still only be measuring small chunk of the value.

This approach could lead your team to inadvertently undervalue display and make it more difficult to communicate its value to key stakeholders.

This is especially true for display campaigns with tighter budgets, or campaigns with newer brands trying to expand their name recognition. They might try it once, not see the flood of conversion activity directly attributable to ad clicks they’d hoped for and declare the whole experiment a bust.

More likely, they might compare what appears to be a meager display ROI to a burgeoning return in their Organic, Direct or Social channels and decide the juice is not worth the squeeze.

But, if you were to stop there, you might accidentally be stopping the flow of the best juice – a big, pink grapefruit of value that can help fill a variety of glasses.

Quick Digital Marketing Funnel Review

Prospecting Display is an efficient way of generating new marketing leads and brand interest, while Remarketing helps draw potential customers into further engagement with your brand.

Digital Marketing Funnel – Highlighting Prospecting & Remarketing Display

Display’s primary purpose

The primary purpose of a prospecting display campaign is to raise the awareness and visibility of your brand within the communities you serve.

Generating awareness through prospecting display is a super important activity, but it is a top-of-the-funnel activity, thus one that seldom gets the easy accolades of last touch initiatives like Paid & Organic Search, Social Media or Email.

When we’re prospecting we’re doing just that – reaching out to prospective customers within your market who may have never heard of your brand in hopes that, now that they have, they’ll take action in the future, and that future action is very often taken through a different channel.

…attributable conversions and on-platform revenue are both just the frosting compared to the value of elevating your brand…

Display’s secondary purpose

Display’s secondary purpose is to keep your brand top of mind within your market via remarketing. It is remarketing that typically generates most on-platform display conversions.

Remarketing display is more likely to obtain attributable conversions because we’re now reaching out to users who’ve already expressed interest. These users are further down the funnel towards taking action.

A good display or video campaign builds brand awareness and affinity, while keeping your brand at the forefront of customer consideration. Only after that comes on-platform conversion and revenue growth.

Even then, attributable conversions and on-platform revenue are both just the frosting. The value of elevating your brand, filling the top of your funnel (generating demand), and contributing to the health of your other channels are the cake.

If you’re looking to elevate your brand and increase relevant traffic to your website it might just be time to give display advertising a go.

Put The Wind Back In Your Digital Marketing Sails!

Get Your Edge On

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 


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

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.

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More Than Maintaining: Transforming Your Digital Marketing In Times Crisis

As your team works diligently during this time to inform, protect and serve your members, your partners at Edge want you to know that we’re here as a resource for you to lean on as well.

To that end, we’ve assembled a list of considerations for your digital marketing during this time to help inform your strategy as things unfold and adapt to a new reality over the coming months. 

We’ll continue to update this post and distribute any new, relevant guidance as it comes in.

If there’s any way we can help you just reach out, we’ll do our best as always. Together we’ll get through this stronger.

9 Ways To Adapt Your Digital Marketing To Better Serve Your Audience In Tough Times

1) Expect Your Digital Branch To Get Busier

Short term: Until the virus peaks we might expect that larger, non-immediate consumer financial decisions to slow down. Search intent is already migrating towards topics of immediate safety and provision…and home office supplies.

During this time we suggest keeping your brand present online. Pausing or stopping budgets altogether is not recommended, as you’re likely to lose ground as well as consumer trust by running silent.

Instead, this is the time to remind and encourage your audience that your organization is there for them and has the financial tools they need and…they can all be accessed online. More on this in points #2 and #3 below.

Long term: As your membership adjusts to #quarantinelife, expect even the staunchest technophobes to start moving to online banking and more potential new members to explore services and products online instead of dropping by a branch.

Ad schedules will likely need to be at least temporarily extended to accommodate an expanded work-from-home audience that will behave differently than a primarily commuter audience.

For example, standard commuter hours that we might normally exclude could see upticks in online activity as commuters replace drive time with screen time.

Perhaps more than ever, PPC pros must make sure brands and organizations are present when people are searching.

Frederick Vallaeys of Optmyzr

In his blog post this week, Frederick Vallaeys of Optmyzr said, “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.”

Vallaeys goes on to say, “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.”

Developing budgets that are responsive has always key part of healthy digital marketing strategies and budget flexibility is especially crucial at this time. 

We have already seen some spikes in online conversion activities starting at the end of FEB, when the virus got very real in the U.S. Rate fluctuations have also impacted user behavior. 

We’re keeping our eyes on patterns as they develop to keep you informed.

Should we continue to see online demand rise as expected you’ll want to make sure your brand is present to answer the call whether that be via your digital branch, online banking tools, paid search and display ads and/or call centers.

2) Creative Shifts

Review your current ad, social and landing page creative. Is there anything that should be changed to account for and be sensitive to the current situation?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t have the means to generate new creative at this time, but if there’s an opportunity to pivot and improve than we suggest doing so. 

Edge can also help out here by providing design services to extend your team’s capabilities should you find yourselves over taxed.

3) Tone and Transparency

When you communicate to your audience be transparent (this sucks), but temper your messaging with healthy amounts of encouragement (we will get through this). Keep your audiences informed, not overwhelmed. 

Kimberly Dutcher, another Search Engine land author put it this way in a recent article“ensure ad copy and website messaging are in full support of employee and customer wellness. Be aware of people’s reaction to this sensitive issue.”

4) Call Center Expansion

We have indeed already seen some of our CU partners convert branches into expanded call centers to accommodate increased volume.

In a CU Times article, Signal Financial President/CEO Francois Verleysen indicated that a majority of the calls they received were members needing help making use of the online tools.

“Most of the calls we received on Friday included requests from members to help them with installing the mobile banking app or how to use our remote deposit service,” Verleysen said. “We are getting members to use those digital services we always had that they never took advantage of.”

Francois Verleysen, Signal Financial President/CEO

5) Create a COVID FAQs Page

According to Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land, “…every consumer-facing business probably needs a COVID FAQs page that addresses common questions the public may be asking about their products or services.”

No, this isn’t a tactic to increase organic search visibility. It is simply to make sure you are serving your members and potential members as best you can by creating an easy-to-find hub for all your organization’s info and updates regarding how COVID-19 is impacting your organization and FOM.

Create a Corona Virus FAQ page and make it a resource hub for your members. Update it often, email it to your members and post a link to it prominently from your homepage.

6) If You Must Temporarily Close Locations

Update your Google My Business profile to “Temporarily Closed“. Now might be a good time to review your GMB pages to make sure all your contact info is up to date as well.

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to update your call center messages to give the most pertinent branch closer updates to callers immediately.

7) Scam Alerts

Continue to monitor and inform your audience against scams that seek to capitalize on turbulent times like Coronavirus-Related Ransomware Sites.

8) Wellness Buddies

No, it’s not a cartoon on PBS and I confess to having chuckled when my boss first suggested this, but then she explained it and I was like, “Dang. That’s a really good idea. We should always be doing that.” 

Wellness buddies…are cross-trained partners within your organization who are able to cover for each other should one become sick or have to take leave to care for someone who’s sick.

At Edge, we’ve been a virtual working environment for going on two decades. Over that time, we’ve learned that one inadvertent pitfall of the virtual office can be the siloing of expertise.

Create systems for sharing knowledge throughout your organization and you’ll not only give your team more depth and flexibility, but also drive new ideas.

“It is the unwanted, unasked for challenges that often spur our best moments of kindness, generosity and innovation.”

9) Give Your Team Permission To Do Good

Innovation doesn’t always have to be about building better widget. It can also be about building a more compassionate organization by thinking differently about what truly matters.

This week, I got perhaps the most unique email I’ve ever received from an employer. In it my boss told our teams that we can take paid time off to help our neighbors during this time and even use the company card to help neighbors in an emergency or donate to a charity of our choice. 

She said she trusts us to do the right thing…and in that simple statement gave us permission to be something more than a kick ass marketing agency. 

We know that even the best laid campaigns and strategies are up in the air right now. However, we’re confident that business can and will move on, just not business as usual.

It is the unwanted, unasked for challenges that often spur our best moments of kindness, generosity and innovation.

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.

Personas Don’t Need Every Detail, Just the Ones that Matter

Personas are “sketches” of your target audience. They help your team create content that speaks to your audience’s pain points and aligns with what they’re searching for.

Don’t get bogged down with character details like “does she take her coffee black or with cream?” Instead, focus on the mindset of your target audience. What pain points keep them from meeting their goals or reaching out for the help they need to do so?

Your final persona document might assign names and have more detail, but don’t stress. Focus on what motivates your audience and what their daily pain points are.

Envision Your Ideal Customer

Marry what you know about people who use your services with what your data and sales team is telling you. This combination should give you a Buyer Profile.

Start with Google Analytics data about the people using your relevant landing pages:

  • What is their primary age?
  • What gender are they?
  • Are they mobile or desktop users, and what is their browser preference?
  • Where do they live?
  • Are they more likely to be a new or returning user on your website?

Getting Into Your Customer’s Frame of Mind

For this, I like starting with these 3 questions:

  1. What is the first thing my customer thinks about in the morning?
  2. What is the last thing my customer thinks about at night?
  3. Why?

Answering these questions will help identify and document your customer’s pain points in the personas.

Initial Competitor Keyword Research

Once you’re in the mindset of your audience, the next step is to begin to imagine the questions they might be searching with to hunt down answers.

Long-tail keywords may prove to be key here as they don’t tend to have a high volume of search traffic.

Keep in mind the stage of the buying process when planning content. People at the top of the sales funnel tend to seek out content that answers “what is it?” and “how does it work?”. Meanwhile, people more ready to make a decision search for quality differentiators like “why is it better than other options?”.

Audience Profiles and Audience Insights

After exploring your ideal audience’s pain points and the questions they might be using to search, it’s time to compile your discoveries into one proper persona. In a nutshell, you should break down the persona you’re developing in two components: Profile & Insight.

  • Audience profile – who your ideal customer is using relevant demographic and psychographic details.
  • Audience insight – what makes your ideal customer pull out their credit card and buy.

Your final personas can take many forms and will be something you update regularly. It need not and should not be overly wrought. Sometimes the best description of your audience is a list of the questions they are asking that only you can answer. From there, you can launch an effective content strategy and develop inbound campaigns.

How Can We Help Make Your Personas Work For You?

Let’s Talk.

7 Display Advertising KPIs For Measuring Display Campaign Success

UPDATED: December 10th, 2021

Knowing in which direction to look

As we covered in a previous post, the true value of display advertising is its ability to put wind in the sails of your most important digital marketing channels: Organic & Paid Search, Direct and even Referral.

But how do we measure that wind?

In this post we’ll point you in the direction of seven display advertising KPIs you can use to measure discernible lift to your brand and/or featured products when on-platform conversion activity might not provide the clearest picture of performance.

Knowing where to look when measuring display campaigns can help your team defend its advertising budgets and properly gauge increases or declines in brand and product awareness.

7 display ad metrics for measuring display success

1) Viewable Impressions

This is a simple way to see if your spend is reaching more eligible eyeballs. An ad is considered “viewable” when 50% of the ad shows on screen for one second or longer for static or HTML5 display ads and two seconds or longer for video ads. ​

We prefer to report viewable impressions to our clients whenever possible because…who cares about an ad no one sees? Unless, of course it’s an audio ad.

2) Display Impression Share (DIS)

Your campaign may be posting an increase in Viewable Impressions compared to a previous campaign, but what percentage of your entire eligible audience is seeing your ads?

This is what the Display Impression Share (DIS) aims to tell us. Based on your budget and targeting settings (location, ad schedule, interest, keywords, etc.) this KPI tells us what percentage of eligible eyeballs are actually being served your messaging.

You could be getting millions of viewable impressions, but still only reaching a tiny portion of your eligible audience.

In a mature, well-oiled campaign the main obstacle to growing impression share and winning more customers is most often a restrictive budget.

Rising Above the 10% DIS Threshold

An underfunded display campaign can still yield positive results, especially compared to a complete lack of ad presence, but a good goal is to balance your targeting and budget in such a way that you can get over what we call the 10% DIS Threshold.

You can see positive results under 10%, but the needle really starts to move in the right direction the further you get above 10%.

Note also that 100% is not a realistic goal either for Display Impression Share for a prospecting campaign. That would require either an absurdly huge budget or a thimble-sized audience.

How these adjustments typically work themselves out is optimizing the targeting up or down to fit the real-world budget that’s available.

3) Product-Relevant Onsite Interest

Screenshot from Google Analytics showing how to measure Product-Relevant Onsite Interest.
You can find this info in Google Analytic’s Behavior Reports for product- or service-specific content. Notice how the blue line shows both an upheaval during and a higher plateau after a campaign ends

The real question we’re trying to answer here is: Was there a discernible lift in Pageviews or New Users landing on site content that’s relevant to your campaign’s objectives?

It’s best to exclude the campaign’s landing page when looking at the data, because of course the LP will see an increase in traffic compared to having never ran before.

So…say your goal was to grow brand awareness and membership. Filter for the pages on site that pertain to membership, but aren’t a campaign LP.

Compare when your display campaign was active to the previous period when to it wasn’t.

If you’re patient and enough time has passed, you can also compare the period of activity to what happened after you campaign ended as well for a more wholistic perspective.

This is a great way to measure the efficacy of a display campaign even if there’s no conversion tracking set up for the target goal, which unfortunately is the case from time to time.

Positive Upheaval

A successful campaign should show a positive upheaval in engagement with relevant content during the time it ran.

Another benefit you may see when looking at the before, during and after data is that, while interest will most certainly fall off after a campaign ends, it typically settles at a higher plateau than before the campaign.

Portion of an Edge End-of-Campaign (EOC) report illustrating the rise of both traffic and targeted conversion activity for a home equity campaign.
Portion of an Edge End-of-Campaign (EOC) report illustrating the rise of both traffic and targeted conversion activity for a home equity campaign.

4) Direct, Organic and Paid Search Channel Health

Display assists these three channels most by creating more awareness in users. Later, they go straight to your website (Direct) or perform a branded search and then click on a result or text ad (Organic & Paid Search).

Of course, the benefits of elevated brand awareness don’t have to stop with these these channels, but can also extend to your Social Channel as well.

There isn’t always a 1:1 correlation between running display and seeing the channels mentioned above flourish side by side. This is why it’s important to look at what content, pages and/or conversions excelled during the time your display campaign was active.

But if brand demand is what we’re really building then we’ll want to be sure to check…

5) Branded Search Demand

The influence of display on branded search can be a bit more mercurial but, in general, a display campaign that’s strong on brand should help generate more new searches for your brand.

These new searchers will then typically enter your site through either an Organic result or Paid Search ad if you’re running any Branded Search campaigns through Google Ads or Bing…and we suggest you do.

Paid Branded Search campaigns are an economical way to:

  • Expand your real estate in the SERPs with blinged-out ads
  • Amass more usable targeting data
  • Get more conversions at a lower cost
  • Gauge increases in demand for your brand name over time

When you first get started, you may only be able to spend $30/day in order to purchase the majority of your branded impression share but, fueled by increased awareness from a strong display, video or audio campaign, you’ll notice over time that there are more customers to pursue.

Look also to your Search Console, specifically for evidence of Organic branded search growth. Have branded search impressions and clicks seen an increase during the campaign run dates?

6) Targeted Conversion Activity & Revenue: On-Platform and Off

Definitely examine your targeted conversion activity and revenue metrics to see what impact your display campaign is having both on-platform and in the periphery channels mentioned in #4 above that display so often assists.

Bullet Chart illustrating Target Goal Pacing for the current year and versus the previous year.
Bullet Chart illustrating target goal pacing for the current year and versus the previous year. Did your display campaign put wind in your sails and help move you towards your targeted goals?

7) Actual Conversion Data

What do we mean when we say, “Actual Conversions”?

Well, there’s what an agency can measure in Google Analytics and on-platform, which is often limited by sampling and ad blockers, and then there’s what actually happens from the client’s perspective.

By incorporating client-supplied conversion actuals into our Digital Marketing Data Warehouses we can see more of what the client sees.

As this important data builds over time, we can know for certain if the client’s goals were met and compare campaign performance to historical efforts from previous campaigns.

(Side note: If you’re competing in a retail space, you’ll need to line up display campaign activity with actual sales figures, specifically for the products and/or locations you’re highlighting in your ads.)

Beyond tallying conversion actuals, we can also compare actuals to what we were able to track in Analytics and set baselines for tracking coverage.

We can also improve metrics like Success Rate that help estimate more accurate marketing values for client goals.

For us, creating an Actuals Feedback Loop was the missing piece that helped build trust and a common language for a campaign’s success.

More than impressions and clicks

When your team launches its next display campaign you’re pursuing much more than just impressions and clicks – you’re building brand, fortifying other online channels and generating revenue.

To measure the the true value of you efforts you’ll need analysis and reporting that goes beyond a myopic, single-platform view – one that examines the holistic value a display campaign can bring to your objectives as an organization.

Is It Time You Upped Your Analytics Game?

Get Your Edge On

SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions Part 2: Setting and Measuring Goals

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. Russian referral spam is seldom nice. Neither are likely to open a free checking account at your bank or credit union any time soon.

3) Properly categorize your blog content

Without proper content categorization, reporting on your content’s performance can be a real slog. Taking a few simple steps to categorize your blog content will make measuring the performance of your content and SEO efforts much easier.

4 ) Sync your Analytics with Search Console and Google Ads (if you’re running paid campaigns)

These integrations will increase the scope and quality of your data.

5) Check your website’s privacy policy

Make sure it’s current and covers data collection and cookie usage for Google Analytics, Google Ads 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:

6) Set up the Demographics and Interest reports

Once your privacy policy is up to date, you can then set up and access Demographic and Interest reports that provide even more useful insights into the makeup of your online audience.

7) Identify all the conversion activities of economic significance 

Perhaps most important of all though…take the time to identify your website’s conversion events (aka goals). 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.

SEO Strategies For Financial Institutions Part 1: Opportunities and Obstacles

SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions - Part 1 - Austin
The secret to an successful SEO strategy for a financial institution is…to be one of the few who have an SEO strategy.

Earlier this year I received a call from my boss, Stephanie. She had some exciting news, “We’ve been invited to speak at the Connect15 conference this April down in Austin!”

“We have?” I asked, not knowing at the time that Connect15 is an annual conference put on by our clients at Q2eBanking. It’s attended by over 180 different community and regional banks and credit unions from around the United States, and I’ve since come to know that it’s quite the swinging shindig.

“They’d like you to deliver a 45-minute presentation on SEO for financial institutions. What do you say?”

“Ahhhh…[momentary dread of public speaking overruled by thought of free trip to Austin]…yeah, sure.”

“Oh good, because I already told them yes!”

“Okay, but Stephanie, how will I ever fill up a 45-minute time slot?”

“I’m not worried about that, Zack. I’ve heard you talk at client meetings before.”

With that vote of confidence I set myself to work preparing for Austin and Connect15.

I wanted to make sure my presentation was as relevant and helpful as possible, so I surveyed over 55 financial institution websites from 25 different states. Analizing each one for its SEO strengths and weaknesses, I was looking for any trends or common SEO pain points that we might be able to ameliorate.

What we learned on our way to Austin

Chiefly, we discovered that there is a startling need for better SEO application within the local banking industry around the United States. So we decided to devote a series of posts to helping small and mid-sized banks and credit unions improve their Inbound Marketing.

The upcoming posts in this series will cover specific SEO tactics and insights that you can put to work for your organization. These useful strategies will improve the traffic coming into your website and increase your ROI in the process.

Do they require time and resources? YES. Is it worth it? ALSO, YES.

Not a bank or a credit union? Not a problem. The SEO strategies that I’ll be sharing can benefit any business – no matter your niche. So be sure to read on and sign up for the Inside Edge newsletter so you don’t miss any of the Inbound/SEO goodness.

Financial Institution SEO Survey Findings

Financial Institution SEO Survey Results
Financial Institution SEO Survey Findings: 58% of FI websites would not be considered mobile friendly by Google. 79% of FI websites were either poorly optimized for mobile or offered no mobile experience at all. 80% of FI websites lacked a proper SEO site structure. 70% had NO content marketing strategy. 73% of FI websites had missing or unclear Calls-to-Action. A full 82% of FIs were not optimized for Local Search opportunities.

84% of all the financial institution websites in the survey would receive a FAILING SEO GRADE. Meaning that they are either mobile incompatible, or had other serious SEO issues that limit their performance.

Become one of the SEO few

These findings can seem like another boat load of bad news for regional and community financial institutions who have been saddled with the high cost of maintaining regulatory compliance and creating digital branches, but I’d say it’s actually good news.

If you’re a small to mid-sized financial institution, the data is telling you that the opportunity to excel, to place your organization ahead of your competitors, not to mention court more Millennials, is right in front of you. It’s the sort of optimism that comes when you spot a big, juicy, low-hanging fruit.

There’s more opportunity to move forward than there is to go backwards. You simply have to do what nearly 85% of the financial institutions out there aren’t: Become one of the few who have an SEO strategy.

And really, whether you’re a financial institution in Poughkeepsie or a doggy day care in Portland, putting in place a proper SEO and inbound strategy will raise the visibility of your business online. Not only that, but it can also provide a better ROI than other tactics you may currently be throwing too much of your budget at.

You simply have to do what nearly 85% of the financial institutions out there aren’t: Become one of the few who have an SEO strategy.

Why invest in Inbound Marketing?

SEO and Inbound Marketing costs less than traditional or outbound marketing. It delivers more ready-to-close leads, provides measurable ROI data and can even save your organization thousands of dollars per year.*

More reasons to invest in Inbound Marketing…*

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. (Search Engine Journal)
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013
  • 54% more leads generated by inbound tactics than by traditional paid marketing
  • 2x as many marketers say inbound delivers below average cost per lead than outbound methods
  • $20,000 is the average companies save per year by investing more in inbound marketing versus outbound

When done right, your SEO strategy will turn your bank or credit union’s website into a well-oiled hub for your digital marketing efforts, bring more account holders and members into your digital branch (and physical branch) and steadily increase your ROI along the way.

Sign me up. Where do I start?

The best starting point is figuring out what you’re missing then building a more complete and successful SEO strategy from there. A comprehensive SEO strategy is comprised of two overarching categories: ON-PAGE and OFF-PAGE optimizations.

All of your team’s SEO efforts will fall under these two classifications. Which on- and off-page strategies listed below are either absent or under-represented in your Digital Marketing playbook?

On-Page and Off-Page SEO Tactics
ON-PAGE SEO consists of Mobile & UX Optimizations, Keyword & Audience Research, SEO Site Structure Optimizations, and Publishing Compelling Content. OFF-PAGE SEO consists of Local SEO & Citations, Healthy Link-Building, Social Media Participation and Paid Promotion.

Your business will need to consistently apply all of these ON- and OFF-PAGE tactics in order for your SEO strategy to really fire on all cylinders and drive more qualified traffic to your bank or credit union’s website.

Whether your goal is to put your own more complete strategy into action or hire an agency to develop and manage one for you, Edge’s SEO Strategies series will help you discover what you may be missing and improve upon what you already have.


SEO Strategies Series: What’s Next?

In our next post in this SEO Strategies series we’ll take a look at setting up your website’s analytics and goals. We’ll look at assigning economic values to your goals and measuring the results of your efforts.

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.


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

*SEO Stat Source: http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics