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

Published April 13, 2020

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