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
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.
This crisis is an opportunity to re-evaluate outdated rules and system weaknesses often set in place by lobbyists.
"Other than looking at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s website multiple times each day to check the state-by-state projections of the coronavirus, I’ve lately spent most days checking updated regulations that have all of a sudden turned into it’s-not-that-important-anymore rules."
"This COVID-19 world has exposed nearly all of why we do what we do and why we are what we are as an industry and country. It appears all of that has been based on how good lobbyists are for banks and businesses. Who lives, who dies. What businesses are considered essential, what businesses should be closed. For instance, in Williamson County, Texas, if you run a small business, let’s say a florist shop, you are closed and considered a non-essential business. But, if you are a Mattress Firm or Bass Pro Shop, you are open for business and absolutely considered an essential business."
"Right now, our country is entirely exposed to every weakness. Find those weaknesses, fix them and apply new ideas to help everyone, and not just Mattress Firm and Bass Pro Shop."Everything Has Been Exposed: Time to Call It Out by Michael Ogden, editor-in-chief for CUTimes.com
Demands for contactless payments and more comprehensive mobile banking experiences are rising and not likely to fall off too much after the pandemic. Use your digital marketing to highlight your mobile and online banking tools, service and support. It will serve you members better and likely win market share.
The flight to digital means many members are trying out certain features and services for the first time, Giorgio said. And that means more people are reaching out for guidance and support as they learn.
“I think the automation that we’re kind of forcing them to really get to know — the simplified ways of paying, or the ways that they’re going to be learning these new experiences — I think that’s going to naturally extend as we go back to normal.”4 Things Credit Unions Should Do Now to Help New Digital Users by Tina Orem for CUTimes.com
Credit unions continue to vie for a place at the economic recovery table next to some names that might be surprising under any other administration.
World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon was named Tuesday evening to one of 17 Trump Administration task forces that is supposed to help re-open the economy. […] So was Walt Ehmer, president of Waffle House.
But not one credit union representative appeared among the 220 members of the “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”Trump Administration's 17 Economic Recovery Task Forces Have No Credit Union Representatives by David Baumann for CUTimes.com
Bidding algorithms don't have a script for what's going on right now either and providing context is just one of several valuable roles an agency partner can play during this time.
Machines can’t provide context to what’s happening; agencies can — and must.
For those brands that can keep spending a certain amount, there’s a lot that agencies can do to help. […] After all, while consumer sentiment is cautious, people are spending up to 30% more shopping online according to this article “COVID-Consumers: Pessimistic, but spending more online” by Search Engine Land.5 Things PPC Agencies Need to Do to Survive the COVID Crisis by Ashwin Balakrishan, Content marketing lead at Optmyzr
Ad Age offers a look Coronavirus creative trends and warnings to tread lightly in anxious times.
Repurposed footage, solos shoots, Zoom backgrounds and leaning into the joys of home all make an appearance in the top 10. Sound familiar? “If brands can give people a lift in these anxiety-ridden times, it could work in their favor, but they need to tread carefully. Images of happy families in close quarters may not sit well with those who are alone and isolated,” Jardine writes. “A fast feeder telling people to eat junk food while stuck to the couch may not be the best idea when obesity is thought to contribute to coronavirus complications.”10 Creative Trends In the Time of the Coronavirus by Alexandra Jardine for Ad Age
Care first, profit second: Infuse your creatives and content with empathy to appeal to your customers as people, not statistics.
"The problem for marketers is how to build human connections with customers. That’s where you need to focus more on empathy. The empathy that comes naturally with person-to-person interactions must be purposefully sought in online marketing."
"Despite all the innovations in information technology, humans haven’t fundamentally changed. We still value relationships and appreciate connecting with others. Remember how important the human dimension is. It’s something we easily miss in our fast-paced digital world."Why Marketing Needs More Empathy by Teodora Gavrilut, Marketing Manager at Bannersnack
The head of Google's Growth Lab stresses the need for “organizational agility" over short-term growth during the pandemic.
"As the scale and severity of the pandemic became clear, we realized that we had to revise our 2020 plans and shift priorities and resources. We went through a “stop, start, continue” exercise: Stop anything that wasn’t mission critical; start any COVID-19 related work; and continue any crucial work as normal."
"As the situation continues to evolve, we, like many of you, are striving to find ways to be helpful. We know that brands have a role to play. But now is not the time for self-promotion or upselling. Our guiding light in all this is to ensure we’re addressing the needs of our users. And we’ve shifted our campaigns accordingly."
"Yes, in the short term, much of what we’re doing may not immediately impact the bottom line. But the foundation we’re shoring up and building upon will ensure we continue to drive responsible and sustainable growth in the long run."Inside Google Marketing: Agility is the new growth by Matthieu Pellerin, founder and head of Google’s Growth Lab
FI search performance on the rise since late February
Wordstream monitors PPC performance across tens of thousands of advertisers and noted this shift in how COVID-19 has affected Google Ad results within the finance industry.
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 RupertRemote 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