TwitterFacebookLinkedInEmailMessengerYour bank’s website should tell the story of your brand and services while establishing your institution’s readiness for the future. In addition, a strong website contributes to a cohesive banking experience, conveying that banking with you will be convenient and positive. But even the most eye-popping websites are undermined if they don’t attract visitors first. In this post, we overview three digital methods to increase your bank’s website traffic and provide pointers to help new customers find you. Why Website Traffic is Critical for Financial Institutions Competition among financial institutions has never been greater. According to Foresight Research, 22% of banking customers and credit union members are “extremely likely” to switch financial institutions within two years. An engaging bank website is, therefore, an essential tool for marketing in the banking industry. In fact, 66% of consumers research online before making large purchases. This means that most of your potential banking customers will refer to your bank’s website to learn about your locations, reputation, culture and the services you provide. Your website should amplify your brand name, set you apart from local and national competitors and expand your pool of advocates. Consider the following methods to get prospective customers there and achieve much sought-after brand recognition. Method 1 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Banks Search engines grade your website to determine visibility on their results pages (SERPs). Marketing experts often refer to the “three pillars of SEO” as the determiners in search engine algorithms: Authority, or the perceived value and popularity of your financial institution’s website Relevance, meaning that the keywords and web content directly relate to the search Trust depends upon the authority of internal links, reliability of your brand and whether your bank website design is optimized for the user experience Although you may already be familiar with search engine optimization, it remains critical for bank marketing. Search Engine Journal reported that users click second page results on Google less than 1% of the time. Successful bank website SEO will keep you on the first page and, ideally, higher on it. A wealth of best practices and guides online explore this topic more fully. However, you should aim for the following high-level goals. Provide Quality Content on Your Website Quality content will showcase your brand and services on the website while also contributing to SEO. Content on your institution’s website includes the basics like descriptions and landing pages about your services. But it could also include more innovative pages like multimedia presentations or financial calculators. Your financial institution’s website should provide customers with the financial information they need and keep visitors engaged. The key is to add true value to your customers or prospects. What do they want to know? What else do they need to know? Most will need essentials like contact information and your financial services. But visitors may also look to you for guidance on a host of topics, from financial health to fraud prevention. Content that provides value and supports your overall SEO includes: Blogs that are customer-focused and educational FAQs to answer common questions that customers search Your institution’s story, including how it got started, its philosophy and its customer base Local content that explores your community, community involvement and locations Testimonials from satisfied customers that you serve Select and Apply Search Engine Optimization Keywords While composing the above, don’t forget that the text should include appropriate keywords that are naturally used throughout. The general goal of SEO keyword research is to determine what people search for. Including those words and phrases on your pages help search algorithms find you. When forming these lists, consider using an SEO keyword tool or generator. These tools will help you figure out the search demand landscape and pinpoint which words will be most effective. They can also provide additional insight into your customers’ needs and useful content ideas for your website. When determining keywords, list relevant topics to your institution, such as lending, account opening and digital banking. Use these larger buckets to brainstorm specific words and phrases within each topic. For instance, the greater topic of loans could include small business loans, home equity loans and personal loans. Specificity can include locations and specific topics that are pertinent to financial services. One way to add specificity is to embrace long-tail keywords – phrases that include more words for more clearly defined intent. Phrases like “tech and startup banking” may have fewer searches than something more generic, but the consumers searching for these long-tail phrases are likely of higher value to your institution. As an additional tip, use a range of keywords rather than only the most popular search keywords. Doing this will make your content sound more natural. But it will also diversify your “keyword portfolio” and help you corner some of the less competitive search phrases. Balance Inbound and Outbound Links High-quality links to and from your bank’s website are another critical piece of the puzzle. Links to your bank’s website demonstrate authority for certain search terms. As a result, the right balance boosts traffic and improves the overall user experience. Internal links take visitors to other pages on your site. Let’s say you provided an educational blog to help customers plan for retirement. An inbound link could direct the reader to a page that allows them to contact your asset management team or that showcases your retirement planning services. Outbound links boost your authority and search ranking by sending visitors to other trustworthy sites that could be helpful to the visitor. Under the above example, you could share links to external resources about retiring in your state or relevant government programs. Inbound links, or backlinks, elevate your website the most as they send visitors from another website to yours. These take time to cultivate and an established name and reputation. Pitching to publications, strategic partnerships, independent research, conferences and successful content can support this effort. Bonus Tips to Successful SEO for Banks Consider a web design platform with an SEO toolkit. These can rank the content on your pages and preview how they will perform in a search engine. SEO services for banks can also provide suggestions for new keywords that will create a more successful page. Beware of SEO schemes that promise immediate results. These often exploit search algorithms and violate content guidelines. True SEO takes time and these “get found quick” schemes may result in long-term reputational harm from top search engines. Perform incremental checks for dead links. Remove the broken links that damage your user experience and SEO. Add a brief description and meta description for videos to ensure that they are optimized. Search engines can’t scan and rank such media, but they still add value and a seamless experience to customers. Method 2 – How Banks Can Use Social Media Social media done well will also increase traffic to your website by promoting discussion, your brand identity and the website itself. It’s an increasingly popular tool to market financial services, as an online community opens interactions with existing or potential customers. Better still, there are no baseline startup costs. Consider your social media presence as an extension of your website that engages customers more directly. To get prospects’ attention, aim for relevant and engaging content that helps support their needs and contributes to your digital experience. The connection will also give you a better idea of the products and services that your current and prospective clients want. A recent article in ABA Banking Journal listed the following as effective strategies to enhance your bank’s social presence: Choose your platform strategically Connect with other users and profiles Plan and schedule your posts Vary your social post portfolio Celebrate holidays or community events Share blogs from your website Use eye-catching visuals Consult experts for help as needed Social media can also be an effective customer service tool. According to a recent article from The Financial Brand, social media can effectively shrink the gap between you and customers. It also enables immediate communication of news and communicates to customers and prospects that you hear them and care about their concerns. Your performance and engagement on social media will also help inform your paid social strategy. To reach more people and amplify engagement, it’s wise to integrate links to your social media accounts on the website. Remember to also encourage your staff to advocate for and engage with your social media presence. As you gain followers, you’ll gain potential website visitors and vice versa. Social media does deliver benefits to your institution, including streamlined communication and increased customer engagement. But communicating with customers via social media also carries certain regulatory compliance concerns. Make sure that you understand the key regulations, take a social media risk assessment and follow compliance best practices. Method 3 – Strategic Paid Ads for Banks You can strengthen your search engine and social media visibility by purchasing targeted web and social traffic in accordance with your budget and business plan. These investments often produce more immediate results than the deliberate building of SEO and a social media following. However, they are also more plainly sales-oriented and require your institution to pony up for the clicks. Pay Per Click (PPC) in Banking PPC tools like Google ads enable you to “cut in line” and appear at the top of a search engine results page. As the name suggests, you pay a fee every time your ad is clicked. This can lead to quick results that are easily measured and tracked. Despite the many benefits of successful PPC campaigns for banks, there are some caveats. You’ll be guaranteed traffic to your website but not guaranteed new accounts. Additionally, the costs of these ads can be volatile and recurring. So, make sure that you: Use the SEO keyword tactics explored above Be specific about your bank’s location in your keywords and campaigns Build website landing pages that accent the search intent of your keywords Test the success of keyword data and add/remove keywords as needed Implement and maintain a list of “negative” keywords, so you don’t spend money on rogue keywords with low business value Research your competitors in the area and use their branded keywords to direct traffic to your institution’s website As with SEO, there are a host of guides to successful PPC campaigns that explore this topic with more granular detail. With effective procedures and strategies, you’ll get more bang for your buck when you pay to play on search engines. Paid Social Media Paid social media campaigns are another effective method for financial institutions to reach potential customers. According to BAI, paid social campaigns can maximize your advertising budget more than simply relying on organic, or free content. Since you target paid ads to your specific audience, they don’t take as long to build traffic. Nor do they cost as much as many other forms of digital advertising. However, the key distinction here is that those who view your ad are not already searching for you, meaning they are always potential customers. As a result, ads should captivate these prospective customers by targeting their needs and interests. Your paid ad strategy must also consider the platforms you choose, as explored in a recent guide from HubSpot. This process can achieve results quickly but requires planning on the front end. In general, a solid paid social strategy requires you to: Target your audience based on demographics, activities, interests and financial interests Determine your goal and the relevant content that will achieve that goal Incorporate strong calls to action that inspire prospective customers to click Create and implement a retargeting strategy personalized to the interests of audience segments Monitor your progress to pinpoint what works and improve what doesn’t Increasing Website Traffic Is Just the First Step An effective strategy to drive web traffic balances all of the above. Website analytics tools will also illuminate how people arrived, revealing the successful tactics and where you should focus your attention. But remember that getting them there is just an aspect of your bank’s online marketing strategy. The website that they visit must be compliant, intuitive and offer exemplary digital customer service. How does the right website design and hosting solution help? Check out this webinar to see how a well-designed banking website can you transform online visitors into new customers.