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Working the Engines: How to Effectively Control Your Brand through Search, Part 2

In a previous blog post titled "Working the Engines: Search Drives Customer Connections," I explained that search can drive customer connections and activate the data that you already have. In this second post, let’s now focus on the how.

All bank marketers should take direct action to control and significantly expand their brand presence within two areas of the search engines:

  1. geo-mapping layer
  2. knowledge graph

Both of these services are driven by data, either scraped from your websites and other sources or provided by you directly. By building a structured data feed, you have the ability to directly influence what is presented to thousands or millions of consumers. All types of location information, such as physical address, directions, even longitude and latitude are inputs to the geo-layer. Your company info, like phone numbers, hours, and contact names, are inputs into the knowledge graph. To put that into perspective, there are at least 20 data elements needed per location, times say 5,000 branch and ATM locations, means your would have at least 100,000 managed data elements activated, available in real-time and attached to your brand. While you have to build, maintain, and feed this data, it is free, meaning it shows up in search without paid media costs. Also — and this is huge — this drives your local and mobile marketing plans, so that anytime someone nearby searches on their mobile device and uses the term "nearest," your locations are going to come up.

Now, let’s think about another critical customer connection point: your call centers. They are a very expensive asset with an important role in achieving your financial objectives. If they worked just a little better, there could be a big performance boost.

For example, what if when the phone rang, your customer service representative not only knew what line of business it was about, but knew that person had just been searching and what keyword groups they were using. How much better prepared could they be to have a conversation that closes business knowing that the caller had recently expressed their intent in search?

By taking control of your data and organizing your search ad copy correctly, you can essentially associate a specific in-bound phone number with a customer segment as defined by their searching behavior. Your array of phone numbers can be dynamically inserted into search ads based on what keyword was typed in. Now, this is not as "free" as the mapping and location concept since we are talking about paid search results. However, it is a testable, measurable, and scalable value proposition. Where it works, it can accelerate performance by hooking up the call center to the search business services platform.

Beyond the physical constructs of branches, ATMs, and call centers, search accelerates other areas of marketing. When I think about the next place search can drive financial performance, I think about the messaging used to drive acquisition and cross-sell/up-sell. I think about all the time, resources, and costs that are invested by your brand and line of business marketing teams to develop and deploy the messaging needed to get that job done. The only problem is today, the vast majority of that messaging is not sequenced, meaning while there is acquisition messaging that is deployed in search or display, it assumes a single touch.

By implementing search remarketing, (AKA retargeting), we have the ability to use data to inform a much more granular and sequenced messaging strategy. For example, many banks today are not running remarketing list programs; where they are, they have only one or two lists and (worse) are reusing the same messaging that was used for acquisition. This limits their performance. In the optimized and accelerated world, they should run numerous lists and deploy remarketing ads that contain messaging designed for multiple touches. For example, in credit card, the acquisition message could be balance transfer. But if they came to the website and engaged with, say, new mover content, the remarketing sequence could shift to add quality customer service, and if they don’t convert, shift again to add double points.

Remarketing should offer the customer a deeper, more relevant experience while making your investment in a search platform work harder.

Those three areas — branches, call centers, and messaging — are all opportunities available to you here and now.

So what’s your acceleration plan? Stay tuned for Part 3 where I will discuss the emerging opportunity to connect with customers via Search: Ratings and Reviews.

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