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Apr 02
Digital Marketing For Financial Services

Digital marketing for financial services: best practices

Digital marketing for financial services is rapidly evolving. And financial services companies are upping their investment in online advertising. From competitive strategies to actionable insights, look to our best practices guide, inspired by the digital trends in financial services we’ve seen from our own clients, to create effective financial services campaigns.

Throughout the guide, we’ll look at two common financial services campaigns: credit unions and retirement planning services.

Top targeting strategies for financial services advertising campaigns


First-party data is data you yourself have collected from your customers or website visitors. The latter, the data you get from your website traffic, is used to create audience segments for retargeting campaigns. Retargeting campaigns typically convert at a higher rate as you’re targeting users who have already shown interest in your product or service.

Putting strategy into action

Credit union

With retargeting, you can create different audience segments. Take a page from your website that’s generating a high volume of traffic. Say, the page about personal checking accounts. You could retarget users who have viewed the page and shown interest but haven’t signed up for an account.

Retirement planning service

For a retargeting campaign, you could take the user profiles captured from a piece of downloadable content on your website. Say, a whitepaper on trends investment allocation. You could retarget the users who’ve downloaded the whitepaper but haven’t signed up for a 401(k) plan.

Two implementation tips that are especially important for financial services advertising campaigns are the correct placement of your tag management solution as well as updating your privacy policy.

The placement of your tag management solution helps with the segmentation of your website traffic. Working with your web development team, you need to determine how to identify the type of product that the website visitor was searching for before they abandoned your financial institution’s website. Your tag management solution will allow you to segment just those visitors in order to make highly relevant digital marketing campaigns.

Lastly, be upfront with users about how you collect data. Explain in your privacy policy that you’re collecting their user profiles and for what purpose, for how long, and how their data will be used.

Contextual targeting

You’ve heard it before: It’s all about context. Contextual targeting allows you to place ads on websites that are deeply related to a website’s content. That way, your ads always appear in the context of a user’s interest.

Keep in mind there’s both contextual category targeting and contextual keyword targeting. They’re pretty much the same concept, except that category targeting looks at how the publisher categorizes the website while keyword targeting looks at the keywords on the site.

Putting strategy into action

Credit union

To promote your banking services, you can use contextual category targeting to target broad categories like “Banking” or “Credit & Lending.”

With contextual keyword targeting, you can target keywords like “checking account” or “savings account.”

Retirement planning service

To promote your retirement planning services, you can use contextual category targeting to target broad categories like “Investing” or “Retirement & Pension.”

With contextual keyword targeting, you could target keywords like “retirement plan” or “401(k) plans.”

Data targeting

While first-party data is the marketer’s most powerful tool, third-party data, which is simply data provided by outside data partners, are other options if you’re lacking first-party data or want to complement your first-party data and reach a broader audience. Data targeting is comprised of third-party data.
(More on how to leverage this strategy later in our section on choosing data brands and segments.)

CRM targeting

We’ve touched on one kind of first-party data, but let’s take a look at another: customer relationship management data, or CRM data. With Choozle, you can import CRM data to target people who are already in your customer base.

Putting strategy into action

Credit union

For CRM targeting, you could push data segments for customers who have a greater propensity to buy add-on services from your data management platform to ours for targeting.

Retirement planning service

For CRM targeting, you could onboard CRM data records from companies that offer 401(k) plans and target their employees to open a 401(k) account.

A couple of notes on CRM targeting: CRM Onboarding is available with the purchase of a monthly Data Package, which also includes Web Insights.

Choozle also complies with the Privacy Shield Framework, meaning first-party data in our platform is anonymized and handled and stored securely.

The most effective digital advertising employs several targeting strategies in a single campaign. While we don’t dig into them here, we recommend you also consider adding cross-device targeting or geoframing to your campaigns.

Choosing data brands & segments for financial services campaigns

Third-party data is commonly used in digital marketing for financial services. It can add significant value to a campaign, but holy moly, it’s an endless supply. Not to worry—we’ve got data partners we like and can recommend for these kinds of campaigns. Here are a few from off the top of our heads.

Data brands & segments for credit unions

  • BlueKai allows you to target users based on average household income.
  • Data Alliance offers a range of data segments related to personal finance, from investing and insurance to taxes.
  • Dstillery offers location-based segments to target users who have visited certain banks.
  • Oracle offers data segments to target users who are interested in financial services and financial planning.
  • Factual’s location-based data segments also allow you to target people who have gone to competitor credit unions.

Data segments & brands for retirement planning services

  • Leverage Dun & Bradsheet to target by company size or function to reach the Human Resources or Operations teams that control 401(k) plans available to their employees.
  • PushSpring allows you to target users who have downloaded one or more finance apps to their phones.
  • Dstillery also offers a good amount of data segments around financial services, including users who are interested in personal finance content or users who are interested in personal finance, investment, and retirement.

Optimizing financial services campaigns

Don’t set and forget. To optimize your campaign ROI, you first have to optimize your campaign’s performance. Let’s take a look at a few optimization hacks you can make based on the strategies we’ve discussed so far.


When it comes to retargeting, timing is everything. Data can go bad. That’s why we recommend looking at the recency of your user data when employing retargeting as a strategy.

Recency allows you to look at audience groups by how recently they’ve visited your website and can help you determine how long it takes for a user to convert. You can pull reports to identify an optimal recency period for your product or service.

However, fresh data is best. We usually recommend limiting your retargeting pools to users who have recently visited your website as they have stronger purchase intent.

Preferred lists & block lists

For contextual targeting, we recommend creating preferred lists and block lists.

A preferred list is a list of your targeted sites. Meaning, if you’ve got a good click-through rate from a website or a number of websites, you can create a list to target only those sites in the future. To weed out the sites that aren’t driving traffic back to your website, you can create a blocklist.

More on preferred lists and blocklists here.

A/B testing

If you’ve created several ad groups for A/B or multivariate testing, compare performances and reallocate the budget to the highest-performing ad group.

You can test different financial service offerings in your ads for cross-selling or upselling. If a first-time buying experience is rewarding, statistics show that a second purchase from the same customer is likely in the future. Use retargeting to A/B test additional or similar products to newly acquired customers to determine what is the most likely to convert. This can help impact your business KPI of return-on-ad-spend as well as average customer value.

On the other hand, if you created only one ad group, you can review your campaign reports and see how the selected data segments are performing. If they’re underperforming, you may want to update your audience and add or remove data segments from your custom audience.

What results to expect for financial services campaigns

Establishing a baseline for your campaigns isn’t always easy. To give you an idea of what to expect, we put together some stats for financial services campaigns run in the Choozle platform. (The targeting types are ordered based on how frequently they’re used.)

Targeting type Average click-through rate Average CPM % of personal finance ad groups
Third-party data targeting 0.19% $4.78 45.50%
Contextual category targeting 0.22% $4.39 24.23%
Retargeting 0.14% $4.33 11.11%
Contextual keyword targeting 0.16% $4.52 9.49%
CRM targeting 0.11% $4.26 4.50%

Digital marketing for financial services can be daunting. If you’re wondering how to achieve your campaign objectives, let us know how we can help! Also, check out our conversation about digital advertising for the financial services industry with Terrill Herbig at The BA Group.

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