Commentary

Fifth Third Bank Cashes In On Checking Account Production



Nick Ferrugia shows the audience his lucky socks.

The Challenge

Fifth Third Bank wanted to increase volume through high-quality accounts as well as turn quality around and drive digital.

The Execution

Nick Ferrugia, head of media strategy and execution, Fifth Third Bank, discussed how the company met that challenge at MediaPost's Search and Performance Insider Summit in Captiva, Florida, in April 2019.

"We saw that all our digital money was spent across eight tactics," he said. "We dumped it all into paid search," taking a calculated risk. 

Checking accounts are important to banks, since most relationships start with them. He and his teams looked at which triggers make people shop for a new account, and the people who were moving.

Knowing that acquisition is short -- a day to two weeks -- Ferrugia saw that paid search would be more efficient, since it is based on digital tactics and paid the highest value. "We decided to go all in and see how far it goes."

Looking at branded keywords, they noted that the bidding costs were no too high. "We looked at modeling out to optimize our bids. We sought arbitrage opportunities. We got smart and surgical on this. We were pushed by our agency and leadership to see how far was far."

They weren't just optimizing between search engines, but also looking at DMAs, down to places within a five-mile radius around its branches. Efficiencies in paid search drove the checking campaign strategy. Using branded keywords, it reduced the number of people who were just checking their accounts.

But "paid faced several headwinds," said Ferrugia. "What to do to increase consideration, increase search? We wanted to maximize what was coming in. We were at the mercy of the bidding platforms. Then an algorithm change hit banking, so we had to make changes. It's being knowledgeable about what's going on and being very diligent on the spends of competitors."

The teams made changes to the landing pages and moved buttons around, which made for significant differences. "I never saw results like this," he said, joking that they were taking side bets. 

The Results

  • Increased present value 47%. 
  • Landing page conversation rose 35%
  • Total brand fulfillment up 36%
  • Average digital account balance, 64% (drives present value)
  • Minimum accounts achieved exceeded.
  • Established champion offer of $250.

Key Takeaways

  • Establish point of diminishing return to understand the optimal spend levels for campaign efficiency.
  • Keep a pulse on competitive research to inform branded and non-branded search spend.
  • Identify KPIs to optimize campaigns.
  • Keep abreast of industry/category trends and changes.
  • Keep an open mind.
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