Here’s the scenario: a small community financial institution in a populated, saturated market is looking for new ways to gain brand exposure and attract new customers. As part of a well-rounded marketing strategy, XYZ Financial includes Search Engine Marketing as part of their plan.

Typically, with a scenario like this, the conventional thinking is to bid on and get in front of keywords that will put your brand and accounts in front of people searching for things like:

  • Bank (or credit union) accounts
  • Checking accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Banks near me

In this conventional example, a small community financial such as XYZ will do one of two things in the SEM portion of their strategy:

  • Blow through the daily budget incredibly fast by bidding on very expensive keyword searches (see list above).
  • Keep bids at a reasonable level, and have ads running throughout the day, but only show ads south of the #2 position (below the fold).

Consider adding another approach to gaining brand awareness in your market through SEM. Instead of mainly targeting product, service and location keywords (caveat: they should also be a part of your SEM strategy), directly target the competing financials in your area.

As community financial institutions, targeting competitor keywords allows your brand to “ride the coattails” of other brands in the market. Especially when considering well known national bank brands, this strategy can pay enormous dividends.

Targeting competitor keywords can provide a lot of benefits, including:

  • The ability to bid lower. The aim of a campaign strategy like this is not to be in the number one ad spot, overtaking your competitor’s ads. Therefore, you can go in with a lower bid and save yourself some budget.
  • Creating a point of differentiation. By doing some quick research, you know what your competitor’s ads are going to say when people search for them. In the case of national bank brands, oftentimes ads focus on price. Now is your chance to display your point of differentiation – what makes you better than them!
  • Grabbing high-quality search traffic. By bidding on the right competitor keywords, you will have the ability to grab very high-quality traffic to your landing page or website. If people are already out searching for a financial institution to partner with, this is a great time to introduce your brand to them.

There a few rules and nuances that you will want to make sure you adhere to and/or avoid while setting up a competitor keyword campaign. But overall, this is a great way to let your brand take flight in the digital realm!