One challenge we regularly hear from credit union marketers is how to measure digital marketing performance. In fact, it was the highest ranked pain point in our credit union marketing survey. Heavy workload, lofty goals, low budgets, small staff and limited digital experience exacerbate this challenge.
Each year, the marketing budget gets more and more detailed – to the point where many marketers are expected to outline exactly how much output can be expected from each dollar spent.
With a higher degree of accountability and scrutiny, there’s a lower likelihood to move away from the more familiar marketing channels. As a result, so many credit union marketers have been slow or reluctant to embrace digital marketing channels.
Establishing a Credit Union Digital Marketing Measurement System
Measuring digital marketing performance starts with the right measurement system. The standard for website tracking is Google Analytics. Its free to use, and it’s constantly updated with new data and features to keep even the most experienced digital marketers happy.
Google Analytics should be able to track your website visitors through all of their actions on your website. This gets a little tricky when your users have to move across different website platforms to complete different actions, such as logging into their account on a third-party system.
For example, if a user clicks an online advertisement, views your current loan rates, then fills out an online application, you’d want to be able to associate that loan application with the ad campaign. Armed with that data, you can truly assess the success of that loan campaign.
Tracking across different website platforms is a common problem for credit unions, especially since different vendors are commonly used for your main website, online account opening portal, loan applications, and online banking.
To solve this challenge, we typically install Google Analytics using Google Tag Manager, and during that process we make sure your website users can be tracked as they move from one website platform to another.
Calculate Cost-Per-Application (CPA) Results
Most credit union marketing campaigns are product-focused, so we want to track the number of new applications (checking account, Visa, auto loan, mortgage, etc) generated from the campaign.
CPA is also referred to as the cost-per-acquisition by many digital marketers. More often than not, the acquisition being made is a member or loan application.
A real life example would be if a mortgage campaign costs $3000 and generates 20 mortgage applications, the resulting CPA is $150.
Related: What is a Good Marketing ROI?
We recognize there are real challenges with this methodology. For one, credit union campaigns don’t always have a single action that signifies success. It’s not always about getting the application. Multi-channel attribution also complicates things. If possible, your marketing team could combine your digital campaign reporting with your offline reporting to arrive at a more comprehensive CPA.
Establish A Performance Benchmark
Benchmarks are easy to understand and easy to apply. Before any marketing activity is started, everyone can have an expectation of campaign performance based on the benchmark. Also, as long as the right tracking mechanisms are in place, everyone can quickly determine if a campaign was successful or not.
Over the years, we have worked with many credit unions. As we’ve run different types of campaigns, in different markets, with different types of segmentation and targeting, we have been able to establish some basic performance benchmarking – particularly for new account acquisition.
Below are digital campaign CPA benchmark ranges based on our experience:
- Credit card applications: $60-$90
- Mortgage applications: $150-$250+ (varies widely based on the market)
- Auto loan applications: $55-$90
- Personal loan applications: $50-$70
What Is Counted As A Marketing Cost?
When calculating your CPA, a marketing cost is any incremental cost incurred to execute that campaign. This includes:
- Paid search ad spend (pay-per-click)
- Display ad clicks
- Other digital media spend
- Content production costs
- Outside credit union marketing agency fees
Because full-time marketing personnel costs are fixed, they are NOT factored into this calculation.
Take Campaign Measurement To The Next Level
Recognizing that everything cannot always be tied back to an online application, consider other key actions to include in campaign measurement.
For example, call tracking can be leveraged to determine if digital campaigns are generating inquiries to your loan officers. Online “contact us” inquires could be measured. In other campaigns, tracking the number of times users got directions to a branch could be a measure.
The point here is to make sure you’re tracking meaningful actions online and optimizing your campaigns over time to get as many of those actions as possible.
Final Thoughts About Measuring Online Marketing Performance
Just because a marketing activity can’t be measured perfectly, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered. That being said, marketers should always work to connect the dots between digital marketing activity and revenue. Advances in web analytics software and methodology provide better insight for measuring activity over time and across different devices.
Finally, marketing is about generating revenue. It’s not about art, humor, or creativity. Marketers who aren’t serious about running efficient and profitable campaigns are missing the point. Implementing reporting based on a cost-per-action, and treating it as the “golden metric” for digital marketing activity, will focus the team on the ultimate outcome: growing the business.