A Unified Mobile and Desktop Strategy Brings the Biggest Gains for Banks

Lorna Rose Gill Posted by Lorna Rose Gill

In a country where 35 million people own a smartphone, as Deloitte reports, it’s hardly shocking that consumers are increasingly grabbing their mobiles to help manage money on the move.

The Financial Conduct Authority estimates that around 25% of current account holders (the equivalent of 42% of smartphone owners) are active users of mobile banking, which covers checking their balance, making payments, and managing their money away from home.

In addition to wanting to manage their money from anywhere, consumers are increasingly searching on their mobiles for the best current account deal to switch to.

The introduction of the Current Account Switch Guarantee in late 2013 means it’s easier than ever to switch bank accounts, with all payments, direct debits, and standing orders being transferred to your new bank in seven days.

However, this means that high street banks have to be more competitive in terms of what they’re offering customers who are willing to make the switch.

Let’s take a look at how TSB (formerly Lloyds), Halifax, and Natwest are using mobile PPC to gain the higher ground in the current account market.

Mobile vs. Desktop

Before I go any further, it’s important to look at each competitor’s mobile/desktop balance to try to contextualise their performance.

Out of our three competitors, only TSB and Natwest are actually serving mobile ads, while Halifax’s entire PPC spend for the keywords related to current accounts is spent on desktop.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/TopCompetitorsMobileImpressionShare.png” title=”Top competitors share of mobile impressions, Adthena data” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/TopCompetitorsMobileImpressionShare.png”][/lightbox]

TSB leads the mobile charge, although it’s still only gaining half as many mobile impressions as desktop impressions. For Natwest, the figure is closer to one-third, which is interesting in light of the three companies’ equal desktop share.

Of the 30 non-brand search terms related to current accounts we explored, Natwest had the largest pool. Neither had any organic mobile search presence, which should change now that Google’s “Mobilegeddon” update shows it has started taking mobile organic search seriously.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/NatwestTSBSearchTerms.png” title=”Natwest and TSB current account search terms, Adthena data” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/NatwestTSBSearchTerms.png”][/lightbox]

How Are The Competitors Using These Keywords?

Taking a look at the ad copy, it would seem TSB has the best mobile strategy, with its TSB Classic Plus Account being displayed most frequently. The message is the same across all of TSB’s copy – it goes one step further, however, with mobile-preferred ads.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MobileCurrentTSBAds.jpg” title=”Current TSB mobile ads, Adthena” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MobileCurrentTSBAds.jpg”][/lightbox]

The ad that isn’t mobile-preferred is the most displayed, showing up with a frequency of 33.07%, as the mobile-preferred ad appears not to be crafted as well.

The headline text is longer than the top-ranking ad, and it doesn’t mention that the customer can apply online, which would be a great draw for anyone wanting to get set up straight away.

However, the fact that TSB is trying out both mobile-preferred and standard ads demonstrates a great way to diversify and perfect a mobile PPC campaign.

Other comparisons can be drawn farther down the top ads list. Natwest is concentrating on generic keyword terms when it comes to mobile ads, and doesn’t appear to be using mobile-preferred ads at all.

While this may not have a big impact at the moment, Google’s rumoured move to make mobile PPC more important for advertisers should have companies like Natwest testing performance with mobile-preferred ads, much like TSB is doing.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MobileCurrentNatwestAds.png” title=”Current Natwest mobile ads, Adthena” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MobileCurrentNatwestAds.png”][/lightbox]

Both of Natwest’s ads promote the fact that the account can be applied for online, meaning they’re well-suited to mobile devices, and both use the very simple “Natwest Current Accounts” as their headline.

The display URL doesn’t mention Natwest’s brand like the TSB ads do, and these ads were only on display for a couple of days, whereas TSB displayed a particular ad for a significantly longer period of time.

These differing strategies between the two competitors make it clear how TSB was able to get a higher share of mobile impressions, but also explains why Natwest was still able to gain some traction.

Weighing Up the Benefits of Mobile PPC

The first thing to note here is that regardless of how a bank is advertising its products on mobile, it should be doing it as part of an overarching marketing strategy.

With mobile usage on the rise along with mobile searches for services like mobile banking, banks need to ensure they’re being displayed alongside their competitors. There should be no excuse for ignoring mobile PPC altogether.

When it comes to experimenting with ad copy, tailoring the message to the platform is key. If the bank does offer mobile banking and application processes, they should be advertised – it could be enough to give you the lead over your competitors in the long run.

Competitive intelligence for search can help you uncover these key strategies for bettering your visibility across platforms. You can not only see how your SEM efforts are faring, but also what your competitors may be doing to gain that edge over you.

Adthena’s competitive intelligence tool offers key insights across mobile, desktop, and Google Shopping so you can ensure you’re covering the entire market.

(Main image credit: Gary Knight/flickr)

No Adthena client data was used in this report.

About the author

Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies. She is curious and passionate and likes to find stories in data and technology.