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Few things cause as much stress as debt does. The scary reality for a lot of Americans is that one unforeseen event—a medical emergency, a lay-off—could send them into default, thus undermining their chances of acquiring loans in the future.
According to The Balance, U.S. consumer debt rose in May 2018 to $3.898 trillion—a 7.6% increase from the previous month. Roughly 75% of consumer debt in the U.S. is non-revolving debt, which is primarily comprised of student loans and auto loans. The biggest contributor to revolving debt is credit card debt, which, although at a record high, does not constitute as large a percentage of total debt as it has in the past.
Bank marketers who promote debt services should keep all this in mind when crafting their online advertising efforts. Your prospects are either about to be in debt or are seeking loans to help them climb out of debt. Proceed with sensitivity.
Consumers won’t take out loans from a bank they don’t trust. One way to can chip away at skepticism is with ad extensions. This feature gives you more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP), thus enabling you to lay out all the perks your bank offers. For example, you’re more likely to inspire a click from a cautious consumer if your ad copy includes “Apply for a fixed-rate, no fee loan today.” Then, once the prospect is on your landing page, you can provide testimonials from past customers who turned their loans into success. This will further assure the consumer that your bank is to be trusted.
Sometimes, even the best landing pages aren’t enough to convince a skeptical prospect. That’s where call-only campaigns come in. As you can imagine, call-only campaigns use ads that hyperlink your bank’s phone number rather than a landing page. This way, a prospect can directly communicate with a human being, rather than with a web page. Typically, a conversation with your best customer support representative is enough to assuage consumer doubts.
It’s important for your debt services team to recognize that your sales cycle is typically long. Taking out a loan to finance a car purchase is a little more high-stakes than buying a lawnmower (though suburban dads may disagree). For that reason, your bank should invest in remarketing campaigns. Here’s how it works: a prospect sees your ad for auto loans, clicks through to your site, and eventually leaves without converting. Then, while rapt in a glowing review of Wicked, he sees a nifty banner advertisement for your services. Ideally, this will happen a few more times, and the prospect will eventually reach out to you when he decides to apply for a loan.
Another way to gradually nudge a prospect towards conversion is offering a free piece of informational content in exchange for her email address. Let’s say a prospect who’s considering going back to school clicks on your ad for student loans. On the landing page, she sees that she can get a free guide to the benefits and responsibilities of taking on student debt. She enters her email address and downloads the guide. From that day forward, you can nurture her towards applying for a loan with promotional emails. In the same vein as remarketing, this is a good strategy for staying on the top of someone’s mind while she mulls over a bid decision.
Let’s return to copywriting. A surprisingly common mistake we see advertisers make is failure to provide solutions in their ad headlines. Remember—consumers are seeking out debt services because they need to solve a problem. What’s going to drive higher click-through rates (CTRs): headlines that take a step towards a solution, or headlines that restate the problem? Answer: the former. “Your Journey to a Debt-Free Life Starts Here” is more clickable than “Want to Live Debt-Free?” It’s a simple change, and it makes a difference.
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