Billboards, mobile and mortgage marketing: An ideal combo for snagging millennials

April 27, 2017by Kevin Tynan, Liberty Bank for Savings

If you consider billboards decidedly old-fashioned, try connecting them to cell phones ? they may just revolutionize your marketing program.

For as long as I can remember, a billboard ran along the train tracks above a busy four-lane street outside the main office of Liberty Bank, a small community institution in Chicago.

We never thought about using the billboard, after all, we had an 8,000 square foot office and two large parking lots adjacent to it. Why would we need a billboard when building signage dominates the six-corner intersection?

That question was abruptly answered in a focus group when several people said they werent familiar with the institution they walk past regularly.?Some knew of the bank but didnt know what products were sold, others didnt even have the bank on their radar in the event they had to switch institutions.

Apparently, its true. When driving the same route day after day, buildings and stores can fade into the background, despite being an anchor at the intersection for many years.

A large 14 x 48 billboard with a strong message and an arrow pointing to the building might be just what was needed to grab the attention of oblivious walkers and drivers.

March kicks off our mortgage marketing season and we reasoned that buying the billboard for a month would make a big impression on the 144,623 weekly commuters passing by. Liberty Banks strong digital marketing program attracts a disproportionate number of mortgages for an intuition of modest size.

The billboard conveyed a simple message: Mortgages. Low rates. Local lender.??A custom URL offered more details.

Buying the out-of-home venue was only the first step.

We established geo-fencing parameters in a two-mile radius. Geofencing allows us to capture identifying information from every driver with a smart phone passing near the billboard.?Once captured, digital display ads pop up on the travelers phone four times over the next few days highlighting Libertys mortgage rates and offering a $200 reduction in fees if they apply for a mortgage pre-approval.

A few days later they are hit with a second round of ads.

Because we are searching only for mortgage prospects, we narrowed our ID capture to individuals 35-55 years of age. We set a budget cap of $2000 for geo-coding impressions. Institutions with larger budgets have more demographic and lifestyle options. The billboard was priced at $6000.

The custom URL directs visitors to a landing page on our website giving two options: learn about refinancing and mortgages, or subscribe to a rate watch or a $200 pre-approval discount, which requires them to submit their email address. Both options allow us to drop them into a prospect nurturing campaign.?In addition, we put a cookie on the browser of all web visitors, entering them into a remarketing campaign which keeps Libertys name front and center for the next few months as they go through the home-buying process.

Program effectiveness is measured by the number and quality of prospects clicking on the custom URL or walking into the bank. A bold arrow directs readers to our office across the street where personal bankers are trained to ask about the media prompting their visit.?These two metrics wont capture all leads but they are a good start.??Because the program is ongoing, we dont have any results but we consider it test for possible expansion to other branches.

Marrying geocoding and billboards is an especially effective strategy for targeting millennials, who spend more time out of the home than any other age group and are avid smartphone users. Unlike emails or display ads, millennials cant avoid billboards, delete, delay or skip over them. And, billboards reach buyers. In the 30 minutes prior to going online, out-of-home reaches 42% of mobile shoppers and 32% of mobile search according to Rosen and Minsky in their book The Activation Imperative.

Geo-coding and billboards are a winning combination for pitching credit cards or checking accounts.?Just focus on those consumers matching the profile of your best prospects. More mercenary institutions might set up geocoding parameters around competitors and bombarded their customers with enticing offers, perhaps comparing rates, fees or balance requirements.

With its ability to reinforce online ads with short, punchy messages, out-of-home seems to be a perfect complement to digital advertising.?In our case, a billboard adjacent to the building could be a critical link for shunting online prospects to the place of sale.?Hopefully, it will provide a critical nudge when prospects need it most ? as they are about to buy.

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