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Advertising
United Bank’s Data-Driven Marketing Delivers on Smart Strategy
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by CHELSEA HINKEL

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A best practices case study on ways to leverage location as part of a smart marketing strategy that drives awareness and growth

Since opening their doors in 1839, United Bank’s commitment to their customers and communities comes through in everything they do. For more than 180 years, this Mid-Atlantic-based bank has grown on the power of their relationship banking approach delivered through their 200+ branch network that serves people in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington, DC.

To support the brand’s growth, especially in their most highly competitive markets like the DC area, United Bank combined their strategic and striking branch experiences with a smart digital acquisition campaign designed to attract and engage new customers. Enhanced with direct mail and staff incentive programs, this campaign promoted a highly differentiated product – a genuinely free checking account – and smart strategy delivered big for the bank.

A Plan for Growth

Using the local branch as a way to leverage location and community connection, United used targeted data to bring the campaign to life. To support their brand’s growth in its largest metro markets – especially their deepening influence in metro Washington, DC’s intensely crowded and competitive landscape – the brand employed a proximity marketing approach.  

Fueled by powerful market and mobility data, the campaign targeted the cities and counties of United branches geographically and the behavioral audience segments of “in-demand households” and “tight working class” to encourage and influence new audiences with a customized offering focused on convenience, access and ease.

Creative Campaign Delivery

Partnering with Adrenaline, the campaign creative honed in on “Free Checking That's Actually Free,” a no minimum balance, no hidden fee account targeted to meet the needs of a key target audience demographic – a price-sensitive retail banking customer looking for value. This budget spender consumer was a new source of acquisition and activation for United, as the bank expanded their product offering to attract and engage more retail banking customers, beyond their more traditional business base. 

Leaning into targeted data for audience demographics, needs and behaviors both online and off, the campaign delivered the right message on the right channels at the right time. Programmatic display and video and paid search ads met new customers at the point of need, with direct mail and email campaign elements, all supported by internal in-branch staff.

united-bank-direct-mailer-marketing

Marketing Mix

The Free Checking campaign launched on March 18 and ran through May 31 with programmatic display and paid search components. Those digital campaign efforts were supplemented by direct mail drops that took place during five weeks from March 15 through April 18, 2021 and again for six weeks from April 19 through May 30. An internal staff program built excitement and involvement by recognizing United Bank branch Customer Care employees for their performance throughout the campaign.

The smart marketing mix focused on reaching people where they are – in and around high opportunity and convenient branch locations. Meeting consumers where they are – mirrors the kind of convenience, ease and access highlighted in the content of campaign messaging itself – reaffirming United Bank’s differentiation in the markets they serve. 

United Bank Digital Ads

Delivering Real Results

Programmatic display and video and paid search ads had massive impact. Click-through rates reached 150% above the industry average, and the campaign delivered nearly 18 million impressions with page views – mostly from audiences in competitive markets like DC – that were in the six figures. Since launch, the landing page has had 105,785 pageviews. From these marketing efforts, United has driven 83,890 clicks from the campaign. But most importantly, those clicks turned into customers.

In all, the checking campaign directly delivered nearly one thousand new checking accounts and new United customers in just a few short months, with a cost per acquisition that was significantly lower than industry benchmarks. The campaign’s success proves not only the power of targeted digital marketing, but also the power of a multipronged approach to growth. Combining smart marketing and smart branch strategy across all channels can help your brand stand out, connect and convert.


Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

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