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Traditional banks are coming under increased pressure from price comparison site providers and other innovative market entrants in the battle for online marketing supremacy.

Latest research from our Insights team reveals that the rapid rise of price comparison sites and payday loan providers has “completely disrupted the marketplace at the expense of the traditional high street banks who are struggling to compete.

Another highlight from our research was the rapid rise of the payday loans vertical, which has become the fastest growing market, increasing by 218 per cent from 2007 to 2011, with total annual search impressions increasing from 2.1m to 6.7m.

With new competitors entering the market and reigning over the online space with integrated strategies, traditional high street banks are finding that a more diverse range of opponents are their direct competition. Price comparison sites and trusted household names, like Tesco, are offering online personal finance options at competitive prices, making the transition from brick-and-mortar to online space difficult for some banks.

As featured by: The Times (25th September 2012)

Supermarket sweep makes comparison with rivals more difficult

The report from our Insights team discovers not only the new competition faced by traditional banks, but also the concentration of activity around the keyword markets of insurance and loans – at over 69% of all search impression volume, this is an essential market to corner. We also discovered how important paid search is for retail banks, and the potential impact that a well-developed and targeted social strategy could have in a sector where social media is often under-used.

Looking at the top 50 consumer finance brands in 2012, Stickyeyes’ Insight team has pulled together over 100 pieces of insight, focusing on:

  • The search terms that are driving online market visibility
  • The strategies that brands are implementing to achieve market share
  • The social media methods brands are using to engage customers

The latest report has used our unique data analysis tools and techniques to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information on the expanding online consumer finance market, with over 50 individual pieces of statistical interpretation of our collected data.

Key Findings

Traditional retail banks face strong competition from a diverse range of operators

A key challenge for many of the traditional retail banks is that they are competing with a diverse range of brands. At one end of the spectrum are price comparison sites such as MoneySupermarket and Compare The Market while at the other, supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsbury’s offer the same types of products as high street banks, at competitive prices.

Rapid growth of Pay Day Loan Search Volume

In direct response to the financial crisis, pay day loans search volume has been the fastest growing market, increasing by 218% since 2007, with the single biggest increase occurring in 2011. The record level of growth has resulted in a significant increase in new entrants making the marketplace one of the most hard fought in terms of top ranking positions in Google.  This has resulted in some companies, such as PayDayExpress, Wonga and PayDayPower, seeing huge volatility in their search positions. Even consumer finance giant Money Supermarket has recently dropped off page one for the key volume terms.

MoneySupermarket is the only brand which features in the top ten for all markets analysed

MoneySupermarket is the only brand who has managed to achieve the broadest search term coverage and is especially prominent in high volume markets such as car insurance, mortgages and loans.

The pending acquisition of MoneySavingExpert by MoneySupermarket has the hallmarks of producing a goliath that dominates the consumer finance search market.

Social media remains an underutilised marketing channel within the online consumer finance market

Price comparison site “Compare The Market” leads the way when it comes to integrating an effective social media strategy as part of their wider marketing campaign. With a score of 71 out of 100, Compare The Market were the top performing brand in the social media score index, produced by Stickyeyes. The index measured the usage and quality of social media engagement across the top 50 brands within the consumer finance market. In contrast, very few traditional high street retail brands are utilising social media to develop a two way dialogue that stimulates both volume of discussion as well as the quality of engagement.

Paid Search (Google AdWords) is the primary route for many retail banks as they find themselves hedged out of the natural Google listings

Paid Search is a key channel to market for many retail banks and financial lenders. This is largely down to the fact that price comparison sites are dominating the organic index for a large number of search terms.  The increasing market dominance of price comparison sites and other new market entrants has required the larger financial brands to increase their marketing budget to achieve high levels of online visibility.

Insurance and loans keyword markets dominate consumer finance searches online

With over 69% of all search impression volume coming from the insurance and loans keyword markets, high levels of exposure within these markets is critical to success.

The dominance of insurance and loans is underpinned by high search impression volume for keyword markets such as car insurance (22%), pay day loans (21%) and loans with 12%.

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