Inside City National Bank’s plan to educate homeowners about Helocs
The campaign won in the Finance category at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023.
'What even is a HELOC' anyway won the 'Finance' Award at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023. / Credit: City National Bank
For so many Americans, homes are one of their largest assets and sources of wealth. They only continue to grow in value, with American homeowners amassing an average gain of over $51,000 per homeowner household or a combined $23.6tn in equity.
By the same token, the housing market has seen rising mortgage rates, creating an uncertain environment. Homeowners were looking to make home improvements to their current homes by tapping into their equity while keeping the low fixed rate on their mortgages. Additionally, facing a fluctuating marketplace, many competitor banks stopped offering Heloc (home equity lines of credit) during the pandemic.
All these combined factors provided the perfect opportunity for City National Bank and its Heloc offering. However, consumers rarely have a strong understanding of Heloc, its uses, or the impact of changing interest rates. Thus came the brand’s first enterprise-wide Heloc promotional rate to deepen and drive acquisition, measured through leads and optimized cost-per-form fill: ‘What even is a Heloc anyway?’
With both the mortgage rates and demand for Heloc increasing, City National saw an opportunity to connect with homeowners seeking Heloc for home improvements. The objective of the campaign was to create City National Bank’s first enterprise-wide Heloc promotional rate to drive acquisition, measured through leads and optimized cost-per-form-fill.
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First, the team had to consider their audience. For this campaign, it narrowed in on an existing persona called the ‘Established Industry Leader,‘ a high-ranking executive with significant professional experience and financial decision-making power. This persona represents a more established, affluent audience who doesn’t just have a high income, but also a high net worth, including investments in real estate (after all, tapping into home equity requires owning a home). As a financially savvy individual, they know the importance of ‘good debt,‘ leveraging today’s assets to accelerate their financial growth for tomorrow. They also keep their finger on the pulse of the economic environment, so they are well aware of rising interest rates and increasing home values.
Throughout the Heloc campaign, media dollars were efficient in driving marketing qualified leads while the creative strategy did the educational heavy lifting. Home renovations are the most popular use for Heloc, which created a great creative opportunity. Critical Mass used contextual creative to stand out above the noise, in the right channels and at the right time. It optimized content for social platforms, capturing latent demand and converting form fills into actual leads through Facebook and Instagram.
Success benchmarks for this campaign were based on prior campaign performance, such as the prior 2021 Heloc campaign. The main objective was on improving last year’s Cost-per-form-fill (CPFF), and delivering more media qualified leads (MQLs).
It blew past these goals in early August 2022 and by the end of the campaign had exceeded its MQL goal and delivered a CPFF more efficient than 2021.
Through a strategic triple-threat of business, media and creative strategy, the ‘What even is a Heloc anyway?’ campaign also surpassed secondary KPIs with a rise in CTR and decrease in Cost per media quality lead (CPMQL).
It achieved this performance by initially allocating the majority of the budget towards historically top-performing partners (Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram) and then optimizing between search and social to push our results far beyond initial benchmarks. Through these optimizations, it also greatly increased conversion rates of form fills into actual leads across Facebook and Instagram.
Strong CTR and site engagement drove successful audience pools, with creative consistently generating a CTR above the Fall 2021 benchmark. Higher CTRs brought more qualified and engaged people to the landing page, which allowed it to capture more first-party data used to create extremely qualified look-alike and retargeting audience pools.
Overall, the campaign design created a feedback loop that continued to refine targeting capabilities to deliver increasingly more qualified consumers down the funnel.