Customer Journey of people searching for Commercial Lending in 2023

February 21, 2024 by Tim Whitley


This in-depth white paper, spearheaded by MHP/Team SI, a Google Premier Partner, delves into the evolving digital landscape for researching and applying for Commercial Lending. This paper provides actionable insights for bank marketers or credit union marketers within the banking industry by examining the customer journey from research to application, focusing on their online search habits.

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    As a Google Premier Partner, Google provides MHP/Team SI  with exclusive data that gives us deep insights into these fields. 

    First, let’s define the key performance metrics extracted from Google’s search index: 

    • Queries: Only total searches conducted by users related ONLY to Commercial Lending.
    • Ad Depth: The number of ads shown per search query.
    • Impressions: The frequency of ad displays in response to these queries.
    • Clicks: The number of times users engaged with ads or organic search results.

    To reiterate, all data provided is pulled from the Commercial Lending search terms when a user is searching for a new Commercial Lending. It is also a Year-Over-Year (YoY) analysis showcasing how the customer journey changed in just 12 months.

    Findings and Analysis

    Search Query Trends

    We continue to see fewer queries YoY,  just as we did the previous year. The audience is vaporizing; they are just down 8% YoY additional intent as they review fewer options than in 2022. 

    In most categories of banking, mobile device research and decisions were made, but not with Commercial Lending. Mobile searches only accounted for 50% of all search activity for commercial lending.

    • Mobile usage has been decreasing since the height of mobile in 2021. Why is this? There is a smaller pool of people, but also due to the complexities of applying for a commercial loan. Their demand for a solution was in 2021 but moved to Computer as the application became increasingly tedious. Mobile queries declined 14% YoY.
    • In the last few years, search activity on computers has been increasing. The growth rate for Computer was 1% YoY and made up 49% of the total volume of searches YoY.
    • The number of Tablet searches increased by 10% and only made up 1% of the total volume of searches YoY.

    The total number of searches for Commercial Lending decreased by 8% in 2023 vs 2022. Queries go from broad to precise terms within the customer journey.

    Ad Depth and Market Competition

    Competition decreased by 10% YoY inside the customer journey within Google.

    • Competition Intensity on Mobile: Mobile searches faced 3.4 competitors, more than tablet and computer searches, emphasizing the competitive digital environment for Commercial Lending.

      • Even though there are fewer searches on tablets, we saw the Ad Depth decrease by 3%, resulting in customers viewing 3.2 competitors within their customer journey on tablets.

      • Computers saw a decrease in the number of advertisers by 24%, resulting in only 3.0 competitors within their customer journey on computers.

    • Understanding the Ad Depth and Market Competition increases the need for relevant ad copy and destination pages. It also underscores the importance of delivering the right message to this audience on their first query while researching services and products. In 2023, we saw a decrease of only 3% with higher click-through rates for competitive offerings and value to customers’ needs. 

    • Increasing Ad Depth: Ad depth (number of competitors) has decreased by 10% YoY, allowing advertisers to capture this audience without much competition

    Clicks and Engagement Patterns

    Clicks on paid and organic searches decreased by 3% YoY. 

    • Mobile encompassed 70% of all clicks on organic and paid searches within the customer journey; this is a rise of 37% YoY within just the Commercial Lending sub-category of the banking industry.

    • With only 1% of total clicks, Tablet had a decrease of 3% YoY within their 1% query market share for organic and paid searches.

    • The computer did not change in clicks on paid and organic listings for commercial lending research and applications. Clicks on the computer only made up 29% of the total click share, with 49% of queries.

    The overall click decrease was 3%. Mobile was down 4%, encompassing 70% of all clicks and where the research phase is being made, then transferred to the computer for further research (intent) and then filled out the application. 

    The impression share was down 3% overall, with the most significant decrease in computers at a 24% decrease YOY. This indicates that the consumers are hitting a roadblock due to high-interest rates and are not going any further with their investigations with Commercial Lending.

    Seasonal Patterns

    There is a seasonal pattern with Commercial Lending searches. Queries, Impressions, and Clicks all showcase this seasonality.

    • In all Queries, Impressions, and Clicks categories, July and August from 2021-2023 will be the season potential customers are researching Commercial Lending. 

    • Anomaly in February 2023: There was an increase in searches (queries), impressions, and clicks versus 2022 and 2021. In the first half of 2023, Commercial Lending interest rates were influenced by rising mortgage rates, with the average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) increasing by nearly 2 percentage points, averaging 6.44% compared to the same period in 2022. This increase in mortgage rates, reflective of broader interest rate trends, likely impacted Commercial Lending rates as well. The spike in queries in February was most likely due to rising interest rates and the need to secure rates as early as possible. 

    • Considering the anomaly, there is a steady increase in queries, impressions, and clicks from January – July, hitting peak activity in July and August and then a steady decrease over the rest of the year in queries, impressions and clicks. 

    Implications for Marketing Strategies

    Strategic Focus on Mobile Platforms: Given the significant customer reliance on mobile devices, businesses must develop mobile-centric platforms and marketing strategies. Ensuring your Commercial Lending application is mobile-friendly is imperative for increasing your applications. With this in mind, the applications they desire are those that are saved during the process to leave and come back to continue. 

    • If your application is not mobile friendly, encourage them to “start the application” with a simple form that will go to your customer service, where they can take the lift to convert them into an application/customer.

    • If your application is not mobile-friendly, do not insist they try to do it on mobile. Recognize the consumer journey implications and provide a telephone number to call, text, or chat on the page. If you are going to place a form, please make it as short as possible. 

    The customer journey is dynamic. They are researching on all devices. They start their journey on mobile, tablet, and computer. The customer journey does have them completing applications on the computer. 

      • Campaigns are always on: Due to no seasonality, you must be on with your marketing campaigns 12 months out of the year. Budget fluctuations will be needed as queries grow from July to December.
      • The customer journey is only interrupted by 3.1 competitors. This gives you a leg up on capturing this audience and standing out from the competition who are NOT in the customer journey. Capture this audience on the primary two devices that are making their decision: computer and mobile.

      • On February 28, 2024, Google will impose limitations on personalized advertising, particularly in sensitive categories such as finance. The policy bars advertisers from targeting certain demographics, including gender, age and ZIP code in the U.S. or Canada. Historically, these sensitive interest categories have been a crucial part of effective marketing strategies for banks and financial institutions. Adaptation to the personalized ads policy will look similar for most banks. However, the strategy behind the adaptation is what will truly set your bank apart from its competition. Targeting City will be allowed.

    Recommendations for Future Strategy

    • Ensure you are visible within the customer journey on mobile and computer. The decision maker is compiling their research on mobile and desktop; application competitions are being handled on the desktop by that person or someone in their accounting department. The actual conversion will likely be influenced by another person in the customer journey. Mapping this out via HHID will be necessary within the customer journey.

    • Clicks surge on mobile! Be aware of where the decision-maker is at. They are doing their research on mobile; a lot of research! Click-share is at 70% via mobile, with 29% on desktop. Mobile is the research phase, and computer is the process phase. 

    • FLA-Compliant Targeting: MHP/Team SI’s Doppio® is a cutting-edge, FLA-compliant data analytics platform revolutionizing banking and financial marketing. Access to over 200,000 data layers ensures that marketing messages precisely target the intended audience. Our expert analysts provide strategic recommendations to convert visitors into leads and customers, backed by a monthly track record of success. Specializing in targeted marketing, Doppio® can reach individuals seeking new or refinanced mortgages, high-end depositors undecided about banks, and those looking for new debit or credit cards. It’s also effective in B2B marketing, connecting with potential business partners and selecting customers based on their stock investments. Doppio® is a comprehensive marketing solution that enhances campaign precision, efficiency, and effectiveness in the financial sector.

    • Ensure your copy for paid search and organic meta tags relates to the potential customer; you are surrounded by competitors who might be messaging better with better offers and hit the potential customer’s pain points better than you.

    • Data-Driven Marketing Initiatives: Utilize analytics to tailor marketing efforts, aligning them with observed consumer behavior patterns.

    • The transition from traditional keyword-centric approaches to a focus on subject-matter expertise for the new Google Generative AI Search Algorithm. Content strategy for banks must now prioritize depth and quality of information.

    • Paid Search Recommendations: Better ads mean better Ad Rank

      • Every time someone does a search that triggers an ad that’s competing in an auction, Google calculates an Ad Rank. This calculation incorporates your bid and auction-time measurements of expected CTR, ad relevance and landing page experience, among other factors. To determine the auction-time quality components, Google weighs a number of different factors. By improving the following factors, we can help improve the quality components of your Ad Rank:

        • Your ad’s expected clickthrough rate: This is partly based on your ad’s historical clicks and impressions (adjusting for factors such as assets and other formats that may have affected the visibility of an ad that someone previously clicked)

        • Your ad’s relevance to the search: How relevant your ad is to what a person searches for

        • The quality of your landing page: How relevant, transparent and easy to navigate your page is

    • Why ad quality matters

      • The quality components of Ad Rank are used in several different ways and can affect the following things:

        • Ad auction eligibility: Google’s measures of ad quality help determine the Ad Rank thresholds for your ad and whether your ad is qualified to appear at all.

        • Your actual cost-per-click (CPC): Higher-quality ads often lead to lower CPCs. That means you pay less per click when your ads are of higher quality.

        • Eligibility for ad assets and other ad formats: Ad Rank determines whether or not your ad is eligible to be displayed with ad assets and other ad formats, such as site links.

        • Overall, higher-quality ads typically lead to lower costs and more advertising success. The Google Ads system works best for everybody when the ads shown are relevant and closely match what customers are searching for.


    The digital journey of Commercial Lending consumers is increasingly shaped by their interactions with online platforms, mainly through mobile devices for research and the computer for the application process. These customer journeys are sometimes divided based on the number of employees. The whole household identity level must be a priority to identify all customer journeys. 

    For businesses selling Commercial Lending, adapting to these digital trends is crucial. Emphasizing mobile optimization and strategic ad placements are essential to effectively reaching and engaging your target audience.

    About MHP/Team SI Banking

    MHP/Team SI has emerged as a “game changer” in the field of banking and financial services. As a Google Premier Partner, we are able to develop a results-focused performance marketing mix to promote banking and financial products to the right customers with measurable ROI.

    We seamlessly integrate traditional and digital marketing techniques to reach your potential customers where they live, work, and play. We use an FLA-compliant, data-driven approach to create personas, find the correct target audience, and leverage the correct channels.

    MHP/Team SI tailors our banking and financial marketing efforts to grow our client’s digital presence through content marketing, search engine marketing, and optimization.

    We target your message online, on smartphones, on Connected TV, and on HHID addresses by reaching customers at the household level. This allows us to meet customers at every stage of life with high intent to procure banking products and services.  We put you in the right place at the right time.