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Citizens Bank - Inbound Marketing Program of the Year


Gold Stevie Award Winner 2019, Click to Enter The 2020 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Company: Citizens Bank, Providence, RI
Entry Submitted By: EMI Strategic Marketing
Company Description: Citizens Commercial Banking is a division of Citizens Financial Group (NYSE CFG) and a Top 15 U.S. Commercial Bank. With offices in 20 states, Citizens offers corporate clients a full range of commercial banking products and services. Citizens is committed to helping customers reach their potential by listening and understanding their needs to deliver tailored advice and effective solutions.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Inbound Marketing Program of the Year

Nomination Title: Driving Sales Pipelines with Content-driven Account Based Marketing

Tell the story about your organization's inbound marketing program since the beginning of July 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:


Citizens Bank is one of the top 15 banks in the U.S. and has recently expanded its Commercial Banking reach beyond the traditional Northeast footprint. In new regions, both brand awareness and market share are low. However, growth objectives for these territories were significant in 2018. As a result, regional leadership sought marketing support to increase brand presence and accelerate sales pipelines. Given the current revenue of these regions, marketing budget was limited.

Target Audience

Targeted companies—with annual revenues up to $2BN and averaging over $500MM—were each capable of delivering substantial loan volume and fee revenue. To succeed, EMI needed to reach decision-makers—CEOs and CFOs—who are sophisticated, busy and bombarded by marketing communications. Magnifying the challenge, a majority of the prospects had no engagement with Citizens prior to the launch of this program. We devised an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy that combined highly customized digital messaging, research-driven content, and orchestrated engagement with sales teams. This innovative strategy differed from past marketing efforts that had broadly targeted middle market companies across the region with print advertising, eBlasts and events.


To accelerate sales success in these new regions, the program needed to
-Build awareness of the Citizens brand and commercial banking capabilities
-Showcase the bank’s deep industry expertise through compelling and relevant content
-Engage prospect decision-makers and drive willingness to meet with Citizens bankers


Target prospects had little to no brand awareness of Citizens so securing meetings with senior decision makers for the bankers was a high bar. The bank teams were unfamiliar with Account Based Marketing and reluctant to abandon traditional media in favor of this new approach, yet their engagement and timely follow-up was critical for success.

Strategies and Execution

EMI employed and tested a variety of digital marketing tactics to deliver timely and personalized messages and content to engage the target audience:

Company Research – Performed weekly research on each of the target companies to understand opportunities and interests and demonstrate to bankers the precision of content and messaging delivered

Marketing and Sales Teamwork – Met with each banker every 60 days to share prospect research, review marketing outcomes and determine the go-forward marketing and sales plan for each account, building confidence in the ABM strategy

Company-Specific Microsite – Used site template engine to efficiently build custom company microsite s, serving up personalized messaging and content; the approach was designed to convey Citizens relevance and value rapidly to prospects who engaged with microsites

Account-Based Advertising – Used company IP addresses to serve digital ads driving traffic to personalized company microsites. Created over 150 unique ads that were targeted by industry or even company. Learning informed optimal ad rotation every three weeks to ensure fresh messaging

Account-Based Retargeting – Used cookies to serve digital ads targeting individuals to generate repeat microsite traffic, promote new content or an upcoming event

Email Marketing – Executed highly-personalized 1: 1 emails from assigned bankers to engage bankers in the process, help open conversations with prospects, and drive microsite traffic (thus enhancing IP address targeting)

Events – Leveraged two proprietary regional events to refresh digital ads; customized email invitations by banker, driving registration on the company-specific microsite for additional content engagement


- 3M+ digital ad impressions delivering 3,300+ clicks to the company microsites
- 82% of target companies opened one or more emails
- 31% of target contacts clicked through emails to microsites
- 87% of target companies engaged with microsite content, averaging 15.1 downloads per company
- 15% of prospect companies agreed to meetings with Citizens bankers
- Specific proposal opportunities were identified with 7% of targets

Results significantly exceeded benchmarks from previous print and event initiatives. Customized email messaging and microsite content generated greater engagement than industry benchmarks and exceeded prior eblast performance by more than 70%. The clarity of metrics was also a meaningful improvement over past efforts.