Marketing Audit Checklist for SMB Lenders: CSTMR’s Approach

Marketing Audit Checklist for SMB Lenders: CSTMR’s Approach

An open notebook with the word “plan” in capital letters.

Fintech news during the past year has been far from great. 

Stock drops. Shutdowns. Regulatory challenges. Funding doom and gloom.

While it’s true that the toughest times are yet to come, there is one industry sector where uncertainty represents a real opportunity: SMB lending.

Hindered by a nationwide economic downturn, small and medium-sized businesses everywhere need funding, and they need it now. Fintechs, and SMB lenders, in particular, can leverage this demand to both boost business and help SMBs in need. The opportunity is big, but success will be limited to those who can stand out in a crowded market.

Your story is compelling, but is your marketing? Before you can engage with prospects, they need to find you, and you need to find them. The best way to do so is through a holistic approach to digital marketing. 

In today’s article, we are going to walk you through a quick marketing audit, taking a look at the five most important questions you need to ask and answer as you look to turn uncertainty into opportunity in 2023.

The Marketing Audit: CSTMR’s Approach

Effective marketing drives growth—without it, your SMB lending business will have difficulty attracting new customers.

As marketing in the digital age encompasses a wide range of strategies, including both outbound and inbound tactics, knowing how to measure success can be tricky.

You need to review your marketing strategy in depth: how it’s designed and delivered, and what results it’s producing. Ultimately, a thorough audit will show you exactly where to adjust and where to focus your efforts.

You’ll find a number of audit guides on the internet, many of which list a vast amount of data points that you should be measuring. Sure, they might work, but they’re far from efficient, and could even cause critical delays as you look to capitalize in the here and now.

Instead, at CSTMR, we believe lean and agile is the way to go. We go straight to the core, right to what matters most, cutting the fluff and giving you what you need to streamline the process immediately. 

What follows are the most vital questions to ask your team (or fintech marketing agency) —those that sit at the top of a typical CSTMR marketing audit checklist.

1. How Are You Measuring Success? 

Setting and measuring the right goals is a crucial first step to better understanding the health of your digital marketing efforts.

It’s important to identify those metrics that matter most to your business. Our recommendation is to take a look at the following data points:

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Building a successful lending business depends on meeting consumer expectations, while navigating a crowded and competitive market. CAC is simply the total amount of new customers over the money spent on marketing.

It’s all too easy to throw money at flashy marketing techniques in an attempt to find and convert customers. Money that you don’t have, or that you could be assigning to other endeavors/departments in your business. Large banks can spend up to $2,000 for a new customer, while a startup could do it for below $300.

If your CAC is sky-high because of unsustainable acquisition strategies, it may be time to rethink your approach.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

When it comes to sustainable growth, customer acquisition is only half the battle. CLV looks at the revenue that a single customer is expected to generate throughout the duration of the business engagement.

CLV positions SMB lenders to effectively segment leads based on total expected profit, while simultaneously focusing retention efforts on those customers that matter most. If you aren’t intimately familiar with LTV, you are missing out on continued and consistent profits.


Calculating, monitoring, and optimizing your LTV:CAC ratio is a crucial element of sustainable growth, as it not only highlights the health of your marketing efforts, but it helps predict long-term profitability.

This ratio will indicate how much you should be spending to acquire each customer. To calculate, you simply need to divide CLV by CAC.

For most SMB lenders, a great ratio is 3:1. If your ratio is 1:1, this means that the cost to acquire a customer is the same as the customer’s lifetime value, and you are likely losing money. 

2. How Are You Measuring Website Traffic?

An efficient lead generation strategy is only possible if you intimately understand, and effectively measure, the journey users take to arrive at your website.

To deliver content that resonates with your audience, you need to know which channels are working best and which could use some work. Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring traffic and understanding user behavior. Start by paying attention to the following traffic sources:


What is the percentage of visitors that arrive at your website without having clicked a link on another website? This is your “direct” traffic.

Direct traffic highlights all of the visitor sessions that Google cannot attribute to a specific source. Given that these individuals have likely made a conscious decision to enter your website address into their internet browser, they can be interpreted as your most loyal and high-value visitors


As one of the main traffic sources for SMB lenders, organic traffic measures the percentage of “earned” website visitors (i.e., not from paid ads) that arrive at your website from search engines like Google and Bing.

Driven by SEO, the better your rank for relevant industry keywords, the more organic traffic you are likely to receive. As a non-disruptive mechanism for delivering content, organic traffic is a great way to take the temperature of your website content and marketing efforts. 

Paid Search

This form of digital marketing allows SMB lenders to place paid advertisements on search engine results pages (i.e., PPC campaigns).

Google Analytics can track the percentage of website traffic that arrives at your site after clicking on your paid search ads. The resulting data will help you plan new campaigns, determine which keywords are delivering the highest ROI, and optimize your website content around this information. 

3. Who Is Your Audience? 

A prerequisite for successful lead generation is a thorough understanding of your target audience. The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it is to develop a lead generation strategy that drives qualified leads.

In this respect, client lists can help you learn more about your customer demographics and psychographics. Noticing who is converting at a higher rate can and should influence content and value proposition messaging. Pay close attention to the following data points:


Knowing where your audience lives will allow you to target prospects at a granular level across your sales funnel.

For worldwide financial services, the top 10 countries for monthly website traffic share are the U.S. (23.7%), India (4.9%), Japan (4.8%), Russia (4.2%), France (3.7%), Poland (3.7%), Germany (3.6%), Canada (3.5%), the United Kingdom (3.3%), and Brazil (3.2%).

As most SMB lenders will only be concerned with a U.S.-based audience, we recommend using tools like a CRM to keep track of prospect/audience location and tailoring your messaging based on regional demographics.

Interests and Preferences

For your content to resonate with your target audience, you need to know their interests and preferences.

Here, age and gender can be particularly helpful. While age influences cultural expectations and language preferences, gender can impact behavioral patterns and interests.

According to the most recent data, 48% of website visitors for worldwide financial services fall between 18-34 years old, with males more likely to visit your lending website.


Understanding how your audience is accessing your website (i.e., mobile or desktop) will help you be more strategic with displaying content and allocating marketing resources. The most recent data analyzing the top 100 financial services websites shows a desktop-mobile split of 54.7% to 45.3%.

4. Who Are Your Key Competitors?

Robust competitive intelligence is a vital element of effective marketing.

It empowers SMB lenders to better understand opportunities and challenges while helping them create more efficient and valuable marketing practices. Look to learn about your competitors by researching and reporting on the following areas:


What marketing strategies are driving business for your competitors? How can you ethically imitate what works?


Can you identify gaps in the overall marketing strategy of your competitors? Look to engage in a comprehensive analysis of how your approach to lead gen stacks up against the competition.


How familiar are you with the tech stacks of your competitors? Can you create a picture of what they are using and how, and do it even better?

5. Is Your Strategic Foundation On-Point?

Finally, marketing success depends on how you communicate and deliver your value proposition.

Have you invested the time to develop your brand identity, tone of voice, and messaging? To survive today’s market uncertainty, you must differentiate your business from traditional financial institutions. 

Brand Messaging

Does your target audience confuse you for a conventional lender? Remember, perception matters! In fact, it matters so much, that 77% of consumers spend their money based on a brand name.  Build trust with a human, friendly, and open messaging strategy across all channels.

Visual Identity

Are you still using the same old monograms, solid colors, and abstract icons of yesteryear? Go bold with vivid color schemes and visuals that speak to agile technology and financial inclusivity. 

User Experience

How easy is it for a prospective customer to sign up for your products and services? Do you offer a user experience that makes life easier for your audience rather than your organization? Cut the friction and provide your audience with a user experience that excites them. 

CSTMR: An Industry-Leading Marketer for Fintechs

A marketing audit is helpful to understand where you stand, as a brand and a product, and how you’re connecting with customers and potential customers. 

After you’ve gone through our marketing audit checklist, you’ve done half the work. The other 50% is all about leveraging the data and focusing your efforts towards the results you want to see. A fintech marketing agency can help you get there—CSTMR can make the difference.

Contact us to talk about how we can work together, or simply to share thoughts on how SMB lenders can get ahead during these times.

Picture of Rory Holland
Rory Holland
Rory Holland is CEO and Co-Founder of CSTMR. For more than 20 years, he has made it his passion to help Fintech and financial companies leverage digital marketing and advertising to drive growth.

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