For NiCKEL, omnichannel insights make for smarter optimisations

January 2019

Known for digital innovation and agility, NiCKEL is an online bank that has acquired more than 1 million clients in less than three years in France. For €20 per year, the service allows a user to easily open an account and pick up a bank card through a network of 3,100 newsagents across the country.

About NiCKEL

French online bank

Founded in 2012

Owned by BNP Paribas


Acquire new customers

Understand conversion paths

Accurately attribute new account openings


Added Location Extensions to Google Search Ads

Activated Store Visits reporting

Imported volume of accounts opened via Store Sales Direct

Used first-party data to optimise advertising investment


Mobile CPA shown to be 2X more effective in driving conversions than previously thought

Mobile share up 14% YOY

People searching within 1km of partner newsagents were 13% more likely to open an account

NiCKEL is one of the only online banks in France to have a physical distribution network, thanks to their partnership with thousands of newsagents across France. For the digital acquisition team, this opens up a new challenge to measure the entire customer journey:

  • Online to offline: The consumer opens an account online and then picks up their card at a newsagent
  • Offline: The consumer buys a card at a newsagent and opens their account using an in-store booth

The NiCKEL team wanted to reconcile offline data back to the online customer path, in order to attribute new account openings to search advertising.

“We know that all leads aren’t equal and conversion rate varies for each person, so using a cost per lead KPI and average conversion rate hypothesis isn’t optimal.”

– Jérôme Calot, CMO, NiCKEL

Understanding the customer journey with Store Visits

NiCKEL began promoting directions to participating newsagents directly within their Google Search ads thanks to Google My Business and Location Extensions. This allowed them a better understanding of the consumer journey in the physical world, including near stores and in different towns and regions.

Going further with first-party data

NiCKEL then went on to pioneer an approach in the French banking industry that allowed the team to connect the dots between leads, visitors, and actual accounts opened. How? Using Store Sales Direct, they were able to carry out regular uploads of encrypted CRM extracts to securely associate offline behaviour with their search advertising.

For the first time, NiCKEL had a truly holistic view of the impact of Google Search on customer journeys. The team compared cost per lead and cost per acquisition for each dimension, identified keywords that were performing below or above expectations, and made adjustments to optimise investment beyond the lead.

Smarter insights drive powerful results

NiCKEL gained a better understanding of the behaviour of potential customers in proximity to partner newsagents thanks to a combination of this new imported data and Location Extensions. The team discovered that people searching within 1km of partner newsagents were 13% more likely to open an account. This prompted NiCKEL to increase presence near partner stores to drive even more client acquisition.

Furthermore, these new insights proved that mobile was twice as efficient as previously thought at generating new NiCKEL account openings. NiCKEL adjusted their Smart Bidding objectives to take this behaviour into account, and mobile share increased by 14% year over year as a result.

NiCKEL aims to continue using omnichannel measurement to support ambitious growth objectives. Aiming to reach 2 million clients by 2020 and with a partner network that’s set to more than double in the next year, automation will be the key to success. Using the Google Ads API to import fresh CRM data will be one of the steps to full automation in the coming months.

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