Consumers have always struggled placing trust in financial institutions. That’s why financial marketers need to provide valuable information if they hope to stay competitive and build healthy, positive relationships with people. Banks and credit unions must actively work to improve their reputation, build their brand and bolster consumer engagement.
According to a 2018 J.D. Power study, 78% of those in the U.S. are interested in receiving financial advice or guidance from their bank, but only 28% say they’ve received it. There’s a big disconnect here — between consumers’ appetite for informative content and those institutions providing it.
This unmet need presents a massive opportunity for smart, savvy and proactive financial marketers. Delivering valuable guidance and education benefits consumers, the community and the financial institutions who offer it.
It All Starts With Content Marketing
Content marketing is a highly effective approach to engaging any target audience. When executed properly, a content marketing strategy leads to more informed, financially capable citizens. At the same time, it yields strong business development benefits for your organization.
Creating compelling content within a marketing context means striking a delicate balance between relevant and interesting material that informs and provides value to consumers while simultaneously promoting your brand without crossing the line.
More and more financial institutions are building their content marketing strategy around a steady diet of financial education topics and themes. A robust comprehensive financial education program can actually serve as the primary pillar for a bank or credit union content strategy. This not only builds trust with consumers, it powers business growth opportunities — consumers will often turn to sources they trust when it comes to financial decisions.
If you position your bank or credit union as a knowledgeable, reliable provider of insight and advice, more people will choose you the next time they have a financial need. The vast majority of consumers who have received guidance from their financial institution have high levels of trust, retention, and advocacy. In fact, as a marketing tool, a content strategy built around financial education can’t be beat. Studies have shown that consumers who received financial education were 29 times more likely to obtain financial products and services than if they had just been exposed to traditional media advertising alone.
The bottom line is that consumers are asking for financial guidance, and financial institutions are in the perfect position to offer it. Financial institutions need to leverage their expertise to provide the content people want.
Here are three important steps you can follow to maximize the impact and ROI of your content marketing strategy.
Step 1: Persona Alignment
The foundation of your go-to-market content strategy begins with creating buyer personas. Personas are conceptual representations of your ideal target audience, based on market research and data from your current consumers.
Demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals of the accountholders you have today are all parameters you can use when developing personas of the accountholders you want in the future. Leverage additional qualitative data through interviews and surveys. Some of the persona types you define might include “Millennial Small Business Owners” or “Spanish-Speaking Under-Banked Consumers”.
Once you determine who your key personas are and what they care about — and how they correlate to your institution’s goals and strategic priorities — you can begin developing messaging that’s relevant to them. Conduct an audit of your pre-existing content. What do you already have, and what do you need to create?
Once you have a library of original and curated content, you’re ready to start distributing it in ways that will reach your target personas.
Step 2: Channel Integration
Take an omni-channel approach to deliver your content, and align with your various audiences. Use multiple mediums, including your website, mobile apps, social media, paid media and email marketing. Don’t forget offline channels either; in-branch tools can be useful to visiting consumers, and educational tools for branch employees can lead to more dedicated and informed staff members who can better serve accountholders.
Use research and data to determine the best channel(s) to reach each persona. For example, Millennials will be more receptive to interactive tools, calculators and mobile learning apps than will older consumers.
Building a content marketing calendar is an important part of the process. But before you create anything from scratch — again! — be sure to conduct a thorough audit of what you already have. Take a look at your institution’s established marketing plans and find intuitive places to incorporate educational content. Let’s say in March you plan to promote a financial product or service that relates to tax season, what are some strategic, creative ways you could integrate helpful tax filing advice/tax education into that broader campaign?
If you can align content with the calendar and cycle of your consumers’ needs, engagement increases, conversion rates increase, and the overall effectiveness and perceived value of your program trends upward.
Step 3: Champion Your Results
You’ve created your personas, you have quality content ready to go and a strategy and calendar for delivering it. Now what?
In some ways, the most important marketing is internal marketing. It is essential that you have data tracking and metrics in place now, so you can ultimately show internal stakeholders how your content marketing efforts are making an impact and producing results.
Depending on your organization’s top priorities and content marketing goals, you might emphasize data on engagement levels, knowledge gain, behavior change, community development, up-sells, lead generation and the net new number of accountholders. It’s critical that you not only communicate the results, but also show how they derived specifically from your content marketing strategy or financial education program.
Data is the key to ongoing internal support. Many banks and credit unions already have some form of perfunctory “financial education program” in place, but few make any effort to track its impact. But by providing concrete evidence of success, a strategic content marketing plan will see budget increases and program growth, which, in turn, helps you better serve your consumers, impact your community and achieve your business objectives long-term.
To learn more about the power of content marketing and tips to get started, listen to our this webinar: 3 Steps to Successful Content Marketing in Banking.