Consumers visit banks’ websites for one of two reasons: either for online banking, or to find information — a banking product or branch location. Online banking accounts for about 90% of the traffic, products or services is about 8%, with the remaining 2% accounting for other purposes.
There could be a third use — a blog — but most financial institutions are lagging behind in this area of content marketing. Most banks and credit unions evaluate their marketing efforts in a very traditional way, such as pay per click (PPC) or lead generation. Many financial execs like to look at marketing ROI through a rudimentary, clear-cut lens: you spend $100,000 to get $1,000,000 in new loans, “Well… there’s your ROI.” Senior management likes measuring ROI in this way because it presents immediate results (or lack thereof) very clearly and obviously.
Although content marketing is a relatively new field in the grand scheme of marketing, they are still based on the same principles of traditional marketing, that is, to draw direct purchase decisions and generate the highest conversion rates possible. The aim is still — as it has always been — to be able to measure and calculate ROI. Unfortunately, calculating the direct performance of content marketing initiatives is not equally as easy to measure, which often triggers confusion and a hasty dismissal of anything relating to social among certain financial execs.
Reality Check: The ultimate, primary purpose driving a powerful content marketing strategy is simple: to create new business opportunities.
The real problem is when financial marketers attempt to calculate the ROI of their content marketing strategy way too early in the process. Indeed they even focus on creating content in such a fashion so that it can be measured (e.g., campaigns engineered to yield more new ‘Likes’). Indeed, if you create a social media content marketing strategy specifically with hard ROI metrics in mind, your content will invariably wind up sounding just like everyone else… a sales pitch.
Consumers don’t care about your returns; they want to laugh, cry, feel angry and be inspired! They want to waste their day away by going through funny pictures on BuzzFeed. They want to see Brian Williams rap to “Rapper’s Delight.” Simply put, they want great content.
You see, social media was built on two fundamental principles: share-ability, and engagement. If your content doesn’t engage your audience, no one will see it — and your whole marketing effort will not matter. Facebook was built on the foundation of those two factors. So was Twitter. So was every other platform around today.
Smart marketers create posts, videos and pictures—anything that can capture their audience’s attention and get tons of shares — and does so in ways that are relevant to their organization’s strategic plan. But the big question remains: how exactly can a financial marketer make money on social media?
Here are three ways banks can profit from a long-term content marketing strategy.
1) Cross-content selling from online banking
Nowadays, banks get tens of thousands of visitors to bank online with them. Whether it’s TD Bank or Bank of Missouri, this online banking phenomenon has become ubiquitous. This trend presents perfect cross-selling opportunities for bank marketers, but at the same time, figuring out how marketers can convert that lucrative traffic to seek other functions on the banks’ websites seems to be one big challenge.
Having a content marketing strategy in place can help tackle that challenge. Consumers are very good at ignoring clichéd sales messages such as, “Check out our sizzling hot CD rates,” but they can’t ignore powerful images with interesting stories.
Putting a well-designed blog feed near your online banking login can increase the chances of directing traffic to your blog. If you can get your consumers to keep reading your posts, you are on your way to building a solid relationship with them. Simple math will show that if you get 20,000 unique visits to online banking a month, then a 10 percent cross-content move will bring 2,000 people to your blog. (I’ll go over monetizing this shortly.)
2) Powerful content lifts conversions everywhere else
A solid content marketing strategy helps increase the conversion rates in your traditional marketing efforts. When your customers love your brand, they will respond much better to advertisements.
3) Use your blog as a sales conduit
Banks spend the majority of their online marketing budget on PPC, Google Content Network, advertisements that are displayed on popular websites (display network), and other forms of online marketing platforms. But they barely spend any time, money or energy on the ads they could be running (more effectively) on their own websites or blogs.
This is where your powerful content marketing strategy really pays off. You pay significant amounts of money for ads on social media platforms and search engines based on the traffic that those sites generate, and hopefully you will have the opportunity to turn that traffic into clients for you. But if you own the traffic that comes to your blog via awesome content, then you own the ad spots on your blog—and you control the ads that are shown and delivered. The best part? You pay zero dollars per click.
So when does ROI come into play? One of our bank clients has monthly traffic of about 30,000 visitors to its website. Its newly developed blog gets about 10,000 unique visitors (92 percent of which are within their market area) a month, which all comes from the bank’s content marketing strategy. The bank has full control over email subscriptions, ads, content and, most importantly, the sales funnel.
Now lets’ talk money. If it takes $10,000 per month to generate 10,000 unique visitors, then that is $1 per unique visit. If .05 percent convert from ads to become leads (500) and more than $10,000 converts into some kind of profitable product, then you have the ROI.
In order to build traffic that works in this scenario, you would need to spend lots of time and effort on consistently delivering quality content that is sharable and engaging.
Remember that social media marketing, especially content marketing, is a powerful tool—but you can’t correctly measure ROI until you have an engagement level and the proper traffic to justify measuring and converting.