Content remains king when it comes to building trust with Millennials. Younger generations expect to engage with brands 24/7 and content must win and hold their attention and provide them value, whether it’s an article, podcast or infographic. Otherwise, it won’t be consumed.
So why is so much of financial brands’ content marketing so dull? Too often the best that you see on their websites are razor-thin blogs covering rote solutions to stereotypical problems. That has no appeal to digitally savvy generations who can find useful, authoritative or just plain fun content at the speed of a Google search. As a result, most financial brands are missing out on a major opportunity.
Here are five content marketing blunders financial marketers make when trying to engage with Millennial consumers.
1. Your Content Lacks Authentic Value
Don’t attempt content marketing if you haven’t performed the strategic market research and done the planning necessary to deeply understand your institution’s own niche among Millennials. Are they small business owners looking for advice? Are they primarily renters? Or are they looking to buy? What are their unique financial habits and needs?
Misunderstanding or making assumptions about your audience leads to generic content that lacks true value — and at worse, insults those you most want to reach.
Millennials have been “listicled” to death, often with dated material. Consider, how long will content writers continue to draw on pre-COVID data without considering whether it remains relevant? How long will they continue to leverage stereotypes about avocado-toast-eating young urban dwellers rather than digging deep to understand current unique behaviors, ideologies, attitudes, motivations, and goals of a generation whose oldest members are nearing 40?
Many generalizations about Millennial behaviors distintegrate when scrutinized under comprehensive current user research about the ones you serve — or could. In order to provide valuable and engaging content, banks and credit unions must discover the unmet and specific needs of their customers and prospects. Every geography is different, and the content, medium and message must all be targeted to provide value, and stand out in a sea of sameness. Use analytical tools to confirm that your content means something to your audience.
More is at stake than boring Millennials once. Low-quality content will leave Millennials feel as if they were baited for clicks rather than motivated to interact with your brand.
Even worse, thin content, which Google describes as having “little to no value,” will damage your institution’s search engine rankings. It’s crucial that your content marketing has depth, breadth, and accessibility for both people and search engines. Keep up with what search engine experts are saying about the latest revisions to Google’s algorithms.
2. Your Content Lacks Your Institution’s Unique Voice
Generic financial education content that speaks from nowhere in particular to no one in particular — consumers see this all too often. Why should users come to your brand for mediocre content when there are thousands of providers offering interesting or helpful content?
“Don’t suffer the fate of the forgettable. Hone an authentic, human point of view Millennials can’t find anywhere else, and which will be remembered.”
Don’t suffer the fate of the forgettable. Hone an authentic, human point of view Millennials can’t find anywhere else, and which will be remembered. The Pew Research Center conducted research that asked adults in the U.S. about news they had read online within the past two hours. The respondents could only recall the source of the article about 56% of the time on average.
A few years ago, Jeff Baker, now CMO at content marketing agency Brafton, told Tearsheet, “We see a saturated market of ‘tips and tricks,’ ‘five things you need to know about.’ People want to read in-depth pieces of actual use cases of things that worked and things that didn’t.”
Know your brand values, own them, and communicate them consistently with every piece of content. Millennials demand that brands provide authenticity and transparency. Neobank Monzo goes so far as to publish their product roadmap on its website, allowing users to comment on it and suggest new features.
Authentic content builds trust by educating the audience about your values and why prospects should do business with your organization. Consider adding the voice of leaders and employees, or outside influencers, to infuse a sense of human connection — and quell the distrust Millennials have for faceless financial institutions.
3. Your Content Lacks Authentic Engagement Opportunities
Active engagement is a primary goal for any content marketing program. However, meaningful engagement comes in more forms than a poll on Twitter, or a comment section in a blog.
Consider user-generated content, for example. That may sound like a compliance nightmare, but many financial brands are finding ways to safely mitigate any risk. Create clear terms and conditions. And make it explicit that any user-generated content that doesn’t align with your institutions values or media guidelines is subject to removal.
“User-generated content may sound like a compliance nightmare, but many financial brands are finding ways to safely mitigate any risk.”
Santander’s Prosperity campaign initiated a user-generated content program designed to make the idea of prosperity more tangible. The bank compiled short video clips submitted by customers that described what prosperity meant for them. Allowing users to participate in campaigns across social media makes them feel an authentic connection with your brand. Similar user-generated campaigns come in the form of contests and social media tags.
However, user-generated campaigns that provide true community engagement and user participation take time, effort and strategy — more than a hashtag. Users want to feel they have a say in your brand. Neobank Monzo’s fervent user base become evangelists for the brand because they feel they have an active role in shaping the organization. The company’s “Monzonauts” engage in their forums, and the organization allows the space for the free flow of discussion even when users discuss problems or issues they are having with the product.
Upon first release, after learning that another company owned the trademark “Mondo,” Monzo asked its 100,000 email subscribers to think of a new name. Monzo received 12,000 submissions in 48 hours, and over 2,500 user photos were submitted across every digital channel.
4. Your Content Overvalues Social Channels
While social media can be a powerful opportunity, Millennials aren’t solely focused on Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. Millennials don’t demand digital simply because it is digital, as evidenced by JPMorgan’s failed banking application, Finn.
Additionally, driving organic traffic from social media platforms like Facebook is increasingly difficult. Facebook has curtailed organic reach in an attempt to keep people on site, and quality content is often buried in social feeds users never see.
Leverage data about your unique customer base to determine which social channels to focus on. Where do they go for financial advice? What channels do they frequent? Whether it is Reddit, LinkedIn or local forums, using social listening with tools like BuzzSumo or Google alerts can inform you about consumers’ media habits and the types of content they like.
5. You Find Yourself in the Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Content delivery — or “content context” — is as important as the content itself. While selling products is not the goal of content marketing, map Millennial personas and buyer journeys to your content marketing program to ensure your content meets your customer at the right stage of the funnel. There is no better way to present content than at the right place, in the right medium, and exactly when your users are looking for it.
At the top of the funnel, connect with Millennials who may be years away from making a purchase. Younger generations are the consumers most interested in seeing non-finance-related content from banks and credit unions. Content about careers, travel and technology are more likely to win with the youngest Millennials, who engage with less personal finance content than all other demographics.
For example, Santander Bank’s content marketing strategy is targeted at young people who may not apply for a loan for several years. “We wanted to talk to people earlier in their decision-making process and wanted our content to be found when they had lifestyle questions,” said C. Decker Marquis, Senior Vice President and Director of Digital, Social Media, and Multichannel Marketing, in an interview with Content Marketing Institute.
Leverage search intent, user data, market research, referral marketing, and advanced personalization capabilities for dynamic content recommendations further down the funnel. This is where knowledge of your consumers and their needs is essential. Providing them with financial advice, infographics, or localized information that is relevant to their lives in an easy-to-find way is key.
When it comes to where your content will “live,” financial institutions have started to prioritize content marketing in their primary navigation rather than offering siloed content in a blog or financial education hub. Integrating benefits-oriented content throughout the digital experience keeps visitors engaged with your brand longer — and makes them more likely to interact with a product page when they so choose.