The financial services industry has a reputation for being laggards when it comes to digital marketing. An overall lack of experience and a legacy of traditional advertising strategies – combined with regulatory issues and security concerns – often are to blame.
But in today’s always-on economy, banks and other financial institutions no longer can afford to ignore the opportunities that a data-driven digital marketing strategy can provide. And the core of the strategy is content marketing. Brands can’t execute a strategic digital marketing program without it. Social media, SEM and SEO, email marketing, CRM and marketing automation are meaningless without a strong, ever-churning content engine to support them.
The phrase “brand as publisher” has been tossed around a lot over the past couple of years, and it brings up plenty of questions for many marketers we interact with.
“What does “brand as publisher” even mean?” “Do I need to hire a brand-new team?” “How can I support this approach within my existing budget?” “Do I need to license a whole bunch of new technology?”
And most importantly, “How do I even think about getting started?”
Here are three steps to help you begin:
Step 1: Rally the troops: You’ve already made the decision to start investing in content marketing. Now it’s time to operationalize it by forming your team. Here are some recommended shoes to fill:
- Team leader: Your key strategist. This person owns the program, sets the strategy and guides the rest of the team. The team leader should have digital marketing experience that includes a baseline understanding of SEO, how to leverage social media platforms the right way, how to map content to the customer lifecycle and an eye for what good content looks like. They have “final cut” on all content being produced.
- Managing editor: Your multi-tasker. This person shepherds the content development process within your organization. They are keeper of the editorial calendar and manager of your writing, design and other content production resources (video, photography, Web development, etc.). The managing editor reports directly to the team leader.
- Content producers: Your generators. This team consists of three to five writers plus graphic design, Web development, video production and photography resources who produce all content native to your organization. This team can be made up of internal staff resources, freelancers and/or agency partners.
Step 2: Build a plan: Once you have the team aligned, you should start planning.
- Start with a documented content strategy. Establish clear and measurable goals for your content program (i.e., increase Web traffic, drive better SEO, generate leads, etc.), and draft a strategy and plan to get you there. And don’t forget the metrics! You should have KPIs established for each channel and a measurement and tracking plan in place to ensure you’re reporting everything you need to optimize the strategy over time.
- Find your voice. What is the brand voice and tone you’ll use in your content? Leverage your existing brand guidelines, style guide and social media policy to help establish how you plan to speak to your audience. You can even go so far as creating a persona for your brand to determine the tonality of your content. Are you funny and casual or professional and formal? Will you use a lot of financial jargon or speak to consumers on a more “human” level?
- Create personas. Personas can help you understand the needs and goals of your target prospects and customers – and how best to align your content strategy to engage them. Personas also help determine key themes, topics and issues you should cover in your content. Some ways to identify these topics include:
- Making a list of key questions each persona has for your brand
- Identifying the tools, resources and advice each persona needs to help them do their job better
- Uncovering an insight or data point they don’t know about yet
- Understanding their own personal and professional goals
- Draft an editorial calendar. Once you have your goals, strategy and personas identified, start brainstorming the content you’re going to create. An editorial calendar is a valuable tool to build your content plan. Use it to track each piece of content being created, how it will be distributed, promoted and repurposed into other pieces down the road.
Step 3: Start writing (and measuring): At this point, you’ve put a lot of internal ducks in a row to set yourself up for content marketing success – so it’s time to start producing great content. Let the editorial calendar and team processes you’ve established guide you. You should plan to review metrics on a monthly basis to understand how each content piece is performing – and conduct more in-depth, program-wide analysis and insight gathering each quarter.
Quarterly evaluations should take a deeper dive into how each persona is engaging with your content, which channels perform best and which topics, themes and issues are resonating most with your audience. Use these valuable insights to fine-tune your strategy and optimize your content over time.
That’s it – you’re all set to get started with content.
If you ever have any questions (or need any help), we’re always here for you.