What are your content marketing goals? According to this Slideshare from the Content Marketing Institute, almost none of the financial institutions surveyed have a documented content marketing strategy. With platforms always changing, messages in flux and the added hurdle of compliance to consider, that’s no surprise. But when you can define your goals and rid yourself of the pressure to match them strictly to data, then your strategy will become much clearer, and the path toward marketing success that much easier.
Time equals money
Most industries will agree that the number one tangible goal for content marketing is website traffic. What’s different about the financial sector is that success is often measured in time spent on a website rather than in conversion rates. That’s great news for banks. Rather than promoting specific deals and products to push conversion rates, you can use content marketing to educate and engage. Banks that deliver intuitive, relevant content that keeps customers engaged on your site for longer win loyalty, trust and, eventually, new customers. In one survey, 50 percent of respondents said they would stay loyal to a bank with good content and 31% would sign up for new products and services based on useful content.
We rounded up a few examples of financial institutions in the business-to-business and retail sectors that are delivering the type of high-quality content marketing that has set them up for long-term success. If you’re ready to get serious about your content marketing goals, start by learning more about how these institutions are doing it.
Goal #1: Advise them well.
Wells Fargo Works for Small Businesses is an online platform created with the simple goal of providing guidance to business owners. The idea behind this plan is that when businesses that use Wells Fargo’s products and services are successful, then Wells Fargo is also successful.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this platform is its variety. There are studies (like this one on Millennial entrepreneurs), infographics, videos (check out how to develop a strong elevator pitch) and blogs that tackle everything from freelancer tax advice to sharing office space. Most of the content is presented in the form of interviews with successful business owners (who also happen to be Wells Fargo customers), which adds a level of authenticity and keeps it feeling fresh. After all, people are much less likely to trust information that comes straight from bank representatives.
There’s also a Business Plan Center, where business owners can download step-by-guides on how to develop written business plans and use an online tool that provides insight on competitors and the market to help write the plan. The center has garnered nearly one million visits and more than 9,000 business plan tool sign-ups.
Goal #2: Build trust.
One of the simplest goals of content marketing is to build trusting relationships between customer and company. In the banking industry, solid content can help to take the place of the historic role of a personal banker, who was often turned to for financial advice. Ginny Franks, vice president of financial education and content management at Regions Bank, is quoted in a 2015 article in AdAge: “From the 2008 recession … what trust we may have had with customers was tarnished. Many of them think that we don’t have their best interest in mind and that we’re self-serving.” That’s why she’s helped Regions Bank, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., to use content to build that trust back up.
Over the past two years, this regional bank has built an impressive reservoir of authentic, compelling content aimed at both small businesses and individuals with a customer-centric approach to sales and marketing. Regions has an active Small Business Insights archive that tackles everything from how to handle collections effectively to inspirational leadership articles. By tracking customer activity on their site, they found that customers were 11 times more likely to complete an application if they had access to benefit-oriented content before the application process.
Goal #3: Lighten things up.
Monument, a private wealth management firm serving the DC metro area, definitely takes risks with its content. There’s some pretty funny content on its “Off the Wall” Financial Blog & Market Commentary. Take this June 2017 entry, which starts with a topical meme and launches into market insights, with a few more pop culture references and some charts, too. By sharing irreverent but relevant content in a funny/safe way, Monument’s blog has become a reliable source that’s also good for a laugh — not a bad combination.
The merits of using humor in marketing have been debated for decades, but there’s also a reason that 80% of college-aged consumers remember funny ads and forget the rest. If you’re willing to take the risks and can pull it off authentically, then a blog is a great place to take your content on the lighter side. There’s a way to be safe while also being funny. You don’t have to post a controversial meme (although when done right, that can work). If you’re a local bank, look for local customs or trends that can be riffed on, or a common financial worry that you can joke about, like saving for college. As with any content marketing endeavor, the challenge will be to stay relevant.
Goal #4: Build a movement.
SunTrust Bank has been starting content marketing movements since its “Live for a Sunny Day” campaign in 2015. Its newest endeavor, the OnUp movement, is fully integrated with a dynamic content platform aimed at helping participants build financial confidence. SunTrust talked to more than 190,000 people and 8,000 businesses about financial stress to form the basis of the OnUp movement, before deciding on “lighting the way toward financial wellbeing” as its message. In 2016, it was officially launched in a big way with the bank’s first Super Bowl ad.
The movement’s website, which is chock full of useful content such as quizzes, interviews, blogs, advice, videos and more, keeps track of the number of “participants,” or people who have signed up to receive OnUp’s financial wellbeing advice e-newsletter, on the site. In an interview with Marketing Land, SunTrust’s CMO Susan Somersille Johnson hit the nail on the head: “We have something to say, not necessarily sell. We’re literally not selling anything on the site. People are searching for top 10 ways to lower my debt or whatever, and they get our native content, and they’re clicking through. Native is working really well for us here.”
Goal #5: Ask questions.
Even though good content marketing comes off as intuitive and simple, gathering and presenting it is anything but. First, you’ll need a strategy that aligns with your goals. To get there, ask a lot of questions. Who’s your target audience? What do you want them to do after they read or see your content? Anticipate the ways they find your content, and their next moves.
The answers to these questions should guide you as you define your content marketing goals. Remember that you’re building trust, not selling specific products and services. Leave the sales pitches for your email marketing, ads, or a call to action. Keep your content relevant to your customers’ interests and needs.
You don’t have to be a big business like Wells Fargo or launch your program with a Super Bowl ad like SunTrust bank to build a content presence. All you need is a platform and a message. As trusted experts in financial matters, you’ve already got both. What are you waiting for? Put your expertise online and start building those relationships.