Banks have been slow to adopt what is often referred to as content marketing, or content strategy – but now that the return on investment is becoming clear, it’s important for financial institutions to catch up.
What exactly IS content strategy, and why do banks need to make this investment? Content strategy is the planning, development and delivery of content that is geared towards delivering a specific business goal. We think the business goal for banks should be to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers by providing useful financial information and education. Banks should jump on board because trust and deep connection with customers is extremely low for financial brands. This is a huge opportunity for financial institutions, but building equity through content marketing doesn’t happen over night. It requires consistent and repeated publication of expertise. The sooner you begin with your content strategy, the bigger advantage you’ll have over your competition who get a later start.
Before You Implement your Bank’s Content Plan
You may choose to hire a consultant or agency to help you build your content strategy, and this is recommended if you don’t have an experienced content strategist in your marketing department.
You will need to define the following factors:
- The goal of the initiative
- Your bank’s target personas
- How you will provide value to this audience
Defining Your Goals
You will need to define the business goal you are trying to achieve, or further, through your content strategy. For banks the obvious gaps content strategy can fill are the unmet customer need for financial advice, building trust, and deepening the relationship.
Beyond simply understanding the purpose of the initiative, you will need to articulate what metrics will confirm whether or not the content is doing its job. For example, you may want to utilize content to promote a new product, and can track how successful a certain kind of content is at encouraging new registrations. Or you may want to use content to help onboard current customers to a new system, and can measure the success by tracking click-through rates and the rate of adoption as a result. You will also want to decide on whether there are further steps in the cycle you want your customers to take; for example, do you want them to share your content? How will you get them to do this, and through what medium?
Defining Your Audience
You probably already have the information you need to get started on defining your target audience: your customer personas. You may have more than one persona you want to target, or you may choose to start with one and add another at a later time.
For each persona, you will need to define their key areas of interest. For example, if you are targeting a Young Millennial Family demographic, you might organize content topics into categories such as “First-Time Home Purchase”, “Budgeting for Baby”, and “How to Start and Run your own Business”. The categories should be broad enough that you are able to produce a significant amount of content on an ongoing basis on the subject. You will then need to determine what content formats you are going to produce and how you are going to deliver your content.
Content can include blog posts, video blogs, research papers, podcasts and any other type of content that exists. Your core audience’s preferences will determine which formats you use, and you can use them all or focus on one. As you start to see which content performs well, you can make adjustments.
Creating Value For Your Audience
Banks have expertise and knowledge that customers want. However, banks should be careful not to use their content strategy to promote services and products. Sound counterintuitive? Think about it this way: consumers are inundated with an abundance of content and only have so much time or interest. The last thing they want to read is an advertisement. This is especially important given that the general view of banks is not entirely positive when it comes to sales tactics.
Banks should take this opportunity to share their thought leadership around financial issues that concern the core target audience. If a reader finds a blog post useful to them, they are likely to share it and subscribe to your newsletter. They will begin to see your bank as a brand that understands their needs and will give them the advice and information they want most. You should leverage the strongest minds on your team, but keep in mind that creating great content requires great writers and producers, and some of your leadership may require support in creating content.
A Few Final Thoughts
Some brands have launched thought leadership or educational programs under entirely different brand identities. We do not recommend that banks take this approach. One of the benefits of content strategy is that it will help you build equity as educators and advisors, and banks shouldn’t dilute this equity by sub-branding the initiative.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that content strategy is a long game. You will not instantly have new customers lining up to open accounts because they read a blog post. The goal is not to sell products or services. The goal is to build trust and relationships.
Banks have a wealth of knowledge within their organizations. Using it to increase brand awareness and deepen the relationship with consumers in a well planned and executed content strategy makes enormous sense.