A step-by-step review of how to use content at each stage of the consumer decision process to strengthen customer relationships.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Content is king. After all, content marketing has been proven to generate three times more leads than traditional marketing.1 A whopping 92% of consumers say they prefer ads that feel like a story, and nearly 80% say they’ll trust your brand if you provide customized content.1
The tough part: Just what do you say to consumers to get those kinds of results? Unfortunately, many financial institutions haven’t been able to answer that question. That’s deadly, with nearly a quarter of consumers saying if content isn’t engaging the first time, they won’t give you a second chance.1
One of the most logical and most effective solutions is to build your financial content marketing strategy around the buyer’s journey. This gives you foundational customer segments based on each stage of the journey. And it allows you to extrapolate content ideas based on customer needs and interests at each of those stages.
Here, we take a closer look at how your financial content marketing strategy can be shaped to engage customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Stage 1: Problem Recognition
The buying process begins when the consumer recognizes he has a problem that needs solving or a need that must be fulfilled. The role of your financial content marketing at this stage is to show consumers that you understand their financial challenges and goals. You acknowledge what they think they need, and either confirm or correct those assumptions.
Stage 1 Financial Content Marketing Tactic
Let’s assume a customer is thinking of buying a home and will need a mortgage. At this stage of the journey, he is considering the big-picture challenges of home buying and financing. You want to make sure you have content on your website that addresses these interests. For instance, you might have an overview of the home purchase process, a checklist of how to prepare for a home search and a Q&A about mortgages. You might also offer the option to sign up to receive an email series about home buying and financing. And you can pull quick tips and fast facts from your web pages to feed your social media pages.
This tactic opens the lines of communication between you and the customer. By showing that you understand the challenges they face and the questions they have — and that you have answers — you begin to establish your bank as an expert resource for relevant, helpful information.
Stage 2: Information Search
In this stage, the consumer conducts research in an attempt to solve the problem recognized in stage one. Your financial services marketing content can help by anticipating questions and providing answers. You can also take this opportunity to educate the consumer on your specific products and services, showing how they can help solve the problem.
Stage 2 Financial Content Marketing Tactic
In a broad sense, the types of content that could be useful at this stage include ebooks, research studies, reports and product collateral. In our homebuyer example, you might provide reports on the current state of the housing market and interest rates. You could develop an ebook on different types of mortgages, then leverage it for blogs, social posts and an email series. You can even help your customer perform a cost-benefits analysis comparing renting to buying, or comparing financing to a cash purchase. Everything should be aimed at helping your customer understand their options and begin to explore specific solutions.
Using SEO best practices is critical at both stages 1 and 2 — or anytime you want to drive consumers to your web content. One study showed that 70% of buyers head for Google to do research.2
Stage 3: Evaluation of Alternatives
At this stage of the buying process, a consumer is ready to investigate the details of your products and services, and compare them against those of your competitors. Your content should present your bank’s benefits and differentiators in a customer-focused manner, emphasizing the advantages of doing business with you.
Stage 3 Financial Content Marketing Tactic
Case studies, third-party reports or reviews, comparisons and lead-nurturing campaigns can all be effective at this stage. Just make sure you are still focused on “what’s in it” for your customer and keep the sales talk light. Your content might, for instance, explain the speed and ease of your mortgage process, highlight the experience and expertise of your employees, point out your convenient in-house underwriting or showcase anything else that sets you apart from other banks.
Stage 4: Purchase Decision
Even when a consumer decides to do business with you, the potential influence of your financial marketing content doesn’t end there. Your customer may continue looking for information that supports their decision. In addition, they may have additional questions and challenges as they move through any process involved with their decision, such as opening an account or applying for a loan. You have taught the consumer what to buy and now you must teach them how to buy, using content to guide them through the process.
Stage 4 Financial Content Marketing Tactic
Your content now can be brand-specific, but should remain helpful. At this stage, your content should also be personalized to the individual. Provide the most relevant testimonials, product reviews and case studies to help show your customer they made the right decision choosing you. Work to make any post-decision processes frictionless. For example, provide a mortgage applicant with a checklist of what comes next, a closing tip sheet and emails that keep him updated on his application status.
Stage 5: Post-Purchase Behavior
After the transaction is complete, your customer will likely reflect upon and evaluate the experience, keeping it in mind — for better or worse — the next time he needs financial products or services. He may also share his opinion of your bank with family, friends and coworkers. Therefore, the goals of your content at this stage are to maintain ongoing communication to help keep your financial institution top of mind, to continue offering support and information, and to provide opportunities for your customer to offer testimonials or product review.
Stage 5 Financial Content Marketing Tactic
A welcome series of emails is always a good way to immediately reinforce the new relationship. You can include content that helps your customer use or make the most of their “purchase,” be it a new checking account or a mortgage. And you can include a survey to capture customer information, as well as referrals and testimonials.
Newsletters (electronic or print) can be an ideal form of regular, ongoing communication. Make sure to include value-added content. For instance, your mortgage customers might appreciate home-related articles, such as home maintenance reminders, energy efficient upgrade ideas, remodeling inspirations and home insurance information.
You might also consider email bulletins and social media posts with product or company updates and promotions. For instance, you might send a refinance offer if rates drop, adding content that explains factors to consider before refinancing.
The Journey Is the Destination
Financial services content marketing on its own has unquestionable value. When you build your strategy around the buyer’s journey, it gets even better. You create greater relevance, provide more targeted information and advice, and build a stronger bond of trust — all of which paves the way to greater engagement and more profitable, long-term customer relationships.
As a leader in financial services content marketing and relationship building, CCG specializes in creating custom content and building effective editorial strategies. Learn more about our financial digital marketing solutions or schedule a free consultation with one of our financial marketing experts by clicking here or calling 303-986-3000, ext. 122.
1 “The 75 Essential Content Marketing Stats You Need to Know,” Ion Interactive, https://apps.ioninteractive.com/resources/infographic-tools/75-stats-infographic, accessed May 10, 2019
2 “Understanding the Buyer’s Journey: The Consideration Stage,” Molly Hoffmeister, Pardot.com, posted Feb. 23, 2015, https://www.pardot.com/blog/understanding-buyers-journey-consideration-stage/, accessed May 9, 2019