Take these seven steps to improve your financial content marketing, enhance customer relationships — and boost results.
By Sushil Dulai Wenholz, Creative Director
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and we know very few financial marketers who live under rocks), by now you know that content is essential to your financial marketing plans. From building brand affinity and trust, to educating and engaging customers, to helping grow revenue, content has become indispensable. But only when it’s done well. These seven essential steps will help you get it right and create great content.
1: Create a financial services content strategy.
You can’t escape the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Setting down a plan for your content marketing strategy gives you a roadmap to follow. This helps you allocate staff resources, pin down timelines, ensure you cover all the topics you want to cover, decide upfront how to repurpose content, keep your messaging cohesive and justify your budget requests.
The 6 Stages of Developing a Content Marketing Plan
Source: Creating Your Content Marketing Plan, CCG
2: Make your financial content meaningful.
Unlike advertising, content marketing isn’t just about making a big splash and grabbing five seconds of attention. It’s about creating relationships where your customers view you as someone worth having in their lives. In financial services, that’s most likely going to translate to someone who offers helpful advice that makes it easier to make smarter financial decisions.
So you need to make sure your content provides value (thus the nickname we like, value-added content). When deciding which financial topics to write about, focus on solving a customer problem, answering a burning question, even uncovering challenges your customers don’t yet realize they have. And always, always present a solution (which just may connect to your products and services).
How do you know what questions and concerns your customers have? Ask them. Surveys, focus groups and online chat rooms or discussion boards are great ways to get their input first-hand. You can also engage in social listening and talk with your customer service team to gather more insights on the customer issues your content can address.
In general, value-added content should make up the bulk of your content efforts. A ratio of 60 to 70 percent value-add to 30 or 40 percent company/product/service content provides a nice balance that puts your customer first.
3. Make your financial content personal.
Once you have a general idea of which topics interest your customers, go one level deeper and make your content as personal as possible. This means digging into data — behavioral, attitudinal, transactional, demographic — for information. You can then develop content that truly resonates on a personal level — or at least an audience segment level.
Leverage Data to Refine Customer Personalization
Source: Creating Your Content Marketing Plan, CCG
Next, build customization and personalization into content elements. For instance, add the customer’s name into the subject line, salutation and other points where it makes sense. Incorporate location-related details where possible. Connect messaging to customer transaction patterns, visits to your website, response to previous communications and so on.
You can (and should) also use these data insights to map content to customer journeys and customer lifecycle. It’s just one more way to increase relevance for your customers!
4. Make your financial content engaging.
Content that’s personally meaningful is naturally engaging. But you can make the connection stronger by adding interactive elements. These are elements that encourage your customers to take actions within the content. For instance, they may click on a map or chart to view additional details, or fill in fields to use a calculator. Calls to action are also inherently interactive because they ask the customer to do something — watch, download, visit, call, comment and so forth.
Another type of interactivity — and another way to create good content — is ensuring that your content includes actionable takeaways. So even after your customer has read your content, they can “participate” with it by doing something suggested in the copy. For instance, they may fill out an enrollment form or application. Or they may follow the steps or tips you’ve recommended. This brings your content into your customer’s life in a very tangible way.
5. Make your financial content unique.
Great financial content covers subjects in a different way than everyone else. This can include providing more depth and detail, focusing on one particular aspect of a broader topic, taking an innovative slant or format, or incorporating in-house expert voices.
Of course, to stand out from the herd, you have to know what’s already out there. So make competitive reviews part of your ongoing routine. This may also help you discover approaches your competitors are using that might work for you, too — after adding your own unique spin, of course.
6. Make your financial content enticing.
Consumers are pressed for time and attention. That means your content needs to pull them in and make it easy for them to grasp key points quickly. Create a foundation with clear, concise copy. Then build on it with graphic elements that make important messages and takeaways pop. Use subheads, bullet lists, tables and infographics to break up copy blocks and add visual appeal. Judiciously use a mix of fonts, size, color and images to guide the reader’s eye.
To create great content, you also need to make sure your design and code provide a positive user experience across devices and screen sizes. This goes beyond a mobile view to responsive design that looks just as good — and functions just as well — whether your reader is using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Responsive Design Example: Desktop and Mobile Views
Understanding your customers’ communication preferences will also help entice them to keep reading. Use a preference center and other customer data or input to determine which channels you should use to reach your customers and, ideally, which ones appeal most to different audiences and individuals.
7. Make it optimized.
Want to improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website? Place value-added content on your site. For instance, you might consider an online library or resource center, or link to informational pages connected to different products and services, like mortgages, IRAs or mobile banking.
While keywords and phrases remain at the core of search engine optimization, content relevance is a strong driving force today. In addition, regularly adding or revising content to keep it fresh — and making sure to include meta titles, meta descriptions and alt tags — will boost your rep among search engines.
Quick tip: Keyword research — understanding what people are searching for and the phrases they’re using — can help guide you toward content topics that will resonate and drive traffic.
Reap the Rewards
Putting these seven steps into action can help enhance your content quality, improve performance metrics, build stronger customer relationships and, ultimately, lead to higher revenues for your financial institution.
Ready to rev up your content marketing? For more than four decades, we’ve been helping financial institutions do just that — while building more profitable relationships with their customers. Our financial marketing services include content strategy and development, design and coding, data and analytics. Talk to one of our financial marketing experts today to see how we can help you achieve your content marketing goals. Click below to schedule a free consultation or call 800.525.0313.