Use these strategies and best practices to improve your financial content marketing creation process, enhance customer relationships — and boost engagement and retention.
- 72% of customers are likely to increase their relationship with their financial institution if it sends them content on topics they care about
- Choosing meaningful financial content topics requires a customer-focused approach that can include surveys and insights from your customer service team
- Keeping your content funnel full requires strategic planning, including choosing the right team, creating a workflow and developing an editorial calendar
- Content audits, brainstorms, repurposing and curation can all play a role in your financial services content marketing strategy
By now you know that financial content is essential to your financial services 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 essential steps, strategies and best practices will help you get it right and create great personal finance content — consistently.
Does content marketing really work?
In a word, yes. Educational content has been shown to have a powerful and positive impact on consumers’ feelings about a brand, dramatically increasing their level of trust with the brand. In fact, research shows consumers were 131% more likely to buy immediately after reading a piece of educational content.1
CCG’s own proprietary research on financial services content shows that:
- 72% of consumers are more likely to increase their relationship with their financial institution if it sends them useful content on topics they’re interested in
- Nearly 40% are likely to open an email from their financial institution if it contains their preferred content
Our research goes on to show that 75% of consumers would have a negative opinion of their financial institution if it didn’t send them content on topics of interest to them, or sent them content that didn’t answer their questions or offer useful tips.
Clearly, your financial institution needs a sound financial services content strategy that consistently distributes relevant content to your customers.
Prepare for Financial Content Creation Success
To reap the full rewards of financial content marketing, it’s crucial to prepare. Before creating a single piece of content, start with the steps below. They’ll help pave the way to creating content consistently — and to keeping audiences engaged and informed throughout their purchase journey.
1: Identify your financial content creation team.
Start by identifying roles and responsibilities you’ll need to fill as part of your financial content creation process. Include strategy, writing, designing, reviewing, approving, distributing, promoting and managing completed content assets. Consider the skillset of your internal team and decide if it makes sense to bring in outside resources to assist with any tasks.
2: 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 financial 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.
Your strategy should include overall objectives, audience segments, content mix and a distribution plan. It should align with your financial institution’s corporate mission and speak to your audience’s challenges. This will help drive your messaging, as well as your content pipeline. Plus, it can bolster support for your content marketing initiatives with the powers that be. Keep the focus on how you’ll produce a variety of content to help your organization achieve its goals.
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3: Establish a workflow process for financial content creation and distribution.
Having a process can increase content production efficiency and reduce bottlenecks that waste time and money. Make sure all content stakeholders are on board with the process and understand the steps.
Stages of your content workflow might include the following:
- Developing ideas
- Creating content
- Reviews and approvals
- Distribution and promotion
- Organizing and archiving
- Measuring and tracking results
To keep your financial services content engine running smoothly and on time, incorporate legal and other key stakeholder feedback in the early stages. This allows ample time for reviews and feedback.
4: Create an editorial calendar template.
An annual editorial calendar helps your team stay organized, so you’re not left scrambling for last-minute ideas. The calendar can also ensure that you’re covering all important topic areas based on your financial services content strategy.
At this stage of the game, you’ll want to simply set up the calendar structure — essentially, a template you can use and re-use over time, filling in new details every year. Include space to list topics, content type, audience segment, calls to action, distribution channels and publish date.
As you move through the steps below, you’ll fill in these details. Then, you’ll come back to review your editorial calendar at least quarterly to ensure it still aligns with your strategy and goals.
What is great financial services marketing content?
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’re ready to start your financial content creation process and begin filling in that calendar. As you do that, keep in mind these six characteristics of great value-added content.
1: 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 for your customers to make smarter financial decisions.
So, when developing content ideas for financial services marketing, that means you need topics that provide value (thus the nickname we like, value-added content). That can take the form of 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).
Picking specific topics that will engage your customers can be more complicated. CCG’s research showed that, while certain topics ranked high in interest for different bank customers and demographics, there were no universal preferences that applied across the board.
To address this issue, CCG developed a Content Topic Optimization ToolTM. It uses objective, data-based models to provide recommendations on the optimal personal finance topics for specific audience segments.
Other ways to identify customer interests are through surveys, focus groups, social media polls, online chat rooms or discussion boards. In addition, talking with your customer service team and reviewing customer feedback from all channels, including social media, can help you gather more insights on the customer issues your content can address.
Regardless of specific topics, value-added content should make up the bulk of your content efforts. A ratio of 60% to 70% value-add to 30% or 40% company, product and service content provides a nice balance that puts your customer first.
2: Make your financial content personal.
Once you have a general idea of which financial content 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.
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.
3: 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 way to include interactivity — and another way to create good content — is to ensure 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.
4: 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.
5: Make your financial content visually enticing.
Consumers are pressed for time and attention. That means your financial services 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.
6: Optimize your financial content.
Want to improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website? Value-added content can help. For instance, take your newsletter articles and turn them into a blog on your website, or add them to an online library or resource center. You can also include informational pages, how-to guides, videos and other informational financial services content 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.
8 Best Practices for Financial Content Creation
We’ve now looked at the impact content can have, outlined steps to prepare a successful content initiative and discussed elements that can make your content most effective. Now you’re ready to actually get started efficiently and consistently creating and distributing engaging financial services content that converts. Below are tips, tactics and best practices to help you along.
1: Schedule regular content brainstorm sessions with your team.
When it’s time to start filling in your content calendar, you’ll want to leverage the strategies mentioned earlier for developing meaningful content. Then consider your audience’s challenges and interests — which ones can you tie to your products and services? Are there any company-wide initiatives, product launches or industry trends you can leverage? Create an ideas file or topic bank for storing future content ideas.
2: Conduct a content audit.
Do an inventory of your existing financial services content. Review what’s on all of your marketing channels and platforms, including content in other areas of your organization, from white papers to FAQs. Identify popular topics, areas where you have excess and any gaps that need to be filled.
Need help conducting your content audit? CCG can be your objective partner, providing a strategic review, assessment and list of recommendations. Contact us to learn more and request a free consultation.
3: Repurpose existing financial content.
Get more bang from your top-performing pieces of content by making a few tweaks and republishing them in different formats and on a variety of distribution channels. For example, turn a how-to blog post into a video, create an infographic from a basic list or update a popular evergreen piece with current trends and new statistics.
4: Consider adding curated content into your mix.
Sharing relevant content published by an outside source, and crediting the original author, is an easy way to fill your financial content holes. Whether it’s a subject matter expert or industry-related content, be sure to add a few insights to give it your own voice.
5: Keep all current and potential customer segments in mind.
Are you meeting the needs of your audience segments through all stages of the purchase journey? Review your data and analytics, and compare them with topics in your editorial calendar or ideas file. Add more relevant financial services content wherever you notice gaps.
6: Consider all formats and distribution channels.
Your customers absorb information in different ways. Produce content in a variety of formats, such as infographics, listicles and video. Include all the channels where your current and future customers are, including mobile, web, in-branch and social.
7: Let your metrics be your guide.
Determine which pieces of your content perform best and how well your metrics meet your financial services content strategy goals. Indicators of content marketing conversion could include leads, sales, subscriptions and behavior metrics. Use this feedback to adjust your editorial calendar and make tweaks as needed.
8: Focus on value not volume.
Resist the pressure to produce large quantities of content because it feels like that’s what everyone else is doing. Creating quality, relevant financial services content that focuses on your current and future customers will result in more connections and conversions.
Reap the Rewards of Better Financial Content
Putting these strategies and best practices into action can help enhance your financial content quality, assist you in creating great content consistently, improve performance metrics and build stronger customer relationships. Ultimately, that can lead to more conversions — and more revenue for your financial institution.
Ready to rev up your content marketing? For more than four decades, our financial marketing experts have 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, coding, data and analytics. Click below to schedule a free consultation or call 303.986.3000 today to see how we can help you achieve your content marketing goals.
1 “Educational Content Makes Researchers 131% More Likely to Buy,” Charity Stebbins, Conductor, published July 6, 2017, https://www.conductor.com/blog/2017/07/winning-customers-educational-content/, accessed Dec. 30, 2020