Educated Answers Your Customers Need

Information and answers. Without question, they are the currency of the day. Customers want to be educated and informed on the financial topics that matter most to where they are in life. You want to write their home loan? Educate them on the home buying process. You want to get their investment dollars, educate them on retirement planning best practices. This is the essence of content marketing. The days of customers coming in to branch to talk about the mortgage loans, or for investment strategies are officially “The Good Old Days. “

Content marketing represents the shift in bank marketing methods where the center of attention is on what the consumer wants and needs to know, and providing the means to help them obtain it. In fact, according to Axelrod, 91% of financial institutions now use content marketing to build their sales funnel and create cross-sell opportunities within their customer base.

Here’s the rub, though. Financial education in and of itself does not create cross-selling opportunities. How effectively your content marketing generates cross-selling depends almost completely on how robust your delivery platform is AND on owning that platform.

For example, Tim McAlpine, Founder and Owner of Currency Marketing, says that instead of offering their own branded content, financial institutions are “are mostly linking to articles and videos created by others and not hosted on their own websites.” With the current state of social media platforms, banks and credit unions need to understand that placing content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and creating impressions on those platforms is only creating impressions on those platforms. You want your customers to come to you for guidance, and part of that means owning the platform in which your content is delivered. The goal should always be to drive traffic back to your site, where your brand is well represented and there are more resources for consumers to use..

Additionally, one of the primary keys to content marketing success is keeping your content up to date and your site looking fresh, and when you own the content vs. linking to it, you control not only how it looks but how often it’s updated. If customers keep coming back only to find the “same old same old,” you can lose whatever connection you had formed, which is the last thing you want when trying to appeal to an audience and attract new readers..

A content marketing delivery platform that integrates marketing tools with content to create customer engagement using your existing channels, (web, social media, branch) Beyond that, platforms such as interactive content apps, assessment calculations, calculators, configurators and quizzes are great compliments to content marketing platforms to help deliver your message to consumers and further guide them in your sales process. Using applications such as these will help lead to sales conversions 70% of the time compared to 36% for those using passive content only.

By empowering customers with the education and answers they need, and the freedom to do as they wish. You build brand loyalty and create future business relationships by becoming their trusted financial resource. But ultimately, your content marketing is only as effective as its delivery platform.

When It Comes to Inbound Marketing, Content Is Key

According to this infographic from Openview Labs, content marketing is on the rise among B2B marketers:

  • 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing
  • 44% of B2B content marketers have a documented content strategy
  • 55% plan to increase spending on content marketing in the coming year
  • 72% think branded content is more effective than magazine advertisements, and 69% say it’s better than direct mail and PR

Why is content so powerful when it comes to lead generation? One reason is that people do more than simply read or view content passively. Bank customers use content to make purchasing decisions, and they tend to access and engage with content in various forms when they are thinking about and researching a purchase. For these reasons, it is crucial to deliver content via a platform that drives interaction and engagement.

A 2014 report from Demand Gen revealed that B2B purchasers are using visual content when making buying decisions, including White Papers (78%), Case Studies (73%), Webinars (73%), eBooks (58%), Videos (58%), Blog Posts (56%) and Infographics (52%). Statistics also show that 47% of industry-specific content pieces are shared, pointing to the fact that delivering content on a social media or mobile platform can take a message even further.

Whether content is accessed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, can become a strong part of an inbound marketing strategy. People today are web- and mobile-savvy, with shorter attention spans and discerning tastes. They expect content that they can watch, listen to, read, and interact with, and if that content platform comes with a person with whom they can connect immediately for answers and more information or to purchase a product, even better. Consumers access content on many different channels frequently throughout their daily lives and in the midst of their everyday transactions. Having the content ready to deliver can help translate those interactions into sales.

Building a Bridge from Transaction to Engagement

Banks may fear that the rise in digital and mobile banking will drive people away from their bank due to a lack of personal connection. After all, people don’t wander into the branch anymore looking for a friendly face. Instead, they bank on the go, paying bills, making deposits, checking balances, making transfers, and performing most day-to-day transactions on a computer or mobile device.

The latest research, however, shows that the opposite is true. The trend toward digital and online banking can actually drive deeper bank customer engagement and open unprecedented cross-selling avenues.

According to this year’s Fiserv Consumer Trends Survey, bank customers who use online and mobile banking are more likely to use other products from the same financial institution. This represents a great cross-selling opportunity for banks—an analysis of the Fiserv survey shows, for example, that users of online banking are 53% more likely to have overdraft protection and 62% more likely to hold investments with their primary financial institution.

The key is to bridge the gap between those quick one-off, on-the-go transactions and deeper, more thought-out product sales. A wealth of content delivered to customers at the right time via a platform that connects them to someone who can help can create that bridge.

As The Financial Brand recently pointed out, marketing and education can help build that bridge to engagement. For example, a customer might not sign up for a banking product or service because they don’t completely understand how it works or think that it isn’t for them. Educating customers about how bank products work in their day-to-day lives, as well as on financial topics that affect them such as mobile and online security, saving money, and how to use credit wisely are good first steps onto that bridge, and will begin creating a relationship based on trust.

It’s also important to remember that the platform counts just as much as the content when it comes to driving engagement. Content is delivered via a platform that showcases a person who can help with a decision or product, engagement increases—and the bank has found a way to provide that “branch” feel, even through a computer or device screen, raising the likelihood that those daily transactions will pave the way to increased sales.

Translating Content Into Sales: It’s All in the Delivery

According to an infographic from the Consumer Marketing Association, consumers spend an average of eight seconds looking at a billboard and 30 seconds viewing a TV ad.

However, they spend 25 minutes on average reading a content marketing article.

These statistics suggest that providing a wealth of content for people to read, digest, and learn from is key to customer engagement. However, while content is a great resource for bringing in business, it isn’t enough on its own. You have to take your content strategy a step further and also consider the delivery platform.

Delivering the right content at the right time in the right way—and backing up that content with the right person who can provide help and advice–is key to turning a customer passively perusing content into someone who is ready to learn, engage, and purchase. This is especially true in today’s digital world, where people are inundated with messages from the internet and mobile devices.

Traditional, high-visibility forms of outbound marketing don’t necessarily engage customer attention on this level. As The Pitch Experience recently pointed out, there’s no way to track a consumer’s actions after they view a billboard or print ad to determine whether the experience prompted an action or added value. Financial content, rather than being a complete vehicle on its own, is simply a start. You must use that content as part of a sound inbound marketing strategy that fosters true customer connection in these three ways:

  • Deliver content via the right platform to reach a customer when they are in need and receptive
  • Pair the content experience with a connection to the exact right person who can help
  • Call the customer to action in a way that engages them directly with your people and products

Offering a library of educational financial content is a great start to developing an effective inbound marketing strategy to engage customer attention, But, in order to translate that content into sales, you need to deliver that content in a way that reaches customers effectively and spurs them to action.


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The Most Obvious Opportunity in Banking Today



It doesn’t take much to come up with this answer. Think about it for a minute. Customers deal with their bank all the time. Yes, maybe the channels are changing with more and more digital options but the frequency of these interactions is still right up there. The branches are still doing plenty of new account onboarding and other face to face servicing. And the remote channels continue to grow – online banking, website visits, emails, social media. Then why, according to several studies, do banks only provide on average two to two and a half of the ten financial products owned by their customers? More than 50% of customers have only one product with their current bank. Fixing this problem is, in fact, obvious to senior managers. They continually rank it as a top objective whether it’s called share of wallet, organic growth, or simply cross-selling.

There are plenty of reasons that management has such a focus. For one, cross sell revenue hits the bottom line like a boat anchor hits ground. The expense to bring in a new customer is behind them. According to a study from Bank Intelligence Solutions (BIS) it costs about 8 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to cross sell an existing one. And customers that own multiple products stay on board longer. Another study from BIS showed that a customer with only one product has a life span of about 18 months. A customer with one additional product has a life span of four years and a customer with three products has a life span of 6.8 years. Not only have the customer acquisition expenses been made, but the costs associated with building and maintaining the branch and digital channels have also been made.

So what’s the problem? The problem lies in how a bank communicates, not where or when. More and more communications are only transactional in nature. A survey of 4000 retail bank customers done by Accenture shows that 74% of bank customers consider their banking relationship to be transactional rather than relationship driven. This is due in large part to new technologies. While they are driving down the cost of transactions they, at the same time, are driving up customer remoteness. And when customers do go into a branch there is another problem. A mystery shop of 134 banks done by Econiq revealed that 88% of the time the customer was offered a single product and only 11% of the time an add on savings account and only 1% of the time a non-deposit related product.

There is a new approach to cross selling that can solve the problem that will engage customers beyond the transaction. It is called content marketing and based on a simple concept. People are looking for answers and will buy from the one who provides them. According to a study from Next Media, people are five times more likely to buy when education comes first than a direct product offer. Home Depot knows this. That is why they teach people how to build a fence. Where are they likely to go to buy the needed materials? And these answers need to be presented at the right time. A study done by Forrester Research of 26,000 online households revealed that people are 43% more likely to buy a financial product around a life event. But educational content sitting on a website does not translate to cross selling. It needs to be delivered the right way. That means connecting the content to the exact person that can help based on their branch location and topic of interest in a way that makes it easy to set up sales appointments.

The cost of this type of marketing is low and the reward is high. The branch and digital delivery channels are already in place. It’s just a matter of leveraging them properly. The reward? Do your own calculations. If one in three sales appointments closes and the average net present value over the life of the product is $2000 then the value of a single sales appointment is $660. One more appointment – not sale but sales appointment – per branch per month is worth $7,920 per branch per year. And one per week which can easily be achieved is $34,320 per branch per year. So the issue becomes build or buy a content marketing solution.

Stay tuned for future posts outlining the three critical elements to executing an effective content marketing strategy.


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Premier America Credit Union Implements Truebridge’s Content Marketing System


Boston, MA: Truebridge, a financial marketing company located in Boston, is excited to announce Premier America Credit Union’s launch of Truebridge’s Content Marketing System, the Financial Literacy Center.

Engaging, educational and branded content is a must have for financial institutions of all sizes.  “We are living in a content-driven economy. You cannot survive in the banking space today without a content marketing strategy”, says Jeffry Pilcher of the Financial Brand.

Instead of generic advertisements that may not be relevant, a content marketing approach provides educational material to aid the decision making process. Not only does this help the consumer make a more informed decision, it works to establish the credit union as a trusted resource.

By implementing Truebridge’s Content Marketing System on their website, Premier America Credit Union puts a fully stocked financial library at their customers’ finger tips, with connections to the representatives that can help just a click away. Truebridge content is organized around key life events, where statistics show people are 43% more likely to buy a financial product.

“Content marketing in the Financial Services world is a win-win,” says Stewart Rose, President and C.E.O of Truebridge. “The member wins because they get the help they’re looking for in order to make the best possible financial decision. The credit union wins because they put themselves in place to help their member with more of their financial needs- before the competition arrives.” Rose added.

About Truebridge, INC: Truebridge, a twelve-year-old Content Marketing company that caters to Financial Institutions, is a leading provider of innovative marketing solutions designed to attract, engage and educate a 21st century audience.


Sarah Smith

Manager of Client Services

Truebridge Financial Marketing

(617) 956-5020

Measuring and Defining Customer Loyalty

How does your FI define, and more importantly, measure customer loyalty? A very interesting blog came across my desk today on this topic.

Generically, it seems as though most FI’s define customer loyalty as customer satisfaction. Also, a huge amount of importance is placed up that always present survey questions: “How likely are you to recommend?”

The author of this blog takes issue with the idea of using the metric to define customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is merely an intention, and as he says, intentions don’t pay the bills! He also noted that 37% of respondents (bank and credit union marketers) don’t keep track of where their referrals originate from, so that even if someone actually does make a referral, they don’t ever know.

To me, the most interesting part of the blog came later on. Thirty-five percent of consumers got “help” from their FI in the year leading up to the survey, while 65% did not. “Help” here is defined as advice, guidance or education – not monetary. Of that 35%, 49% made (not said they would, but actually did) a referral, and 20% grew their accounts. Pretty crazy!

Take a look at the article, and see how your FI stacks up. Here’s what I took out of it: CUSTOMER HELP = MORE REFERRALS + ACCOUNT GROWTH= HAPPY CUSTOMER, HAPPY FI :)

Mystery Shopping Banks. How Do You Stack Up?

MYSTERY SHOP! Ah, two words that strike fear into the heart of customer-facing professionals everywhere. For those unfamiliar, mystery shopping is a tool used externally by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service, or compliance with regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services. Basically, it’s a sneak attack to see what everyone is up to in action, not just on paper.

Recently, a very interesting white paper hit my desk. This white paper, from Econiq, explored the results of their three year- long Mystery Shopping initiative in US banks. Econiq is a Massachusetts based company that helps their clients improve the quality of the conversations they have with their clients. So, it makes total sense that Econiq would super interested in how front line bank personnel engage the folks that walk in their door.

We’re very interested in these conversations as well. As financial marketers, we tend to really focus on the internet. Of course we do, I feel silly just having typed that. What choice do we have? Everything is done online today, and we simply must allocate most of our budget and attention to this area to remain competitive. However, as I read through this paper, it became obvious to me the being so web obsessed has really affected the amount of attention given to branch efforts. Front line employees are not being effectively trained in how to deal with a customer who is a prime candidate for a cross-sell.

The mystery shopper Econiq sent in was the “type of customer you really want to have a good conversation with”. He was a mid-50’s, college educated, technically savvy small business owner who is willing to pay fees for appropriate service and convenience. Jackpot! He dropped sales clues throughout his conversation with the teller about opening a new checking account – he mentioned relocating to the area (Meet our mortgage guy!) and hoping to retire within 5 years (You should talk to our Financial Advisor!), etc. The results are kind of, well, staggering — 86% did not refer him to an associate, 8% suggested speaking to an associate, 4% provided the contact details of the associate and finally, only 2% asked the customer for their details. YIKES!

As someone who works with front line employees frequently, I really need to stand up for them after throwing them under the bus up there. Typically, they are awesome customer service professionals. This seems to me like more of an organizational issue. The study drew the conclusion that “the staff at the front line lack the confidence, support and guidance to have meaningful and valuable conversations. In their defense, front line staff are courteous, friendly and approachable but fall short of having conversations that will provide value both to the Customer and to the bank”.

Sales opportunities are being missed left and right, every day. So how do we solve this apparently country wide issue? Is it plausible that a community bank, say, 10 branches; has the resources to maintain a competitive web presence while also providing their front line staff with the training, support and confidence required to enable profitable interactions?

At this point, you probably see where I’m headed – I am a business woman after all (read: shameless self- promotion to follow). If you’re not familiar with what we do here, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.  The Truebridge system is a multi-channel lead generation tool that increases share of wallet through more effective cross-selling by leveraging branch and digital channels.

Front line employees of our clients would have an enormous leg up in this mystery shop. With proper training, our content is the perfect talking point – shifting the front liner from a sales role back to a customer service role. Imagine the dream customer from the study walks in, and they drop the clue about retiring in 5 years. The front liner simply has to jump on their Truebridge Employee Dashboard and quickly print out their customized retirement planning white paper, customized to the bank and personalized to the appropriate bank representative. The dashboard also includes a feature to instantly capture the customer’s information and deliver it to the representative. Easy!

If any of this sounds interesting, I highly recommend taking a look at the white paper. I really only scratched the surface. Likewise, if you are interested in learning more about how Truebridge can help teach your front liners how to be confident and successful in their interactions, feel free to get in touch!


Sarah Smith | Manager of Client Services

TEL | 617.956.5020  EMAIL |

Engagement: The Smart Way to Drive Sales

shutterstock_145835411_smallHow do customers “feel” about your business? The answer to that question could affect your sales. Research shows, taking the customer relationship from remote and transaction-based to personal, warm, and engaged drives profits. Engaged customers do more than purchase (although they do that more, too). They sing the praises of your company, choose your brand above all others, and turn to your company time and again as a valued part of their lives.

Although the decision to spend, save, or invest money and assets might appear rational and cerebral, the truth is that customers don’t make financial choices with their heads alone. Behavioral economics experts say that price, ROI, and lists of features or pros and cons play a surprisingly small role in buying decisions. Rather, customers form a gut opinion about your company every time they interact with it, and make choices based on that emotional response.

Recent Gallup poll results support this view of customer engagement:

  • Fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium over average customers in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.
  • Fully engaged retail banking customers bring 37% more annual revenue to their primary bank than actively disengaged customers.

Join our half-hour webinar to find out how you can win customers’ hearts and further customer engagement in ways that will grow sales. You’ll learn how to:

  • Engage customers in dialogues that will lead to more sales
  • Leverage existing digital and brand interactions to lower costs
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention

Reserve your spot today.

TurboTax Fraud, What Bank Marketers Need to Know

Turbotax Fraud blog

Filing taxes has changed since the ’20s.

John has just received a ‘notice of duplicate filing’ from his state’s tax office. A million questions run through his mind (and your customers’ minds) when he gets this letter.

“What happened?

   Did I make a mistake?

      Did someone steal my identity?

         How did that happen?

            Is this going to damage my credit score?

What do I do?”

The tax deadline is a few months away, but states across the country have already halted tax refunds after TurboTax was tied to reports of identity theft. An increase in suspicious filings has led to stricter authentication rules at the tax software company and greater scrutiny of returns from tax officials.

This is what’s been happening:

  • A thief gains access to a John’s personal info.
  • He submits a fraudulent claim early in the year, before John is even thinking about filing.
  • The thief receives a refund check for thousands of dollars.
  • John files a return a few weeks before the deadline.
  • Finally, John receives a notice of duplicate filing.

As the Boston Globe reports, “in just the first six months of last year, 1.6 million taxpayers were affected by identity theft, compared with 271,000 for all of 2010”. The enormous surge in data breaches at places like Anthem, Target and JPMorgan, coupled with services like TurboTax (which makes doing taxes fast and simple) makes committing fraud easier than ever. A single person with a sixth grade education was able to steal $3 million in tax refunds. It took 3 years before the government caught on to her.

It takes an average of 120 days for the IRS to resolve these identity theft cases.

Until recently it took around 312 days.

Bank Marketers Can Help

John’s looking for help and so are your customers. In today’s world it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ personal information gets compromised, but ‘when’. In a single cyberattack, tens of millions of Americans can have their information stolen. Who is going to answer John’s questions?

His bank.

If his bank can answer important identity theft questions and help him prevent or resolve an issue, he’s going to show more loyalty and be more profitable for the bank. Nothing builds a relationship between a customer and an institution like when the customer has a problem and it gets solved properly.

There’s a very good reason for his bank to help him out. A bank can leverage its position as an answer provider to connect customers and salespeople. Customers need a source where they can get answers. Cybersecurity and identity theft help sections on a bank’s website are a valuable tool for a marketing arsenal. This information can lead to sales if it’s delivered as part of a library where customers can learn more about your products and connect with your salespeople.

John doesn’t know what to do. He trusts his bank so his first thought is to jump on their website to see if they can help. He finds exactly the help he needs and gets exposed to other content that’s relevant to him. He knows that when it’s time to get a mortgage he can go to his bank’s website and find answers, all while being a click away from a salesperson.

learn how to start rebuilding the human connection between customers and salespeople in our next workshop