Category Archives : Blog


Top FIs on Facebook Educate

Is your institution’s Facebook page missing this vital engagement tool? A critical element of the top financial institution pages on Facebook is education.

The Financial Brand has posted the Q3 results of the best and brightest financial institutions on Facebook. Who’s generating the most likes? Well, it’s no surprise to see Big Banks taking up the top spots in the US, but small to mid-size banks, and credit unions, are finding their own big opportunities to succeed.

The data allow us to compare banks all over the world to credit unions in the US. You’ll notice that despite their relatively smaller size, credit unions are still able to generate thousands of likes every quarter, coupled with strong engagement rates almost across the board.

engagement equationStrong engagement requires an educational approach.

Educational content appeals to customers’ direct and personal needs without pitching a product. On social media, people don’t want to be sold things in a traditional sense. A Facebook page that only posts product ads will get ignored. A stream of ads on your Facebook page is like endless product placement in a movie or TV show; Ads aren’t why people tune in.

The Top 100 institutions on Facebook show that people do tune in to see community news, to be entertained or participate in contests and for education, but only one of these can be effectively used to drive sales. More than anything, educational content works because it provides a direct benefit to customers. Content helps customers save money and avoid mistakes.

Content develops the brand’s persona as an informative guide through the entire buying process, not just when the customer is ready to buy. Content sets the stage before customers are ready to buy – before they’re looking at ads and comparing rates. Content sells by not selling, providing the guidance and information that customers need, right when they need it.

Learn how to integrate effective content into your marketing initiatives at our next workshop!


Weekly Wrap-up: Banking Technology and the “iPod Moment”

BPCE Banking TechnologyGroupe BPCE, the second largest bank in France, has announced a new service. They’re letting any Twitter user in the country send money through tweets. Not just their customers, anyone with a French bank account.

Banking technology is a blossoming field with a ton going on. Tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Twitter are trying to get themselves more and more involved with our money. Few of these new services have caught on thus far. The ground under traditional banking is trembling, but the earth hasn’t split open just yet.

Banking technology is waiting for an “iPod moment” when customers are convinced and fears are assuaged. Will this new service be it?

The service works as follows. A customer tweets the Twitter handle of the recipient, the amount of money to send (which is capped at 250, or about $320) and the hashtag #envoyer (“send” in French). Then the customer’s directed to a secure page where they can finalize the transfer.

Banking Technology Tweet example

Tweet like this, then get directed to a secure page.

While the security measures that BPCE has put in place are strong, nothing is bulletproof. Recently, an exploit was discovered in the popular Twitter application Tweetdeck. It has since been fixed, but it forced accounts to retweet whatever the exploiter wanted. 40,000 unwanted retweets happened in 20 minutes. Moreover, passwords can be stolen and accounts can be hacked – through technology (i.e. malware) and even through social engineering. Account security is a potential concern.

What’s perhaps more of a hindrance to BPCE’s new feature is how public it is. Anyone can see who you’re sending money to.

In one respect this publicity could be great: If you donate to a charity you’re able to spread awareness at the same time (and show off your generosity too). But most people don’t want to share day-to-day purchases and payments publicly. For example, I don’t need the world to know how much money I spent on Halloween costumes for my pets.

iPod moment

If you take the points above into consideration, this starts to look less and less like banking technology’s “iPod moment”.

Remember MP3 players? Before the iPod hit it huge, there were a ton of different devices on the market that played MP3s. Everyone could see the difference between an MP3 player and a CD player. You could make your own playlists, you could fit a ton of songs on a small device, the songs wouldn’t skip if you jostled the player.

However, the user experience wasn’t really homogenous or intuitive. One brand of MP3 player would be totally different from the next – different button layouts, different software for adding music, different features on the device.3G iPod in dock. Author: Łukasz Ryba

Then the iPod came along and provided a 5-star MP3 player experience. It was a cool new thing that was easy to use and just worked. It had its “moment”.

Right now, we can look at traditional, old school, in-person banking like it’s a CD player. The developments in banking technology that we see every day are disparate like MP3 players. We’re waiting for the figurative banking tech “iPod” to come along that generates a lot of user adoption and changes the way we think about our money.

My gut tells me that this isn’t the moment we’re waiting for. Tweeting to send money is a cool innovation and it’s exciting to see, but appears to have enough pitfalls that will prevent mass-adoption.

Near-field communication with services like Apple Pay have had a similar problem gaining traction. Retailers haven’t bought into them on a large scale and customers find that swiping a card is just as easy as holding a smartphone close to a near-field receiver.

That isn’t to say that you should be ignoring these developments. New services like these remain an important space in the industry because when the “iPod moment” hits, it’ll hit BIG.

Visit our next workshop to learn about competing on the banking technology front!


Kmart Data Breach: What Financial Institutions Should Do 1

Data breachAttention Kmart shoppers… By this time we’re all sick of hearing about data breaches. Big retailers are getting hacked, information is getting stolen, it’s like some movie from the 90s come to life. This time, Kmart’s been attacked.

Every time this happens it’s the same story. It can be easy for us to tune it out. Financial institutions need to be on the ball when it comes to communicating the potential dangers of data breaches to their customers. Not only do they need to be able to react to each new breach, they need to make it clear to customers how they can protect themselves.

Institutions must stress the importance of simply paying attention to one’s accounts. Suspicious activity is the number one sign of identity theft. Customers need to know not only what the warning signs are, but how to take action and protect themselves.

There are a lot of ways to communicate these important things to customers; your institution might even have developed protocols for what to do. Make sure you’re following these steps.

1) Update your homepage

These breaches aren’t problems that are going away any time soon, so it’s smart and necessary to put a little work in to find a way to address them. Talk to your web people about a solution for these all too common hacks. It can be something as simple as BIG RED TEXT at the top of the homepage alerting customers that there’s been a data breach at a big retailer and to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

2) Post about it on your social feeds

The old saying goes, “knowing is half the battle”. Despite the mainstream coverage these situations get, not everyone is going to be aware. You should post on Facebook, Twitter or other social media not only to let customers know what’s going on, but to show that you’re there to help. (As always, be clear that customers should not share personal/account info with you on social media.) Use the channels available to you to let people know what to do.

3) Provide clear, concise answers

Customers will be researching these breaches online. They will be looking for answers. They will ask: “What signs should I look out for? What should I do if I see weird activity? What happens if my identity’s stolen? How do I protect myself?”

Your institution should be able to provide help with a blog or article on your site, branded to you that has the answers people are searching for. Clearly lay out what customers can do if they suspect their information has been compromised.

Grab a seat at our next workshop to learn how answers generate sales


Weekly Wrap-up: Halloween Content Marketing

halloween content marketing - welles macbeth

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes

It’s getting to be that time of year when content marketers go into overdrive. Halloween leads into Thanksgiving, which leads into all our respective December-ish religious or secular festivities, which leads into the New Year, which leads into Valentine’s Day, and then finally, finally you can rest!

We’re moving out of the doldrums of summer. The Ice Bucket Challenges of yesterday have melted away. The kids are back in school.

A Content Calendar

The calendar can be a content marketer’s best friend; we stress this to all of clients. Just keeping an eye on the calendar can prevent a lot of headaches and help you stay active with a stream of content across your marketing channels.

Halloween’s around the corner. What are your content plans? The branch decorations, the pumpkin-carving and costume contests that you hold every year? They can be used as a part of your content marketing strategy.

Take photos, put together blog posts, share the festivities on your Facebook page. Seize these opportunities over the next few months to engage your customers beyond transactions and products.

How Halloween Spending Translates to Content

If you need more convincing about just how engaging Halloween content marketing can be, check this out. Americans spend almost $7 BILLION on the holiday – $330 million of which goes towards costumes for pets! We’ll buy $40 worth of candy and blow $66 on a spooky costume.Halloween Content Marketing - The Count!

In our connected and social world, kids will be sharing photos of their hauls from trick or treating. Adults will be showing off their costumes. What’s more, 83% of businesses will run cross-channel marketing campaigns for Halloween. The big question is: How many are going to take advantage of all the content that can come out of the season?

Now’s the time to ramp up content production. You can engage your customers beyond day-to-day, humdrum banking, show a whole lot of personality and get people interested in what you have to say.

As the holidays come and go, make sure you tweet them on Twitter, post them on Facebook, pin them on Pinterest or record them for YouTube.

 

Download this white paper and drive sales with content!


A Content Marketing Lesson On The Failure that Led to Twitter

If there’s one content marketing lesson everyone learns sooner or later, it’s this: Make good content. This is kind of a generic and obvious statement – we all want our work to be good, or hell, even great! – but there’s a lot of meaning packed into it. The quality of your content makes a serious impact on how successful your content marketing strategy is.

This golden rule was a big part of what led to the creation of Twitter. Check out the interview below, where Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s founders, elaborates on this prime content marketing lesson. He says:

Twitter was a side project at another company that we got a little bored working at.

We didn’t actually use our own product, which was a clue that we shouldn’t be doing that.

They were developing podcast software that they themselves weren’t using, a sure sign of a bad initiative.

 

When it comes to content, you’ve got to ask yourself if it’s something you would engage with and use. Here are the definitive criteria that can help you answer that question.

Good content – articles, pictures, videos – should be easy to understand and digest.

You wouldn’t watch a ninety minute video of a dry professor lecturing about how mortgages work. You would read a succinct article that clearly told you why you’d want a fixed-rate mortgage over an adjustable-rate (or vice versa).

It’s important to be providing content that’s written in plain English. I don’t have to tell you just how convoluted financial services can get. APRs, IRAs, 401(k)s: I haven’t even scratched the surface. Customers are looking for your help to figure this stuff out. Your content has to be understandable to the layperson.

Put yourself in the shoes of the average Joe or Jo-anne. You aren’t looking to become an expert. You just want the straightforward facts that will help you make the best decision. Content should facilitate that.

Good content should be easy to find.

Everyone’s had this happen: A week ago I found this great article that had search engine optimization (SEO) tips for financial marketers. I was just about to head to lunch when I read it and I neglected to bookmark it. The next day, when I wanted to share it on Twitter, I couldn’t find it again.

Content can move extremely fast. Just like how a newspaper needs fresh articles all the time, content marketers must always be promoting new and different content.

Content has to be organized to make it easy for users to find what they need, right when they need it. It should be organized by topic (e.g. mortgages, investments, community events, etc.). Searchable content is a best practice and you can also suggest relevant content by asking users non-invasive questions. “Do you have kids?” “Are you looking for a home?” “Do you need help with cash management?”

Depending on the answer you can serve customers relevant content on college funds and mortgages, or even just share some budgeting tips.

Content Marketing Lesson - Organized

Maintain a clear and organized structure for your content so the right article is always easy to find.

Good content should always benefit the user.

Content should always have some kind of benefit for users. When they check out your content they can hope to save money, or avoid a mistake, or make the right financial decision, or they can even just smile. There’s value in something as simple as a goofy picture of an adorable cat (in point of fact, entire businesses have formed and thrived around this very specific type of content).Content Marketing Lesson - Business Cat

It’s a simple enough philosophy, but it’s really important for how financial marketers understand their content. Remember, ads don’t count!

Articles, pictures and videos on your site and social feeds should sell by not selling.

Imagine a TV station that only showed commercials. Would you tune in? Hell no! The same goes for content on your digital channels. You must show some benefit to the user before you sell. You will be able to define yourself as a resource and guide, fostering a relationship before the customer is ready to buy.

If all you have to say on social media or your website is “buy this product,” customers will ignore you until they’re already comparing your rates and offers to the bank down the street.
 
 

Content You’d Use

Is your content something you yourself would use? Is it clear and understandable? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for? Are you benefiting from engaging with it? If the answer’s yes then you’re on the right course.

We can even report – if you don’t mind a little self-promotion – that employees of our clients view our content as a perk of working there. They themselves are using the content.

Keep your content easy to understand. Make it easy to find. Benefit users.

Drop by our next workshop for a look at how content leads to sales


SIS Bank Implements Truebridge’s Content Marketing System

Boston, MA: Truebridge, a financial marketing company located in Boston, is excited to announce SIS Bank’s launch of Truebridge’s Content Marketing System, the Financial Answer 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 establishes the bank as a trusted resource.

“The Financial Answer Center gives us a unique opportunity to showcase our range of service capabilities, which will build brand loyalty and increase our share of wallet.” Explains Mark Mickeriz, SIS President and CEO.

By implementing Truebridge’s Content Marketing System on their website, SIS 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 consumer wins because they get the help they’re looking for in order to make the best possible financial decision. The bank wins because they put themselves in place to help their customer with more of their financial needs- before the competition arrives.” Rose added.

 

About SIS Bank:  Founded in 1933 and headquartered in Sanford, Maine, with additional branch locations in Springvale, South Sanford, Limerick, Buxton, Waterboro, Wells and York, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, SIS is a mutual savings bank that operates solely for the benefit of its deposit and loan customers and is focused on giving back to the communities where it serves. Deposits are insured in full by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. SIS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Equal Housing Lender. For more information, please visit their eBranch at banksis.com, Facebook page at facebook.com/banksis or call 207-324-2285.

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

ssmith@truebridge.com


Financial Content Wrap-up: Multichannel Marketing and Some Inspiration for 2015

channel artThe basics of marketing haven’t changed, the place has, argues William Secrest on The Financial Brand. Or better yet, the places. As digital marketing eats up more of our marketing budgets, financial marketers are having to account for more and more channels, resulting in new multichannel marketing strategies.

If we flashback a few decades, ‘multichannel’ might have meant print, TV, radio, mail. It almost seems quaint, with each of these channels having its own specific quirk: Text, visual, audio.

Today we not only retain these channels, but we’ve got YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, email, apps, search engines and so on. Each of these media channels are kind of their own beast. For example, you wouldn’t post an entire blog on Facebook.

Secrest points out that today’s multichannel marketing is about “important information”. “[T]he interactive digital presence of a bank is critical to a consumer who is actively buying.” An Ernst and Young study shows that people look to bank website as a source for information and answers.

38% of respondents rated a bank’s website as the most important resource, 9 percent points more than family and friend resources.

Multichannel marketing should leverage the strength of each channel to drive sales and deepen relationships. The most important ingredient in this recipe for sales is content. Content works across channels drives users to places that are bank-controlled.

It’s Sales Funnel 101. Your multichannel marketing should be driving customers to you, not away from you.

If your website – a bank-controlled space – has content (articles, tips, info that can help customers save money and avoid mistakes) you’ve put yourself in place to reach out across channels to help customers with more of their needs. Content is a channel agnostic solution for multichannel marketing.

Audiences go where they find compelling content – “important information”. Or, in TV terms, they don’t tune in for commercials. To drive sales across channels, financial institutions need more than direct ads. They must become resources for meaningful answers.

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TED Talk Inspiration for 2015

This video comes from a list of the Top 7 Content Marketing TED Talks. Author, entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin takes us through how content marketing is reshaping the world.

In days of yore, he says, if you had a factory you could churn out a product and change the world. A few decades ago, if you had a big enough mouthpiece on TV you could change the world. But today “the way you make change is not by using money or power to lever a system, but by leading.”

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Multichannel Marketing in 60 Seconds

 Our next workshop will walk you through driving sales with content marketing


The Great Social Media Gold Rush

Pack your bags, we're heading West!

Pack your bags, we’re heading West!

Social media can feel a little like the Gold Rush. Twitter, Facebook et al. are talked about like some kind of digital Oregon Trail that will deliver us all unto vast unknowable riches. The social media boom in the financial services industry is a really deeply American movement and financial institutions need to understand just how to capitalize on it.

We all know the basic idea. There are about a gazillion people on Twitter or Facebook and if you know the right secrets and tricks you can get rich with followers. When people are willing to speak positively about you, that shows loyalty to your brand. If they’re influencers to their friends (or their own followers) you stand to gain new customers.

Everyone wants their own vein of gold, but many are just panning in the river and getting rocks. Let’s take a look at why that is.

Rethinking Social Media for Financial Services

There are a lot of different ways to succeed on social media, it all depends on what your goals are. Are you building awareness? Providing customer support? Looking for leads? Becoming a thought leader? All of the above?

The role you play is up to you, but there’s no question that you’ll face roadblocks; Time and budget are a marketer’s ultimate masters.  Still, you stand to make an impact as long as you aren’t totally absent. You might not know where the journey will take you, but you only fail if you never start.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what roles you can play in the social media gold rush.

The Four Stages of Social Media Gold Rushers

1. The Town Drunk
No followers

You either don’t have any social media accounts or somebody made one a few years ago and nothing has been posted in months. Not even tumbleweeds follow you.

The good news is, it’s easy to break out of this role. You can do it for free and automate a lot of your posting. Taking 5 minutes at any time once a week can get you set for the next 7 days. When you’re totally absent from social media you aren’t even playing the game. You won’t succeed unless you try.

Social Media Gold Rush - Town Drunk

Your last tweet was months ago!

2. The Gold Panner
A handful of followers

You’re posting updates infrequently and with a lot of automation. You aren’t participating too much and aren’t reacting to current events.

This role lays the foundation for success. Your automation might include wishing followers a happy Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and so on. You might also be posting links to relevant articles from different sources, e.g. CNNMoney, Forbes or the Wall Street Journal.

While this is more or less the bare minimum, you’re out there and participating in an important space. That’s great! Consider this your starting point with the understanding that a greater commitment can lead to greater results.

3. The Prospector
A solid following

You’ve found an audience and communicate with them daily. If there’s an unexpected branch closure due to flooding, you let followers know. You spice things up with an occasional meme and if there’s been a data breach at a big store, you tell people what the signs of identity theft are. Instead of sending followers to other sources for answers, you help them with your own content.

That last point is a key differentiator. Instead of sending people to a 3rd party source, you keep them embedded with your brand.

Let’s say you link to an article with back to school saving tips. If that article is yours – on your website, under your brand – you’ve shown customers that you are a resource. They can come to you when they need answers that will help them save money and avoid mistakes.

If you’re a Prospector, you’ve defined yourself. Users have a clear incentive to follow you. You are interacting with them and engaging them.

social media gold rush - Prospector by US Mission Canada via Wikicommons

An olde tyme prospector and his pup.

4. The Mayor
Thought leader

You run this town and you’re one of a very elite few in the industry.

You’re held up by the three pillars of social media: Content, automation and interaction.

You have your own content: Everything from blogs to videos to infographics to answers. You automate the easy stuff: “Our branches will be closed on Columbus Day (Oct. 13)”. You’re committed to interacting with your audience in a timely manner.

For a great example, check out @TDECU.

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So where do you stand? As you’re planning out your initiatives for 2015, think about what role you’re playing on social media and at all costs avoid absence.

Figure out your 2015 goals! Check out our next workshop to learn how multi-channel marketing drives sales!


What Is Onboarding? 7 Important Words [Infographic]

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is more than just acquiring a new customer and sending them on their way.

Onboarding is a financial institution’s entire communication process when a customer (new or old) opens a new account or buys a new product. The goal of onboarding is to show customers why you’re unique, to prove how much you value them and to get them engage with your brand. Onboarding can help you build deeper, more profitable relationships if you follow these steps.

What is Onboarding - Checklist - Blog Version

 For an unabridged version of this list that will further answer ‘what is onboarding?’, check out this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Financial Content Wrap-up: College Planning, Choosing a Major

Choosing a major is an important aspect of college planning - art via Wikicommons by Pearson Scott Foresman In the midst of back to school season, college planning is on the minds of millions. High school juniors and seniors are applying to college (or thinking about it) and freshmen are waking up to the reality of 8 AM classes.

If you have someone in your life who’s applying to college, or who’s undecided on a major, check this out. A recent post from 538 has some great insight into the importance of college planning and picking a major.

The link between education and earnings is notoriously fraught, with cause and effect often difficult to disentangle. But a look at detailed data on college graduates by major reveals some clear messages: Don’t be pre-med if you aren’t planning to go to medical school; don’t assume that all “STEM” — science, technology, engineering and math — majors are the same; and if you study drama, be prepared to wait tables.

For all the recent skepticism about the value of a college education, a bachelor’s degree is still “worth it” on average. In fact, according to a recent analysis by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average value of a college degree is near an all-time high, even factoring in rising tuitions.

Engineering majors hold 8 of the 10 highest earning slots, with humanities and arts majors tending to fill out the less lucrative end. However, one point to note is just how low-ranking one of the most popular majors today, Psychology, is. 3 psychology fields are among the 4 lowest paying majors.

538 indicates that while unemployment has been easing up, many graduates are finding themselves underemployed – working jobs that don’t require a degree.

Guidance in picking a major is something that a lot of young students could use. It’s especially relevant considering the state of the economy and the reality of student loan debt. Financial institutions can step up to help college students get a better understanding of the realities of the working world. If they can provide the info students need to make this really important choice, they can earn a customer for life.

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 College Planning and Financial Literacy: How Much Do Teens Know?

In the past we’ve covered the financial know-how of teens who will soon be off to college. The results? Teens are just “baseline proficient”. This proves to be a tough term to qualify. Moreover, we’re only talking about an average, so some are below the baseline and some are above. One thing’s for sure, teens know just enough to be dangerous.

Financial institutions should leverage their position to help young people make the best decisions possible. In grasping the social responsibility of financial education, FIs stand to benefit greatly. If you help a customer save money and avoid a mistake, they’ll stick with you through thick and thin.

 

Check out more on how FIs benefit when it comes to college planning and providing answers