Presenting the first set of our 1,000 content marketing tips!
Reuters reports that Facebook is developing a new service called “Facebook at Work”. Positioned as a competitor to LinkedIn, this platform will allow users to develop a professional profile separate from their personal Facebook account.
How does that sound to you? LinkedIn is a platform with its share of flaws, but has done an exemplary job carving out its niche as the definitive “social media for work and business” service. Its user interface leaves a lot to be desired – pages are awash in updates and sidebars and jobs – so this is a facet upon which Facebook could improve. Moreover, many LinkedIn features are locked behind a paywall. LinkedIn’s subscriptions offer a lot of value in their utility, but stand in contrast to how other social media giants have monetized their userbase. For example, you can only view the first 100 results of a LinkedIn search with a basic, free account. If Facebook at Work is ad-supported (like Facebook ‘vanilla’), this might present more opportunities for connections to be formed.
However, there would appear to be a lot of pitfalls for Facebook at Work in this competitive landscape. It’s yet another profile to keep up to date. The Facebook brand carries a kind of “stigma of unprofessionalism,” meaning that the vast majority of users do not see Facebook as a platform for professional content; It’s where we post silly pictures of our dogs and cats, or vacation photos et cetera.
If Facebook can overcome these issues, their new platform might be great for financial services. Financial advisors are finding success on social media, few people are willing to make business connections via casual and very personal platforms. Facebook at Work could help turn this around.
Keep an eye on our blog for more updates on the development of this new Facebook service.
In 2015, financial marketers will be working overtime to increase share of wallet; It’s a top-three priority among 70% of senior marketing executives (Aite Group, Bank and Credit Union Marketing Trends, 2014). Deeper customer engagement can make it happen.
To be successful in cross-selling, financial institutions need to engage customers beyond transactions. Research from Gallup Consulting demonstrates it sweet and simply: “[O]rganizations that engage their customers outperform those that do not.” Their study revealed that engaged customers net you 23% more in terms of share of wallet and profitability compared to the average customer. These fully-engaged customers have an attachment to their FI’s brand and are rationally loyal. But that’s not all you need to know. Disengaged customers generate 13% less.
What Engagement Is
Tools for tracking these metrics are a necessity. They help you figure out what your audience likes and who your audience is. A lot of likes on a Facebook post about college loans might tell you that Millennials are interested in your brand. You would want to continue coverage of that topic for that audience – not ignoring other demographics, but making informed choices about what’s engaging.
This can be anything from a chance to win tickets to a football game, easy-to-understand tips on home-buying, ways to save money or even just something that makes them smile. When you’re thinking about customer engagement always ask yourself, “How is this (article, video, photo etc.) benefiting the viewer?”
What Engagement Is NOT
A new low rate on a loan is an enticing offer, but does not correlate to “engagement”. Anyone can advertise a low rate. Similarly, something like a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mailing campaign, with letters addressed “Dear Resident” or “Dear Occupant,” can be a strong marketing tool, but is not engaging. People value personalization.
If all your money-saving tips are coming through CNNMoney – or any other source besides your brand – customers will not become engaged with you. When you send someone somewhere else for the “benefit” then you’re only a middleman. It’s great to share articles and help promote others, however, profitable engagement takes more than just that.
The key to a strong engagement marketing strategy rests in the following facts.
It’s estimated that 10,000 boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 15 years. As they move into retirement they will need help with plan distributions, retirement income, healthcare costs and so on. Additionally, Gen-Y customers see their financial institution as a resource. A research survey from TD Bank has shown that 62% of Millennials look to their FI first for info or advice. Everyone needs easy-to-understand answers.
Customers are desperately looking for helpful information and guidance from someone they trust. They want to save money and avoid mistakes. They often need help in seeing and understanding issues that may not be apparent to them today, but could blindside them later on.
This is the basis for engaging customers around financial issues. They really stand to benefit if you can give them the right help, just when they need it. Here’s what you need to do it.
A Content Library
Financial institutions’ websites are often underutilized for sales. An FI must first and foremost define itself as a resource if it plans to provide more to customers than just transactions. The most effective way to do this is to have a one stop resource center where customers can easily find the info they need right when they need it. This resource center acts as a content library and can integrate into current initiatives to engage customers and drive sales.
The content of this center should include easy-to-understand articles and tips that run the gamut of financial life events. From planning for a baby to planning for retirement, customers should be able to find the help they need.
Once customers see the benefits of saving money and avoiding mistakes through these resources, they’ve already started to work with you, before you’ve ever been in touch. They’re engaged and willing to listen. The sale only becomes a matter of connecting them to a person who can help.
Content On Your Blog
A blog is a great way to improve your search engine optimization and engage an online audience. A content library instantly gives you content for a plethora of blogs. Think of a content library like aisles in a grocery store: Highly organized and easy to find what you need. A blog post is more like an impulse buy in the checkout line: Limited shelf life, snazzy colors to capture attention. Adapting content to your blog is a great way to drive traffic and get people interested.
Social Media Content
Many FIs see the value in social media, but lack the time and budget to really develop a presence. A resource center makes scheduling posts simple. People dislike sales messages on social media (they’re regarded as spam) so with meaningful content backing you up you always have something to say. Most importantly, followers stay under the umbrella of your brand if you link to your library. You don’t need to send them to another source that can help them. You can help them directly.
Content In Emails
Email marketing is a great way to get in touch with customers. No one wants to end up in the spam folder and appropriate, relevant content can help you stay out of there. As customers engage with your content library you can track their interests to better target them. Send them personalized messages that address their specific needs. It’s easy to automate with the right system in place.
Your onboarding process should affect an attitude of engagement. Let customers know how they can stay engaged with you. Show them something of value – a clear benefit – in what you have to say. You immediately have a reason to reach out to customers after they open an account, so get in touch with info that can help with their specific goals. From day one, establish yourself as a resource.
Content isn’t just digital. We’ve been turning FIs into successful content marketers for over ten years and one thing we’ve heard a lot is that it’s tough to get tellers on board with the marketing and sales process.
Content helps branch employees succeed in their customer service role, while also creating engagement and awareness around products. Employees can hand out guides culled from a content library that act as in-hand marketing collateral. They aren’t pushed into a sales role and instead work to help customers first.
Engagement begins with content. Drop by one of our next workshops for an intensive rundown of engagement strategies that will lead to more share of wallet in 2015.
This week’s wrap-up has more than a few good ideas how to get the most out of your digital signage with smart content decisions. Nancy Radermecher, President at JohnRyan, highlights the importance of having a forward-thinking attitude, a fundamental understanding of the technology you’re using and, most importantly, a plan for your content.
“Think about what constitutes a network of screens in banking centers, and your mind is going to immediately start ticking off a bunch of technological tools — displays and media players. But the most important component in any digital signage network’s technology plan doesn’t contain silicon or copper. It’s content.
The type of content, its resolution, the amount of it, the frequency it gets changed, its style and tone, and many more variables, all contribute to decisions on what’s going to be needed for an optimal, impactful network and viewing experience.”
It isn’t enough to know how you’re going to leverage your digital signage today. You need to know how it’s going to work tomorrow. Ms. Radermecher cites 4K TVs (think: HDTV on steroids!) as a pricey investment which is unlikely to pay dividends. The huge increase to video resolution might look gorgeous, but it would require video content to be shot in 4K resulting in greater expenses (not to mention massive file sizes as well). The difficulty and expense of providing up-to-date content could hinder meaningful results.
We can have all the technology in the world at our disposal – the highest of high tech, the most diabolical designs from the depths of DARPA – but it means nothing without content.
Here’s something I see every single week on social media when Twitter suggests that I follow another bank or CU. I check out the institution’s account and it hasn’t been updated in months or its tweets entirely consist of self-promotional ads (“get an auto loan from us!”; “get a mortgage today!”). Twitter and its social media brethren are fantastic technology platforms for sales, awareness and engagement, but it takes content to fuel them.
Content can be money-saving tips, financial calculators, pictures of pumpkin carving contests, promotions for events in your community, funny videos, infographics… There’s a ton you can do as long as you stick to the one most important feature of great content: No direct ads!
When it comes to digital signage, think about it this way; You’ve just invested a pretty penny for new HD displays in all your branches. It’s like you’ve got your own personal TV station. Is all of your programming going to be commercials? Content must be more than an ad.
“[A]cquire a solid understanding of what’s going to be on those screens when they light up, and look well beyond that launch period. Have your programming shape your technology decisions, or risk your technology putting constraints on your programming possibilities.”
Have you heard of Adblock Plus? With over 300 million downloads it is THE most popular browser extension in the WORLD.
Browser extensions are add-on features for your web browser. You might use Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome to browse the Internet. Extensions are kind of like apps on a smartphone; They enhance the basic functionality of the web browser.
There are all different types of extensions. One might provide alerts and reminders about your schedule. One might make it easier to translate web pages into different languages. Adblock Plus gets rid of almost every ad on the Internet.
The developers’ goal is to stymie intrusive, annoying ads. Stuff like pop ups, or flashing banners, or those “YOU JUST WON A MILLION DOLLARS!” ads. The trouble is that legitimate, sensible, tasteful ads also get blocked. The program’s default setting eliminates all ads, though users can ‘whitelist’ sites in the options if they want ads to show up.
Setting the ethical and financial implications of Adblock Plus aside – many websites operate based on ad revenue – it’s something that marketers need to be aware of. Being the most popular extension in the world indicates that a lot of people want traditional advertising out of their Internet experience.
Adblock Plus’s success is an indictment of those traditional ads which scream “Buy this buy this buy this!!” This isn’t to say that traditional ads are somehow “bad” or ineffective, but… if you could watch TV without commercials, you probably would, right? When commercials come on we surf channels or we grab a drink. We’ve seen big companies reacting to this propensity for a long time. TiVo lets you fast forward through ads. Netflix has no ads in its content library. These companies are setting a new standard for how we think about advertising.
Adblock Plus should get us to think creatively about our marketing. How can we capture attention in a way that avoids the pitfalls of traditional ads?
These days, people want content. Why be the commercial when you could be the TV show?
Adblock Plus doesn’t block blogs, or Facebook feeds, or videos (and so on) because that’s the content people are looking for. Marketers must find ways to leverage these online spaces with content. They need to sell by not selling.
A fantastic recent example is TD Bank’s “Automatic Thank You Machine”. Their video earned over 15 million views on YouTube and garnered a lot of mainstream media coverage.*
TD Bank told an emotional story that resonated with an audience. The video has the function of an ad without the auspices or context of one. It’s something you want to tell people about: “Did you hear about that thing TD Bank did?”
What you’ll note about the video above is that there’s no call to action. This is blasphemous even for a content marketer, but it sends a strong message. The content says, “this is how we treat our customers,” and the inference made by the viewer is, “hey, maybe I should be a TD Bank customer”. They aren’t telling viewers to open an account, they aren’t talking about their new low rates. They’re making an appeal to emotions, not an appeal to wallets.
Customers will want to look up the info themselves as they develop an idea of the brand through content. Content is like an appetizer to the product (whereas a traditional ad just serves up the product).
Content on your website can have the same impact. if you position your institution as THE resource to help people save money and avoid mistakes you’ll be able to overcome the idea that ads are annoying.
*This content was in fact cut into TV spots, but it found its audience online. A four minute long TV commercial would be insane! News stations covered it because of its virality. Think about it this way: Even ads in traditional channels should be looked at as potential content and vice versa.
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.
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.
Groupe 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.
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.
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.
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.
Attention 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.