Finance-related information is often dismissed as boring and dry and a pain to read. But it need not be that way. After all, everybody needsgood and reliable information when it comes to money. So it should not be difficult for financial institutes to grab people's attention with the right kind of content.
For an engaging content marketing plan, focus on creating content that helps your customers and provides them with the resources they need to make informed decisions.
Yes, we live in a consumer-driven world now, and not only do you need to understand exactly what content your target audience wants, you need to be obsessed with them to succeed. This post will help you do exactly this.
A Bird's Eye View
Before you dive into a new strategy, it's good to get the basics right. Make a plan and create an overview of your goals and what your content marketing will look like. Here's something to get you started.
- Social Channels: Facebook and Twitter are the "must do" channels. But if you have the time and the resources for it, jump into LinkedIn communities or run a Google+ community on finance topics.
- Your Website: This should be your first priority. It's the digital lobby of your business. It's where people will go to seek out information about your brand and any resources you offer.
- Resources: One of the best things you can do to market your financial institute is to develop resources on finance that your consumers would seek out. From tips to step-by-step guides to a "dumbed-down" explanation of some of the harder concepts – an abundance of resources is a must.
- Video: Whether they are in response to frequently asked questions or how-to tutorials, videos are a great asset, especially when you want to engage those who learn visually.
- Infographics: Finance professionals have access to some awesome data. Use it. Curate it and present it in an interesting and easy-to-understand way with infographics.
- Blog: Pick a niche to focus on in your blog, and post thought-provoking and authoritative articles in it two to three times a week. Don't forget to include "subscribe" and social share buttons!
Why Content Marketing Matters for the Financial Industry
How many times have you heard that finances are dull and boring and no one wants to read about them? Well, you'd be surprised to know how many people want to read about them, seeing as struggling with finances is a common thing. Here are some solid reasons for you to consider creating content surrounding the financial industry.
- Consumers want word-of-mouth recommendations. Content marketing is a great way to perpetuate these valuable recommendations.
- Different demographics can be targeted through content. My favorite example of this is how American Express targets entrepreneurs and small business owners through their online community, an open forum. They've simply made it a community where people share advice and post valuable and relevant articles.
Small and new businesses are going to be some of the biggest and the most-sought-after targets for financial institutes. So check out how Barclays and Wells Fargo are doing it as well. Both have an abundance of resources for anyone who has started a new business or for anyone who is contemplating doing so.
- Having an abundance of good content and resources is a way to distinguish yourself from the competition. Look at all of the resources that Capital One offers. They don't make their consumers or site visitors go elsewhere to do research – it's all right there.
- Build stronger relationships. Providing your audience with the content they need, not content that promotes your brand, makes your institute look trustworthy, reliable, and an authority in its field.
Education Is Your Strongest Strategy
Your goal is to educate consumers on difficult but crucial financial matters. It's also what will make your institute stand out from the rest.
With video, white papers, and other forms of content, your job is to simplify complex information and present it a relatable manner. That means that the writers you hire and the marketers you employ need to have a solid grasp on not only communication strategies but the actual finance industry – some of these topics are really tough and you can't get away with not having an expert write for you.
As people are looking to spend their money more wisely, how can you help them do so? In branding yourself as a resource, you're also branding yourself as their go-to source online, and thus the go-to place when it comes to choosing a financial institute in real life.
Also, not all content is digital. And if you are also targeting retired folks, they may not be too enthusiastic about learning digitally. So consider creating paper content and guides as well to distribute to this group.
Here are some examples of great content that would educate your customers. Obviously this type of marketing is niche-specific, so these examples are just meant to inspire you. Consider them and mold them to fit your strategy.
- Tip sheets on how to save money for Christmas.
- Blog posts that contain interviews and advice from "money experts" on saving money.
- A guide on investing money for young people. Include stats on why this is important.
- A webinar on retirement savings best practices.
- An infographic on how consumers are saving money and investing in their future.
- A resource section on your website for anyone wanting to start a new business.
- An e-book on everything you need to know about getting a loan. Include easy-to-digest pieces, charts, and stats.
- A "tip of the week email" that offers a new tip every week on saving money innovatively.
- A weekly curated newsletter of articles and news pertaining to finance.
- A continuous video series on how to save money for a new home and how to get a loan for that home when the time comes.
Creating Content in a Highly Regulated Industry
Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute cited the financial industry as being even more regulated than the health industry. In fact, "regulation" is the number one reason cited by marketers in the financial industry that makes them hesitant to hop on the content marketing bandwagon.
But while this is an issue, there are many large institutes doing it well. It's about providing education, and not breaking customer trust with breaking regulation laws. Marketers don't have to be afraid; they just need to consult with their legal team before making a content marketing plan. That isn't a big hurdle.
Focusing on simply providing the content that customers seek out and observing how other financial institutes are creating their strategies is a very safe place to start.
Sun Life Financial
I would like to highlight my personal favorite example of a financial institute that really gets content marketing. If you only check out one company or only click on one hyperlink from this post, let it be to explore Sun Life Financial's content marketing strategy further.
Sun Life Financial has created Brighter Lifefor any of their customers or anyone simply interested in finance-related topics. Here are a few highlights, but definitely check this out for yourself:
- Timely articles on all things relevant to finance
- Videos explaining tough topics "simply put"
- Tips on budgeting and managing debt
- Tools for estate and retirement planning
- Resources pertaining to life insurance, obtaining a mortgage, and many more
- Posts on personal finance and teaching children about money
- A "working life" section that dives in to self-employment, career management, and its benefits
- A series of tips, posts, and resources on retirement including traveling information pertaining to those who have retired
- Columns on light topics such as how to have a happy budget for the holidays
After you come across an example of a strategy done well, it's a good idea to note the points you found exemplary. Then brainstorm and analyze with your team about how you can apply them to your own strategy.
Here are some key takeaways from what Sun Life Financial is doing really well:
- Let's start with the logo and the inviting images. You go to the site to read about finance, but the site is friendly and doesn't make you feel like you're about to get lost in numbers and jargon.
- The layout. It's super easy to locate the right resource.
- Though about finance, the content is light and even interesting!
- Creativity. Instead of just talking about the latest bank regulations or how to acquire a mortgage, they've taken it one step further by creating posts that break confusing topics down into small and easy-to-understand pieces.
- They're social. The social share and follow buttons are easy to find so that readers can continue to engage.
- Their call-to-action to sign up for their newsletter is inviting and to-the-point.
- They have a variety of content, from explanatory videos to financial quizzes that readers can take.
Become a Trustworthy Source of Information
Of course, you're going to create a plethora of resources and your own content to inspire trust in your customers.
In addition to that, also share articles and resources by other financial institutes and authors. Make sure that everything you share is accurate and from reliable sources. Your customers will appreciate the fact that you're sharing information that helps them even if you didn't generate the content yourself and even if it doesn't link back to your own brand.
Plus, no one likes to see a person or a brand talk about themselves and only share their own content all the time.
In addition to sharing other content on Twitter and Facebook, consider sending out a weekly email with the best curated content from the week. Of course, you can include some of your own, but make sure you primarily include news articles and other timely and relevant posts and resources from other sources. Your customers will rely on you and appreciate you for being their thorough source of information on all things finances.
Listen closely and your customers will tell you exactly what content they are looking for. You may even want to adopt a social media monitoring tool so that you know everything people are saying digitally about your brand. You can learn more about that here.
Engage in Discussion
The purpose of having an active social media presence is to engage with your customers. You want to interact with them, and most importantly give them a voice.
You don't want to use Twitter to simply tweet out your content. You want to respond to questions your customers are tweeting and respond to them. Respond to everything! Even the negative tweets.
Host tweet chats, Google Hangouts, and pose questions so that you are able to draw your customers into your content marketing strategy instead of dishing out content hoping they would like it.
One advantage that the finance industry has when it comes to content marketing is the massive amount of data they possess.
How can you leverage this creatively? Whether it's through an infographic, an e-book with charts and images, or spread out through your blog posts, find a way to leverage your data in an engaging way.
Repurposing content is the key. Use the same set of data and information for an awesome, easy-to-digest infographic, a little more in-depth white paper, and a visually driven SlideShare presentation.
Let's Wrap This Up
Now that your head is about to explode with the many examples you've seen of content marketing done well by financial institutes, and with your own ideas for your series of blog posts and infographics, get it all down on paper and start formulating your content marketing plan.