Content marketing has really taken off over the past few years, with more and more industry verticals embracing its many virtues. Financial services is no exception. In fact, according to recent research from the Content Marketing Institute, 78 percent of financial marketers report they are using content marketing. Whether or not they’re doing it well, however, is another question. After all, the industry is exceptionally complex. It’s hard enough simply explaining such difficult topics as credit default swaps, the blockchain, and sovereign wealth funds, let alone doing so in an interesting and engaging way.
And yet the subject matter is probably the least of most financial marketers’ concerns when it comes to creating great content. That’s because they face a number of other even more daunting challenges.
Take the long-standing organizational silos that are so pervasive at banks and other large financial institutions as an example. Creating high-quality content that’s consistent and on-brand is incredibly difficult unless you’ve got a way to break down those silos, so you can take a unified approach across the entire business.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s also the issue of working within a company culture that doesn’t typically support the idea of creating content that’s friendly and approachable. And let’s not forget the subject matter experts who are understandably reluctant to take a stand on issues or to offer a definitive point of view. Given the veritable landmine of regulatory requirements they have to navigate through, who can blame them?
Despite all these challenges, the good news is that there are financial services companies that are triumphing with their financial content marketing. To do so, they’re being more thoughtful and purposeful with their content in an effort to ensure it stands out.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Bank of America
Got questions about money? Most people do and find themselves looking for answers. Bank of America (in partnership with KHAN Academy) has tapped into people’s thirst for financial knowledge with its Better Money Habits site. The site’s mission is to give people straightforward, accessible information about an array of practical topics, ranging from buying a home, to dealing with taxes and personal banking, to saving for retirement.
What’s great about the site is the way it segments visitors, asking you an array of questions about your interests and personal situation to help direct you to the most relevant content. And that content can take a variety of formats, from blog posts and videos to infographics and interactive polls, among others. We find the content effective because it’s not only informative and highly focused, but also written in a more casual and approachable way than you’d typically find from most financial institutions.
In Australia and New Zealand, ANZ is taking an innovative approach to content with BlueNotes. Launched in 2014, it’s a site focused on having high-level discussions about a range of topics including the economy, business and finance, sustainability, and technology and innovation. All of the content is aimed at customers and other interested parties and is designed to inform, educate, and share insights.
Run by Managing Editor Andrew Cornell (a former Australian Financial Review journalist), the site offers a broad collection of articles and videos and typically publishes two new stories a day. These often feature in-house subject matter experts, as well as external contributors. The site has been widely praised in Australia and is resonating with the public too. In a recent interview, Cornell summarized the secret to the site’s success. He noted that the keys were to understand your audience and focus on creating quality content that’s compelling and stands out.
We like it because, in addition to being a great source of valuable information, there’s also an element of fun that makes the content more approachable and enjoyable.
Spanish Banco Santander SA has taken a different, but no less effective, approach to content. In recent years, the company has started relying on user generated content. The video above is one prime example of the bank’s attempt to try to speak to its customers in a more authentic way. According to a recent article in Marketing Week, this is indicative of a broader trend in financial services marketing. Banks and other financial institutions are “going from functional to emotional by showing off their quirky history or their efforts to make the world a slightly better place.”
What we like about Santander’s approach is the creativity they’re bringing to their content. It’s not about high-gloss brochures or high-paid actors, but rather humanizing their content with real people.
Content with Purpose
To succeed at content marketing in financial services, or any industry for that matter, you need to go well beyond the ordinary. That means not just creating useful content (though that’s important too), or high-quality content (though that’s also essential). What you really have to do is find creative ways to get people to engage with your content. To do so, it’s got to be approachable, conversational, and enjoyable. When you combine those qualities with great writing and valuable information, it’s a recipe for success.