Let Customer Insight Guide Your Bank's Content Marketing Strategy
By: Carlos Hidalgo, CEO, VisumCx
Content marketing in the financial services vertical is nothing new. For example, as reported by the Content Marketing Institute, Credit Suisse has been publishing its own magazine, The Bulletin, since 1895.
However, a lot has changed in the 120-plus years since then, as buyers and consumers now have instant, unfettered access to global information across a myriad of channels.
While many financial institutions continue to turn to content marketing to engage prospective buyers and customers, the reality is the overwhelming majority are struggling to achieve success. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the following research statistics suggest the state of content marketing in financial services:
- 67% of financial services marketing teams are creating more content
- Only 25% rank their use of content marketing as very effective or effective
- Only 16% rank their success at tracking ROI in their content marketing as very effective or effective
Like in many other industries, financial services marketers are creating and spending more on content creation despite the fact they admittedly are not able to quantify its success. Perhaps one answer as to why this trend continues is that only 37% of financial services marketers claim they have a documented content strategy.
So how can financial institutions ensure the value of their content marketing? Here are a few recommendations.
- Design Your Strategy With the Customer in Mind
The centerpiece of any content marketing strategy must be the customer. Without insights into customers, it is virtually impossible to produce relevant content. Understanding how customers engage with the brand, how they buy, why they buy, expectations they have for their banking partnerships, and challenges they need to address, is essential to providing the information marketers need to create compelling content.
Developing a content strategy from the customer perspective (from the outside in) will fundamentally transform how content is created. When you start with the customer in mind, the content becomes informative and addresses their challenges (rather than promotes your products). This in turn increases engagement for a better customer buying experience.
Any strategy that is developed without being informed by an understanding of the customer is no strategy at all.
- Ongoing Conversations vs. Storytelling
One of the prevailing directives in content marketing today is to tell your customer a story. The thinking is if you tell an engaging story, customers will endear themselves to the brand.
However, the problem with storytelling is it is one-way communication with the vendor speaking at the customer. Furthermore, many brands use the storytelling approach to tell their customers what they want them to hear, and if they miss the mark, they can potentially lose a customer.
Rather than construct a story, brands should look to establish an ongoing conversation with their customers. A conversation is two-way communication, and like any conversation, it provides the opportunity for brands to learn more about their customers. By gathering this customer intelligence, brands are able to be more relevant with their content and other customer touchpoints both digitally and offline.
When brands establish a dialogue, they can analyze their customer's behavioral patterns by using the behavioral data they find in their marketing automation solutions. Furthermore, those who have marketing automation should score their content by where in the buyer's journey it is consumed rather than scoring by asset type. Based on this customer intelligence, brands are able to continually fine-tune the approach and derive more value from their content.
- Get Vision into the Customer Journey
Having a clear picture of the customer journey is necessary if organizations are going to develop content that is engaging and relevant. Just creating content is not sufficient. Marketers need to focus on creating the right content that aligns with the customer journey:
- Brand engagement
- Product content
- Buying (demand generation) content
- Customer support content
Simply designing content with no designed purpose is a fool's errand and will produce little in terms of ROI.
- Understand One Size Does Not Fit All
One of the biggest challenges for today's Sales or Marketing professional is the rise of the buying committee. Long gone are the days of trying to reach "the decision maker." In today's complex B2B environment, we are marketing and selling to multiple decision makers. CEB research has shown that on average there are up to seven different roles involved in a B2B buying process.
Each individual that fills these roles has differing motives, biases toward a brand or product, and different content and channel preferences. With this in mind, a single content asset will not necessarily meet the needs of all the widely varying customer stakeholders.
This dynamic is why content marketers need to tailor the theme of their content to these buyer needs. Once the theme is determined, they can determine the most suitable format and channel. The reality is that the majority of marketers think about the tactic first (email, social, webinar, event, etc.) and then design the content. Given that much of the customer and buying journey is multi-channel, this simply is not effective.
In order to engage in meaningful conversation with customers, there has to be varying content that speaks to each role at each stage of their journey. For example, a CFO will most likely engage with content that varies in tone and also asset type from that of a director of finance. Why? Because they have different roles and different perspectives of the business, and their roles, while similar, have different requirements. If this is not taken into consideration, gaining value from content marketing will remain elusive.
- Establish the Right Metrics
According to Content Marketing Institute research, financial services content marketers list the following as the top metrics they track:
- 71% – website traffic
- 46% – time spent on website
- 41% – higher conversion rates
According to the same study, only 35% measure sales.
Content marketers need to establish a common set of measurements or key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the performance of their content. These KPIs need to show business impact and determine ROI.
Content marketers intent on monitoring ROI will need to be vigilant about knowing how content is impacting buying cycles, the likelihood of content accelerating a purchase, and how their content is contributing to revenue. By developing a content architecture that is aligned to the buyer's journey, organizations can view the individual interactions (content engagement) through their marketing automation solution and better understand the content that is performing best. This kind of market intelligence is what ultimately elevates a content marketing program into a measurable tool that drives positive business results.
Customers are inundated with content across multiple channels. In order to begin a meaningful conversation, you need to deliver compelling content that aligns to your customer at every stage of their buying journey. This starts with knowing your customers and speaking with them rather than at them.
Simply investing and creating more content and expecting different results is insanity. Take the time to talk to your customers, research their market conditions and create content with their perspective in mind. This will drive further engagement and lead to a positive customer experience.
About Carlos Hidalgo
Carlos Hidalgo is founder and CEO of VisumCx, a customer experience strategy firm with more than 20 years of experience working with B2B organizations in delivering multi-channel customer experience. Carlos is the author of Driving Demand, has been named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for the last six years, and is recognized by Onalytica as the "Most Influential Person in B2B North America in 2015."
We help commercial bank marketers develop compelling, brand-relevant thought leadership that goes beyond enhancing brand awareness; we move our clients from strategy to demand creation to drive real business results.