With its traditional conservatism and complex regulations, the financial services industry doesn’t immediately strike you as a sector ready to embrace the brave new world of content marketing, but scratch the surface and what emerges is a set of compelling reasons why it should.
Unlike consumer disposables, buying a mortgage or a pension product is a significant purchase. When faced with such a big decision, potential customers tread carefully and have important questions. Digital technology has enabled them to seek out answers like never before, meaning firms that can engage individuals with high-quality content have the potential to build lasting relationships. But how do they go about doing that?
Abundant social media channels have given brands the ability to talk with existing and prospective customers on a one-to-one basis. If brands can engage actively across social media – rather than just filling channels with re-purposed content – the range of topics in which the audience is interested will become increasingly apparent. Marketing to a new, digitally savvy audience means being involved in a genuine, open conversation. If this can take place, the audience will effectively provide a list of key issues for marketers. Consequently, firms should be able to produce content based around those concerns – and that should, in turn, makes a difference to purchasing habits. Engagement is the key – helping people with their options, so they can make big choices in an informed way.
But once a brand is engaged with an audience, how does it present highly-technical information in an appealing way? The trick is to simplify without having to dumb down. One of the core resources of the financial sector is its wealth of data – it’s time to liberate this information as infographics, creative online video, usable ebooks and downloadable information sheets that can provide digestible answers to the most common questions.
More than any other sector, financial services could do with an educative programme to help employees understand how digital development has changed customer behaviour and how – as a consequence – the opportunities to connect with customers have also changed.
Mobile is a good example. Banks often optimise existing services for their apps. No harm there. But services of this kind only reinforce relationships with current customers; they do little to bring more people toward the brand. Where are the apps that feed information to people interested in moving their mortgage or buying extra life assurance? How do you compare annuity costs? A banking brand ready to build those apps might well plug itself into a new set of customers.
Creating great content isn’t just achieved by breaking down external barriers. Firms also need to look at internal processes to ensure they can be responsive to external demands for content. No process is in more need of attention than that of gaining regulatory approval. The complex web of rules that govern financial services can make producing fresh, engaging content a painfully slow business. Ensuring content arrives with the audience in a timely way means firmly building the approvals process into content planning. This is why media headhunters are increasingly asked by financial firms to find forward-thinking Heads of Content. Once in post, a new Head of Content can ensure deadlines are drilled home. Giving sign-off dates to the legal department – and setting their expectations on how future marketing plans will be rolled out – can be key to making sure programmes move forward in a timely and cost-effective fashion.
Financial firms that are ready answer customer questions with compelling digital content are the organisations that are best placed to win trust and move forward.
For those wanting to explore further issues faced by content marketers in the financial sector, Content Marketing World has put together an interesting Twitter chat – it’s embedded at the top of this post.