Creating and distributing valuable content to engage and convert target audiences, content marketing can take a lot of time and effort, and many financial marketers are struggling to understand its value. After all, it’s a longer term strategy, not a quick fix – because with content marketing, you’re building trust, and that can take a while. Great content is a vital part of any inbound marketing strategy, but how do you know if the effort is worthwhile?
Investing In Content Marketing
If you’re in the business of generating leads, then content marketing can be a great investment for your bank or credit union. To illustrate its effectiveness, check out a few key stats:
- In 2015, content marketing generated 3x as many leads as traditional outbound marketing and cost 62% less.
- 53% of marketers say content creation is the most effective SEO tactic.
- The second highest share of digital marketing budgets is allocated towards content creation and management.
- 70% of consumers say they would rather know a company through articles than from ads.
So why is it important to invest in content? Because if you do it right, your content will help keep your prospects engaged with your brand until they are ready to buy.
Why Content Marketing Makes Sense
Content marketing is all about attracting, acquiring and engaging your target market with the goal of driving profitable business actions. As a financial services marketer, it’s your job to find new customers and keep your current ones, and content marketing is one of the most effective tactics that can help you bring in visitors to your website by offering them something of value.
At the end of the day, your goal is to increase revenue, which means your content will need to lead prospects through your sales funnel. Like the saying goes, “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense!”
Most traditional marketing is intrusive and interrupts the customer, bragging about how amazing a company’s product or service is, before telling people to buy something now. What ads like that assume is that when you’re reaching your prospect, they are ready to buy now and understand your product. But most people are using the Internet to do some research before they buy. And if you want to show up during that stage and start to build trust, content marketing is a great way to reach them.
If you’re only running ads that demand people to buy now, you may push them away, because they don’t know anything about your bank or credit union. It’s like dating – you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. You court them for a while, get to know them, appeal to their interests, and when the time is right – you propose.
Using Content To Reach Consumers Throughout The Buying Cycle
Financial services marketers usually think in terms of products they need to sell when putting together their marketing strategy, but when consumers are doing online research, they are usually thinking in terms of problems they need to solve. And this is where content marketing comes in play. If you can create content that helps solve your target market’s problems, you’ll have a better chance of making an impression (pun intended).
Much of the customer’s buying journey is now happening online – and if you’re not there, you’ve already lost the battle. So what is this battle, you ask? It’s the fight to get discovered, and this can happen in many different channels and stages now. What is one person’s loyalty phase, like posting a review in the App Store or tweeting about an issue can turn into someone else’s awareness or research phase. You’ll want to create a variety of content to address different people’s needs during these stages.
Here’s a quick refresher on the buying cycle stages:
Awareness: Before someone can buy your product or service, they need to know you exist. This is where building awareness of your brand comes into play. This can also be the prospect’s awareness that a problem exists.
Consideration: During this stage, your financial institution has made an impact and is now in your prospect’s consideration set of vendors they may use to help them solve their problem.
Purchase: Boom! You earned the sale. Good job. They choose you as the best credit union or bank to help them solve their problem.
Loyalty: If you gave your customer a great experience, they will keep coming back. Maybe that’s in the form of a like on Facebook, or a referral to their friend, or another purchase for a different problem, or joining your loyalty club. If you dropped the ball, they could post a negative review that deters others from doing business with you.
So how do you know what types of content to produce at different stages? That’s where personas come in. Defining your target audience in terms of different types of people will help you think about their needs during these various stages. Then you’ll want to map their needs to your products and think in terms of how you can help. To illustrate, let’s walk through the following example.
How Content Can Help You Earn the Sale
Let’s say Juan wants to buy his first home. He begins with an internet search to figure out how much home he can afford. He finds a bank’s website with a financial calculator to help him determine his budget. Now, he wants to know what his next steps should be, so he does another search to find out since the site he was on didn’t lead him to that next step.
Then, Juan finds a helpful blog post that walks him through all of the steps of buying his first home. This blog post leads him to download a checklist to keep him on track. In order to get that checklist, he had to fill out a form, and decides to check the box to allow the bank to contact him about their offerings.
The next day, Juan gets a call from a mortgage officer and takes down the information. But before he decides to give him his business, he wants to compare. Juan finds another bank with better rates and then decides to check out their reviews. He likes what he sees, and decides to set up an appointment. He loves his rep, and decides to give him his business, and then follows the bank on Twitter to stay connected. Later, his friend asks who he used for his mortgage, and he refers him by way of an email that he forwards with all of their information.
What’s the lesson here? In order to win the sale, you’ll need a variety of content to address the different needs of your prospects during different stages of the buying cycle to keep them in your sales funnel. And if you haven’t invested into content, you’ll have a much harder time winning the online battle for business.
Types Of Content To Create
What type of content should your financial institution create to keep prospects in your sales funnel? There’s no one-size fits all answer since every bank and credit union is unique, but here are some different types of content to consider:
- How-to Guides
- Downloadable eBooks
- Testimonials & Reviews
- Financial Calculators
- Comparison Charts
- Educational Blog Posts
- Social Media Updates
- Landing Pages
- Giveaways, Contests & Sweepstakes
- Offers or Coupons
- Case Studies
What’s great about generating content is that it all works together. When you publish frequent blog posts, it helps your SEO. And when you put effort into your social media pages, you can drive traffic to your website. And when people visit your website, you can pixel them to re-market to them later. To get started, you may want to can conduct a content audit, find the gaps of where you’re missing content for key steps in the buying journey, and then create a plan to fill them in.
Is the effort worth it? If you’re in the business of building trust and generating leads – yes. What’re your thoughts?