Marketers are familiar with the concept of sharing the right message to the right person at the right time. It’s been a philosophy in the advertising world for many years. Media planners and buyers would look through the various advertising mediums like TV, print, radio and outdoor, to place their ads among the channels that reached the same demographic of their target market. The problem is that consumers have learned to tune out this form of interruptive advertising overtime, which has led to the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, where brands have become publishers.

Brands are now tasked with figuring out what content will resonate with their audiences, and the best ways to deliver that content. The digital age has given us more insight into what people are consuming, who they are, and what’s making them buy. The challenge for financial marketers is to figure out how to gain consumer’s attention in an oversaturated online world. Here’s a brief overview of some of best ways to develop and refine your social media and content marketing strategies to help your financial institution create and deliver effective content for your customers and prospects.

Social Listening

Before you start creating content for your financial institution, you’ll need to understand what people are saying about your brand, your competitors, and the types of information they are seeking out related to the products and services your bank or credit union sells. Social media monitoring tools like Sprout Social, HootSuite, Sysomos and Brand 24, can help you identify influencers, potential customers, relevant hashtags and potential topics to explore.

Take time to listen before you join the conversation to ensure that the content you produce is interesting to your target audience. While you’re in listening mode, you can also get a sense for the types of questions that you’ll need to be ready to answer quickly once you join the conversation.

Understanding Your Target Market

As you are monitoring conversations surrounding your financial institution, you’ll discover consumer’s pain points, motivations, and questions that arise during the stages of the sales cycle. However, you’ll need to gather more data about these areas to understand your target market and can use a mix of tactics including surveying your customers and conducting your own internal and external research.

For example, a recent American Banker article shared some survey data about what Millennials want from their financial institution and found that:

  • 90% want to have a relationship with a traditional financial institution
  • 92% choose a bank for its digital services
  • 30% have a minimum of one financial product that isn’t provided by their bank

Your bank or credit union may want to create content that speaks to how to leverage your relationship with your banker, how to manage your finances using online banking and your Institution’s mobile app, and also introduce related products like credit cards or car loans into your content marketing plan.

Personas & Content Mapping

Creating personas and mapping content to them is a how you can tactically use the information you gathered to about your target market, and deliver the most appropriate content to deliver to them. Personas are fictional representations of your target audience that outline who they are, what they care about, how you can reach them and appropriate types of messaging. Content mapping involves determining the best types of content for each persona, and then the appropriate messaging for your personas during different stages of the sales cycle.

When outlining your personas, you’ll want to capture a variety of information such as:

  • Demographic information (age, gender, location, education, etc.)
  • Job title and salary
  • Life stage (own a home, planning to have a family, retired, etc.)
  • Goals and challenges
  • Fears and frustrations
  • What products/services your bank or credit union provides that can help them
  • Types of publications they trust
  • Technology and communication preferences (e.g., mobile phones, email)
  • Marketing messaging on various products/services that speaks to all of the above points
  • Quotes

Develop Content To Cover The Various Stages Of The Sales Cycle

Before you start mapping your content, you’ll want to think about the various stages that a consumer goes through before buying financial products or services, and what type of information they want and need.

Here’s a general framework for the stages of the sales funnel:

  • Awareness that they have a problem
  • Consideration of potential solutions
  • Buying the product or service and using it
  • Referring others to the business, or complaining about the product or service

This is where content mapping and your personas will work together. Once you have your personas developed, you’ll want to think about what information and types of content would make the most impact to help move them down the funnel.

Identify Life Stages

Another element to layer onto your strategy is your persona or target market’s life stages and the relevant products or services that can help them before, during and after these milestones. Listing out life stages can help you compile a list of topics for your blog, social pages, and website.

Exploring an Example Scenario

Thinking about the end goal in mind (increasing sales of a product or service), it’s helpful to start backwards by researching the product or service that you need to market first to understand who would want to use it, and when. Let’s use IRA rollovers as an example product. First, you will need to figure out the appropriate life stages that would apply to your target audiences. Then, you will need to map the right content to the different phases of the sales cycle, and finally, determine the best ways to reach them.

  • Life stage: Research from Oliver Wyman shows that 70% of people who rolled over their 401k into an IRA was due to a recent job change, whereas only 19% do so when they reach retirement age.
  • Relevant target markets & personas: Job changers, working professionals, baby boomers near retirement
  • How to find this segment with your own data: Find customers with a recent change or pause in their direct deposit source or target people who have viewed the IRA rollover page or promotion.
  • Potential content to deliver during different stages of the sales cycle:
    • Awareness: Changing Jobs? What to Do with Your 401k
    • Consideration stage: IRA Rollover Comparison Guide
    • Purchase stage: IRA Rollover FAQs
    • Loyalty stage: $50 Bonus for Referring Your Friends to Roll Over their IRA
  • How to reach them at the right time: Advertise to these job changers on social media using relevant targeting options, upload a list of email addresses from your own data, and use personalization on your website to show relevant content about this product to this segment.

Here are a few more examples of different life stages and a few financial products that align:

  1. First baby: Life and health insurance, credit card, financial planning, college savings
  2. Getting married: HELOCs, personal loans, credit cards
  3. Going to college: Checking account, mobile app, personal loans, car loans

But you don’t want to only think about what you can sell people during these stages. If you’re trying to move someone down the funnel to buying a credit card, you may want to offer them helpful advice on what they may be going through before this milestone occurs, then start marketing the relevant service or product after you’ve built that awareness and trust.

With all of the tools available to digital marketers today, it’s hard to get a handle on what makes the most sense for how to best invest your time and resources. When you commit to developing great content and understanding your target market, it can help provide more fuel for other channels and strategies and show your customers and prospects that you value them. And even if you already are developing content on a regular basis, you can continually refine your strategy as you learn more about your audience and customer base.

Does your FI share the right message to the right person at the right time? Let us know about your marketing strategy in the comments below!