In the wake of the Royal Commission, where the reputation of financial services institutions is at an all-time low, marketing leaders have been asking themselves: “How can I convince our clients to trust us now? Where can we spend our marketing dollars in a way that will yield a positive return?”
Insight: There is a need to bridge the gap between consumer and your financial services brand.
Data: Customers have a poor perception of ethics in the sector. In fact, the Australian Ethics Index score took a dive in 2018 — dragged down by people’s poor perception of ethics in the finance sector. (Business Insider)
Key Action Point: Learn how content marketing can turn this recent crisis into an opportunity to reinvent your brand.
Customer Perceptions: The Impact of Financial Services Content Marketing
The biggest issue in the industry is trust. Because the majority of the businesses have lost focus on the customer for several years — damaging allegations and scandals, imposing fees for no service, charging dead people, misleading customers, and so on — many, if not all, of the finance institutions are under fire.
But there’s a massive opportunity here marketers shouldn’t miss.
Unlike the retail and food companies, where they are selling something tangible, financial services companies offer ideas and solutions to problems. And what better to sell the intangible than through content?
Customers have a great appetite for valuable and relevant information; in fact, it’s been reported that 70% prefer to learn about companies through articles.
In a 2019 Brandpoint survey, the majority of the finance marketers surveyed believe customer relationship building is the biggest benefits of content marketing.
This supports what Jillian Hillard (Director of Brand Marketing at Electrolux) once shared a couple of years ago:
“Content is the gateway into a brand’s soul, and when done right, it provides insights into the customer’s wants. It’s a brand’s job to understand the emotional needs of their customers and provide solutions that enhance their lives — not just sell them products.”
Forbes cited that B2B companies with strong brand perception generate a higher EBIT margin than others. So there’s just no denying the need to improve content for financial services brands.
To make it right and therefore, to rebuild trust, you need to deliver genuine value. You can’t do this by having a company-centric mindset. You need to be genuinely customer-centric — meaning, make decisions and act in the best interests of your customers.
So have a closer look at your customers: What are their ‘jobs to be done’? What are their pain points? Think about how you can use content to help them address it. This is the best way to improve their perception of your brand.
Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity Partners, highlighted this when he said,
“Before you can expect to get value from your prospects (in terms of time, attention, consideration, etc.), you must first give value (useful, smart, entertaining content that helps them do their jobs or live their lives) to them. It’s a win-win scenario.”
How to Make Content Marketing Work for Financial Services
Many brands still fail at content marketing, and they don’t even know it. Of the 94% of B2B marketers who reportedly use content marketing, only 9% said they’re very effective at it.
The key reasons for this are that most brands don’t have a focused content marketing strategy in place, they don’t know who they’re writing for, and their content is not aligned with their buyer’s journey.
Have a Content Marketing Strategy
“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Publishing an article without an effective overarching strategy is just a shout in the void. A well-documented content marketing strategy includes the following —
- The purpose of creating content
- Your SMART goals
- Your defined target audience and their needs
- The one thing that would make your content stand out
- Content marketing metrics
- Editorial calendar
Drill Down into Whom You’re Creating Content For
If you say your target audience is “everyone who has access to the internet”, then you have some deep work to do. You need to narrow it down. Without taking the time to know and understand your audience, you are wasting your time with content.
Beyond mere demographics, how do you describe them? What are their interests? What do they do outside of work? How do they acquire information? What triggers them to look for the solutions you provide? What are their pain points in your industry? What are the barriers they encounter?
Align Your Content to the Buyer’s Journey
Not only must you understand your audience in general, but you should also take the time to segment them. The people who are at the beginning of the buyer’s journey will have completely different attitudes about your company and services than someone who has been with you for ten years.
The buyer’s journey is often misrepresented, and too many companies believe that they understand it because the buzzwords defining it seem self-explanatory. In most cases, this leads to useless content for no reason.
Let’s take a look at the stages of the buyer’s journey and how financial marketing experts define them for best results with content.
In the Awareness stage, a prospect is just learning that he has a problem. Many financial services companies miss the most important point, however: The problem will have a definitive symptom that can and should be used as a conversational entry point.
If you can help the prospect define the problem before he has to research it himself, you get extra points. This prospect is the most likely to cultivate a longstanding and loyal relationship with you.
Just as important, you need to realise that the buyer is not ready to make a purchase at this point in time.
In the Consideration stage, the target customer has clearly defined the problem. The symptom is now being directly addressed, and the reason that you are in consideration is that you have shown expertise in dealing with symptoms of this nature.
Can you handle things better? That is what your buyer is trying to find out. A prospect in this stage will be researching everything possible.
In the Decision stage, the prospect has clearly defined not only the problem but also the solution. This customer knows what he or she wants. The research here is all about endorsements, supporting documents, and data about that decision. Now is the time to pull out your white papers, case studies, and testimonials.
If you plan to outsource your content marketing, the working team would need the information about your buyer's journey to create a tone and direction for your content. By aligning content to the buyer’s journey, marketers gain a better grasp of the audience you’re writing for and how well your current content is impacting them.
From here, they will be able to tweak your strategy and build on the relationship points that you have already cultivated.
Content is essential to the financial services industry, but it must be the right kind of content. Producing company-centric information alone no longer gets the job done. What is needed is content that’s aligned with your strategy and relevant to your audience.
In financial services, perception is reality. Following the Royal Commission, brands need to build trust over time using content that’s relevant to where target customers are at on the buyer’s journey.