Finance giants, entrepreneurs, and startups are all utilizing content marketing in their financial services marketing strategies to strengthen relationships with existing and potential clients
As you know, content marketing in financial services refers to the words, images, and data that financial services marketers use to engage the interest of a specified audience in order to educate or support a business goal, such as opening a bank account or finding a cheap mortgage. The impact of content is defined by the values, aspirations, and propositions that a brand/service/product seeks to convey.
Content within the financial services industry is changing because customers are no longer responding to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. It also has unique considerations such as the heavily regulated environment and the emergence of new access points such as smartphones and tablets. In order to respond to these changes, it is critical that banks, insurers, advisors, and all finance sector companies have a customer-centric financial services content marketing strategy.
What is content marketing in financial services?
Managing content as an asset with a defined editorial schedule to achieve marketing communications goals of reaching, persuading, and engaging target audiences using different content distribution techniques. Content marketing in financial services means creating and distributing high-quality, useful information relating to financial services or products you can offer to customers and prospective customers.
Financial services marketing strategy
Financial services marketers are in a unique position since they are marketing products and services which influence their customers' finances, lifestyle, and wellbeing. As a result, the financial services decision-making process is renowned for long cycles, and multiple touchpoints.
Our financial services marketing trends for 2021 covers 9 financial services marketing trends across our established 5-step customer lifecycle of plan-reach-act-convert-engage. This marketing structure is a strategy go-to essential for all financial services marketers, or those in similar sectors looking for fresh ideas. You can download your free copy of the report via the link below.
How has content marketing evolved?
The way businesses formulate their content strategy in financial services has transformed for these four reasons:
1. Large FS firms have traditionally been structured in silos: As internal structures have evolved and digital has integrated into all departments, content is now viewed as a strategic integrated marketing approach, focused on creating and distributing value. The aim is to attract and retain an audience and ultimately drive profitable customer action.
2. FS companies recognize that great, unique content will implicitly support good SEO and UX, building trust and organic search rankings on desktop and mobile: A focus on content quality can support lower cost per acquisition (CPA), particularly important because of competition and high CPA in pay-per-click for financial services.
This example shows a common SEO technique in financial services where buyer guides are developed to support the buying decision, using simple ‘mobile-first’ style UX. The related links are all oriented to improving organic search and this technique is used by other competitors in this sector.
Above is an example of mobile-first UX focusing targeting different search behaviours - note the example 'Students - insurance tips' page.
The fundamentals of developing a content marketing strategy, which we define in our Content Marketing Toolkit and Content Marketing Learning Path, do not change. You can use techniques like our content marketing matrix and distribution plan to review your approach.
3. Content builds trust: A vital feature since the 2008 financial crash has been to deploy strategies that create trust. Distributing quality useful information builds a tightly connected community of customers with a reason to invest time in your brand. Simplicity is important here, too. UK insurer LV has developed an accessible 'plain language' approach which makes it a core approach of its branding.
"Our website has been designed to plain English best practices using writing-for-web techniques. We have tried to remove all our jargon, or where we need to have some for legal reasons we at least explain what it means".
This is reflected in their accessible mobile-first website design style which consists of cards with minimal text and visual iconography on pastel and home imagery backgrounds.
This form of design style and use of micro-content is also evident in this case study of financial services usability agency Foolproof researching a new design for a mortgage service. They also discuss a focus on copywriting and tone-of-voice as part of usability, which hasn't traditionally been a focus for some usability companies.
They describe a common challenge with financial services products and how they sought to solve it with a pattern library approach:
"Mortgage sales journeys often fail at one extreme or the other: either over-loading users with too much detail in the early moments of assessing their options, or presenting an uncanny level of simplicity in what users recognise to be a complex decision.
"Our goal was to develop copy and micro-content that was ‘just right’ at each step through the sales journey. Again, we relied on research to help us develop the right tone of voice. It was consistent enough to create a friendly, approachable style from start to finish. It was also flexible enough to allow us to drive into complex ideas and details when that’s what the user needed."
The need for a better understanding of content's commercial contribution
- Lead generation: If customers are impressed by the digital content provided, there is a high probability that they will be willing to leave their contact details, thus supporting the sale.
- Increased reach and name recognition: High-quality content that addresses current or controversial topics is often distributed and read via social networks such as LinkedIn.
- Image development: Releasing high-quality thought leadership content on a regular basis enables FS businesses to establish themselves as thought leaders which strengthens the corporate brand
Finance companies should educate customers through interactive content, given that their remit is largely about communicating information rather than providing entertainment or inspiration.
Providing interactive visual content and tools can achieve high audience engagement, drawing in the user. FS brands can therefore connect and provide value, thus improving sentiment.
The following visual assists people in their decision-making as it helps them to understand what insurance they require, depending on their lifestyle and circumstances. They are provided with a number of scenarios to answer, followed by the provision of tailored and personalised advice and policies to suit.
Aviva launched its Digital Garage a couple of years ago, which aims to understand the customer by investing in customer analysis and a function they’ve called ‘Aviva Quantum’. This system’s objective is to understand customer behavior in terms of price, their behaviors, and their pain points, and highlight customer opportunities. Secondly, its aim is to build the capability and functionality to deliver on those pain points and opportunities, by utilizing data and technology.
One of the first products launched by the Garage was MyAviva, an online customer portal for housing policies and documentation. The company also provides a service called ‘Ask Me Never’ that provides users with pre-approved quotes without them being required to answer questions they are unlikely to be able to answer e.g. Is your house on a flood plain? What year was your home built?
The latest product launched by Aviva is a dashcam enabling customers to record as they drive, available via the Aviva app. If involved in an accident, footage can therefore be sent as part of their claim.
If you're looking to implement marketing technology to optimize your financial services marketing strategy, you will already know it's important to make an informed decision.
For example, you will want to make sure any new technology fully integrates with all aspects of your marketing funnel, and that your customers' touchpoint experiences will remain seamless and efficient.
We recommend staying up to date with all the latest trends and innovations in the financial services sector by downloading your free copy of our latest financial services marketing trends report today.
Content marketing in financial services case study – AXA PPP
AXA Health’s ‘corporate’ reputation was impacting conversion rates in healthcare. They recognized that this consumer perception, along with AXA’s market-leading expertise in cancer care, could be used to a position of advantage, allowing AXA to take an emotive stance on issues that were ‘bigger’ than the category.
Objectives and aims
The objective for AXA Health was to create a greater emotional connection with consumers. In a market where little differentiation exists between products, brand affinity is the factor most likely to influence conversion to sale.
Unfortunately, rather than being viewed as a caring healthcare brand like Bupa, AXA was often viewed as a ‘corporate insurer’. However, AXA had particular expertise in the area of cancer care, providing patients with dedicated medical teams to support them across their road to recovery.
This serious reputation, and expertise, meant they were perfectly placed to take a stance on high-level emotive issues. The best way to make a connection with consumers was to stop talking about product or policy and divert energies to supporting the fight against cancer.
Implementation, execution, and tactics
AXA PPP formed a unique partnership with C4 and Cancer Research UK, around ‘Stand Up2 Cancer’ week, heavily investing in digital content to build its connection to the nationally televised event. After doctors, friends, and family, online is a crucial resource for people affected by cancer.
A suite of videos was created featuring AXA’s cancer nurses, offering no-obligation advice to sufferers and their families. These were seeded in relevant, shareable environments, including YouTube, Facebook, and key health channel tenancies. The videos were adapted for TV, encouraging viewers to donate to the fundraising drive supported by ‘second screen’ activity using Zeebox, Twitter, and Facebook.
- More than 3m users engaged with the ‘cancer nurses’ content via video views during the campaign, with 100k+ users visiting AXA’s newly created ‘Cancer Centre’, interacting in web forums and ‘expert’ Q&As.
- The campaign generated 17k tweets within 48 hours. Positivity scores increased by 10% thanks to the digital activity.
- During the campaign period, AXA’s search demand increased 52% – with conversion (to quote) scores improving by 1,000%.
Instantly access more financial services case studies and marketing strategy best-practice advice. Download your free copy of our financial services marketing trends 2021 report today.
Auditing your content marketing
Content marketing takes time to generate impact. It can take 12-18 months to properly build and optimize a digital marketing channel around content. The key is to deploy sufficient resources and remind key stakeholders you are building long-term digital marketing assets that will increase in value over time.
As a first step, carry out a content inventory to evaluate the effectiveness of current content with both qualitative and qualitative measures. Once this is complete, use it to build the foundations of your strategy, defining the essence and underlying purpose of what you want to achieve over a fixed period of time.
Hyper Personalized Video
Video marketing, which was once seen as a luxury is moving more and more to the forefront of marketing efforts as consumption of video for all industries increases.
The best way that you can enhance your customers’ experience nowadays is by putting out video content that guides your customers through all the ‘hows’ of your product or services. Additionally, people may not have enough time to read through your website to find out the information they are looking for. So, by using video marketing you can capture their attention and provide faster solutions.
By integrating videos into your landing page you have a greater opportunity of keeping people engaged and thereby increasing conversions.
Starting off with simple video tutorials or ‘explainers’ on how your product/services solve problems that other customers might be experiencing is a good way to get some content in front of people and determine if they are doing what you expect them to. You can also send exclusive video content directly to your customers’ email and increase the visibility overall.
For example, Lloyds Bank in the UK has a simple explainer to encourage members to budget and save. They introduce one of their products “Save the Change” neatly in the middle of the video to encourage further exploration.
When considering video, never underestimate the impact of emotional and relatable video testimonials and the power of storytelling. These types of videos can inspire your audience as well as encourage them to engage with you.
In today’s fast-paced, technology-oriented world, consumers are overwhelmed with content. Be it through ads, offers, emails, texts, social media and everything else, the industry has reached a point of content shock where consumers cannot take in much more content than they already are”. For this reason alone, the way brands devise their digital experiences, to meet their audience needs, must change. Brands need to focus on the micro-moments of their customers’ behaviors.
Probably the easiest approach to segmenting a market for a bank is to look at customer value segments and the progression through the customer relationship life-cycle. In terms of the customer relationship life-cycle, the bank will look to attract first-time customers (which are typically low in value to the bank in their early stages), and then, primarily through a series of direct marketing activities, the bank attempts to up-sell these consumers and gain greater share-of-wallet to make it more profitable.
Generational content segmentation
Money matters can feel confusing and complicated for a lot of people but this has been shown to be particularly prevalent for young adults who report low levels of financial literacy.
One company that is effectively blurring the line between informational content and entertainment is Zogo Finance, a Gen Zer-backed and founded fintech app, whose aim is to break personal financial literacy down into bite-sized chunks.
Zogo uses a range of games and quizzes about various financial topics, as well as tokens that can be exchanged for gift cards that are a fun and interactive way for younger generations to learn about finances in a gamified setting, that will equip them with the financial literacy to carry them through to adulthood.
All 300 of the app’s ‘bite-sized’ modules can be completed within a minute or two, making it both engaging and manageable. "I just felt [the current offerings were] super-boring and didn't really teach our generation the most important part of finance," says 22-year-old founder Bolun Li.
While the Zogo Finance app had been steadily increasing its user base, the onset of the pandemic resulted in a spike in user numbers from 13,000 in February 2020 to 100,000 in mid-December 2020.
With consumer debt in the US hitting $14.3 trillion, young people are looking to avoid the dangers of financial mismanagement and are looking to banking institutions to help educate and prepare them for the future with easy and accessible financial education. This is a fantastic opportunity and space for brands and businesses to engage with younger generations and begin to build a long-term customer relationship.
Content marketing in financial services recommendations
Whether you're looking to create a new marketing strategy or take your existing efforts to the next level, our financial services marketing trends 2021 report will empower you with the knowledge and expertise to implement strategy and tactics to win more high-value customers.
Discover more about content marketing in financial services plus 8 further trends all set to shape the finance marketing landscape. We accompany this guide with our recommended next steps, so you can set objectives and take action to achieve your goals.