By Doug Wilber
Don’t settle for average.In a world buzzing with content, precious few pieces stand out among the masses. Most are skimmed, skipped, and doomed to mediocrity. To ensure your bank’s content actually grabs readers’ attention, you need to check three important boxes. The content must be educational, digestible, and actionable.
Today’s consumers have a very short fuse when it comes to thinly veiled attempts to market products, services or brands. What they crave is authenticity. In fact, 86 percent of respondents in one study reported that authenticity is a major factor when they’re deciding which brands to support. When it comes to content, it’s time to ask what you can give, rather than what you can take.
To better understand these three essential elements, let’s break each down a little further.
Education – Your content should either teach readers something new or explain something in a new way. Think about what your readers need to know and why you’re the most qualified person to tell them. Draw on those insights to offer something truly valuable.
Take Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, for instance. Health insurance is a confusing topic to begin with, but it’s further complicated by ever changing legislation and regulations. So after the launch of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Anthem filled an educational void with The Benefits Guide blog. The health insurance company jumped on the opportunity to demystify complicated jargon and help readers evaluate employee benefits packages. As of September 2016, the blog had garnered more than 2 million page views through organic search.
Digestibility – Think about the type of content you like to consume online. If you want to break down complex topics, you’re unlikely to turn to dense research papers. If you’re looking for quick tips, you probably don’t want to slog through multiple bulky paragraphs. Conversely, if you need to gain an in-depth understanding of a topic, a long, detailed piece might be just what you’re looking for. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for making content more consumable. Whether it’s short and concise or long and detailed, your content should meet the needs of the audience it’s made for.
Actionability – What do you want readers to take away from this piece of content? Pushy, promotional content will turn readers off in a matter of moments. Most readers today won’t even give it a full glance. On the other hand, when readers can take what they learned from the piece and apply it to their own lives, they’re more likely to see your overall brand as valuable. Use devices such as numbered and bulleted lists as well as checklists so readers can reference and share the advice easily.
How to find and execute your best content strategy
Content strategies are not one size fits all. Your brand, message, audience and chosen distribution platform should heavily inform your strategy. However, here are some best practices to use as starting points:
- Watch the right metrics.
Measuring the success of individual pieces of content is key to building a successful overall content strategy. There are many ways to measure how certain articles performed—from page views to click-through rates to likes and shares. But simply seeing the numbers isn’t enough. You must think about the metrics critically and decide which ones will help you reach your goals.
When it comes to engagement, for example, many brands rely on their “absolute engagement,” or the number of people who click on or like a post. But a more illuminating measure is relative engagement, which compares the number of engaged people to the size of your network. This allows you to benchmark your business against competitors and gain an accurate view of how well you stack up.
- Trust employee voices.
Consumers are much more likely to trust and share content that comes from another human. Case in point: Whole Foods conducted an experiment in which it shared the same piece of content both on the company page and on employees’ personal social media channels. The results were eye-opening. Even though the content was the same, the employee-shared content gained eight times more engagement than the content shared on Whole Foods’ channel.
If your bank wants to build consumer relationships, educate readers, and establish itself as a trustworthy resource, you need to ditch the buzzwords and engage consumers on a human level—and employees are your best distribution channel for doing this. Create branded content and share it on their personal social channels to reach more people in a more authentic way.
- Meet readers where they are.
One problem with overly promotional content is that it doesn’t consider consumers’ wants or needs. If your content is too promotional, you’re likely trying to push something on your audience members, rather than meet them where they already are. Instead, create a list of real problems your prospective customers are facing, then create topic ideas from that list. If a piece of content doesn’t address one of your customers’ concerns, it’s unlikely to resonate with them.
If you want real engagement, you have to give readers a reason to engage. They see through even the softest sells, so true authenticity is invaluable to your content strategy. Start generating pieces that offer something real to your audience, and you’ll be rewarded with content that drives consumers in your direction.
Doug Wilber is the CEO of Gremlin Social, an integrated solution that combines social media marketing with ABA-endorsed compliance tools to make it easy for financial services companies to master the social media landscape and engage customers using social networks. Gremlin Social helps ensure safe use of social media communication while maximizing social marketing campaigns, guiding strategies, and monitoring return on investments. Doug has worked in the fintech space for more than a decade and has experience working with Discover Financial Services, PYMNTS.com, and Assembly Payments, among others. He’s also advised a number of fintech-focused startups in the greater St. Louis area.