Content Marketing Smackdown #3: ING Direct vs ME Bank

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The gloves are off
By Caroline Faucher, contributor. 21 March, 2017
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In the third instalment of our content marketing smackdown series, we put online banks ING Direct Australia and ME Bank into the ring. Find out who comes out swinging.

The basics

ING Direct Australia and ME Bank are worlds apart. The former is a subsidiary of the Dutch multinational ING Group, while ME Bank is owned entirely by Australian industry super funds. What they do have in common, however, is that both banks have tried hard to win the hearts of Australians with content marketing campaigns. ING Direct has launched Directly Speaking, while ME Bank has the feed - both of which have distinct merits but neither of which feature on the home page via a clickable link and are therefore harder unless you know they exist or are directed there.

But that's pretty much where the similarities end.

ING, Directly speaking

ING's Directly Speaking is well designed with clear navigation. Content pillars, News Insights, Money Tips, and Sustainability, ladder up to the overarching principle of encouraging new and existing customers to set and achieve savings goals. Money Tips has recent articles such as Set Your Savings Goal. News Insights, however, doesn’t appear to have had a new injection of content since 2015. Similarly, Sustainability has lain fairly dormant since February 2016, when Turning Dreams into Reality: Crowdfunding for Social Entrepreneurs was posted.

With their April Fools’ Cardashians' limitless credit cards, ME Bank shows they understand how to engage with the coveted younger generation

Overall, content is well-written, with catchy sub-heads and effective calls to action, and some stories boasting Pinterest-style videos, an increasingly favoured by content format. Where ING Direct falls down slightly is with distribution. The content team have clearly had some budget for social media promotion for articles, with users clicking through to Directly Speaking - but not all articles have social sharing buttons, which means users have to copy and paste if they want to share.

ME Bank enters the ring

In contrast, distribution is where ME Bank excels, experimenting with various content types and mastering the art of short-form content to entice Millennials via social media, where they are also quick to grasp opportunities that arise in the media/news, producing quirky material that turns a dry topic into an attractive/entertaining/amusing one. With content produced around trending topics such as #smashedAvo, #SaltBae and even touching on pop culture with their April Fools’ Cardashians limitless credit cards, ME Bank shows an understanding of how to engage with the coveted younger generation.

ME Bank’s blog, the feed doesn’t embrace the fun approach the company takes to social media, but post regularly and have built up a substantial bank of content around first home buyers, savings, travel, family and investments. There is a checklists section which is, unfortunately, all but devoid of checklists. A quick search of the articles reveals that, even with social sharing available and comments opened to users, engagement is lower than what we see on their social channels, but that is not surprising for finance content.

And the winner is...

By maintaining a rigorous content publishing schedule and social media amplification, ME Bank has won this edition of our content smackdown series. Meanwhile, despite spending big on advertising, ING Direct has seemingly either missed out or chosen not to throw itself into content marketing opportunities for Directly Speaking. But perhaps phase two is in the works - time will tell.

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Caroline is a Canadian-Australian writer and online communication strategist with over 10 years experience in media, not-for-profits and government. Now based in the seaside city of Newcastle, she enjoys the variety of topics a freelance life offers and the challenge of turning complex ideas into simple messages.