Making content work for finance brands

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Show people how to make money
By Gillian Samuel, contributor. 8 December, 2016
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Publishing stories and making connections through social media may seem counterintuitive for financial institutions but they are essential to remaining relevant and competitive.

With its highly regulated environment land-mined with compliance issues, you might not expect the finance sector to be killing it in terms of audience engagement via digital platforms, but you’d be surprised. In the United States, finance brands grew social engagement in the first quarter of 2016 twice as fast as the average for other businesses. Why?

Money is an emotional subject

“In many ways, the financial services industry is among the leaders in the new brand publishing frontier,” states Contently’s report on The State of Finance Content Marketing. “That’s partly because financial services companies have a built-in content advantage. They’re experts in something people care a lot about: growing their wealth.” Add this to McKinsey Global’s 2014 citation that the main reason for people switching banks is emotive: 22 per cent switched to an institution they felt more confident about, rather than being swayed by a product or service – and the importance of delivering content comes into even sharper focus.

This not only makes content generated by these institutions compelling reading, especially if the information is granular and in-depth – such as the Goldman Sachs-sponsored interactive guide to capital markets, published by The New York Times – it makes their own sites great hosts for linked content that’s relevant to their audience. And if it comes branded by a respected business publication, so much the better.

financial services companies have a built-in advantage. They’re experts in something people care about: growing their wealth

“It’s about what our customers need to make their lives better,” explains Australia’s Commbank CIO Michael Harte. “Social media is a reflection of the current technology and how gregarious human beings are. We want to be networked; we want to be in the loop.”

[Full disclosure - Commbank is a client of The Dubs]

People are looking for answers

Since the global economic crisis, winning customer trust has become critical for financial institutions. Anticipating and responding to customer needs with pointers and potential solutions is a powerful tool for engagement and engendering confidence, and according to McKinsey it can reduce the costs associated with customer acquisition. This should be a persuasive argument for the finance world, but expanding operations to embrace content calls for a paradigm shift. “You have to think like a publisher,” Chief Customer Experience Officer at Suncorp Group Australia Mark Reinke told the audience at the launch of the Starcom MediaVest Media Futures report, “and it’s a challenge to move your models that way.”

Perfecting partnerships

Choosing the right content partner is critical to success. Financial institutions should do their research on potential partners to ensure they have the relevant experience, advises Sensis content editor Cath Vallence. She recommends having one key contact who acts as a strategist, editor and manager of the relationship so there is consistency in direction and execution. The content provider must be kept updated on insights about the target audience and changes within the industry so they are able to provide timely and relevant content within a tight turnaround time. This curated content is what provides value to readers who may become followers, then subscribers.

Finally, she points out that partnerships provide opportunities for reaching new audiences, sharing ad space and cross-promotions through lead generation, email marketing and social media networks.

As Felix Krueger, co-founder and director of Which-50 Media, says in a post from B&T Magazine, “Marketers who understand which tools help them produce content that serves their objectives will be the winners of the content marketing game.”

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After a misspent youth as a journo on a popular music magazine, Gillian transitioned her trashy relationships with popular culture to the much tamer realm of lifestyle journalism. An early adaptor (read shopper) of the internet, she produces content ranging from damage limitation in marketing to teaser snippets of short-form video.