The US community banks getting content marketing right

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Born for the job
By Jasmine Crittenden, contributor. 12 April, 2019
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On one hand, content marketing can be tough for community banks. With tiny budgets and even tinier marketing teams, how do you compete with the big guys? On the other, community banks are perfect candidates for the job. Their drive comes from the very values that make for powerful content: authenticity, localness and, of course, community-mindedness. Creating content that oozes these doesn’t have to cost a mint. Meet three community banks in the US that are getting it right.

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CenterState community bank: covering all bases

‘Many banks overlook one of the cheapest and most effective ways to market – content,’ writes Chris Nichols, chief strategy officer at CenterState, a community bank based in Florida. The bank’s multi-faceted strategy covers the whole gamut, from social media, blog posts and white papers to drip email, webinars and events. There’s even a banker-to-banker blog, filled with data, strategies and tactics.

When it comes to lead generation, case studies are king for CenterState, scoring a whopping 73% effectiveness rate. In second place are educational webinars, at 71%. For conversions, the webinars come out on top, at 71%, followed closely by in-person events, at 68%. The message is clear: it might be 2019, but customers are still most convinced by old-fashioned proof and people.

Heartland community bank: customised content

In the year leading up to November 2015, Heartland, a community bank in Nebraska, noticed a 150% increase in online traffic. Keen to leverage this, the bank revamped its digital presence – with the help of Media Junction, website design and inbound marketing agency.

At the heart of Heartland’s new content marketing strategy is personalisation. Every visitor to the website is invited to enter personal details, including location and products of interest. This enables the bank to both capture data and present customised content – from financial tips and advice to background imagery and videos starring locals.

At the heart of Heartland’s new content marketing strategy is personalisation.

So, an agricultural banking customer in Hastings will click through to the story of First Street Brewing Company, a small business in town. Meanwhile, a personal banking customer in Fairbury with an interest in home loans will meet a couple who bought their first home with the help of a Heartland loan.

Denali State community bank: location, location, location

Another community bank that’s been making the most of local resources, but in a different way, is Denali State, in Fairbanks, Alaska. At the same time, it has tossed out the cliches that too often haunt financial marketing.

In Denali State’s 2018 video, ‘Experience Service Beyond Belief’, a father-and-son sit beside a fishing hole, surrounded by pristine snow and backdropped by pine forests. There’s not a soul in sight. The boy struggles unsuccessfully to catch a fish but reaps the rewards of his efforts unexpectedly, when, out of nowhere, a man in a suit and tie dives to the rescue. The ad was runner-up in the Under $500 Million Asset Category in the 2018 ABA Bank Marketing Awards.

When it comes to community banks and content marketing, a little creativity can go a long way.

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Jasmine Crittenden has written extensively for major finance brands including Westpac, BT Financial Group, Suncorp and Aberdeen Standard Investments – across both digital and print. She’s an expert in content that puts the human element in finance marketing, be it connecting with local communities, inspiring millennials to care about super or clarifying the complexities of personal loans.