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5 min read

Content and the Race to Stay Relevant in a Socially Distant World

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Financial institutions must help digital-first buyers with meaningful content. Here’s how to do it.

As the old “why our stuff is best” sales-pitch falls on deaf ears for digital-first buyers, bank, credit union and fintech leaders have slammed into overdrive in their efforts to respond to the industry’s non-negotiable demand for entirely digital delivery.

As The Financial Brand’s Steve Cocheo points out, poor digital sales are the result of weak content. And in the social-distancing era, digital-first business development and outreach are about the only content that is effective now.

In a recent poll, Cornerstone Advisors learned that most bank and credit union executives are not confident they are creating the kind of knowledgeable and actionable content today’s self-directed, mobile-first buyers demand. Makes sense, because our observations tell us that little actionable content has been developed, tracked, analyzed and executed via website content management platforms and digital delivery channels.

According to Cornerstone research, visitors are spending more than twice the amount of time on megabanks’ websites as they are on mid-size bank and credit union sites, and they’re visiting four times as many pages.

Granted, some of this difference has to do with big banks having more products. But they’ve also built a lot of messaging around products and services that all banks and credit unions offer. So what can mid-size institutions take away from big bank content to level the playing field?

Making Content Strategic

To engage customers and prospects in the digital-first landscape, generate opportunities, and convert opportunities to revenue, here is a Three-Step Plan:

1. Evaluate and improve the messaging

An institution’s website should convey helpful knowledge that visitors will want to share with their family or friends. If it’s full of industry acronyms, wonky terms or compliance-ese, or if it comes across as a cheesy sales pitch, it needs to be rewritten.

Pages should have calls to action in shareable content like blogs, videos and webinars that encourage consumer and business engagement, and they should be used across digital marketing mediums like blogs, alerts, calling/texting the contact center and auto-scheduling appointments.

Google, Yahoo and other search engines are fickle, and optimizing keywords is critical to driving traffic to the site. Analytics platforms (Google Analytics is free!) will help the institution gather data around traffic, page visits, organic search results and keyword effectiveness.

2. Get to know the content ecosystem

All banking and fintech leaders should be at least dangerously knowledgeable about the content ecosystem. And, they should know whether the content management team, platforms and providers will get the institution where it needs to be. A few examples of systems and providers:

Competitive content analysis – Systems from SEMrush, Moz, SE Ranking, SpyFu and others allow institutions to compare their content, keywords and analytics to competitors.

Content management – The content management system is the execution epicenter of a solid content strategy. Choosing the one that suits the institution’s goals is critical. Key factors to consider when selecting a system include ease of use, functionality (lead development, tag management and A/B testing), security and site analytics. Acquia/Drupal, Adobe, Episerver, Hubspot, Pantheon, Sitecore and WordPress are some of the providers in this ecosystem.

CMS and digital banking – Today’s regulatory environment will not tolerate a bank sending batch content updates to a vendor using a proprietary CMS requiring lots of manual intervention. Selection criteria in this area should include learning providers’ approach to content management and how their systems interact with the institution’s systems. There are over two dozen digital banking and origination providers in the market. Email us for a list.

CMS and related critical systems – More and more financial institutions are using marketing suites from Adobe, Hubspot and Salesforce; specialized industry marketing or lead-gen platforms from Alpharank, Finastra/Touché, Fiserv/Raddon, Intuvo, Marquis, Onovative and TotalExpert; customer/employee knowledge platforms like Silvercloud; and CRM platforms from Salesforce, Microsoft, Pega and others. Financial institutions should map out these integrations and how they will help execute on strategy. Banks and credit unions that tackled core systems integration in the back office can expect a whole new front-office integration challenge with content.

CMS and digital marketing agencies – All banks and fintech providers need a position on what talent they have to have in-house in any number of areas. The brutal truth is that while banks cannot outsource the leadership of content, they can (and many probably should) outsource aspects of content. As with digital banking providers, some agencies may only use one specific CMS. Knowing these relationships is important in taking leadership control of the content. There are over a dozen national agencies with financial institution specific work we see in the market. Email us for a list.

3. Get the content talent necessary to be a content leader inside the institution – now

Being a content leader means investing in a talent pool that can collect, analyze, execute and manage robust technology platforms. This team should have the skillset to engage the institution’s community with an economic forecast from the chief lending officer or chief financial officer, industry insights from commercial lending or wealth management leaders, financial health or card rewards best practices from retail and payments leaders, and housing affordability and fast re-financing insights from mortgage leaders. Content leadership takes massive coordination.

* * *

Content generates business that translates directly to revenue, and a content management initiative should be treated as an investment in revenue production, just like hiring a team of commercial bankers or lenders who are expected to generate revenue results. In the new world, everybody creates and shares content to help customers and build business.

GonzoBankers, now is the time to get smart on content.

“Content is king.”
-Bill Gates, Microsoft

“Content is king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.”
-Jonathan Perelman, Buzzfeed

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