4 Tips for an Effective Financial Content Strategy

Here are four things every financial institution must remember when launching a new content strategy.

Financial institutions continue to evolve alongside the consumer experience, for leading firms now act as partners and allies throughout the customer lifecycle. Many financial brands currently employ content creation to demonstrate thought leadership and extend client relationships beyond the transactional. Yet, while most understand how valuable an effective content strategy can be, not all companies have the necessary infrastructure to support such endeavors to the fullest extent.

Kevin Cain, content marketing and communications strategist, notes that content creation is an ideal way to seek out and establish new relationships, while also nurturing them over time. Thus, while most firms traditionally have focused on creating dense whitepapers and reports, more companies are developing easily digestible items, such as blog posts, videos, and infographics, in an attempt to share new ideas, spark increased engagement, and differentiate their brands from the competition. Successful content strategies demonstrate knowledge, expertise, and consistency, thereby building trust and reliability.

But, before any financial organization can truly establish an effective content strategy, executives must lay the groundwork for success, as said works must leverage direct customer insights to guarantee relevancy and support engagement. Here are four things every financial institution must remember when launching a new content strategy or improving upon an older approach:

1. Understand Your Audience to Improve Targeting

First and foremost, financial companies must get to know their audiences. Firms must figure out who their customers truly are and what their journeys looks like in order to create content that supports their needs. Once they've developed this understanding, organizations can easily present content solutions at times that will surely resonate with consumers.

"Many financial institutions recognize that building and nurturing relationships with their customers in the Digital Age hinges on their ability to create and distribute high-quality content," Cain highlights. "By providing their customers with targeted, useful content that answers their questions, helps solves their problems, and gives them information that they need, financial institutions can establish themselves as thought leaders, demonstrate their expertise, and win the trust and respect of their audiences, which ultimately translates into more business."

Unfortunately, some financial firms believe they can skip this step, as they rely upon gut instinct to make such assessments. However, it's crucial that companies seek out consumer insights and direct feedback to ensure all subsequent strategies target audiences as accurately as possible.

2. Create Value That Goes Beyond Monetary Worth

Content, regardless of industry, must carry added value, thereby taking the customer relationship to the next level. Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO of Wired Advisor, notes that leading firms understand the value of long-term relationships and are therefore invested in providing solutions that increase the lifetime value of client relationships versus offering short-term transactional solutions. Content serves as one of the primary gateways for attracting ideal prospects and strengthening existing client loyalty. Thus, organizations that recognize the importance of informing, educating, and guiding current customers and prospects throughout their journeys will be able to elevate the experience beyond expectations and add an extra layer of dependability and value.

3. Build Upon Internal Expertise to Cultivate Trust

Most of the expertise necessary to create this valuable content already resides right within the companies themselves, for industry experts typically work inside financial institutions. Thus, these companies should enlist these experts so they may share high-level insights. Unfortunately, however, many financial brands lack the infrastructure needed to bring this information to the masses.

"At the most basic level, financial firms need to develop a content strategy plan that addresses the pain points of their existing and prospective clients," Sammons says, emphasizing the need for foundational development. "The content strategy should also be clearly documented and evaluated on an ongoing basis. The challenges for financial firms, in general, are that they lack the resources, staff, and in some cases the expertise to implement a successful content strategy."

Luckily, those that lack the resources for integration still have much to offer, for the experts remain. Thus, institutions that wish to create content, but fail at follow-through, must work to develop the back-end systems that will support and enable staff to generate and disseminate content freely and successfully.

4. Maintain Federal Restrictions to Sustain Success

Because the financial services industry will always be burdened with federal rules and regulations, firms must establish content development strategies that streamline creation while adhering to the guidelines. Both the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offer organizations advice on how to manage their communications in an effort to protect clients and enforce high standards, as the financial services space requires institutions to uphold certain levels of integrity. Thus, as companies work to create content that speaks to consumers, while also preserving best interests, experts and creatives should actively work with their legal compliance teams from inception so they may generate campaigns that satisfy these requirements from the start.

Strategic Snapshot: Inside the Financial Content Creation Craze

American Express-On the cusp of the Great Recession, American Express launched OPEN Forum, which became the go-to hub for small business owners looking to network and learn. Once dedicated to live events, the site quickly turned into an innovative digital magazine devoted to small business analysis and insights from industry experts. From marketing and money, to leadership and technology, users can also connect with other members of the OPEN network. This initiative also spawned AMEX's Small Business Saturday, which now encourages consumers to shop at local, independent retailers on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and positioning the organization as both knowledgeable and supportive in the SMB space.

Intuit-While Intuit may be known for its financial and tax preparation software, the company developed an offshoot to its Mint money management platform, which offers consumers advice on an array of topics related to financial well-being. MintLife specifically targets Millennials by using lists and personal essays to explore concepts that appeal to those looking to kickstart their financial life or purchase their first home. The blog also taps into the latest styles and trends, thereby presenting content that relates to its audience in an effort to establish trust and reliability beyond the expected financial advice.

Credit Suisse-By building upon topics that are related to the financial services sector, Credit Suisse's The Financialist allows experts to cultivate thought leadership by tapping into the topics its audience cares for the most. From global trends, to living well, this online magazine takes an international, future-oriented approach to storytelling even when said topics have no direct banking connection whatsoever. Features on today's youth and vinyl's triumphant return exist alongside articles about wage growth and biotech, emphasizing this publication's extensive reach, both with regard to its audience and its subject matter.

Fidelity Investments-For Fidelity Investments, content creation means moving beyond the written word. Podcasts lead the way, as the firm frequently posts interviews with top mutual fund portfolio managers and market strategists. From real estate advice, to charitable giving, the experts often share investment strategies, expectations, and analysis of the financial space overall. Fidelity Investments also partnered with The Atlantic to create its "Thinking Big" series. This strategy allowed the firm to take its expertise one step further, positioning analysts as thought leaders who care for the planet.