Part 1 of our 3-part series
You’ve probably heard the mantra, “Content is king.” With great content and strategy, banks can reach their customers in engaging ways. Social media can be a great way to reach your audience, but a study from the American Bankers Association shows that use of social media in the banking industry is still in its formative stages. Only one-fourth of survey respondents indicated their bank had been using social media for five or more years; 12 percent for less than a year; and nine percent didn’t use social media at all. It can seem like a daunting task, but developing a content strategy is critical to your success. Before you can begin to build a content marketing strategy, you should understand the definition of content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute,
"Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."
There are a lot of really important keywords in that definition – valuable, relevant, consistent, clearly-defined audience, profitable – that demonstrate the importance of content marketing to your business. Now that you understand what content marketing is, you can build a strategy by using these six steps:
1. Define your objectives
Before you start creating content, you need to understand what you’re hoping to achieve. Do you want to build brand awareness? Generate leads and attract customers? Build credibility and be seen as a thought leader in your industry? Inform your audience of key products and services? Drive traffic to your website? It’s not enough to state that you want to generate leads or drive traffic to your website. Your objectives should include some metrics so you can determine whether you’ve actually achieved them. Make it quantifiable. How much traffic do you want to drive to your website? Maybe it’s a certain percentage increase over a previous time period (year, quarter, etc.). Once you define your objectives for creating content, you can start making a plan for how you’re going to achieve them.
First Bank Financial Centre (FBFC) in Wisconsin defined their objectives – increase brand awareness, build an online community, become an industry thought leader – and increased website referrals to more than 58 percent in a year’s time by having a clearly-defined content strategy.
Download the case study.
2. Know your audience
Your bank has specific target audiences that would benefit from your products and services. What do you know about them? Understand their demographics – age range, gender, geographic location, education level, job status, etc. – as well as some of their behaviors. Are they the primary decision maker/shopper in their household? Are they active on social media? Knowing this information can help make sure your content is focused on what your audience truly wants.
3. Determine types of content
If you know your audience, you know what types of content will appeal to them. Some may prefer shorter, bullet point content, while others may want a deeper dive. Some may prefer visuals over text. Content comes in many forms – blog posts, ebooks, podcasts, infographics, videos, webinars, quizzes, FAQs, case studies, etc. Your prior research will help you determine the best fit for your audience and your objectives.
4. Outline editorial calendar
An editorial calendar can provide a guide for you and help keep you organized. You can design your calendar around specific campaigns or promotions, events, product launches and other relevant business activities. You can also have some fun with the calendar, provided it’s in keeping with your brand’s voice. Add in some lighter content about certain holidays or even some ‘one-off’ holidays that may appeal to your audience (Take Your Dog to Work Day, National Hamburger Month, etc.). And when appropriate, create content that deals with timely, relevant topics to keep your audience informed of current and emerging trends.
5. Develop distribution strategy
If you understand your audience, you know where to reach them, but do you know when? Timing is everything. Knowing when to send out your content so it reaches your audience can be tricky. Try some A/B testing with days and times sent, networks posted to and frequency of content posts. This will help you determine when your audience is most receptive to your content. A content management system can help you organize the timing of your posts.
6. Measure success
You started this crazy content marketing plan with your objectives, which included some metrics. Measure whether you’ve hit your goals by implementing some tracking processes. Social media engagement? Trackable links? Number of new leads or customers? For some suggestions on what to track, read our post on social media analytics.
Content marketing takes a dedicated effort. Use the six steps above to set yourself up for success. Take time to carefully plan your strategy, pay attention to metrics, evaluate and optimize for the future.
Read part 2 of our 3-part series, Elements of Social Media Posts.
Read part 3 of our 3-part series, Measuring Success: Going Beyond Likes and Followers.