I've said in the past that I think content marketing is one of the greatest opportunities facing credit unions and other financial institutions when it comes to digital marketing. It serves both acquisition and retention efforts and is fuel to both increased organic search and paid advertising efforts.
But what makes a good content marketing effort? Who's doing it well in the financial services industry and what can be learned from the past as your credit union considered implement content marketing?
Gathered here are some of the finest examples of content marketing in mini case study form with key lessons extracted for credit unions.
AgStar Financial Services - AgStar Edge
About: AgStar Financial Services is a $6 billion farm credit provider based in Apple Valley, Minnesota. They launched AgStar Edge in 2013 with two goals in mind. First, a foray into digital channels where farm and estate transitions to younger generations is crucial and second a platform for AgStar to develop thought leadership not around farm credit specifically, but to become an advocate for farming, agriculture and rural America.
Key Takeaway: Content marketing doesn't need to be about the products YOU sell or the services YOU provide. Often times it's more beneficial to focus on the issues plaguing your audience. For financial service providers, this becomes a critical way to be present and relevant and not directly being in the middle of many of the compliance headaches. For credit unions, think about the issues beyond loans and deposits that are affecting your members daily. What do they need the loan for? A new car? Take that a step further and brainstorm content about car ownership that's not specific to loan rates and selling loans such as "How to increase gas mileage in summer months", or "X number of critical maintenance items before winter".
Sun Life - Brighter Life
About: Sun Life is a Canadian-based provider of insurance and investment products that wanted to reach consumers earlier in the sales cycle when certain life events were triggering financial product needs, for example a move across the country, a marriage or the birth of your first child. From this desire BrighterLife was born. A site dedicated to providing advice to people based on these triggers and providing a vehicle for SunLife to introduce their brand early in the decision process. In the first 9 months, 4% of traffic converted to Sunlife leads.
Key Takeaway: Thinking about your products and working backwards, content marketing can create the opportunity to generate a brand impression early in the decision process with prospective members who may not have heard of your credit union. For members, reinforcing your brand means you maintain a presence as new financial needs arise.
In this case, what was strong was the separate domain and separate brand, allowing Sunlife to build the brand and establish a position early in the sales cycle without pushing someone through a banking website to get the content they desired. The seperate domain and brand also has the added benefit of building brand equity, SEO and social currency.
United FCU - Advice Hub
About: After relaunching the corporate site earlier in 2015, United Federal Credit Union launched Advice Hub and Community Hub. These two content marketing efforts combine to create a digital representation of what credit unions stand, in part, to do; support member financial health while enhancing community vitality. Advice Hub provides weekly updates on trending personal finance topics while Community Hub is a community event calendar.
Key Takeaway: United Federal Credit Union created additional value for the members accessing their site to login to online banking by going beyond just a blog while also creating a steady stream of relevant financial but also local content to drive additional organic traffic and introduce new people to the United FCU brand.
Approaching Content Marketing At Your Credit Union
These are just a few of many examples of financial services organizations that are blazing trails in content marketing. When your credit union takes up the torch, the critical starting point is identifying your goals, target personas and resources. These three pieces of information will help inform your conversation and strategy planning.