Content marketing for financial services: Traditional insights aren't enough

Connecting demographics with psychographics is the start of developing personas and gaining a better understanding of clients’ needs throughout their financial journey.

BY Chris Matt
Senior Vice President, Strategy, Imagination

Financial services marketers are inundated with audience research.

Household income. Investments. Retirement assets. Age. Family details. The list goes on.

This information is critical to client and prospect segmentation, primarily as it relates to how the institution promotes and delivers products and services. But how does the data translate to a content marketing program that delivers the right content to the right audiences—in their preferred channels?

It doesn’t.

The data has value. It’s just not enough. Connecting those demographics with psychographics is the start of developing personas and gaining a better understanding of clients’ needs throughout their financial journey.

Here are three ways to go beyond traditional audience data to find content-related insights that can serve as a roadmap for writers, editors and other content creators:

Conduct your own market research

There’s plenty of free information available to help your content team or agency better understand what your audiences want, and how they want it delivered. Digging into preferences and trends around device usage, media types, and distribution channels is critical to any content strategy.

If you’re targeting C-suite executives who are B2B clients or prospects, find out what content types are appropriate for them and determine the right channels to deliver those messages. For example, you might find that white papers that take a deep dive into complex topics around financing represent a gap you can fill in the content marketplace. You also might determine that this group isn’t on Facebook or Twitter for business purposes.

This allows you to immediately narrow your focus and avoid wasted steps in the content creation and distribution processes. With this audience in mind, it’s clear you won’t be writing how-to articles with a 101 sophistication level, and you might find that LinkedIn—not Facebook or Twitter—is the best platform to link out to those white papers.

Ask your audience

There’s no better way to know what clients or prospects want than by simply asking them. Banks and other financial institutions have countless touch points with their clients—over the phone, online or inside brick-and-mortars. Encourage employees to take advantage of that face time by asking simple yet analytical questions that uncover client needs. An example: What is your biggest financial challenge in your role today, and how can we help?

Simple surveys and audience workshops also can yield valuable insights. Learning what makes your audiences tick regarding their finances is the only way to develop compelling, relevant content storylines that address financial pain points and challenges.

Put the pieces together for persona development

After you’ve conducted your own research and engaged with your target audience, it’s time to put the insights to work. Remember the data detailing income levels, investments, age, etc.? Bring it back into the fold.

Combine that information with your audience research and begin developing buyer personas.

Give your personas a name. Develop a one-page profile for each that encapsulates all of your research and insights. This exercise makes the audience more personable for content creators. They can relate to specific personas—James, a Fortune 500 CFO who’s on his iPad 24/7 to keep up on trends in the manufacturing industry—more easily than broad audience targets such as “C-suite executives.”

Personas’ needs and wants inform your storytelling—not their age or how much they have in their money-market accounts. This realization is a big step toward content marketing success for financial services organizations.

published: April 10, 2017

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