Understanding what it is, what it can do, and why you need it
by Michael Touchton
CUES’ Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.
Marketing continues to be a primary challenge for credit union managers. In fact, a recent report found that for the second year in a row, marketers cited insufficient budgets and/or manpower as the top problem they face. These limitations mean marketing managers must utilize existing resources to develop a cost-effective strategy that nets a strong return on investment. Independent of marketing budgets however, is the changing behavior of consumers when searching for products and services.
Today, consumers are more likely to research what you have to offer via Internet search. This results in an interaction with your brand long before an interaction with your branch—defined by Google as a "Zero moment of Truth" or ZMOT. According to Google's ZMOT, consumers take 30-45 days to make a purchase decision for a new account or loan product. During this time, they research nearly 11 various online resources, making a solid online presence critical to your institution's ability to stand out.
Strategies vary by institution, but the best way to ensure your credit union is constantly positioned in front of consumers is to provide online content accessible around the clock. This can be a powerful way for marketers to provide members and potential members with more knowledge of products, insight into additional services and the validation that your credit union best suits their needs.
Marketing your credit union's messaging with precision delivers results efficiently and will have a profound effect on member relationships and loyalty in 2014.
So What is Content Marketing?
A content marketing program is an all encompassing approach to marketing that educates members about your credit union and builds brand awareness to drive website traffic, drive leads and boost member acquisition.
Though public relations and content marketing are reciprocal, content marketing is self-published and allows your credit union to generate compelling and informative messaging. Consumers today are savvier and take the initiative to research your products, so the content should focus more on educating and less on selling. This provides a great opportunity to incorporate existing PR content optimized for search keywords into Web and social media messaging - where the consumer can easily find information about your credit union. Publishing your message across multiple channels, including blogs, email and social media sites, will ensure strong visibility and provide multiple paths to your website, which serves as the online storefront for your credit union.
Once at the website, visitors should be directed to landing pages with additional downloadable information that educates them about your products and services and empower them to make an informed decision. This educational content should be easily accessed by clicking links, or "call-to-action" buttons, which can be measured to reveal exactly how many people are downloading content over any given period of time.
Blogging and promoting news across social media channels are very important, but turning traffic and downloads into high member acquisition is difficult without an effective marketing platform. Prior to each download, the action button should prompt the visitor to provide some important information, such as an email address, job title, company or phone number. This creates a contact for the credit union each time content is downloaded and provides a great deal of insight about visitors to identify if they are potential members. Identifying non-members who visit your site and download information about your services is a huge opportunity for marketing executives to recognize and fulfill a need.
Is Content Marketing Part of Your 2014 Strategy?
At a time when marketing budgets are still limited, content marketing is an emerging strategy that can be leveraged to enhance your brand awareness and serves as an efficient approach that delivers powerful results. If your credit union has internal resources that can be strategically repurposed to communicate with and re-engage members through digital channels, why not put them to work for you to maximize the impact on your efforts? For marketing managers who are fortunate to have a plentiful budget, this approach simply provides greater latitude in where those funds can be appropriated.
Developing content and campaigns to promote different products and services to existing and potential members will ensure a greater reach for your key messages and may even help spark new ideas and initiatives. Your credit union has a story to tell and content marketing is the way to deliver that message across digital channels to generate traffic, increase business and grow membership.
Michael Touchton is an account representative at William Mills Agency, the nation's largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or its blog.