By: Robert McGarvey
Does your member education program know it’s 2018?
Talk with credit union experts and a recurrent message is that most credit unions are leaving a lot of money on the table. They are failing to provide a full range of service to members because their member education programs lag. Many are stuck in the last century, still using in-branch classes, monthly newsletters, and the occasional post office mailing.
Welcome to a brave new world of content marketing that some credit unions now get. “One credit union added content marketing to its strategy and nearly doubled its home equity loans,” said Sarah Snell Cooke, former editor in chief at Credit Union Times and now a content consultant to credit unions in the Washington DC area.
The evidence is thick that smart content marketing drives real results, especially in financial services where member confusions and ignorance often create inaction.
Just what is content marketing?
It’s information that members can put to use. For credit unions, that information is about car loans, home equity lines of credit, and credit cards. It used to be, a lot of this education occurred in the branch, but with fewer and fewer in-branch visits by members, the locus of education has to shift to where the member is.
A key principle behind 21st-century content marketing: the best content is created to serve the readers, that is, the credit union members.
The second principle: always think smartphones, think digital. That rules out long documents and rules in videos, podcasts, listicles, and short articles. Think what marketers sometimes call “snackable content.”
The first step in building a content campaign is to make sure it aligns with the credit union’s overall marketing plan. Cooke elaborated: “If your primary focus is auto loans, then the educational content should be weighted toward shopping for auto loans, costs of auto repairs, how to use an auto-buying service (especially if the credit union has a service), and the like.”
But don’t focus just on car loans. Make a list of all the products you want to emphasize, then start thinking up content that helps support them.
To repeat—go visual, too. “Content” for many means words. But increasing numbers of members want to consume visual content such as videos and infographics. Serve them accordingly.
And don’t stint on content that speaks to the credit union mission, such as info on responsible borrowing, how to raise a FICO score, and how to pick the right share draft account.
Is that sounding like a lot of content and therefore expensive? Know that many credit unions are banding together to buy and share content. That splits the costs and, honestly, sources assured us most credit union marketing budgets have room to flesh out adequate content campaigns.
Remember, too, a lot of this content has a long shelf life. It should be good for a number of years.
What if nobody reads or views the content?
Good question. That’s more common than many admit. But the cure, say the experts, is to continually point members to new content via newsletters and links in online and mobile banking. Also, make sure that the content is high-value, and that helps earn a stronger placement in Google search results.
Always track metrics too. Google Analytics is free and it will give most credit unions plenty of information about what’s getting consumed. Do more of what is working, less of what isn’t.
Bottom line: know that the battlefield is the fight for eyeballs, and better content will win. Know your members, know what they need to know, and help them know it better. That’s a big win.
CONTENT MARKETING CHEAT SHEET
>The fight now is for members’ digital attention.
>Good content is king. Make it fun, informative.
>Make it member-centric.
>Double down on quality.
>Track results and tweak, tweak, tweak.