Better Content Marketing for the Financial Services Industry

Banks and other financial services need an edge to stay competitive. Here’s why content marketing can help them better connect with prospective customers.

Banks and credit unions are hardly celebrated for their innovation or mastery of digital tools. There’s a reason for this: The industry is by nature conservative, and it is also constrained by regulations. This is why the banking sector has been relatively behind on the digitalization curve.

Yet this also provides an opening for financial services enterprises — as long as they are willing to adopt new approaches that are aligned with changing consumer preferences. One recent example is the Capital One Cafe, a coffeehouse/bank location hybrid that allows customers to enjoy meet-ups and drink coffee while conducting basic banking services. This “bank barista” concept was designed to target the millennial market and make banking an enjoyable experience, rather than routine drudgery.

With banking services increasingly migrating online, however, banks and credit unions also need to harness the full potential of digital tools. Content marketing, specifically, is one of the most impactful things a bank can do to modernize its digital strategy and generate new business.

Let’s take a closer look at why this approach pays dividends, and how partnering with the right content marketing agency will help deliver results.

Developing a content marketing strategy that works

Financial marketers understand the value of strong content marketing. A recent Brandpoint survey showed that financial marketers view content marketing as an essential tactic for generating brand awareness and engaging with customers. That same survey, however, showed that half of financial marketers struggle with content creation and staying current with the latest techniques.

Other common problems include:

  • Insufficient resources to create top content
  • Inability to determine ROI or effectiveness of the content 
  • Poorly defined strategy
  • Difficulty managing a multi-channel approach with consistency
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of content marketing expertise
  • Leadership not buying in

That financial services firms struggle with content marketing is not surprising. If you asked most people about memorable marketing, banks would certainly not top the list. Some financial services firms, however, know how to do content marketing correctly. Here are two examples:

  • Citibank is highly-regarded for its brand awareness initiatives — and for good reason. The company’s sponsorship with New York’s popular Citibike program means that 10 million-plus New Yorkers can’t rent a bike without thinking about a bank. Citibank also uses content marketing and sponsorships with major artists as part of its Citi Entertainment program for customers. In both cases, Citibank attaches its name to something that consumers love (bike riding, concerts) — a significant boost, considering most bank brands have little inherent cachet. It’s an example of savvy bank marketing.
  • Deloitte is best known for being a global consultancy and financial advisory operation. Not exactly the type of enterprise to give retail consumers warm and fuzzy feelings. Yet every year Deloitte issues a “Back to School” survey that uses clever, data-rich visuals to help consumer optimize their purchasing habits. It’s not related to Deloitte’s core business, but it is a smart piece of content marketing that improves brand awareness and builds brand trust. Parents engaged with this campaign identify Deloitte as a company that helps them solve a perennial problem.

So now that we’ve discussed some challenges and seen some strong examples, let’s talk about what financial services firms can do to jumpstart their content marketing efforts and start building brand awareness and loyalty.

Actionable advice for your financial content marketing strategy

Companies that generate exceptional ROI from their content marketing efforts tend to have some commonalities. A recent Content Marketing Institute research survey investigated the factors shared by firms that are especially successful in this regard. According to this research, the four elements that separate winners from losers are:

  • Having a documented content marketing strategy. 65% of firms who report being successful in content marketing have such as a strategy, while only 14% of unsuccessful firms have one.
  • Measuring the ROI of content marketing initiatives. 72% of successful firms do this, while only 22% of unsuccessful firms measure ROI.
  • Proficiency with the latest content marketing technology. 67% of successful firms report proficiency, while only 7% of unsuccessful firms do.
  • Using personas for content marketing campaigns. 77% of successful firms use personas, while only 36% of unsuccessful firms use them.

By implementing or improving these four elements, you can lay the groundwork for a high-performing content marketing strategy. Not every financial institution or marketer has the experience of savvy to get the most out of this approach, however. In these cases, it makes sense to partner with a leading content creation agency.

Finding the right inbound marketing agency

If you’re in need of SEO marketing, content marketing or any other digital marketing service, we encourage you to contact Bigeye. We have the technical skill and domain expertise to help financial institutions gain immediate traction with high-performing digital marketing campaigns.

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How to Create Environmental Branding for a Bank

If you’re not embracing environmental branding for your financial institution, you’re missing out on a key piece of the overall marketing puzzle.

Companies in the retail sector have long leveraged the power of the branded environment (incorporating an organization’s brand and the distinctive characteristics of that brand into the interior and/or exterior design of its brick-and-mortar stores). Whether it means liberally integrating the retailer’s name into physical location signage or imbuing in-store displays with the unique charm and appeal of the retailer’s brand identity, environmental branding can work wonders when it comes to driving customer loyalty and on-site sales.

The banking industry, however, has traditionally lagged far behind top retailers when it comes to leveraging the power of branded environments. This makes perfect sense considering the history of banks in the United States and elsewhere. In most communities, there was only one bank in operation. Effective branding and marketing operations in general were completely unnecessary. Customers banked with a specific organization because it was their only option, not because they preferred it over any available alternatives.

Now increasingly savvy about branding practices, the financial institutions of today are finally beginning to reverse this trend, realizing that effective branding is absolutely essential if they want to get a leg up on the competition in the modern marketplace. The creation and maintenance of branded environments should be an absolutely essential component of any banking organization’s greater marketing efforts.

If you are looking for ways to develop effective branded environments for your bank location(s), you will want to employ a marketing agency with the established expertise to address the specific wants and needs of your particular institution. The following four guidelines can get you headed in the right direction. 

1. Concentrate on relationship building in the lobby area

When it comes to building a new bank branch or remodeling an existing bank location, the design masterminds at HTG Architects suggest rethinking the fundamental purpose of your lobby area. As HTG puts it, “Co-branding can change your space from “transaction-based” to “relationship-based.” And in today’s banking world, this shift can make all the difference.”

In addition to incorporating ample on-brand elements into your lobby, HTG suggests reducing the size of banking transaction areas if it can make lobby space feel more comfortable and inviting.

2. Reflect evolving technology

Different banking organizations will inevitably target different consumer demographics, but the vast majority of todays’ customer base will respond favorably to technological innovation. This is particularly true of consumers in the modern banking sector, who tend to expect the companies with which they partner to be on the cutting edge in terms of state-of-the-art financial operations and security measures.

In order to reinforce strong technological ties, the physical design of brick-and-mortar bank branches must reflect high-tech engagement in a variety of ways. This might mean the inclusion of advanced ATM machines and smart kiosks or it might mean simply crafting on-site sign imagery and typography that is compatible with technological themes.

3. Emphasize convenience and public responsibility

Smart financial institutions will also design their buildings to not only deliver optimum customer convenience, but reinforce their commitment to public service through effective on-site messaging. Two great examples of this emphasis on respect and responsibility are ADA compliance and environmental sustainability.

All bank locations should go far beyond the mandated regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that all customers have equal access to banking processes regardless of physical or mental disability. Furthermore, bank locations should offer the latest in recycling amenities, responsible resourcing, paperless technology, and other green modalities. Remember, your physical location speaks volumes about your company’s priorities and values.

4. Consider environmental co-branding

If you really want to boost consumer convenience while engendering considerable lobby cross-traffic, you may want to look into partnering with a well-known brand from another business sector and welcoming that partner into the physical space of your bank branch(es). While traditional environmental co-branding partnerships in the banking sector have included insurance agencies, accountants, and title companies, more and more banks are incorporating comfort-inducing retail organizations such as coffee shops into their lobby areas.

For more information

To guide them through the considerable intricacies of the environmental branding process, wise companies seek out the assistance of highly trained and specialized marketing professionals. An environmental branding agency that is both forward thinking and rooted in current best practices, Bigeye can answer any questions that you might have about your bank’s practical environmental branding options.

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What Cryptocurrency Means for the Conventional Banking Sector

Bitcoin is disrupting the banking sector by creating enormous interest among institutional investors, creating a need for smart FinTech strategy for brands.

2018 was a tough year in the cryptocurrency space, as the value of Bitcoin tumbled from $20,000 to below $4,000. 2019, however, has been a different story, with the market rebounding and cryptocurrencies becoming a core part of institutional FinTech strategy and banking strategy.

So what does the future hold for Bitcoin and the financial sector? 

How Bitcoin went from novelty to banking industry disruptor

Bitcoin, the world’s most popular digital currency, began life as a hobbyist pursuit. Created roughly a decade ago by the anonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin was designed to be peer-to-peer digital cash. People could send it to each other with no bank or third party needed to validate the transaction.

That’s because Bitcoin transactions are validated not by a bank, but by a technology called blockchain. When one person sends Bitcoin to another, the transaction is confirmed by a miner. This miner isn’t a person with a pickaxe and persistent case of black lung, but rather someone who uses computing power. When Bitcoin transactions are made, miners use powerful computers to compete with each other to solve complex cryptographic puzzles for a small transaction fee. Whomever solves the puzzle first validates the transaction, which is then recorded on the blockchain – a public ledger that can’t be changed. 

That’s Bitcoin in a nutshell – and you can see why the technology is so transformative. Instead of waiting several days to have a bank clear a transaction, a Bitcoin transaction is completed within ten minutes, in most cases. Other cryptocurrencies with a higher degree of centralized control can confirm transactions almost instantly.

Here’s the irony: Bitcoin was created and later developed by a band of misfit programmers who were entirely outside the financial system. Yet today, cryptocurrency adoption is being pushed forward by the financial services, marketing agencies, and companies that Bitcoin promised to make obsolete.

Why institutional adoption is driving market growth

Bitcoin’s price rebound in 2019 has been driven, in part, by the movement of institutional money into the cryptocurrency space. A few years ago, most legacy financial firms were bearish on cryptocurrencies -Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase famously called Bitcoin a “fraud” that governments “would crush.”

Today, Dimon has reversed his position and is pushing his firm headlong into the space. JPMorgan Chase has launched their own cryptocurrency. Facebook, too, recently announced plans for their own cryptocurrency, while Google and Amazon both have significant partnerships with cryptocurrency projects.

Why the abrupt about face? As with any radical new technology, skepticism abounds early – “magic Internet money” created by a person named “Satoshi Nakamoto” seems almost too far-fetched to believe. Then, once people grasped the fundamental innovation Bitcoin offered, the financial services sector began to view cryptocurrencies not as a joke, but as an existential competitor.

And that’s where we are today. Cryptocurrencies hold the potential to radically transform how the banking sector operates. Using the traditional banking system, the fastest way to get $10,000 from New York to California is to fly it in a plane. In a 21st century hyperconnected world, that seems absurd.

Cryptocurrencies makes such transactions instant, as there is no need to wait for third parties to validate that the money being transferred is actually there. That’s the reason cryptocurrencies have become a core part of banking FinTech strategy – and why we’ve likely only seen the very earliest stages of what could be the most significant technological development since the Internet.

The takeaway

Brands in need of FinTech marketing services should consider one question: Does my FinTech marketing agency have the necessary domain knowledge to provide us with truly informed, high-level digital marketing for financial services?

At Bigeye, we understand FinTech strategy and cryptocurrency on a much deeper level than most financial services marketing agencies. When it’s time for your next campaign, we urge you to contact us and find out why Bigeye is so much better.

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Connecting the Dots: The Trends That Will Shape 2020

Making predictions is a risky business. In 1994, the Rand Corporation — a famous quasi-governmental think tank long-celebrated for their strategic prognostication — confidently predicted the following:

“During the 21st century, those houses that don’t have a robot in the broom closet could have a live-in ape to do the cleaning and gardening chores. Also, the use of well-trained apes as family chauffeurs might decrease the number of automobile accidents.”

While selectively breeding an army of highly intelligent ape butlers and chauffeurs might seem ridiculous to those of us living in 2019, it probably seemed semi-plausible then — and that’s the risk that comes with forecasting. However, when you’re right, the payoff can be immense. If you can predict what’s next, you can position yourself (or your organization) to profit from this shift before it occurs.

That brings us to the subject of this piece: “Connecting the Dots: Consumer Trends That Will Shape 2020.”

What We’ve Learned By Connecting the Dots

Recently released to the public, “Connecting the Dots” is a research and forecasting document compiled by GlobalWebIndex. The report, which is produced annually, offers a valuable window into technology, society and marketing.

For pure prognostication, GlobalWebIndex has a reasonably strong record. In last year’s report, it was predicted that e-sports would finally enter the mainstream. 2019 subsequently saw 50% year-over-year growth in e-sports, the Fortnite World Cup and top e-sports stars appearing on famous late night talk shows. Last year’s report also perceptively noted the continuing trend of social media becoming less social and more utilitarian, as platforms such as Instagram and Facebook become closer to one-stop-shops for consumer needs.

So what does the latest version of the report predict for the upcoming year? Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most relevant predictions offered in the report.

The Emergence of Online, On-Demand Healthcare

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if booking a physician’s appointment was as simple as booking a ride with Uber? That’s the future we’re hurtling toward, as AI and telehealth begin to augment — and in some cases replace — conventional primary care.

Today’s AI-powered health offerings are a far cry from the limited telehealth patient sessions of a few years ago. Healthcare operators are also taking things a step further by combining telehealth services with mobile clinics and pop ups. By marrying the two approaches, providers can offer the same suite of services found in any brick and mortar doctor’s office, yet in a far more accessible way.

The public interest is certainly there. According to “Connecting the Dots”:

“Our global research reveals 36% of consumers are using the internet to research health issues and healthcare products, jumping up to 42% for users aged 55-64, where a focus on health becomes even more crucial.”

The study also found that:

  • 75% of consumers use the Internet to research which medications to purchase
  • Half of consumers say that video physician consults will help them manage their health more effectively
  • 70% are willing to make their health data accessible via smartphone

In a world that’s conditioned to expect on-demand services — and where access to healthcare remains an intractable problem — this is one projection that seems almost certain to be realized.

Privacy and Cashless Societies

In some ways, privacy has become almost a quaint notion in the digital era. We trail streams of data as we navigate our phones and the web — much the same way that city buses trail exhaust fumes. Every follow, like or page visit is duly recorded and used to optimize our marketing and ad profiles.

This hyper-transparency has been largely shielded from two key areas, however: Medical records and financial data. Both areas are regulated to varying degrees. Yet our daily financial transactions could soon be subject to the same level of transparency as our daily web browsing.

That’s because digital currencies are on the rise. Bitcoin, Facebook’s Project Libra and efforts by China to develop a national digital currency all differ in some key regards. Yet they all share one characteristic: Anyone using these coins/tokens will have their transactions recorded on a public and immutable ledger. That’s the nature of blockchain technology.

While there are so-called privacy coins that obscure transaction history, these offerings are not likely to see the wide consumer adoption associated with a Facebook cryptocurrency or a state-sponsored digital asset.

For those invested in privacy, things aren’t completely dire. The European Union has introduced the world’s strongest digital privacy protections — laws that give consumers much more control over how their data is harvested and used. Yet in a world that is quickly going cashless, maintaining financial privacy may soon become a much more difficult challenge.

A Mediated Existence

Just how mediated through technology have our daily lives become? Consider this: The average person, globally, spends almost seven hours per day online. As companies and industries pursue greater degrees of digitalization, it is only a matter of time before seven hours seem like an exercise in restraint.

Given how much of our lives are now lived online, is it truly possible to detach? Have we lost the ability to prioritize the human touch without sacrificing convenience?

According to “Connecting the Dots,” many people now fear the answer is a resounding “no.” The number of people who report that technology complicates their lives, or who report being constantly connected online, continues to rise each year.

These concerns are shared by the people who seemingly know best: Silicon Valley CEOs and developers. Over the last year, we’ve seen repeated articles in the press about “dopamine fasts” and “technology detoxes.” Many tech leaders have mentioned that they strictly regulate screen time for their own children.

The scale and rapidity of the “tech takeover” of modern society is astonishing, if you take a moment to place it in context. A generation ago, personal computers cost thousands of dollars, had limited utility and were not owned by most households. Tech, in general, was not a lifestyle, except for hard core enthusiasts. 

While increasing computing power and the birth of the Internet ignited the consumer tech takeover, it wasn’t until little more than a decade ago — with the development of social media and the smartphone — that we truly began to live mediated existences. In fact, we’ve hurdled headlong into a radical societal shift, in a very brief period of time, without any real idea about the consequences.

Politicians have become aware of this anti-tech sentiment. Several US senators have urged social media platforms to take steps to make their products less compulsively engaging, claiming that the current paradigm is bad for the mental health of heavy users.

“Connecting the Dots” makes the case that while the tech takeover may be in full flight, human concern about (and opposition to) our new reality will only get stronger.

About Bigeye

Bigeye is a leading creative agency based in Orlando, Florida. We help clients create marketing campaigns that are driven by exceptional creative work, domain expertise and sophisticated technological tools. For more inspired reading, visit our Insights page.

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Creative Marketing Ideas for FinTech Companies

The FinTech space is responsible for some of the most exciting tech innovations in recent years. But has their marketing been as compelling and innovative?

The FinTech space has given us an extraordinary number of new products and services.  Square has changed the way we pay for meals, goods, and services. Venmo allows us to send money back and forth to friends and family with the press of a button. Roboadvisors allow us to invest in stocks without even speaking to a human for guidance.

All thrilling innovations, to be sure. Yet, has FinTech marketing and advertising kept pace with these product innovations?

Along with the basics (such as smart content marketing and audience segmentation), let’s take a closer look at some high impact ideas FinTech firms can use to develop successful campaigns.

Creatively inspired FinTech marketing ideas

Today’s FinTech companies have completely reimagined the way we pay for products and services, conduct our personal banking and send money peer-to-peer. 

FinTech is also a highly competitive space, however — which means that it’s imperative to have your products and services supported by a compelling and well-executed marketing strategy. 

While many of new FinTech products are based on transformative new technological leaps, the space itself isn’t especially fascinating for the average consumer.

Given that, let’s review a few tips and examples you can incorporate when devising your next FinTech marketing campaign.

  • Make your marketing campaigns and strategies mobile first. Consumer-facing FinTech is largely driven by mobile — just think about PayPal, your mobile banking app, Venmo, Square, Zelle, etc. It’s estimated that two billion people worldwide will use at least one FinTech mobile app within the next two years. This means that everything you do should be optimized for mobile. These efforts should be supported by advanced digital targeting services to help you engage your ideal audience and give them relevant messages.
  • Push out great content that’s highly relevant. You may have the most innovative consumer-facing FinTech product the world has ever seen — but if you can’t tell a compelling story about what the product is and how it can help people, nobody’s going to pay attention. Additionally, exciting new FinTech products often come with a bit of a learning curve, so it’s important to be informational and educational when necessary. It’s important to illustrate how your technology will have a practical impact on the lives of users. Advanced audience analysis can help you segment your market and deliver relevant, customized content.
  • Focus on trust, credibility, and reliability. FinTech products are decentralizing authority. Today, for example, you can use FinTech applications to engage in peer-to-peer or decentralized lending, cutting banks and financial institutions out of the process. If you’re going to minimize the role third party authorities play, trust and reputation becomes ever more critical.
  • Zig when others zag. Sometimes the most impactful marketing or advertising campaign is the one that runs totally counter to your expectations. Domino’s Pizza launched a media campaign decrying the terribleness of their original recipe in order to promote their new and improved pizza. It was a bold — and very successful — approach. Instamojo, a FinTech payment platform, took the same strategy and published an article called “Six Reasons Not to Choose Our Free Payment Platform.” It’s an attention grabber, and that’s half the battle.
  • Create a spectacle. If you’re looking for something that’s truly attention-getting, consider the case of WePay. The payment company deposited a 600-pound block of frozen ice outside of a conference staged by its competitor, PayPal. The ice, which had frozen money embedded within, was a stunt designed to highlight complaints that PayPal was freezing too many user accounts. As you might imagine, the stunt went massively viral, gaining top-level media coverage from major tech and advertising industry publications. 

The Takeaway

FinTech technology moves at breakneck speed, so it’s critically important for FinTech marketing to keep pace. Innovative and exciting new products need to be paired with creative marketing that is equally engaging.

At BIGEYE, we’re experts at helping FinTech firms pair their innovative new products and services with the right marketing and ad strategies. We’ll help you reach new audiences and build market share with compelling creative supported by advanced AdTech.

Contact us today to discover what BIGEYE can do for you.

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How Banks Can Win Through Creative Marketing

Banks face a significant marketing challenge. Long valued as steady, reliable institutions, they need to show consumers today that they can be innovative organizations as well. 

Ask most people what they think about banking, and they’ll say that it’s a necessary service, but one that hasn’t really changed much through the years.

That perception is slowly changing, however, thanks in part to clever marketing and advertising on behalf of financial institutions.

Let’s review two creative marketing campaigns that paint the banking industry in a different light, and see what actionable lessons can be drawn.

It’s payback time!

Ally Bank is a pioneer in the online banking sector — and it used this status to full effect in a recent ad campaign. The campaign played on classic tropes involving banking and subverted audience expectations to spark interest and engagement.

Called “It’s Payback Time,” the initiative kicked off with a TV ad that used classic bank robbery imagery and ominous music. There’s a twist, however: In this ad, the bank robbers are the banks, and the victims are their customers.

Ally’s ad points out that banks historically have earned billions in interest payments by holding consumer cash. Ally calls this robbery and provides compensation in the form of a 1% interest payment offered on all online accounts.

It’s a clever reversal of a classic bank robbery theme. Yet more than that, it draws consumer attention to the fact that banks are profiting immensely by holding their money — and charging them for the privilege.

Ally supplemented the first ad with a second, long-form video. This advertisement took a comical “man on the street” approach, with an extremely energetic interviewer handing out money and explaining the campaign to people passing by. 

He points out repeatedly that in-person service at a bank is overrated — and pales in comparison to the prospect of earning cash for your deposits, rather than paying banks to sit on your funds.

Ally knows that getting a return on their money is a major motivator for consumers — and these ads are engaging (and pointed) enough to move people into the prospect funnel.

Skip the ads and show them programs

Advertisers must always contend with an eternal truth: Most consumers don’t want to engage with their creative work. There are two ways to solve this. You can create ads that are compelling and relevant enough to grab their attention anyway, or you can disguise your ad in a more palatable form.

Renasant Bank opted for the latter approach. Instead of focusing solely on conventional ads and marketing, they choose to transform into a media production studio. The bank, which has roughly 200 locations, creates original programming distributed across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms.

This programming includes three distinct shows: “Building Us with Tera and Wes,” an HGTV-style remodeling show “Crafted,” which spotlights local small businesses, and “Bootstrappers,” which focuses on startups and entrepreneurs with products and services that appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.

By offering relevant local programming (and leveraging advanced tools such as geo-fencing and real-time monitoring and tracking), Renasant is connecting with audiences on a deeper and more meaningful level.

All shows created by Renasant are short enough to sustain attention and have enough production quality to appear professional. More importantly, the concept behind each show is very on-trend (something that helps attract audiences) and ultimately can be tied back to the services offered by the bank.

Obviously, creating a mini-production studio requires committing significant resources. Yet Renasant’s efforts are paying off. The bank’s shows received nearly 10 million views in a single year and created numerous cross-promotional marketing opportunities.

The takeaway

At Bigeye, we believe that banks can update their image to show that they’re both dependable and dynamic. With the help of the right agency and the buzz produced by creative campaigns like those executed for Ally and Renasant, financial institutions can reach a larger audience and grow their customer base.

Contact us today to learn more about how we handle campaign creation and development and to get details on our full stack of marketing services.

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