The Best in Financial Services Content Marketing

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NewsCred Trends + Trendsetters NewsCred’s Strategy Team helps brands build and hone their content strategies, taking into consideration marketing goals, brand positioning and the competitive landscape. Our “Trends + Trendsetters” guides aim to educate marketers on trends, opportunities and content strategies that best-in-class brands are utilizing to engage their audiences. In this guide, we’ll take a look at content marketing in the financial services industry. Interested in learning more? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out at strategy@newscred.com. - Caitlin Domke, Director of Brand Strategy, NewsCred

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Issues with trust and loyalty are pervasive across the financial services industry.

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Levels of Consumer Trust in US Financial Institutions Consumers Trust in Financial Institutions Great deal of trust Some trust Very little trust No trust at all Credit Union 37% 40% 7% 5% Community Bank 29% 47% 11% 4% Regional Bank 19% 51% 14% 7% National Bank 13% 48% 20% 10% Online Bank 7% 32% 27% 20% Source: Harris Poll, 2014

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NewsCred set out to find if content can help financial services companies gain the trust of consumers.

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NewsCred conducted a survey among 1,001 adults with Redshift Research in August 2014. The sample was selected from Redshift’s Crowdology and Crowdology partner panels, which are balanced across regional, age, and gender demographic factors. Each respondent completed 120 profiling questions before being accepted to join the panel. Panel quality management is carried out frequently to ensure reliable surveys.

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The Results?

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55% of respondents said that they trust a bank more when it offers them helpful, useful content. Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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50% would likely stay loyal to a bank that provided high quality content. Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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31% of respondents said they have signed up for new products and services based on useful content from their bank. Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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What does high-quality content look like for financial services brands?

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Content should be interesting and helpful

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More than a 1/3 of respondents said they would spend longer on their bank’s website if they provided interesting articles. Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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57% of respondents said communication from a bank can help them understand which products are most beneficial. Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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Content should be produced by an un-biased expert

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20% 53% Of respondents would trust content written by representatives of their bank Of respondents trust articles on finance written by journalists who are experts in finance Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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Content shouldn’t be too sales-oriented

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19% of respondents said they simply “switch off” when presented with content that is too sales-oriented. Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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Where and when do people turn for financial content from brands?

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What current channels do people find useful when receiving communications from their bank? 42% 32% 28% think emails sent by their bank are useful of people find apps useful of people find texts from their bank useful Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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How often are people looking for personal finance content? AT LEAST ONCE A DAY 7% A COUPLE OF TIMES A WEEK 28% MONTHLY 20% ONLY A FEW TIMES A YEAR 19% ONCE A YEAR OR LESS 8% NEVER 18% Source: NewsCred/Redshift Research study, 2014

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Brands Doing It Right

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Now let’s look at examples of top content marketers in the financial services industry.

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American Express Driving Leads through Thought Leadership First Round Capital Bringing together a community of entrepreneurs Prudential Building brand love through intelligent and educational content

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OPEN Forum American Express

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American Express OPEN Forum Insights and resources dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners “ WE ALREADY HAVE A LARGE PART OF THE PIE, SO OUR BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY IS WITH SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH – IF THEY GROW, WE GROW. ” Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly SVP of Partnership & Business Development

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OPENForum.com •  •  •  •  •  Launched in 2007 Helping small business owners with high-quality content on business advice, trends, and profiles Hard pressed to find a sales pitch within content Membership fosters a sense of community and personalization of content (+ leads for AMEX!) Facilitates networking events to allow users to connect both online and offline

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American Express’s Goals + KPIs: Primary: Lead generation Secondary: Engagement, Time on Site, Return Visits, Social Shares

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American Express’s Goals + KPIs: Primary: Lead generation Secondary: Engagement, Time on Site, Return Visits, Social Shares OPEN Forum is the #1 source for new OPEN cardholders

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Clear mission statement as soon as you arrive at the site

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Content Pillars are clear, direct, and compelling “Getting Customers” (specific) vs. “Business Tips” (generic)

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Sub-topics: Planning for Growth

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Sub-topics: Managing Money

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Sub-topics: Getting Customers

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Sub-topics: Building Your Team

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Some content is for members only, encouraging readers to sign up

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Signing Up Reasons to join (concise) Quick LinkedIn sign up option (also gathering data) Minimal links driving AWAY from this page

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Pre-populated Social Share Option

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Email Welcome

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Personalized Experience

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Gated Content (members only)

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Community 200K MEMBERS

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Distribution Strategy •  •  •  •  •  •  Newsletter distribution Very little paid distribution (some paid social) Work with influencers to garner earned media Mostly social Twitter: @OpenForum (201K followers) Facebook: American Express OPEN (365K likes)

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Weekly email updates to members

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Emails with information on the OPEN card •  •  Product messaging is used sparingly and intentionally to align with product developments, announcements and enhancements Sent to members no more than once a month

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Social Strategy + Tips for Highly-Regulated Industry •  •  •  •  Real time tweets are nearly impossible All tweets go through legal team, PR team and compliance team Predict what conversations are going to happen and pre-populate tweets so they can be approved Have a system in place where OPEN Forum has to quickly respond (has an “emergency team” in place”)

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Advice from OPEN team •  Re-engagement is key. Figuring out how to get people to come back is most important. OPEN Forum gets a lot of first time visitors but works to drive up return visits. •  Show the value of what you are producing. Tie it back to business goals and give them a reason to think this is essential. •  Nail down who your target is. You can't be everything to everyone, so try to be as specific as possible.

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Takeaways •  Clear, actionable content pillars that are at once clear for the reader and aligned with American Express business goals •  Products/services integrated in a thoughtful way •  Clear distribution + social plan •  Focus on its specific audience

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“ First Round has an opportunity: to create an entirely new kind of online publication, built for technology entrepreneurs, where they can learn how to build better companies. And they can learn directly from the people actually doing it. Much of this knowledge is still stuck inside the heads of the Valley’s best operators, product managers, engineers, and marketers. Our goal with First Round Review is to curate this knowledge to make great things happen. ” JOSH KOPELMAN Partner, First Round Capital

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First Round Review High-quality, actionable content that helps entrepreneurs with challenges that arise while building a startup.

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FIRST ROUND CAPITAL BRAND PURPOSE Building the strongest generation of entrepreneurs BRAND PURPOSE Content Marketing WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT

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FIRST ROUND CAPITAL BRAND PURPOSE TARGET AUDIENCE: ENTREPRENEURS Building the strongest generation of entrepreneurs Audience Analysis: Seeking help and inside advice on building their business – from everything from hiring to company culture BRAND PURPOSE Content Marketing WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT

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FIRST ROUND CAPITAL BRAND PURPOSE TARGET AUDIENCE: ENTREPRENEURS Building the strongest generation of entrepreneurs Audience Analysis: Seeking help and inside advice on building their business – from everything from hiring to company culture BRAND PURPOSE Content Marketing WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT The Review: High-quality, actionable content that helps entrepreneurs with challenges that arise while building a startup.

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The Review: Goals + KPIs •  Primary: Time on Site + Repeat Visitors •  Secondary: Page Views, Social Shares, and the # of Subscribers

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The Review: Content Pillars (“Magazines”) Developed with consideration of two items: •  Paid attention to consumer behavior •  Took a survey of existing site content and mapped to categories

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Tags indicate content pillars

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Featured prominently on homepage of First Round Capital

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Content Cadence & Format 1  Publish twice a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays •  Selected these days after testing/paying attention to when their readers were most engaged with the content 2  Mostly long-form articles •  On average stories are 3,000 words each •  They found that when they started producing longer-form articles they saw an uptick in engagement 3  Concentrate on actionable insights •  Makes sure each piece includes actionable insights for their audience •  Stresses quality over quantity

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First Round Capital’s influencer strategy 1  Feature influencers within their content, encouraging them to share the content 2  Pay attention to influencers who are engaging with their content, and then show them some love back

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Compelling Imagery •  Images are fresh and authentic. No bad stock photos here. •  They add context to the content. Photos aren’t just there for the sake of being there. •  Beautiful portraits bring to life the interview subjects.

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Optimizing for Conversions •  They experiment with different tactics to see what’s working •  They think about the customer journey – FRC places the subscribe “ask” at different parts of the page to reach readers when they’re ready (i.e. halfway through an article, also at end) •  Experimenting with pop-ups. Trying to find a balance between bothering readers with interruption and engaging them.

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Clear CTA at the top of every page

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As well as half-way through the article

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…And at the end of the article/ bottom of the page

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Distribution Strategy •  No paid distribution or social – all organic •  Newsletter is key pillar to distribution strategy •  Utilize the company Twitter and Facebook -- not a specific “Review” handle

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Social Media Tips from First Round Capital •  “I cannot overemphasize how important it is to remarket your content” – Camille Ricketts, Head of Content & Marketing, First Round Capital •  One “hack:” Take different quotes from within one piece of content and share that as the Tweet/Facebook post. •  Utilize the “curiosity gap” in both Tweets and headline writing •  Give your audience enough information to understand the topic, but leave them wanting more. (“This is the way to be successful at X” This is how to do Y”) •  Utilize good social media etiquette/practice. •  Tag people/brands •  Use images as much as possible •  Engage with followers

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Learnings from the Review team Three sample content wins – and the recipe for success for each: 1  Interview with Stewart Butterfield, entrepreneur – shared over 15,000 times •  Recipe for success: Take a person who is extremely magnetic; pay attention to what the industry is talking about; deliver a story that gives readers a “behind-the-scenes” look 2  Interview with Caryn Marooney, head of technology communications at Facebook – shared over 5,000 times •  Recipe for success: Think about a common pain point your audience has. Find someone to answer that question. 3  A piece on productivity – shared over 10,000 times •  Recipe for success: Take a popular topic and aggregate advice from many different people

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Takeaways •  FRC puts the customer at the center of their strategy •  Content pillars are clear and related to their customer •  Imagery is compelling, puts the content in context, and is authentic •  Social media is utilized in smart ways to increase engagement •  Understand the value of testing every aspect of its content marketing – cadence, CTAs, website design, and more

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Bring Your Challenges Prudential

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“ For Prudential retirement, content is critical to our mission. For us, it’s about taking a very complicated product and service suite and being able to distill it with content that relates and connects to audiences so they build an engagement with us. We’re creating content that is simple, accessible, and relatable for the individuals we’re trying to help save for retirement. ” KARA SEGRETO CMO, Prudential Retirement

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Bring Your Challenges Fun, informative, approachable advice for consumers on how to approach retirement “ LEADING EXPERTS BREAK DOWN THE ISSUES AND CHALLENGE US TO THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THE FUTURE. ”

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Goals for Prudential’s Content Marketing •  •  •  Reach and engage a wider audience to benefit brand awareness Help establish thought leadership Create new business relationships MEASURING: •  Traffic: page views, unique visitors, bounce rate, time spent •  Source: referring sites, visitor demographics, inbound search keywords Source: Prudential Content and Social Marketing Strategy slideshare, Phantom Power Marketing

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Beautifully-designed microsite

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Content pillars are from the 1st person perspective of the consumer.

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Bring Your Challenges utilizes a mix of content formats to keep the experience fresh and engaging.

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Licensed content from top financial publications populates the “News” section, allowing readers to gain insight from trusted sources without leaving the Prudential microsite

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Editorial bios demonstrate authority on subject matter

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Takeaways •  Prudential understands that content marketing is all about showcasing your brand purpose – not your products •  Thinks outside the box when it comes to content formats •  Turns dry topic into compelling content through multi-media •  Utilizes licensed content from top publishers to demonstrate unbiased expertise •  Includes editorial bios to showcase authority of subject experts and gain trust of reader

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