Many online marketing techniques have gone the way of the Commodore 64 — anyone remember pop-ups? — but content marketing is one strategy with proven results. With content marketing, a credit union writes thoughtful pieces about topics that are relevant to members and posts the articles online where members can easily find them. Unlike banner ads, white papers, or landing pages, the goal of content marketing isn’t to generate leads or sell a product. Instead, articles highlight the character, values, and strengths of the credit union in a way that puts the organization top of mind when a consumer needs a financial product or service.
This strategy isn’t particularly novel; however, it is easy to get wrong. There are more than 200 million live websites today, which equates to plenty of useless content. Fortunately, in this sea of missteps quality content can really shine. So what to write? As long as every piece is thoughtful and audience-appropriate, topics can run the gamut. The widespread availability of computers, Internet access, social media, and smartphones have taken the pain out of content production and distribution, so creating top-notch content should be an online marketer’s top priority.
Content Marketing In Action
The best way to put content in front of current members is to add a blog to the credit union’s existing website. Blogs are a great way to catch the attention of members who are logging in to check balances and pay bills on a regular basis. Several credit unions have already adopted this strategy. Great Basin Federal Credit Union ($126.0M, Reno, NV) uses what it knows about its members’ financial activities to craft appealing content for its blog. Multiple authors, including the credit union’s certified financial planners, tellers, and other staff members representing various demographics, write about topics ranging from mortgage refinancing to household budgets.
Navy Federal Credit Union ($54.4B, Merrifield, VA) tailors its blog posts to military personnel and even includes a section on preparing for deployment. Spokane Federal Credit Union ($126.0, Spokane, WA) takes personalization a step further by highlighting individual members’ achievements. And Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union ($277.9M, Germantown, MD) has cut out the middle man and recruited a member to blog about issues that affect her life. Katie’s Corner is a financial blog for women that focuses on managing a household on a budget. Although she references Mid-Atlantic loans and services, she does so to demonstrate how the credit union enhances her life instead of directly pitching its services.
All of these blogs cover topics that relate to the credit union’s products and services, but they also address issues that members face daily, such as paying down their mortgage or finding the right savings plan for their children. Members refinancing their mortgages might not be opening an account for their children any time soon, but when they do, they’ll know they can turn to their credit union.
Reaching Future Members
In the case of personalized content, closed-charter credit unions have an easier time determining what topics are best. Credit unions that serve specialized industries should already be watching websites and blogs that are popular among their SEGs. Most websites are often searching for new content, so offer to write a post or two, free of charge, that includes a link back to the credit union’s website. The best way to reach future members is to have current members share your posts; however, publishing content on websites frequently visited by your target audience is a second option that is almost as beneficial.
For credit unions with open charters, reach out to small member businesses that have active websites. Offer to draft some content to help them reach new clients via their website or online newsletters. Consider writing a partner piece for the credit union’s blog that promotes their efforts. In addition to supporting the credit union’s content marketing strategy, you’ll be supporting its members.
Four Content Marketing Must-Dos
With the advent of social media, “word-of-mouth” now equates to “likes,” “reads,” and “forwards.” People are more likely to become a member if someone they trust has already indirectly endorsed the credit union by sharing its content. But if the idea of launching a content marketing strategy is daunting, just break it down into these four steps.
1. Become a publisher. If the credit union doesn’t have a blog or other space where it can regularly publish content, BUILD ONE. Reserve space on the credit union’s primary website, like Navy Federal Credit Union or Great Basin Federal Credit Union, or sign up for a free WordPpress blog like Hopewell Federal Credit Union ($76.3 M, Heath, OH). Don’t get hung up over sleek design or cool infographics; the most important part of this process is producing quality content on a regular basis.
2. Find out which websites members visit most. Ask tellers and other member service representatives to talk with members about the websites they visit. If the credit union’s website includes polling functionality, then ask members what their favorite websites are or which local businesses they support. National banks are not as involved in local communities as credit unions, and this information will make it possible to craft useful content that resonates with members.
3. Establish a relationship with these websites. If a large portion of your member base visits the local library website each month, then it is 100% worth the time to write an email or call the library to let it know it is making a difference in members’ lives. In your communications, determine whether there is an opportunity to share content (see No. 4 below). Establishing a relationship with influential organizations ingrains the credit union in the community and supports its content marketing efforts.
4. Become a content distributor. Now you know on which sites members are most likely to see the credit union’s content. So how can the credit union’s knowledge best serve the people who are most likely to read it? Draft a couple of pieces for these influential sites and offer to let the sites run them free of charge. SEGs might like content to release via e-newsletter or internal communications distributed by HR departments. There are several ways the credit union’s content can serve consumers, so work with external partners on a case-by-case basis to determine the best vehicle for distribution. Worst case scenario: The other group says “no” and you run the content on the credit union’s own blog. Best case scenario: The credit unions gets to publish thoughtful articles on a website its members frequently patronize. The good far outweighs the bad.
Content marketing isn’t a new idea; it’s not a passing trend; it’s a viable way to build the credit union’s reputation in a forum that’s accessible to anyone 24/7.