Inbound for Financial Services: Avoid ‘Boring’ Content and Jargon

Kelly Wilhelme
Posted by Kelly Wilhelme on November 4, 2015
Full coffee cup, calculator, and tax forms sitting on a desk.

Financial services and insurance companies have an important message to share. One that personally impacts their target customers’ businesses, lives, and even their descendants’ lives in the future. But how do they go about communicating their messages to generate leads for their own firms? How do you get the right message to the right person, at the right time, in a way that resonates and fosters trust in your company?

I totally understand the challenge. I spent the better part of a decade at a large financial services firm communicating about retirement plans, specifically Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). I developed communication plans for many companies who were going through a time of change by implementing an ESOP, and also companies who had their ESOP for a while, but were looking to increase employee understanding, engagement and drive “ownership behaviors.”

As I’ve been working on inbound marketing projects the last several months, I’ve found some key parallels—or maybe we should call them universal communication truths—about how to reach people when it comes to financial communication. Here are 3 key principles for financial services firms to keep in mind when creating an inbound marketing content strategy so that they generate more good leads:

1. Segment your contacts and develop targeted messages specific to their life stage, demographics, etc.

Every good inbound marketing plan starts with a strategy that acts as the roadmap for content creation. One of the key principles of inbound is to segment your contacts by properties such as persona, lifecycle stage, or point in the buyer’s journey. This is SUPER important for financial services firms to incorporate into their content strategy. Nothing will make a millennial tune out faster than the word ‘retirement.’ They just can’t see themselves 40 years from now. Can you blame them? I’m not sure I want to look in that mirror just yet myself. Instead, your message needs to be applicable to them right now. Talk about a 1-year goal instead of a 30-year plan.

You can also segment by other demographic factors. For instance, you’d likely talk to a production line employee differently than a C-suite executive. Why? Their priorities are different and each requires a different level of detail when it comes to financial matters.

2. Speak your personas’ language

Once you’ve segmented your contacts and are ready to develop content, think about what you’re saying and how. Think about your personas’ goals and use words they would use. For instance, an institutional investor wants to protect his assets. He needs content that “tells a story” about family being taken care of through long-term investment strategy, disability insurance, and estate planning. In contrast, a business CFO buying liability insurance wants the story told through data, because numbers are her language. In the case of the millenial I mentioned above, something as simple as eliminating the words "retirement savings" and replacing them with "wealth building" can have an impact.

Everyone wants to know, “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). You have to answer this question or else, quite frankly, few people will care about your content. And you have to answer it in a way they can understand and that makes them feel good about your company. The biggest ‘universal communication truth’ to remember—especially when it comes to financial communication that has a tendency to be full of jargon—is that people are human. Your inbound content needs to talk to me like a human. Boil complicated topics down into something that answers, WIIFM. 

3. Nurture relationships to become a trusted advisor by utilizing a marketing automation platform

Nurturing relationships when it comes to financial matters is not just about speaking someone’s language. It’s about meeting people where they are and providing a means for them to achieve a goal. Whether that goal is protecting their business, their assets, or their family. This is your chance to let your custom solutions shine. There is a saying in the ESOP world, “If you’ve seen one ESOP, you’ve seen one ESOP.” No two companies or people are the same, and they don’t want to be treated as such, especially when it comes to something as important as their financial future.

Your leads want to know 1) you know what you’re doing, and 2) you’ve got their back. This is why it’s so important that your inbound marketing content is “always helping.” That’s the only way to begin the journey toward becoming their trusted advisor.

A recent trend in the financial world has been the discovery of behavioral finance psychology. More plan sponsors are moving toward stretching their 401(k) match formulas and features like auto enrollment and auto escalation. Why? Studies have found that when it comes to retirement savings, people don’t do what they say they will, even if they know it’s good for them. But, they’re also unlikely to stop doing something that is good for them if there are barriers to do so. So plan sponsors are removing the barriers to retirement savings by sweeping new hires into the plan at a minimum contribution, such as 5%, and increasing their deferrals annually until they reach a target like 11%. This way, the employee has to do nothing to save, but they have to take action and physically say, “I’m not going to save” in order to un-enroll.

I share this example because marketing automation platforms can help your inbound efforts in a similar way. Many financial services or insurance firms have a small marketing staff and are concerned about the effort it will take to execute an inbound strategy. Luckily for you, marketing automation platforms like HubSpot help manage all your content, send nurturing emails, and share via social media in one place, and with many activities automated. They also have CRM capabilities to help you easily segment leads by any number of properties, so you can better target your messages.

Inbound content should always answer, “WIIFM?”

Financial messages often fall flat because they’re ‘boring’ or too full of jargon. As you’re fleshing out your inbound content strategy, do not forget to answer your personas’ WIIFM by segmenting so you can target the right group, and then speaking their language. Don’t stop there—keep nurturing your leads so that you become their trusted advisor and they become a grateful customer.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing

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