So what exactly is content marketing?

Initially for this post, I was going to provide several ideas on how credit unions could enhance their content marketing efforts with a unified strategy. This topic came to mind when reviewing that data compiled from our report on the State of Digital Marketing for Credit Union and Community Banks in 2014.

In regards to content marketing, we asked the following questions:

  • Does your credit union use content marketing in any form (ex: blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, webinars, newsletters, print publications etc.)?
  • Do you have a defined and detailed content marketing strategy in place?

Admittedly, the first question we posed was broad in scope and did not focus directly on the digital content marketing efforts we focus in.

Responses to the first question indicated that 75% of those surveyed used content marketing in any form. However, out of those individuals, only 30% replied they had a detailed strategy in place for their content marketing efforts.

I wanted to take a closer look at the 75% to see what specific content they were using to help formulate some type of strategy. Randomly, I took a small sample of credit unions from the survey and began to analyze the content marketing they used in their digital channels, including their website and social media channels.

But what I found, or didn’t find, was troubling. While I may have stumbled upon one or two pieces of  digital content, what I would consider as examples of proper content marketing were mostly absent. In fact, the majority of the websites appeared to be mostly static. There was no use of blog, videos, webinars, downloadable guides or worksheets.

And while the absence of these specific types of content is an indication of a lack of strategy, I believe it’s crucial that we first we define what content marketing is for a humanized digital economy.

Before getting to the definition, let’s note that content marketing is not having a blog. Just because you have a blog does not necessarily mean you are using content marketing.

And according to the Content Marketing Institute, the average number of posts a blog has is five.

Here’s how it happens. People or organizations start a blog and have the greatest intentions to write new content on a regular basis. However, they end up realizing how much time it takes to keep the content marketing machine up and running with fresh content. If your credit union does have a blog, are you pulling the average number of posts a blog has up or down?

Now, according to the same folks at the Content Marketing Institute, this is how they characterize it:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

At CU Grow, our definition of content marketing has been modified just a bit to include some additional aspects:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content on a frequent and consistent basis to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the primary objective of driving profitable customer action and a secondary objective of positioning the company as qualified experts.

Now taking this definition and using that as a baseline to compare what some credit unions consider to be content marketing, there is a clear gap in the basic understanding of this marketing technique.

But finances can be such a broad topic. Is it finances for small businesses? Or young singles? Could it be product related such as buying a home or car?

As demonstrated in the definition, your content marketing efforts are used to engage, educate and influence a specific target audience. Once you have a defined target audience, you can then develop content to position yourself as an expert in a particular area of financial matters.

For us at CU Grow, we are experts in digital marketing and lead generation. You see this reflected in our content as well.  To get our content marketing efforts off the ground, our goal has mainly been to create several types of content — blogs, videos, articles, and webinars — for a specific target audience. To accomplish this, we first started by defining key credit union and community bank personas.

Initially, all of our content was aimed for education at the top of the sales funnel and used to build brand awareness.  However, we are taking our first steps at creating specific content based upon our specific targeted audiences and their particular pain points.

For us, stepping into the world of content marketing has been a measured approach. It is probably reflected by my conservative nature of becoming efficient in an area before expanding our horizons. In other words, we wanted to become experts ourselves and understand content marketing before embarking on the journey.

And this is my suggestion to credit unions: understand what is truly involved with content marketing first, including the time and resources needed to plan and execute your content marketing efforts. From there, once an understanding is found, you can then begin to strategize the types of content and actually pursue a unified content marketing strategy that will generate leads for loans and new accounts.


Jonathan Lay

Jonathan Lay

As Senior  Advisor at CU Grow, Jonathan Lay helps banks and credit unions use digital marketing to tell stories that sell. He brings over a decade of digital marketing experience ... Web: Details