The 5 most common credit union content marketing mistakes

Content marketing is misunderstood in the financial services industry.

Over the past year, we have assessed dozens of  credit union content marketing initiatives and discussed the topic with hundreds of financial services professionals, yet we are still finding a vast knowledge gap in the industry.

Five years ago, having a blog would have certified your credit union as a content marketing innovator in the industry. But today, “having a blog” is not synonymous with doing content marketing. And neither is publishing a quarterly newsletter.

As content marketing becomes the next big buzz word in the credit union industry, I believe it is necessary to discuss the five most common mistakes credit unions make with their content marketing initiatives.

  1. They have no strategy.

Like any marketing campaign, most content marketing initiatives are launched with great fanfare. However, time and enthusiasm are typically inversely proportional in these endeavors. In other words, as time passes from the initial launch, commitment wanes and momentum is lost.

This is because there is no overall strategy in the planning, production, distribution or measurement of a financial institution’s content marketing initiatives. In fact, we have found content marketing suffers the same fate of many other digital marketing endeavors because of this mentality.

In our latest research, we found that over 80% of the banks and credit unions surveyed do not have a content marketing strategy in place. This is right on par with our 2014 data, which found 75% of banks and credit unions do not have a content marketing strategy.

Recommendation: Download our Content Marketing Ebook for Credit Unions to help develop a content marketing strategy at your credit union.

  1. They have no understanding.

When reviewing credit union content in our Digital Marketing Blueprint engagements, we find the majority of their material simply does not fit the requirements of our definition of content marketing.

In short, we define content marketing as helping first and selling second.

However, over 90% of the content we have assessed is self-promotional in nature, including:

  • The launch of a new product
  • The construction of a new branch
  • The seasonal campaign highlighting their great rates and amazing service
  • And even commentary about the weather.

I believe these credit unions are not implementing content marketing properly. While these organizations are creating content, their approach is nothing more than a traditional marketing tactic that has migrated into the digital space.

Credit unions must begin to understand what content marketing is before participating in this marketing approach. Below is our unabridged definition of content marketing.

Content marketing is a well-defined process used to create and distribute helpful content on a consistent basis to grow your financial institution.

Content marketing helps you build trust with consumers and position your organization as the financial matters expert that can guide consumers to success.

Recommendation: Evaluate your current content from the perspective of not just of a member, but a consumer in your community. How does this information help them? What value does your content truly have for consumers?

  1. They have no audience.

We find most financial institutions are either writing generic content, such as “7 Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer,” or purchasing white-label products to fulfill their content marketing needs. When these tactics are employed, though, the content lacks focus, perspective, and ultimately purpose.

I believe this is a symptom of the larger organizational philosophy of “if you live, work or worship in this defined geographic area, you can join.”

Today, credit unions do not know who they are serving because they are serving everyone. And because credit unions do not know who they are serving, how can they possibly implement a successful content marketing strategy that helps first and sells second?

Instead of creating content for the masses, define an audience for your content marketing efforts.

This will help you to create content with focus, perspective, and purpose.

Recommendation: Define three market segments and establish consumer personas to assist in the development of helpful content. Identify common patterns, such as similar questions and concerns as well as hopes and dreams, to create content that educates and informs.

  1. They have no consistency.

Accurately predicting the consistency of most credit unions’ content creation and publication is similar to forecasting the weather. And this is the point where many content marketing efforts stumble and ultimately wither into irrelevance.

In fact, Content Marketing Institute found that the average blog has just five posts. This is most likely the result of:

  • The inverse relationship between time and enthusiasm, and
  • An understanding of the true resources needed to keep the content machine operating.

Think about the websites you visit routinely. Consistent, dynamic content is most likely one of the primary reasons you visit these sites on a daily basis. Imagine those same sites with an erratic publishing schedule, leaving you to guess the next time they post a piece of content. Would you be a frequent visitor then?

For a credit union’s content marketing initiatives to succeed, routine content creation and publication is paramount, especially as you look to establish your credit union as a trusted financial advisor.

Recommendation: Use our Content Marketing Editorial Calendar as a template to begin mapping out a schedule for content creation. Also, aim to produce 3,000 unique words each month if you are aiming to boost your SEO rankings in Google. However, if consistency cannot be maintained, I recommend forgoing content marketing initiatives at this time.

  1. They have no distribution strategy.

While I have addressed several methods to enhance the creation and production of content, that is only half the narrative of a successful content marketing strategy. An equally important yet surprisingly overlooked component is the distribution of said content.

The majority of credit union content marketing strategies we have assessed lack diversity in their distribution methods. One financial institution in particular made a proclamation to having a blog, yet the only pathway to accessing it was a small icon at the bottom of their home page.

Merely having a blog does not guarantee one readership.

And doing content marketing does not guarantee success.

It takes an understanding of content marketing with a realistic strategy to develop and distribute consistent content to build an audience.

Recommendation: Do not build a content marketing initiative on the backbone of an established social media channel. Instead, create your own content marketing infrastructure and rely upon these social channels to drive the audience back to where your content resides, which should be your website.

And like post-credit scene in a Marvel movie, here are some additional mistakes credit unions make in their content marketing initiatives:

  • They have no resources. A team is necessary to effectively implement a content marketing strategy.
  • They have no patience to see the fruits of their labor. Content marketing is not a quick-win program. It requires perseverance and time, sometimes as long as 12-18 months.
  • They have no measurement for success. Many banks and credit unions launch content marketing initiatives, yet never review the effectiveness of their efforts.
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