This is the first article in a series for CFCFE Members only, offering marketing guidance for credit unions from CFCFE Corporate Member AsOne Digital Business Development, based in Manchester and London.Here is a jargon buster in case any of the terms used are new to you. If you have any feedback on our Unboxed series, please let us know nick.money@cfcfe.eu.

 

Taking out a loan is, for the majority of customers, a carefully considered decision. It is far more than an impulse taken after browsing social media, often a process which has a long path to conversion with many touchpoints. A digital content strategy looks to provide a base of online knowledge which not just reaches online users but builds trust to sway considered decisions your way.

Digital tools are critical in concocting, implementing and measuring content strategies.

Underpinning every successful strategy is an understanding of your target audience, and the foundation of any understanding is data. You need to establish what words and phrases your audience are using to find your intended services. There are many digital tools which exist that allow you to research these keywords and phrases. Your strategy needs to be woven with your target users highly searched keywords and lower searched keywords to cast your online net wider.

In order to establish what keywords you should be including in your content, paid advertising platforms are an easy go-to for keyword data, which can often be segregated by geography to give you a picture of what’s required in your target areas.

We can’t stress the enough importance of going into keyword investigations with an open mind. Often the simplest changes are also the most effective ones. We’ve dealt with a loan system which categorised their loans by “Bronze”, “Silver” and “Gold”. These are great for internal documents but make you invisible online as nobody is searching for a “Gold loan”.

People are looking for “car loans”, “holiday loans” and “Christmas loans”. Money, for all of us, serves as a function of what we can do with it, and as such people search for loans to afford certain activities. It is this understanding of your target audience which leads to successful content strategies.

Once you’ve got a list of keywords, it’s now about writing content which is relevant, timely, and, above all, consistent. Relevance is ensuring that your content is speaking to real worries and concerns of the people reading it. Use feedback from existing customers to inform this, or your understanding of the major reasons why your existing customers take out loans or savings accounts with you. Whatever problems your services solve, put those solutions front and centre in your content.

Timeliness is related to relevance, but in many ways it’s about being ahead of the curve so that you can be there when interest piques. A great example of this is Christmas – if your first “Christmas loan” blog comes on December 20th, you’re way too late. When you devise your content strategy, you need to think about when searches are popular – many keyword tools can give you data to supplement your own suspicions and hunches.

Consistency is king when it comes to content delivery. Consistency breeds confidence and it allows your customers to see that your expertise, experience and authority spans a wide range of topics and ideas. The frequency of posting is far less important than consistency – of course, if you can produce one piece of content per week, then publish once a week, but posting fortnightly or monthly is not necessarily a less effective strategy than weekly posting, but posting every week for three weeks and then not for a month is much less effective.

When you upload your content, give it the best platform to succeed by ensuring that all basic SEO (search engine optimisation) is correct. From your metadata to your alt text and hyperlinks, making sure that best practice is used is always beneficial to your strategy. Indeed, these elements all need to be working together to ensure that search engine crawl bots can read your content and therefore present it to potential customers in their moments of need.

To measure your success, you’ll need to look at tracking your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) positions, organic traffic and your time-on-page data. Again, there are digital tools which can scrape and present your SERP data between set dates, such as Moz.com. Google Analytics will provide you with the rest of the data you need, and tracking your organic traffic (users who find you through searching on search engines rather than being pushed onto your page) gives you a basic idea of how many people your strategy is reaching. Time spent on page data gives you an idea of how engaged these customers are – if they are spending longer on the page, you can take it that they are digesting the content more thoroughly. “Next page” data is also useful, as it can show you what your content is inspiring your users to do.

Of course, this is a lot to do – but the rewards can be huge. We’ve implemented successful content strategies that have led to increases in loan applications of up to 600%.

If you want to find out more about content strategies and what they could mean for your credit union, contact Nik Lovely at AsOne via nik@asone.co.uk or +44 (0)161 368 9100.