Issues : Growth

The Neobanks’ Secret Weapon

“Content Experience.”

It may sound like yet another unwieldy or unnecessary marketing term, but banks risk losing market share to a new class of digital-only banks that understand the importance of optimizing every facet of the user experience. They are thinking beyond the “financial tips and tricks” blog, and don’t just have great content marketing — they reimagine the entire experience.

Having a blog is a good start; many banks are still catching up with the 86% of business-to-consumer brands that already count content marketing as a part of their lead-generation strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

However, it’s challenging for banks to avoid the “content sameness problem,” according to financial media company Tearsheet. Financial institutions have grown dependent on “listicles,” how-tos and buzzword pieces that offer little value to consumers, leading them to feel baited for clicks that lead to lackluster content.

It’s not just community banks that struggle with content sameness. Bank of America Corp.’s “Better Money Habits” blog features the headline “8 Simple Ways to Save Money.” The “News and Stories” section of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s website has “8 Ways to Trim your Spending this Year.” Capital One Financial Corp. went with “11 Simple Money-Saving Hacks.”

Not only are these posts similar in written content, but the voice, tone and design feel generic and indistinguishable. A lack of brand voice makes the advice read as inauthentic or canned.

Some neobanks are forging a different approach. Canadian wealth management start-up Wealthsimple has an elegant online magazine created by an in-house content team headed by former GQ magazine editorial director Devin Friedman. He bemoaned the current content problem in financial services to Tearsheet: “Everyone comes into content sideways and not through the front door.”

Some banks produce quality videos and webinars. But churning out articles or newsy updates doesn’t always dig deep enough to provide value to customers. As the digital savviness of customers increases, new home-buyers and borrowers may not be satisfied with well-written articles or clever advertising. In digital, the answer always lies in experience.

Randy Frisch, president and CMO at content platform Uberflip, wrote about the evolution of how customers view content in an essay, stating: “The thing is, today’s consumers have evolved and are looking for more than just a great blog, or video, or webinar — they’re looking for a seamless end-to-end content experience.”

A winning content experience is not only the space where content lives, it is where user action occurs. As financial services trend toward digital channels and embrace design thinking, content should ideally convert a visitor to a lead. You should be able to quantify the effectiveness of your bank’s content strategy across the buyer journey.

To do that, it will be crucial to take a page from the challenger content experience. These challengers, which include Monzo Bank, N26, Chime, Moven and Simple, are unencumbered by physical branches, offer no-fee accounts and are quickly gaining customers across the world. Neobanks win customers with beautiful user interface design, mobile optimization and — crucially — impactful offerings and experience.

Highly personalized point solutions for insurance, loans and rewards throughout the buyer journey can upend years of loyalty to traditional financial institutions. Combining one-click convenience and an empathetic content experience create a powerful force to be reckoned with.

These winning content experiences, like many great products, are born out of necessity. Take BankMobile, which launched “Paradigm Money” three years into its operations. Ash Exantus, BankMobile’s head of financial education, explained that the separately branded site will invite user-generated content.

“If we go the traditional route, we’re going to get drowned out,” said Exantus. “If we can make that human connection, feel and touch, and [students] can connect with us, they start trusting the brand and become ambassadors, and that’s when the social aspect comes about.”

Monzo similarly invites users to participate in building their brand on their Community Forum. The “Monzonauts” are fervent users, and not only use the forum as a knowledge base for frequently asked questions and financial advice — they deliberate on user experience and features in the app. Most importantly, Monzo listens and adapts, building a foundation of stellar service on top of quality content experience and product.

Another content experience evolution pioneered by neobanks integrates budgeting tools, advice or gamification directly within the product. Changing the way users interact with and value features such as N26 “Spaces,” Revolut’s personalized push notifications or SmartyPig’s goal-based savings accounts.

As digital ad spending continues to climb and unexpected players that have mastered digital continue to gain footing, it’s imperative that banks keep pace with innovative new ways of connecting with customers. How will your bank transform its content from marketing to experience?