Four banking brands getting content marketing right

Barclays: the bank runs a scheme called 'Digital Eagles'
Barclays: the bank runs a scheme called 'Digital Eagles'

Banks are trying to restore their damaged reputations through the use of content marketing, says Shafqat Islam, chief executive, NewsCred.

The British economy may have slowly worked its way back into positive figures, yet many of the country’s banks are still held in low regard by the public. Our latest report, ‘The Trust Transaction’, highlights that a third of the 1,000 UK consumers we surveyed don’t trust their bank. However, half say they would trust them more if they provided useful content.

These four campaigns from some of the leading banks in the UK – both established brands and disruptive newcomers – demonstrate how financial institutions can rebuild and solidify their customer relationships through creative content.

Santander’s ‘Successful Modern Entrepreneurship’: Making content go further with effective partnerships

Branded content doesn’t always have to mean producing and distributing your own content from scratch – many great content strategies depend just as much on licensing content or working in partnership with publishers to be successful.

Santander took the latter approach with its ‘Successful Modern Entrepreneurship’ campaign last year, working with the Times to reach small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK through helpful tips, news, and case studies. Santander chose one of the oldest and most prestigious newspaper brands in England to partner with, reinforcing their own expertise and authority.

The partnership kicked off with a four-page supplement in the national newspaper last October, and has continued with further supplements, all featuring contributions from business experts ranging from Dragon Den’s James Caan to Times writers such as business features editor Carol Lewis.

Santander didn’t stop there, however: the bank brought its print content to life with an online hub (featuring blogs, videos, and live Q&As) as well as a series of events, including the newspaper's inaugural SME Summit. This variety of channels not only allows Santander to stay front-of-mind with its target audience, no matter where they might be, but also provides the bank the opportunity to speak in-depth on the wide array of issues affecting SMEs.

Barclays’ Digital Eagles: Helping customers get online to get more out of their banks

Queuing in line at the bank to make a payment is increasingly being replaced by online transactions, but these technological changes can be daunting for some customers. Barclays decided to go one step further to encourage its less Internet-savvy customers to get online by providing them the tools – and the confidence – to do so.

The Digital Eagles programme launched last year to help customers and the general public get online and become digitally active, and has grown significantly since. Instead of just limiting itself to straightforward guides, Barclays used the human touch to convey its message. Its YouTube channel features an over-50’s ‘Walking Football’ league that wanted to learn how to promote their group online, as well as senior citizens Kent and Val learning how to Skype, which have attracted thousands of views. These successful shorts later served as the basis for the bank’s TV campaign.

Digital Eagles is all part of a larger push by the bank to provide better in-branch services, and by bringing this same focus on increased customer service to their online content, Barclays has ensured that its online banking services are actually being used.

First Direct’s #myfirsthome: Making buying a home as fun and exciting as it should be

Buying your first home is as intimidating as it is exciting for many people, especially when it comes to the financial aspects. First Direct, however, chose to focus on one of the best parts of buying a new home with its #myfirsthome campaign: the chance to decorate it in any way you like.

Brits are more likely to get divorced than change their bank accounts

First Direct asked three interior design bloggers for their tips on decorating a first home, and then filmed them putting these tips into action in a short, upbeat video. The bloggers made sure to stick to the theme of first homes by showcasing budget conscious decorating tips like framing wallpaper for artwork and spray-painting furniture bright colours. It doesn’t hurt that these tips can be easily applied to anyone on a budget, whether they actually own their own home or are just hoping to one day.

First Direct partnered with one of the bloggers, Dear Designer, again this year, launching a competition to uncover an ‘Unexpected Interior Designer’ to design the First Direct Arena Bar in Yorkshire. This campaign continues with the same quirky, cheery tone, emphasising just how different this bank is from the old guard by living up to its core brand value of ‘the unexpected bank’.

HSBC’s Your Future Selfie: Inspiring content for a cut-throat competitive space

Each summer, every High Street bank competes relentlessly to reach the young students on their way to university to provide their first bank account. With good reason – research has shown that Brits are more likely to get divorced than change their bank accounts. Reaching these young consumers early is the key to lifetime relationships and repeat business, and from the amount of advertising and marketing aimed at this demographic, it’s clear every bank knows that.

HSBC, however, cut through the noise about competitive interest rates and stalls at Fresher’s Week this year with a series of compelling short films. These four short documentaries focus on four unique individuals, like Jethro Binns, a former pro squash player who started an online squash training portal after an injury ended his career.

At less than two minutes each, they’re designed to be shared across the social channels young people already engage with every day. Additionally, HSBC also planned a competition for students that asked them to upload their own ‘future selfies’ - coinciding with the release of A-levels results - with the most inspiring or enterprising ideas winning a prize. Across the whole campaign, the key aim is for the bank to let students know that no matter what their future selves end up doing, HSBC can help them realise these dreams.


These key takeaways from the aforementioned case studies closely match the results of our ‘Trust Transaction’ study:

•Commission expert writers that consumers already trust. They want to know that any decision they make has been fuelled by a trustworthy, knowledgeable, and unbiased source of information.

•Use credible content to increase social engagement. Your customers need a reason to follow you on social media, and they need to see social as a place to discover great content – not just to complain.

•Think ‘outside the bank’ and consider using non-finance content to talk more colourfully and creatively to your audience.

•Make an impression on your young consumers by offering them relevant, aspirational stories with a high level of interaction and social shareability.

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