Making finance content stand out for millennials, Gen Z

The financial industry is being reinvented as mobile-first generations grow in buying power. Physical branches sit empty as customers flock to digital solutions. Almost everything customers want to do can be done online — and millennials and Gen Z prefer it that way.

All of this creates trouble for marketers in financial services companies. How can they update their content and offerings – web content, mailers, infographics, financial calculators and more – to appeal to a different type of customer?

Financial marketers at big banks are now facing some stiff competition. Established companies are losing ground to agile startups built for personalized tech- and mobile-first online experiences. Look at Credit Karma: The company understands that managing a credit score is an emotional process, so it uses empathetic language and encouragement as people raise their scores, combining service and humanity to genuinely connect with customers.

Traditional marketing tactics can put off younger generations who prefer businesses that relate to them, but a surprisingly small percentage of financial marketers cite targeting or personalization as top priorities. The future of banking lies in empathetic digital products and communication, and it’s time for the industry’s marketing to reflect it.

Digital banking makes data tracking possible so that you can pinpoint who might be searching your site. You can craft content that will help people on the basis of their needs and build trust naturally. Try these strategies for building authentic connections with newer generations:

Focus on emotional needs

The first step to any marketing initiative is to understand your audience: What do they want from your products? How can you improve their lives by solving a need?

Millennials and Gen Z consumers are driven by research. Both generations prioritize ease and convenience, oftentimes over privacy. For example, the popular mobile payment service Venmo makes it easy for people to reimburse a roommate for rent or a friend for dinner. The app makes financial transactions feel as easy as status updates.

Today’s competition for financial services firms is from startups and alternative financial products like Venmo that meet the needs of a digitally native generation. If you can solve an emotional need (the pain of exchanging money) and make it easy to understand and use your product, you’ll appeal to a market that’s receptive to emotional innovation.

Speak like a human, not a bank

People under 30 make up more than half of the world’s population, and on the whole they don’t have a lot of faith in financial institutions. About 45% of respondents to a 2018 World Economic Forum survey said they distrust banks. An earlier survey found that only one in four members of the millennial generation had looked to financial experts for advice in the past half-decade.

Financial institutions need to produce personalized, approachable content to remain relevant. JPMorgan Chase’s premium checking account, Sapphire Banking, is designed for millennials who prioritize value, connection, and unique experiences. The bank advertises Sapphire with language that appeals to their audience, using words such as “free,” “relationship” and “perks.”

It’s paramount that financial marketers reach out to younger generations with content and products that speak to digital-first needs and desires. By building useful products that solve real pain points for millennials and Gen Zers, and by providing digital education materials around those products, financial services companies can seamlessly transition into the new world.

Make compliance a partner, not a hurdle

Compliance is what keeps you and your consumers safe. If you’ve been around for 100 years in a heavily regulated industry, people feel they can trust you. Startups don’t have that trust yet, so they should think of compliance as an opportunity.

But regulatory compliance has been a cage for content creators in the financial space – many marketers are so afraid of compliance concerns that they self-censor. They unnecessarily restrict their language to stay ahead of the law, which leads to content that feels robotic and disconnected from the target audience. If you’re a content creator thinking more about lawyers than users, you’re dead in the water.

By clearly defining or automating compliance, you can create authentic content with peace of mind because you have a system in place to handle legalities. Work with your legal experts to define parameters regarding third-party affiliates, lead generators and marketing partners so you can speak freely without compromising your natural language.

Optimize digital-first customer journeys

Four leading banks were ranked by millennials as a least-loved brand. The financial services industry ignored digital experiences for so long that millennials and Gen Zers felt banks didn’t understand or care about their needs. Now, institutions must do damage control.

By optimizing digital customer journeys, banks can show that they’re listening now. Unify multiple digital touchpoints for seamless interactions and align writers across your company to ensure consistency in your content. When you make strategic changes in direction or brand voice, make sure you systematically update every writer in your organization.

It will require time and resources to improve the faith of younger generations in long-established banks. But 81% of companies in the financial services industry are eager to optimize customer journeys, compared with only 69% in other sectors.

Marketers must discard the regulatory compliance-oriented mindset to forge genuine connections with young consumers. The future of banking lies in producing the right content and products for digital-first and digital-native customers.

May Habib is co-founder and CEO of Qordoba, a content intelligence platform that helps everyone at a company write with the same style, terminology and brand voice.

Want more BAI Banking StrategiesSign up for our free newsletter!