As the sixth-largest public company in the world and the largest bank in the United States, JPMorgan Chase already has millions of customers. So as it continues to invest in publishing content on its blog, the brand has had to confront a unique challenge: How can it build brand affinity in an industry racked with consumer mistrust?
On April 6, Brian Becker, the executive director and head of content for JPMC’s digital team, sat down with Contently CEO Joe Coleman at Contently’s Executive Finance Summit to address that challenge. The two spoke candidly about how financial services companies should approach content, the benefits influencers can bring to your work, and why how much you publish isn’t as important as what you publish.
Here are five key takeaways from the conversation.
1. Adjust your goals to your audience
Some marketers view content purely as a way to grow an audience, but JPMC’s motivation is a bit more nuanced.
“Thirty-five million people log in to our website. We have nine million followers in social media channels. We have twenty-two million users of our mobile application,” he said. “So when I came to the company, our job was not about getting more audience—it was about serving them better, humanizing our brand, and using storytelling as a way to just connect with them.”
That doesn’t mean JPMC completely ignores traditional metrics like impressions, but Becker stressed that each piece of content needs to be evaluated on its own. Metrics and KPIs can vary greatly depending on a campaign’s ultimate goal.
2. Think beyond the homepage
Becker’s team gets a lot of credit since their content is featured prominently on the Chase homepage, but Becker pointed out that it’s not a huge driver of traffic. “I think it’s something that is great for the press, it’s great for the internal company, but most people aren’t going to the front our of homepage looking for content.”
Instead, he believes that more and more people are finding content in different ways, namely through popular social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And as a result of that change, JPMC makes sure to tailor each piece of content to each platform.
3. Work with media partners
One of JPMC’s most successful content campaigns from this year was a partnership with The Skimm, a popular email newsletter . The company sponsored a section of the newsletter about entrepreneurship and personal finance, which showed Becker’s team the benefits of reaching and understanding a new kind of demographic.
“They had such a different kind of voice, so it helped to train us,” he said. “We had a better sense for how that kind of demographic would talk about a subject. We’re still a bank, so I think you have to have humility in how you approach this stuff and be able to speak about it a different way.”
The company also sponsors events like the U.S. Open, the NHL Playoffs, and Sundance. Leveraging such relationships can be great for visibility, but Becker cautioned that it’s important to keep the brand’s voice—as a bank and financial institution—strong throughout.
“The further away [content] gets from something that wouldn’t make sense … the less people trust you,” he said.
When JPMC partnered with NBA superstar LeBron James to show how financial brands can work with influencers in appropriate ways, the project shined a spotlight on the structure of James’s charitable foundation.
“We didn’t look at as ‘we’re going to go in and talk about how the Cavaliers are doing in the playoffs.’ That’s not our role,” Becker said. “We did it in a way that we’re going to talk about the community he’s operating in, the impact he had, and what the vision was going forward.”
4. Don’t fixate on CTAs
Even though just about every piece of marketing collateral connects back to a call-to-action, Becker isn’t a big believer in CTAs.
“There’s a certain responsibility we have to serve the business goals, so a lot of our content does have CTAs on it,” he said. “[But] we don’t need a CTA for people to want to be a customer of yours. The Skimm is a good example. The content we did with them about their story has done extremely well from an acquisition perspective. Not because we put a CTA on it, but because people connected to it.”
Perhaps people have trained their eyes to ignore CTAs, just like with display ads. Becker cited JPMC research that suggested CTAs were largely ineffective: “We’ve actually measured it, and just because we slap a CTA on something, it basically has little or no impact on whether [a customer] signs up for a product.”
5. More is not always better
Last year, 80 percent of JPMC’s content consisted of articles. This year, however, the company is taking a new approach, cutting back on how much it publishes but making sure its output is more in-depth and entertaining. All articles now include some interactive element like a video or infographic.
“We often get requests around creating twenty pieces of content for a certain business—I’m not even sure where that comes from,” Becker said with a laugh. “What’s the value of a certain number, honestly, when it’s really about making sure you have the right kind of creative and the right kind of messaging that supports a campaign or program?”
The JPMC team currently releases six to ten stories per week. Becker said he’s not all that concerned with hitting a certain quantity. As he put it, the focus it to “make sure we manage the voice and the formats we do in more of an intelligent way.”