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5 TIPS TO HELP FINANCE BUSINESSES SMASH THEIR COMPETITION WITH DIGITAL PR

Gemma Flinders, Senior PR Account Manager at Receptional

Nailing digital PR isn’t easy. But when you’re in a “red tape” sector like finance, overcoming the hurdles towards a top-notch strategy can seem impossible. On one hand, your online competition is fierce – from high street banks and price comparison sites to asset management services. On the other, any campaign ideas you have can be shut down by compliance and regulations.

In spite of these hurdles, more and more financial institutions are recognising PR’s importance in executing a top-notch digital marketing strategy. According to our research, 69% of Digital Marketing Managers in financial services are prioritising budgets for digital PR in 2020. And so they should – with careful planning and execution, digital PR can yield a fantastic return on investment (ROI).

However, 50% of those we interviewed admitted to lacking the internal skills and knowledge required.

At Receptional, it’s taken us years to build our digital PR offering from the ground up. Now, we feel confident enough to share our framework for success. Based on our experience executing award-winning campaigns in this difficult sector, here’s how finance businesses can effectively use digital PR to smash their competition.

 

1. Take Time to Understand Your Target Audience

A successful digital PR campaign needs a target audience. If nobody’s going to view it, what’s the point in creating it? To do this, you need to evaluate where your target audience are and what’s appealing to them.

 

Gemma Flinders

Avenues for gauging you audience could be:

Job Titles – For example, if you’re running a PR campaign targeted at CEOs, ensure you’re actually relating to them in your content. This is especially useful for social media targeting on platforms like LinkedIn as you can filter your target audience by job title.

 

Content Types They Engage With – Which of your content formats generates the most engagement – a press release, video animation? Or, have any of your competitors used a content format that’s landed really well? Getting the content format right can make all the difference to a PR campaign.

 

Influential Advertising Channels – Analyse where exactly your audience spends most of their time. Is it reading your email newsletters, commenting on your social media posts or viewing video campaigns? This will help promote your campaign on the right channels.

 

There are also some handy tools to research your audience further. Two of our favorites are:

Answer The Public: features real questions that people ask search engines, e.g. “which banking investment solution is right for me”? This helps to find topics that address your audience’s key concerns.

Image source: https://answerthepublic.com/reports/ee5ed6c7-7449-4930-830b-d36dde59b8fa

 

You can also find related terms to search queries. For example, after a search for “asset management” on Answer the Public, one of the related terms “asset management market study” could be a great study for a PR campaign.

Buzzsumo: unlocks data on the actual content your audience is engaging with, what social channels it’s being shared across and how recently. If a particular piece of content is receiving a lot of interest, it’s a sign that your target audience wants to know more.

After a search for “business finance management” one article on integrated business and personal finance has received 3.8K total engagement. Possible PR campaigns could look into the future of business finance tech or what businesses value as the post important asset when looking into finance management.

 

2. Make Idea Generation Easier  

Any successful digital PR campaign starts with a solid idea – one that’s really going to resonate with your target audience. However, generating these ideas doesn’t need to be a painstakingly difficult task, there are some easy ways to cut corners.

Following industry trends and updates is one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate PR campaign ideas. Developments in the financial space happen daily, so keeping on top of these will keep your campaign ideas flowing.

Image source –  https://www.google.co.uk/alerts#

Set up Google Alerts for industry-related search terms, competitors and key thought leaders in the financial space. This way, you can quickly react to emerging trends, upcoming events or hot topics that could be leveraged, hijacked or piggybacked for your own PR. Knowing an industry update as soon as it hits the headlines will also allow you to respond quickly and produce content when it’s likelier to be picked up.

You can make things even easier by setting up information requests from journalists or publications. ResponseSource allows you to receive these requests in real-time from different sectors directly into your inbox. This’ll save you time in coming up with an idea – all you need to do is present your content in a creative, engaging way!

 

3. Will Your Idea Actually Work?

There is no point investing time and resources into PR campaigns that aren’t going to take off or yield any results. Our team must confidently answer these five questions to sense-check a campaign idea. If we can’t, the idea will be refined or scrapped if there’s no chance of it working:

  1. Why this campaign?

Justification is key to getting a PR campaign up and running. Consider what this campaign could achieve for your business and why it stands above any other ideas. 

  1. Is this campaign practical?

Having a really extravagant PR idea is fantastic – IF you have the resources to make it happen. We already know that 50% of the digital marketing managers in the finance sector lack the in-house resources to pull off digital PR, so any ideas you have need to be achievable.

  1. Does it tie in with your brand?

The main goal of digital PR is to promote your brand and your offering. But to do this, it needs to be relevant your products or services. Use PR campaigns to establish your business as thought leaders in your industry and the best on the market. Don’t try to cross over into territory you have little experience in. 

  1. Is it newsworthy?

For example, if headlines revealed there’s been a surge in consumers using independent businesses, you could do a research piece around asking consumers why they prefer shopping small. However, be sure your idea hasn’t already been covered already – publications will very rarely share the same campaign twice.   

  1. Who will be interested?

If you’re dedicating lots of time, resources and budget into a PR campaign, you need to know if it’ll appeal to your target audience. Look over the research you gathered from your audience tools, e.g. does a question relevant to your idea keep popping up on Answer The Public? If you can’t find any interest, your idea needs reworking.

4. Structure Your Campaigns for Success – ‘The Three Pillars’

Even if you’ve justified why you’ve chosen a campaign idea, it could still fall flat if you haven’t actually considered its framework. Whether you’re trying to push your brand name, increase search rankings or enquires, how is the campaign actually going to achieve its main goal? Remember, good PR isn’t created just to be newsworthy, it’s there to fulfil a purpose within your marketing strategy.

According to Moz, the top-ranking factors for 2019 were landing page content, linking sites and internal links. Based on these findings, we split our digital PR campaigns into three pillars. This allows us to plan exactly how our campaigns will look from start to finish:

 

Content/Landing Page:

This is an asset that can generate links without being too promotional or salesy. It also adds credibility to your content campaign. For example, if you ran a survey evaluating how satisfied consumers are with their banks, a dedicated landing page sharing the data would put your brand as the face of the research.

Be sure to link this as your main resource in any content you produce off the back of your campaign, e.g. exclusive articles, infographics, video animations to push your landing page even further.

From our experience of working with journalists, they’re much likelier to credit your brand if you have an attainable, not overly promotional, resource for them to link to!

 

Internal Linking:

Internal links are the backbone to any website. They are featured within your content to push SEO value through to the most profitable website pages and increase their ranking. E.g. if you had a blog post on ‘5 Different Types of Business Loans’, any relevant, high converting webpages on your site should be linked to within the text.

Add internal links to your website pages throughout your content/landing page. Any online publications who then link to your landing page will push SEO authority through your entire site; helping to push your most profitable pages further up the SERPs into those prime positions.

Note – avoid “keyword stuffing” with your internal links. Not every webpage is equal value, so splitting any link equity throughout your entire website will only reduce the ranking benefits.

 

Online Placements:

With effective campaign promotion, the target landing page will earn links within content placed on third party sites. These links establish landing page authority which sends SEO value through profitable pages and increase rankings.

Be refined over the publications you contact – your campaign isn’t going to be relevant to everyone. Limit your lists down to websites who’ll have interest in content around finance. E.g. business news, investments, insurance, etc.

Check to see if websites have a media pack too, as some have specific requirements for getting content featured on their site, e.g. the right tone of voice, an author and even wordcount. Some publications will also refuse to link back to your website, which isn’t ideal if your campaign’s purpose is to improve your rankings!

 

5. How to Avoid Missing the Mark…

A PR campaign that backfires can be detrimental to a brand’s identity and consumer’s views of them. All consumers want to trust the companies they do business with, but this is especially true in finance. According to research, 69% of people in the UK have expressed distrust in their finance and banking businesses in the past three years.

Mastercard know the effects of bad PR only too well. In 2018, the credit card brand ran their ‘Meals for Goals’ campaign, which promised that for every goal scored by Messi or Neymar Jr. 10,000 children would receive a mean donated by the World Food Programme charity.

 

Unsurprisingly, the campaign received worldwide backlash, with headlines describing it as “the worst marketing I’ve ever seen” and “don’t let the fate of starving children rest on multimillionaire footballers”. The fact is, although it had good intentions, Mastercard’s audience were disgusted by the notion of such a huge multi-national company allowing the fate of starving children to rest their two selected players scored goals during the tournament.

Financial businesses need to put trust at the centre of their digital PR campaigns. For instance, you could position your CMO a thought-leader in the industry through interviews with financial news websites and webinars.

Although digital PR isn’t straightforward in the finance, it shouldn’t be avoided. There are plenty of ways to make generating ad landing strong campaigns much easier.

 

Business

HOW TO SAVE MONEY WHEN DEVELOPING AN APP FOR YOUR COMPANY

Creating the perfect app for your company is vital in ensuring growth and success. In fact, with 3.8 billion people owning a smartphone, phone apps are steadily becoming the quickest and easiest way of connecting with a customer base. Not only does it boost overall customer recognition, but it also increases customer satisfaction. As 70% of buying experiences are influenced by how a customer feels, increasing satisfaction can be a good way to boost sales.

However, creating apps can be extremely expensive and complex to design, especially on a small budget. While they are extremely important for small businesses, many do not have the adequate income to spend on app design. But don’t worry! Our 6 hassle-free tips will allow you to have it all! The perfect app that doesn’t break the bank – it’s almost as if Christmas has come early.

 

Research Well

The perfect app won’t just appear out of thin air. In fact, the majority of successful apps would have taken years to create. So, before doing anything, it’s important to have a solid idea of what you want. This will also mean you won’t have to spend extra time explaining to a professional when it comes to building the app. And we all know, time is money. So, sit down with a big piece of paper and don’t stop writing till you have the ideal idea. Although creating an initial idea is already a big step, it’s also always beneficial to look at the market and check for similar apps. Small similarities can be good as it means the app code won’t have to be completely new, but you don’t want to be creating an exact replica! Try and stay as unique as possible.

 

Stay Simple

No one likes a fiddly app. Try and keep your app simple and focus on the overall goal. Is the app primarily for selling? Or is it for customer feedback? It’s always good to fully understand why you’re making the app before investing the time and money into the process. This idea should lead how the app will work and what features will need to be used. Going for something simple will usually cost less money, as it will take less time to develop the code and for the code to be tested. Just remember that there are often tweaks to be made after an initial version of the app is created, so making your design simple will ensure these stay to the minimum. Additionally, keeping the interface simple may also have a positive effect on customer experience – no one likes an app with too many features that it’s impossible to find what you’re actually looking for. Simplicity is a key way of keeping costs down, while also boosting overall customer satisfaction.

 

Try a Responsive Design

To put it simply, responsive design is a design that works on all devices. Be it the smallest of smartphones, to that 90-inch wall tv, your app should merge seamlessly from one to the other. Many companies wrongly opt for creating non-responsive apps, which means that they must design new interfaces for every different sized device! Not only is this time consuming, but it also means a lot of time with a professional creating lots of unessential code. Although the professional you choose may not mention this outright, you should always ask for them to make your app a responsive design. Most developers can do this quickly and easily, saving you both money and time. Don’t make this mistake – ask your developer from the get-go!

 

Use Automated Testing

Testing an app is one of the most lengthy and expensive parts of the process. But, as annoying as it may seem to test and re-test the same code, it’s something that just has to be done. You don’t want your app to suddenly have a meltdown just as a customer goes to make a big purchase. In fact, this part of the process is probably the most important, as it helps iron-out all the small issues to ensure that your app stays working at optimum for a longer period of time. As a result, this also means you will have to spend less money on app maintenance in the future.

While it does have to be done, there are easier and more robust ways than manual testing. We highly recommend using automated testing services from a company like Global App, which is a method of testing that uses specialist software to execute pre-scripted test cases. So, in essence, it tests the app by checking the code for thousands of potential bugs that could affect it in mere minutes. If this is something that interests you, you can read about the best practices here. This super simple site explains all the benefits to automation testing, and where and how you can apply it to your app. They also offer an easy online guide to ensure this step doesn’t get too overwhelming.

 

Avoid Push Notifications

It’s important to avoid unnecessary expenses such as push notifications. These pop up like text messages or mobile alerts for your customers. While many apps may have this feature, they actually sap up a lot of money and, in the end, aren’t worth it. Why do they use up so much money? Well, not only do these require more intricate coding, which will take longer, but they also need a lot of maintenance. As they’re constantly sending and receiving information, they can often end up failing and causing more problems in the app. Additionally, push notifications can clog up the general operating of your app and make it look messy. Many customers may prefer a more clean, simple look, as it shows professionalism and indicates ease of use.

The most important tip for creating your app is to stay focused. Make sure you build a design that is in line with the apps purpose. While many developers may try and sell you additional fancy add-ons, don’t be swayed. Sticking to a simple, easy design will ensure your money stays right where you want it… safe in your bank!

 

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Business

BACK TO SCHOOL – CEOS NEED TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE, FAST!

By Simon Axon, Financial Services Industry Consulting practice lead in EMEA, Teradata

 

Chief Executive Officers of banks know all about change. Leading responses to new challenges, new opportunities, new regulation and new markets is all in a day’s work. But the existential challenge posed by Big Tech requires a totally new set of skills. It is an entirely different beast that inhabits a totally new environment and speaks its own language. CEOs now need to learn the language of data to survive in the emerging digital world.

Learning a new language later in life is hard. CEOs need to fully commit to accomplish it. Becoming data literate means mastering the basics of vocabulary and grammar. Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied — and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.” Extending the language analogy: the building blocks are an understanding of logical data models – the basic vocabulary; meta data providing rules and information about data is the grammar.  Learning needs to go beyond parroting a few key phrases and acronyms. To really communicate in this new language CEOs must not only be data literate – but data cognitive. Language shapes thinking, and to succeed, today’s CEOs need to think data like digital natives.

Simon Axon

As anyone who has learned a language will recognise – practise makes perfect. This means rolling up your sleeves and getting into the data ‘lab’. Run some queries, experiment with data to test theories and learn how data can, and should, inform all aspects of business management. It is daunting, and different functions are fiercely protective of their data. But that’s one of the big cultural shifts the CEO needs to lead. Data is more valuable when it is used across the business. Developing safe and secure ways to combine, refine and analyse data at an enterprise level is fundamental to competing with Big Tech. The Chief Data Officer can help. Spend time with them and use them as a teaching-resource to get more familiar with what can and cannot be done with your data.

As you practise you will build confidence and move from school-level conversations to business-class data fluency. Spending more time looking at and working with data and you will begin to recognise ‘quality’ data, identify attributes and flag anomalies. This will build confidence and essential trust in data. Last year KPMG found just 35% of CEOs trusted the data in their organisations. This shocking stat undoubtedly stems from a data skills deficit among CEOs themselves. If they don’t know what to ask for, and can’t recognise what they get, they won’t trust it. To stretch our linguistic analogy, if you are not confident in the language then you’ll be anxious ordering food in a restaurant!

Ultimately, no one expects the CEO to personally implement data-analytics programmes across the business. But unless they have the confidence and the skills to accurately communicate what’s needed, to sit at the head of the table and ask the right questions about the menu, then the organisation is unlikely to put the right emphasis on the data strategy.

In How Google Works, former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt outlines how every meeting revolved around data – it is simply how Big Tech works. Banks need to adopt the same approach. Exploiting data in all scenarios must become second-nature. By modelling the use of data across the business – dissolving silos rather than sticking to narrow data sets that reinforce them, the CEO can define a powerful data culture. Operationalizing data strategy will, just like using language skills, stop data literacy from becoming rusty.

Entering any new market requires investment in understanding the language, culture and business environment. In the Big Tech world, data is the lingua franca informing every decision. Bank CEOs need to learn from them and invest in building their knowledge to become data fluent. There are no short cuts. Throwing money, bodies and tech at the problem will not get you there.

 

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