Author: Imprint Team

3 Key Takeaways from COVID-19 Content Analysis

3 Key Takeaways from COVID-19 Content Analysis

We’ve been at it for eight weeks now: quarantining and working from home, but also assessing best practices for effective communications during the pandemic.

Imprint has analyzed marketing communications across five industries: insurance/annuities, banking, investments, healthcare and retirement, supplementing communications unearthed by our friends at Corporate Insight with our own research.

We’ve combed through hundreds of web pages, articles, videos and blog posts. When we took a step back to assess the five industries as a whole, these three common traits emerged.

1. They lead with empathy.

The best communications felt like one human was speaking directly to another. They acknowledged the people on both ends of the line—the senders and the recipients. And they recognized the severity of the issues that many people have been dealing with since February and early March.

That human, relatable tone is something a lot of brands try to deliver, yet few really succeed. Some of our standouts:

  • Chase: Their letter from Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, gives you a window into exactly who she is “a mother, a daughter, a banking executive.” And it succinctly describes the impact of the pandemic in entirely relatable terms: “COVID-19 has affected every part of my life.
A message from Thasunda Brown Duckett, (Chase)

 

  • State Farm: Their tone is simple and clear: We’re here for you. And their messaging reflects a business strategy grounded in today’s reality: fewer drivers on the road means fewer accidents, which leads to a return of premiums.
We’re Here For You, (State Farm)
Guiding you through turbulent times, (TIAA)

2. They’re credible and competent.

That sounds obvious, but let’s not take competence and credibility for granted. We’ve seen what can happen when they are.

Brands stand out from the rest when they differentiate through experience, insight, effectiveness or other credentials. A few of our favorites:

Insights on COVID-19, (New York Life)
  • Northwell Health: The largest healthcare provider in New York state, Northwell Health is at the epicenter of the current crisis. Some of their most effective communications are straightforward infographics, covering such critical info as how to properly wash your hands; comparing cold, allergy or COVID-19 symptoms; and ways you can prevent the spread of coronavirus. Communications heavy on visuals and short on text can be critical for under-served communities where English is not the primary language or literacy rates aren’t strong.
Coronavirus Digital Resource Center, (Northwell Health)
  • State Street: Like many investment providers, State Street is long on sophisticated thought leadership. They also shine with their perspectives on global business continuity, including summaries of the re-opening of their operations in China and India. And they are striving to take a leadership role to determine the industry’s future as a result of the current crisis.
An essential partner when you need it most, (State Street)

3. They pack an emotional punch.

We’re all feeling more frayed than usual. Throughout our assessments, the best communications touched and inspired us. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

  • New York Life: In the middle of the crisis, New York Life’s Brave of Heart Fund both sticks to its essence as a life insurer and supports healthcare workers and the families they’ll leave behind should they be lost in the fight against the virus.
The Brave of Heart Fund, (New York Life)
  • NYU Langone: On April 3, the NYU Grossman School of Medicine became the first medical school in the nation to graduate their fourth-year medical students early so they could join the ranks of MDs. It’s hard to stop thinking about the pride in the newly minted MDs’ faces seen on the screen capture of their Zoom graduation, and the contrast with a video message from their advisor on the hospital floor in full-body PPE. Their subsequent content connects with true emotion, like the video diary of a woman becoming a new mom during COVID-19 or the challenge of dealing with trauma in children as a result of the pandemic.
Early Graduation at NYU Grossman School of Medicine Sends New Doctors to Join COVID-19 Fight, (NYU Langone)

All of this is to say that yes—content marketing can be a complicated undertaking. But as with many aspects of our lives, this pandemic has forced us to look hard at the essence. To home in on the basics. And after our five-week comb through these industries, we learned the most fundamental ways to deliver effective communications in a crisis are these:

  1. Start from a position of empathy.
  2. Demonstrate your competence.
  3. Connect on an emotional level. 

Want more? If you’d like to see our full industry roundups of coronavirus content, you can click through each below.

Insurance / Annuities

Banking

Investing

Healthcare

Retirement

Finally, even these sectors represent just a sampling of pandemic communications. What other firms do you think exemplify best practices at this time? Please let us know—you can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Retirement

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Retirement

The retirement industry caters to a number of different audiences — two of the most important being individuals who participate in workplace plans like 401(k)s, and the employers that sponsor them. Both are grappling with their own sets of challenges.

  • Participants worry about accessing their savings and whether they should take action amid volatile markets.
  • Plan sponsors and administrators want info about the CARES Act, its impacts on their plans, and how best to communicate with participants. They must also ensure each communication targets the right audience and delivers what that audience really needs.

To uncover standout examples of communications in this space, we turned to our friends at Corporate Insight, who track communications, products and the overall customer experience delivered by companies in a variety of industries. Our team here at Imprint leveraged their library, supplemented by our own research, to evaluate COVID-19 communications in the retirement industry. We applied these four criteria to all the communications we found:

  • Client-centricity: Are brands putting their audiences’ needs at the center of their content—or talking about themselves?
  • Tone: How are brands speaking to their audiences?
  • Formats: How are they packaging their content? Video, long form, visual storytelling?
  • Differentiation: Do brands’ communications stand out from competitors’?

Here’s what stood out to us. Click HERE for last week’s roundup of the healthcare industry.

An emphasis on advice

Long-time retirement plan provider TIAA strikes a comforting tone with its COVID-19-related content. Not surprising, given that it has been serving teachers, academics, medical professionals and other care-givers for over 100 years.

  • Its communications acknowledge both the financial and emotional toll of market volatility, highlighting the role expert guidance can play in keeping people on track for retirement.
  • TIAA concisely explains what the CARES Act means for retirement savers.
    • The piece below includes a discussion of new rules expanding access to retirement plan loans.
    • And they also offer smart content explaining the long-term cost of that short-term move.
  • Articles aimed at retirement savers are put through a COVID-19 lens, making them feel timely and relevant.
    • TIAA Senior Director Kelly Greene has penned several thoughtful and personal essays offering advice to retirement savers struggling with a historic spike in stock market volatility.
Guiding you through turbulent times (TIAA)

Tailored for individuals

Retirement and other employer benefit plan participants access Fidelity’s workplace COVID-19 Resource Center via Fidelity’s NetBenefits site. NetBenefits provides participants with both the plan-specific information they need and general information about the pandemic.

COVID-19 Resource Center (Fidelity)
  • The site highlights the features of each user’s plan, helping them find content that applies to them.
  • Fidelity also includes general information that’s top of mind for many participants such as info about 401(k) loans, and Required Minimum Distributions on inherited IRAs.
  • The content Fidelity provides extends beyond retirement to include other benefits topics such as smart ways to use Health Savings Accounts to what the CARES Act means for student loan borrowers.
  • A COVID-19 stimulus recap, originally published on Fidelity’s public site, tidily explains new legislation such as the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The article gives a just-the-facts treatment to these stimulus measures, and offers links to each piece of legislation on the US Congressional website for readers who want to dig deeper.
What the CARES Act means for student loan borrowers (Fidelity)

Answering clients’ top questions

Retirement provider Empower addresses readers’ most pressing concerns via a no-frills, curated list of resources.

  • The market volatility resources provide a helpful mix of educational and actionable content for anxious retirement savers.
  • For plan sponsors, Empower offers creative and informative takes on topics such as using plan data to learn about participants’ behavior in volatile markets.
Financial Markets Perspective and Relief Programs (Empower)

We reviewed Milliman’s plan sponsor-focused COVID-19-related content:

  • Readers are served by a deep well of resources that appeal to a wide audience, from pension plan providers to 401(k) plan sponsors.
  • The focus of timely, in-depth articles include the crisis’ potential impact on pension plans, and the unintended consequences layoffs can have on corporate retirement plans.
  • Strong design and a variety of content formats elevate Milliman’s approach to its communications around topics related to COVID-19.
Navigating a global pandemic (Milliman)

(Note: We did not have access to Milliman’s participant site, and did not include that content in our review.)

The variety show

 

How we’re helping in uncertain times (Principal)

Principal engages readers using a wide variety of formats.

  • Users’ options range from videos and infographics to quick-hit listicles and longer-form articles.
  • FAQs answer key questions quickly (“Should I take my money out?”) and guides readers to more in-depth content.
  • An eye-catching chart illustrates the dangers of market timing for individual plan participants.
  • Principal’s Milestones educational offerings serve up the most popular resources first, meeting most participants’ needs in the process, and have a strong design aesthetic.
Principal Milestones (Principal)

Let us know what you think, and feel free to share other pieces that you think exemplify best practices as well. You can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

Here are links to the coronavirus microsites or information pages for each company featured above. (NB: Fidelity NetBenefits is only accessible if you have an account with Fidelity.)

TIAA

Fidelity NetBenefits

Empower

Milliman

Principal

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Healthcare

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Healthcare

The healthcare industry is so large and diverse that multiple content approaches are required to connect with B2C audiences about COVID-19. For example, hospital networks and other providers tailor their messages to connect with patients. Health insurers’ communications aim to address the needs of policyholders.

And while content strategies differ by firm objective and audience segment, the most effective content we’ve seen shares key qualities:

  • It aligns to the brand
  • It’s accessible and relatable to its target audience
  • It addresses that audience’s needs

To uncover effective examples, we turned to our friends at Corporate Insight, who track communications, products and the overall customer experience offered by leading companies in a variety of industries. A cross-functional team at Imprint reviewed what COVID-19 communications in the healthcare industry Corporate Insight has collected to date, and looked for examples for each of our four criteria:

  • Client-centricity: Are brands putting their audiences’ needs at the center of their content—or talking about themselves?
  • Tone: How are brands speaking to their audiences?
  • Formats: How are they packaging their content? Video, long form, visual storytelling?
  • Differentiation: Do brands’ communications stand out from competitors’?

Here’s what stood out to us this week. Click HERE for last week’s roundup of the investment industry.

Addressing a broad audience

Northwell Health is the largest healthcare provider in New York, with 23 hospitals and nearly 800 outpatient facilities. Its COVID-19-related content includes excellent, straight-ahead public health communications geared to reach a diverse B2C audience.

  • In particular, a suite of infographics effectively tackles key coronavirus topics in a highly visual way.
    • One offers an easy-to-read chart comparing COVID-19 symptoms with flu and cold symptoms.
    • Another offers five steps kids can take to combat “grouchy coronavirus germs.”
  • The infographics are well designed, and follow best practices for the format by economically using words to make their points.
    • These qualities make for strong public health communications, ensuring Northwell’s messages reach their diverse audiences. This includes often marginalized or under-served audiences such as non-native English speakers or those with weaker literacy skills, who need the critical info about how to protect themselves and their families during the pandemic.
Coronavirus Digital Resource Center (Northwell Health)

Communicating clearly

NYU Langone Health runs several hospitals, hundreds of outpatient facilities and two MD programs in the New York City area. Its content about COVID-19 is unsurprisingly heavy on medical expertise, yet peasantly light on clinical jargon.

  • Podcasts and print pieces bring in different voices from the medical world, from doctors to first responders. These experts discuss such topics as the search for a coronavirus vaccine and what it’s like to be an ER doc on the front lines of a pandemic.
  • NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine held graduation more than two months early to add more doctors to the ranks of frontline health care providers. A moving video on NYU Langone’s site features faculty and mentors congratulating the 52 new graduates and offering emotional thanks for their willingness to join the fight against COVID-19.
Our Latest News (NYU Langone)

Tufts Health Plan, a nonprofit health insurer with more than a million members, is nationally recognized for its coverage. Its COVID-19 content rises to that level as well, tailoring clear, just-the-facts information to widely diverse audiences: members, providers, employers and brokers.

  • On its COVID-19 home page, Tufts Health directly address its audiences: You have questions, we’re here to help, with key topics ranging from help identifying symptoms to knowing your options if you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19.
  • Each of their distinct audiences has quick access to FAQs and resources targeted to their needs.
  • Notably, Tufts Health policyholders can learn about testing, costs and virtual health care opportunities.
  • Tufts offers easy-to-find tools, such as a symptom checker, and they provide outside links to additional support resources including state Departments of Health and food assistance programs.

    Coronavirus Updates (Tufts Health Plan)

Serving the range of customer needs

 

EmblemHealth, a nonprofit insurer serving the New York City area, takes a customer-first approach that goes beyond health tips to address the economic impact of coronavirus and the efforts to curb it.

  • The company greets visitors to its website with a front-and-center note explaining that members may be able to switch plans if their job or income has been affected by COVID-19.
  • Clearly defined sections on the EmblemHealth site tackle a range of customer-centric topics, from benefit and care questions to food resource guides for readers struggling to acquire or afford groceries. This well-organized approach provides clarity for users and makes it easier for them to navigate all of EmblemHealth’s resources.
Coronavirus Disease (EmblemHealth)

Taking the next step

Much of the COVID-19 content in the healthcare industry rightfully focuses on ways patients and policyholders can stay safe and healthy. Pittsburgh-based provider and insurer UPMC covers this ground well, and offers bold, hopeful and forward-looking content.

  • Several articles discuss the realities of developing a vaccine for coronavirus, including the efforts of UPMC scientists. The researchers are making great strides: In early April, UPMC announced a potential COVID-19 vaccine that is awaiting FDA approval.
Our Response to COVID-19 (UPMC)

Insurer Florida Blue goes deep with its coronavirus content, delivering a nicely curated menu of helpful topics, from reading symptoms to managing the financial impact of COVID-19. It also offers some outstanding COVID-19-related content:

  • A map of testing sites makes it easy for policyholders to figure out where to go for testing, and the specific rules at each site: For example, whether appointments or doctors’ notes are required, or if patients need to wear a mask.
  • In his weekly videos, CEO Pat Geraghty explains how Florida Blue is responding to the coronavirus crisis. In recent weeks, he’s discussed his role in a gubernatorial taskforce to address improving Florida’s testing capacity, and announced a health innovation collaboration that will fund pilot programs to generate ideas for creating home-based COVID-19 tests and reducing risks for health care workers.
  • Visitors to Florida Blue’s COVID-19 site are greeted by an AI-based chatbot offering a wellbeing assessment to help visitors gauge the severity of their symptoms and suggest appropriate treatment avenues.
We’re here for you (Florida Blue)

Let us know what you think, and please share pieces that you think apply best practices. You can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

Here are links to the coronavirus microsites or information pages for each company featured above:

Northwell Health

NYU Langone

Tufts

EmblemHealth

UPMC

Florida Blue

Staying Creative In A Crisis

Staying Creative In A Crisis

In our latest video post, IMPRINT team members share the ways content has changed and how we’ve adapted to maximize collaboration and creativity internally and especially with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. A brief look at what’s been learned and put into action includes:

  • Communication is everything, inside and out. Using technology that enables you to see your colleagues and clients is invaluable.
  • Getting back to basics and taking a truly empathetic approach to understanding and responding to a client’s urgent needs are musts.
  • Collaboration is key — and that includes you.

Have you come up with great creative approaches to content? Or, are you struggling with a project? Either way, we are holding office hours and invite you to reach out to us and schedule a session.  Email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Investing

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Investing

Professional and individual investors are coping with historic volatility in the financial markets—and a lot of uncertainty about what the investment landscape will look like a few months or even a few years down the road. This means they need the best information they can get to make good decisions for the money they’re managing—whether that’s for their firms, their clients, or themselves. As a result, many investment houses’ content emphasizes market forecasts, in-depth analysis and actionable advice geared to the current environment.

We pored over market volatility-related communications precipitated by the current coronavirus pandemic. Our friends at Corporate Insight track communications, products and the overall customer experience offered by leading companies in a variety of industries. The Imprint team has leveraged their research, along with our own, to evaluate investment-industry COVID-19 communications against these four criteria:

  • Client-centricity: Are brands putting their audiences’ needs at the center of their content—or talking about themselves?
  • Tone: How are brands speaking to their audiences?
  • Formats: How are they packaging their content? Video, long form, visual storytelling?
  • Differentiation: Do brands’ communications stand out from competitors’?

Here’s what stood out to us this week. Click HERE for last week’s roundup of the banking industry. 

Giving clients what they need

Every investment firm offers market-related commentary. State Street’s content stands out from the pack with its communications detailing the ways the firm is keeping its own lights on around the world and, in turn, supporting its clients that need the company firing on all cylinders.

  • Video messages from State Street execs and white papers offer detailed takes on the firm’s operational response to COVID-19. Their takeaways: State Street won’t let its clients down.
  • CEO Ron O’Hanley weighs in with thought-provoking pieces on what governments and corporations need to do to get through this crisis—and avoid future disasters.
Your COVID-19 Resource Center

MFS’ Market Uncertainty Resource Center takes care to tailor content to different client segments.

  • Smart navigation neatly delineates content about MFS’ corporate COVID-19 response, provides commentary on market developments and delivers updates on its investment and portfolio teams’ tactical shifts.
  • The market and investment commentaries stand out. The content is insightful and engaging, and draws readers in with snappy, provocative headlines.
  • MFS also provides advisors with practice management resources on market volatility as part of their robust MFS Advisor Edge offering.
Market Uncertainty Resource Center (MFS)

Sharp thinking in a tough market

This historic time in the financial markets presents investors with both big challenges and big opportunities. Nuveen doesn’t sugarcoat the former and dives deep on the latter, offering particularly crisp, forward-thinking thought leadership and strategic advice for institutional investors.

  • Chief Equity Strategist Bob Doll’s weekly commentaries offer incisive observations. He recently issued a pragmatic warning to investors to prepare for a recession that’s uniquely deep but also short-lived.
  • Nuveen isn’t afraid to get granular, offering nuanced and detailed takes on topics such as bond market dislocation and the coronavirus’ disruption on the global supply chain.
Coronavirus: navigating the global economic impact (Nuveen)

UBS stands out for its smartly organized and always-fresh content.

  • Pieces related to COVID-19 are integrated smoothly into UBS’ regular menu of content offerings, from market updates to global risk analyses.
  • Regularly updated features include House View, a collection of daily, weekly and monthly publications providing UBS’ assessment of the global economy and financial markets and how they shape the firm’s investment allocations.

(UBS is an Imprint client.)

Market Insights (UBS)

 Keeping it simple…

Avoiding technical, jargon-heavy language should be a pillar of any investment firm’s content strategy. Franklin Templeton does a fine job keeping its language simple while taking a refreshingly human approach to communicating with financial advisors.

  • A message from CEO Jenny Johnson highlights the impact of the current crisis on advisors’ professional and personal lives.
  • Content is segmented and easy to find, whether you’re looking for take-home resources to calm anxious clients or detailed perspectives on Fed easing from Franklin Templeton’s CIO, Sonal Desai.
2020 Volatility Center (Franklin Templeton)

A multi-media approach

T. Rowe Price offers plenty of written material on the current crisis including white papers and articles. But it also stretches beyond print to deliver videos, infographics, e-books and other formats, particularly for institutional investors and advisors. And across those channels and formats T. Rowe Price is going deep on market analysis—well beyond volatility, into multi-asset investing, portfolio construction and asset classes.

  • An interactive e-book combines punchy text and engaging graphics to convey T. Rowe Price’s detailed take on China’s economic recovery.
  • Content is leveraged across business channels but tailored to the audience. Example: A broad menu of advisor-centric content aimed at uncovering investment opportunities—and avoiding pitfalls—in the current environment.

 (T. Rowe Price is an Imprint client.)

Video Insights: China’s Road to Recovery (T. Rowe Price)

Columbia Threadneedle’s practice management resources for financial advisors stand apart in terms of their accessibility and actionable nature

  • Smart headers make it easy for advisors to see which pieces of content can be shared directly with clients and which are intended to help advisors manage their practices.
  • Advisors can access a number of concrete ideas for managing their practice (for example, how to effectively connect with house-bound clients) and guiding investors through this highly volatile period (tips to help calm anxious clients).
Latest Insights (Columbia Threadneedle)

Let us know what you think, and please share pieces that you think apply best practices. You can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

Here are links to the coronavirus microsites or information pages for each company featured above:

 

Nuveen

Columbia Threadneedle

State Street

MFS

Franklin Templeton

T. Rowe Price

UBS

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Banking

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Banking

Like every other industry, the banking industry is figuring out how best to navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic. A customer’s relationship with their bank is especially personal — it is, after all, where they keep their money. And that intimacy presents unique challenges when it comes to communicating with them. The economic issues triggered by the spread of COVID-19 require banks to give careful thought to how they’re reaching out to customers and offering to help.

This week, we’re reviewing content produced by the banking industry to identify the work we think is most effectively connecting with customers. Our friends at Corporate Insight track communications, products, and the overall customer experience offered by leading companies in a variety of industries. The Imprint team has leveraged their research, along with our own, to evaluate COVID-19 communications in the banking industry against these four criteria:

  • Client-centricity: Are brands putting their audiences’ needs at the center of their content—or talking about themselves?
  • Tone: How are brands speaking to their audiences?
  • Formats: How are they packaging their content? Video, long form, visual storytelling?
  • Differentiation: Do brands’ communications stand out from competitors’?

Here’s what stood out to us this week. Click HERE for last week’s roundup of the insurance and annuities industry.

Deep resources from an industry leader

Bank of America’s COVID-19 website takes advantage of the bank’s institutional heft to deliver a wide variety of smart content that directly addresses clients’ most pressing issues and educates without overwhelming.

  • The site leads with a link to its Client Assistance Program, which was expanded in March to support consumer and small-business clients affected by the pandemic. The program gives customers a direct way to reach out for help dealing with issues such as payment deferrals and recouping late fees.
  • The CAP site immediately allays likely customer concerns, announcing front and center that payment deferral won’t trigger negative credit bureau reporting, and that the bank has paused foreclosure sales, evictions and repossessions.
  • Content is varied, and includes articles, video explainers and podcasts from Bank of America leaders.
  • The site goes beyond banking, linking to outside sources. For instance, parents homeschooling their kids can access lesson plans from Khan Academy.

Few banks have the resources to build such a comprehensive reservoir of content geared toward customers dealing with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this is the type of crisis response one would expect from an industry heavyweight like Bank of America.

 

Coronavirus: Latest Updates from Bank of America (Bank of America)

We’re all in this together

It can be tough to make a meaningful connection with customers when communicating about dry topics like loan deferrals and interest rates. The best bank communications these days break through with a collaborative and empathetic approach.

Take Chase:

  • Chase’s COVID-19 website gets personal right from the start—and that’s good. CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett’s open letter begins, “As a mother, daughter and banking executive, COVID-19 has affected every part of my life.”
  • The effect isn’t cloying; it feels real and vulnerable, and sets the tone for the rest of Chase’s messaging.
  • The site’s other content sticks with that personal and human tone, even while delivering humdrum how-tos for tasks like mobile check deposits and handling billing disputes for cancelled travel.
Chase Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources (Chase)

News you can really use

Clients don’t want to wade through pages of content to figure out how to defer a car payment or fight an overdraft fee. Ally Bank’s communications put the client’s needs first:

  • The bank’s online COVID-19 response delivers easy-to-find answers to clients’ urgent questions, like how to defer this month’s auto or mortgage payments.
  • Direct communications to clients via email offer short and clear explanations of new policies such as waiving overdraft fees.
Coronavirus Response (Ally Bank)

TD Bank executes a nifty client-centric content feat, delivering a thoughtful explainer about how the Fed’s recent rate cuts affect individual clients.

  • The tricky subject is handled in plain language.
  • The content is broken up in scannable chunks so readers can easily focus on what’s relevant to them, including topics such as credit card interest and student loan debt.
  • Bonus points for giving COVID-19 a supporting (rather than starring) role here: The piece pivots quickly from explaining the connection between the pandemic and the Fed’s rate cuts to what a 0% federal funds rate means to the average reader.
What the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Cuts Mean for You and Your Family (TD Bank)

Truist has the added complexity of communicating to two banks’ worth of clients. The company is the product of last year’s merger between BB&T and SunTrust, and its content needs to relay different information to each group of legacy clients. It pulls off this trick neatly, focusing its COVID-19 information on making sure each type of client gets to the right place. Well done for any company, but especially one that hasn’t yet hit its six-month birthday.

COVID-19 Help Center (Truist Bank)

 

Let us know what you think and please share pieces that you think apply best practices. You can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

Here are links to the coronavirus microsites or information pages for each company featured above:

Chase

Ally

Truist

Bank of America

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Insurance / Annuities

COVID-19 Content Best Practices: Insurance / Annuities

Companies across economy sectors are scrambling to provide helpful content centered around the ongoing pandemic –– financial services and healthcare firms included. Each week we’re reviewing the content in one industry, highlighting the work we think is rising to the top.

Our friends at Corporate Insight track communications, products, and the overall customer experience offered by leading companies in these industries. Our team has leveraged their research, along with our own, to evaluate COVID-19 communications against these four criteria:

  • Client-centricity: Are brands putting their audiences’ needs at the center of their content—or talking about themselves?
  • Tone: How are brands speaking to their audiences?
  • Formats: How are they packaging their content? Video, long form, visual storytelling?
  • Differentiation: Do brands’ communications stand out from their competitors’?

This week, we’re diving into insurance and annuities companies. [We’ll add links to the others as we add them.] Here’s what stood out to us from this week’s collection of content.

What’s in it for me?

It must be tempting for insurance companies to remind people how good coverage can offer certainty through uncertain times. But the most effective content we’ve seen is less product-centric and more client-centric.

Take Nationwide:

  • Nationwide is offering helpful messages that are subtly related to insurance and especially relevant now. For example, an engaging infographic offers sheltered-at-home readers tips on making their homes safer. Tasks like cleaning out dryer vents can give restless adults something to do and may result in fewer insurance payouts for Nationwide. We’d call that a win-win.
  • The company is addressing its retirement plan participants directly, walking them through the specific fees and penalties waived as part of the CARES Act.
Check and Protect Your Home (Nationwide)

Connecting on a human level

We like the decidedly human approach annuity provider TIAA is taking in its communications with clients during these challenging times. (Full disclosure: TIAA is a past Imprint client.)

  • TIAA’s coronavirus content pairs a warm tone with practical advice geared to its clients.
  • It’s offering both highlights of government stimulus as well as relief packages and deeper dives into these topics.
  • TIAA is also providing investment-related content—served up in a range of formats, from articles to webinars—about smart ways to navigate difficult markets.

The result is a clear emphasis on the client’s well-being both now and in the future.

CARES Act Summary (TIAA)

We’ve been here before…

Few companies can say they were around during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Insurance company New York Life can—the company turns 175 this year. A recent open letter from CEO Ted Mathas made it clear to audiences that New York Life has helped clients through the 1918 flu pandemic as well as two world wars, the Great Depression and recessions big and small. We like how the company’s communications lean into its nearly two-century history of stability, which immediately differentiates New York Life from many of its peers.

Then there’s the breadth and depth of the company’s coronavirus communications, which includes:

  • Mathas’ letter as the cornerstone
  • Practical FAQs
  • Articles offering tips to quarantined families
  • Strategy pieces that ever-so-gently push New York Life’s suite of insurance products.

The takeaway: New York Life has you covered this time around, too.

COVID-19 Resource Center (New York Life)

Delivering on the Good Neighbor promise

State Farm has taken advantage of a host of formats for its coronavirus-related content, including:

  • Quick-hit videos
  • Bite-sized infographics
  • Social media content, all geared toward the current environment.

We like the variety, but the real draw is State Farm’s empathetic tone. Its opening message to readers of its coronavirus page acknowledges that clients may be running into financial issues, and says that its agents are there to help—whether that means assisting in filing a claim or discusings payment options. Like a good neighbor, indeed.

COVID-19 Resource Center (State Farm)

A simpler approach

You don’t need dozens of pages of unique content to get your message to clients. Case in point is insurer Progressive, which greets mobile app users with a simple popup letting clients know they’re here to help. The message directs clients to a splash page that is sparse but effective. An economy of words clearly conveys what readers need to know about important issues such as Progressive’s coverage assistance and billing leniency.

 

COVID-19 Mobile App Pop-up (Progressive)

 

Let us know what you think and please share pieces that you think apply best practices. You can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

Here are links to the coronavirus microsites or information pages for each company featured above:

New York Life

State Farm

Progressive

TIAA

Nationwide

When Bad Things Happen to Good Content

When Bad Things Happen to Good Content

And what you can do about it right now.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans… Well, that goes for content, too. Your best efforts to create content that audiences—not to mention hungry search engines—gobble up with a spoon can go awry for any number of reasons.

Here, members of the IMPRINT team identify five common missteps and remedies to get content back on the right track.

KNOW AND FOCUS ON YOUR AUDIENCE

Andy Seibert, Managing Partner

I’ve seen marketers get really excited about a topic or a format because they personally relate to it. That’s good.

While marketers or content makers may love the content they’ve created, they’re not exactly the target audience for the content. So it’s not likely to help advance business goals. That’s bad.

The remedy: Know your audience and always put them first. Map their day, their buying journey—whatever has you empathizing and walking in their shoes. Only then will you truly understand—from their perspective on a granular level—what they need to know, when they need to know it and in what format.

CONTENT FIRST, FORMAT FOLLOWS

Julissa Ortiz, Director

You’ve got excellent content that you decide to deliver to your audience in an interesting way—in this case, one that’s not text-driven. That’s good.

You choose video because it’s so popular and impactful. But because your content is very data-heavy, video might not be the most effective way to tell this story. That’s bad.

The remedy: Let content drive format, and not vice versa. Early in the process you need to consider not just what you’ve got to offer, but also the best way to disseminate that information. Instead of video, in this instance, an infographic could be a better choice. It’s a great way to show stats and data in a way that’s easy to digest for readers. There’s never a one-format-fits-all solution.

DEFINE ‘WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?’

Michele Radcliffe, Senior Director

You’ve created a content campaign to introduce a new financial product that will save readers money by reducing fees. That’s good.

The response starts strong but falls off. Your audience perked up at the idea of lower fees, but they weren’t amply educated to adopt the new product. They didn’t take action. The bottom line—how this makes their lives better—wasn’t clear. That’s bad.

The remedy: Readers need to quickly recognize relevance, value and, most importantly, what’s in it for them. Educate them through content. Show how lower fees in an investor’s portfolio translate to more money to grow and how, over time, that growth can add up to the difference between affording a seven-day cruise vs. a five-day cruise. Expand your storytelling to overtly connect these dots.

PROMOTION IS TOP PRIORITY

Kimberly Papa Amadeo, Editorial Director

Your content checks all the right boxes: it’s on strategy, the key messages are clear and compelling, the “what’s in it for me” takeaway is sharp and relevant, and it’s all delivered in the optimal format. That’s good.

But you don’t have a plan to share it and amplify it. So after it’s published on the brand’s site the results are … crickets. Your carefully crafted content is like the proverbial falling tree in the forest, landing without a sound. That’s bad.

The remedy: Promotion should be part of your overall strategy and editorial development from the start. Early on, determine how you’re going to get that great content in front of your target audience—whether it’s through social media, email, online ads, your sales force, other custom-tailored means or all of these. If you’ve got it, you need to flaunt it.

PREPARATION PAYS BACK

Colter Hettich, Managing Editor

To add variety to your content and to boost traffic, you decide to launch a YouTube channel because it’s such a popular platform and is where the eyeballs are. That’s good.

You had a brilliant (obviously) idea, but the post-launch results are disappointing. The graphics didn’t turn out as clean as you wanted, you had to scrap three videos because a guest bailed last minute, and you’re not ranking nearly as high in search as you expected. That’s bad.

The remedy: Preparation for every step is part of the process—from who’s writing the script and who’s booking the guests to who’s charging the batteries and who’s responsible for SEO. It sounds obvious, but it’s often the least sexy process that can cause the most issues and ultimately result in work that falls short of your vision. Anyone who’s properly painted a room knows that before you touch a brush you have to move the furniture, tape off trim and lay down drop cloths. You’re painting a room, not a Pollock. It takes time, but after thorough prep the painting becomes exponentially easier. The same holds for creating and deploying your content.

 

Don’t go awry, email imprintcontent@gmail.com to discuss your program.

 

Endless Love: How to Make an Audience Swoon

Endless Love: How to Make an Audience Swoon

By now the long-stemmed roses are wilting and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are all but empty, signs that special Valentine’s Day love is already fading. But when it comes to content, customers need to feel a deep emotional connection on an ongoing basis. Helping clients make clear and consistent connections with their audiences is a major creative challenge. IMPRINT staffers offer up six ways to do it.

 

SPRING SURPRISES

Andy Seibert, Managing Partner

Content builds and nurtures relationships, and who doesn’t want a relationship where the love endures? To do your part, you need to be reliable—deliver content of value on a consistent basis. But then surprise and delight. Appropriate to your brand, consider being humorous, provocative or challenging. Surprise and delight can also come in the form the content takes: make eyebrows rise with a short video, listicle or interactive infographic. A little can go a long way, so don’t overdo it. Spring a surprise just often enough to keep the spark alive.

 

STRATEGIZE STORYTELLING

Dan Davenport, Editorial Director

We help our clients’ audiences fall in love with content by taking a decidedly strategic approach to storytelling: What exactly is it? What elements does it use to draw customers in? We then show clients how we can help them craft true stories — articles, videos, podcasts that create bona fide narrative by introducing a protagonist who overcomes a challenge to reach a resolution. Beginning, middle, end. Science tells us humans are hard-wired to respond to stories with such an arc. The result is deeper, sustained engagement and an ongoing conversation between brand and audience. That’s something every client can love.

 

FLAUNT A POV

Ken Williams, Managing Director

Audiences are inundated with content on a daily basis. Making sure you stand out in the crowd is key to making audiences fall for you—and only you. One effective way to break from the pack is to incorporate a unique perspective in everything you publish, one that captures the firm’s distinct point of view—whatever that may be—and resonates with readers. Your unique POV typically comes through in your editorial, but it can also be displayed visually through infographics, interactives and video.

 

AMP UP EMPATHY

Meg Staknis, Managing Director

There’s nothing like knowing that someone gets you. To accomplish that automatic emotional connection, you have to forget about yourself and focus on the other person, or in marketing, your audience. The best marketers achieve this empathy by putting themselves in their audience’s shoes. They always try to understand what the audience needs, what they want, what will make them happy—and attempt to respond in clear, accessible and interesting ways. When you think about it, it’s like any other relationship: We all just want to be understood.

 

INJECT HUMOR

Duncan Milne, Managing Director

Great content should feel natural and conversational. And great conversations happen when we listen, when we engage, when we respect each other and, more often than not, when we share a sense of humor. So be lighthearted when you can. You don’t need to crack jokes, but by making your customers smile with wordplay, headlines and clever captions, for example, you can give your brand a distinct personality—one that charms and seduces.

 

GET FRESH

Ashley Brenner, Creative Director 

Content that is fresh can be a real turn-on. Of course, “fresh” is a subjective term. What it means for us is content that has a clear, distinct perspective, is visually contemporary, and brings a lot of energy. We all know when it comes to falling in love, being beautiful is always a good thing! So there’s the art—make it look great and inviting to the eye. Then comes the science: all this gorgeous content must align with our clients’ marketing strategies. Falling in love with an image or a video doesn’t help our clients unless it leads to a conversation and a deeper connection. That’s the goal of great design: fostering dialogue with customers that keeps those double-tap-hearts flowing.

 

To talk more about these tips, please email us at imprintcontent@gmail.com.

5 Trends to Watch in 2020

5 Trends to Watch in 2020

What’s the buzz? The five newest IMPRINT team members share what they’re excited about and looking forward to in the content marketing industry—from brands thinking big picture to illustrations leading the way to the cumulative impact of productivity-enhancing platforms.

 

CULTURAL AWARENESS

JULISSA ORTIZ, DIRECTOR

Joined September 2019 from JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Consumers today are making more purchasing decisions based on how brands align with their values. In turn, brands are becoming more culturally aware and committing to a point of view on relevant issues, whether it’s climate change or gender equality.

What does that mean for content marketers? We’re excited for all the new and interesting stories we can tell for clients. It used to be primarily about selling a product or service, but now the focus is much more on marketing the brand overall—and what it represents to its audiences.

 

KINETIC DESIGN

CRAIG GARTNER, ART DIRECTOR

Joined January 2020 from his own company, Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated Custom Publishing

I’ve always been interested in the architecture of a page. I’m intrigued now by design elements and approaches that make print not just relevant, but every bit as exciting as digital.

Customized, non-traditional sizes for print pieces can provide a unique experience for the individuals holding it in their hands—and even encourage them to keep it. And asymmetrical design is bringing more kinetic energy and movement, and, as a result, demanding more attention. The reader feels an innate curiosity and sense of wonder about where the text and graphics will go next.

 

ILLUSTRATIVE EVOLUTION

PIERCE KINNALLY, VISUAL DESIGNER

Joined in January from freelancing as a designer and illustrator

The use of illustrations as a key design element ebbs and flows, and we’re in a flow this year. As an illustrator and designer, I’m excited to see how much thoughtful illustration is being seamlessly woven into content. At the head of an article the right illustration can function like a satisfying puzzle, evoking questions that need to be set up for the article and clearly explaining its content while nudging the readers’ perspective. Done well, it’s like a good book cover—it grabs you, it exists inseparably with the writing by setting the tone and it sets you up to receive information a little bit differently.

 

PROCESS AUTOMATION

COLTER HETTICH, MANAGING EDITOR

Joined November 2019 from amNewYork

As managing editor, one of my primary responsibilities is optimizing our workflow. As new tools continue to be added, it’s easy for workflows to get cumbersome. In 2020 we’re adopting a new strategy and platform that will consolidate project timelines, files, calendars and task assignments all in one place.

The 10 seconds spent looking for a file, or five minutes figuring out what’s due over the next few days from various projects will be automated. Those 10 seconds here and five minutes there add up to time we’ll get back that can go directly to planning, creating and delivering content that works for our clients—and that’s what it’s all about.

 

FORGING FOUNDATIONS

SCOT MAITLAND, DIRECTOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Joined September 2019 from running his own consulting business

I consider myself an extension cord. I connect the power at IMPRINT, where we specialize in making complex thoughts simple and clear for clients. My background is in the health and wellness sphere, and I’m excited about ramping up our clientele in those areas—from hospitals to biotech to pharmaceuticals. With over 6,000 hospitals in the U.S. and more than $660 billion in uncompensated care to their patients since 2000, there’s never been a more urgent time for strategic content to help fill needs.

And in 2020, I’m seeing healthcare foundations work toward providing education, solutions and care to individuals, families and communities like never before. They have concerns about growth, revenue and funding, as well as staffing and volunteer challenges. IMPRINT has established successful programs for leading healthcare businesses and foundations, and I’m excited to help dial that up further this year.

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