Why would a bank use emojis in its email subject lines? Mostly because it’s a smart content strategy.

Considering that consumers are using mobile and online channels for banking transactions most of the time, online outreach is critical for today’s banks. Using emojis is just one example of banks trying to refresh their content for today’s audience. It’s important for all financial marketers to take this approach — creating content that captivates, educates, and creates value for the target audience.

Content marketing is ideal for explaining confusing, complex, and consequential subjects related to personal finance. It’s also an organic way for banks to build their brand and cultivate relationships with customers. Given these advantages, it’s not surprising that most banks strive to produce content with some consistency.

Yet it’s also not surprising that many banks struggle with stellar content creation. Some of the most commonly cited challenges include lack of writers, insufficient budgets, poorly defined strategies, and unclear performance metrics.

There are many ways to resolve those issues, but even if a content marketing effort is firing on all cylinders, it won’t succeed unless the content is engaging. Unread content is an unrealized opportunity, which is why financial marketers need to captivate their audiences. To do that, experiment with these four strategies:

1. Indulge a new medium.

Let the target audience dictate what form the content takes. As financial marketers target younger consumers, for instance, posting content on social media (and maybe even using an emoji or two) is essential. Looking beyond text is important as well. Millennials aged 25-34 are the largest consumers of podcasts, at least in the U.K.; in America, the 12-24 age bracket is driving the increase in podcast popularity, suggesting that audio content keeps younger audiences engaged. According to Louise Beaumont, executive chair at quantitative semiotics platform Signoi, tailoring content to new audiences and media is key. “The opportunity for retail banking is to be the convener of pertinent stories and conversations and thus to directly engage with their target customers,” she notes.

2. Leverage all your internal insights.

Employees collectively offer a social reach around 10 times greater than the brand’s own reach, according to LinkedIn data. Asking employees to develop content is not only a great way to get insider stories, but also to leverage the networks around those employees. Considering that readers tend to trust employee stories more than institutional messaging, asking employees to become authors gives your content extra authenticity. Douglas Wilber, CEO of Gremlin Social, a social media solution for banks, explains why new voices lead to fresh content. “You need to ditch the buzzwords and engage consumers on a human level,” he says, “and employees are your best distribution channel for doing this.”

3. Personalize for buyer goals.

Content should never be written for a general audience. Instead, each piece of content should be personalized to speak to a specific customer persona. For example, older customers might want to download an in-depth retirement report, whereas younger ones probably prefer to watch Instagram videos about money-saving hacks (and, perhaps, even how to think about saving for retirement). Creating content for specific audiences ensures it’s relevant to that audience in terms of subject, medium, and distribution channel. Develop a variety of audience personas to ensure you’re offering valuable content to each audience segment.

4. Test the connection.

Don’t ever assume content is engaging — that’s up to the audience to decide. Content marketing efforts should be evaluated empirically, from beginning to end. To start, use a tool like Google Analytics to explore what kind of banking content people are looking for instead of assuming you know what will be interesting. If possible, use A/B testing to explore which version of content drives the best results. After every piece of content is released, you should track how often it’s read, shared, or clicked on. Without these insights, it’s impossible to know whether a content marketing effort is working or how it could improve.

Banks don’t need to stuff their subject lines with emojis or start producing memes to make their content more appealing (but hey, it might help). The crucial success element is a thorough understanding of the audience personas: Where do they gather? What do they read? How do they consume content? Once those answers are in place, the content practically creates itself.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.