As marketers in a highly regulated industry, you’re probably familiar with the struggle behind delivering consumers SEO-friendly content and adhering to compliance regulations. For those marketers that may focus on things like the copy and intent behind web pages and campaigns, marketing compliance can often take a back seat.
Not only that. Because marketers have so much on their plate, compliance is often viewed as a necessary evil. They may know the importance of remaining compliant, but often follow regulations to solely avoid penalties or fines. Creating a marketing strategy doesn’t need to be this way. In fact, SEO and compliance can be considered two sides of the same coin.
When paired together with a solid SEO strategy, compliance can even improve the customer experience. Compliant marketing can build transparency and serve as the foundation for an excellent customer experience.
Think about it. Both compliance and SEO can significantly affect the growth of financial services firms. Compliance standards are all about providing customers with transparent brand experiences. And at its core, SEO is about delivering quality web pages to users based on their search intent. When viewed in this context, compliance becomes less of a necessary evil; instead, it becomes a crucial part of your financial team’s customer experience.
How does marketing compliance boost your strategy?
Compliance is an essential component of any financial team’s underlying operations. Organizations must strike a balance between following regulatory laws and providing an excellent customer experience. These laws are largely designed to protect consumer privacy and information.
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed in 2010, overhauled financial regulation following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. It also led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which advocates for consumer protection in the financial sector. The primary goal of the CFPB is to change how financial companies interact with consumers, primarily by increasing the control of regulations.
It's true that compliance is ultimately the realm of lawyers, compliance officers, and other lawmakers. However, regulation helps consumers find exactly what they’re looking for online. Compliance standards are designed to protect people and provide them with truthful, non-deceptive experiences. And in the banking industry, this often means changing the relationship between consumers and financial institutes.
Marketing compliance provides a better customer experience.
Much like regulatory measures improve the coexistence of banks and their customers, digital marketing follows a system that helps deliver ethical online experiences. SEO ensures that websites are rewarded by Google and other search engines—and that businesses are appealing to the questions and concerns of their consumers.
Search engines place a huge emphasis on high-quality pages. For example, Google uses Page Quality ratings to evaluate how well a web page achieves its purpose. Much like financial regulations, websites should be designed to benefit your users—not mislead them.
As we’ve mentioned before, financial institutions fall under the Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) page category. Google defines financial information pages as “webpages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchasing, paying for college, buying insurance” and more. Because these websites affect users’ financial stability, Google has high standards for these pages.
Using this logic, it’s essential to know the purpose of each page. Google announced earlier this year that E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) is now an important Page Quality metric. While this announcement is not designed to improve the accuracy of content—nor does it significantly change the guidelines that human quality raters use to evaluate websites—it does illustrate some underlying similarities between SEO and compliance.
Marketing compliance and the customer experience.
Both compliance and SEO are about customer-centricity. Compliance, at its heart, is about empowering and promoting the consumer. SEO helps ensure that websites are rewarded by Google and other search engines for answering specific queries and questions with expertise, accuracy, and trustworthiness. By doing these vital activities well, audiences are delivered an experience they’re looking for feel good about.
While guidelines are constantly in flux, there are a few rules that banks and credit unions must follow*. The Truth in Savings Act is designed to provide consumers accurate details about checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, money market accounts, and variable rate accounts. This includes clear, concise messaging that does not mislead consumers. For example, banks are unable to use the word “free” if an account has any maintenance or activity fees. If an ad includes words like “APY” or “bonus,” then banks must provide the necessary details at least one click away from the source material.
Banks and credit unions must also follow fair lending laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act, which promote equal access to credit and housing opportunities, respectively. These laws prohibit discrimination against race, religion, age, gender, nationality, handicap, and familial status. Banks and credit unions that are advertising any loan “for the purpose of purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dwelling” must include the Equal Housing Lender logo on their efforts.
From blogs to website copy to online ads, financial organizations must incorporate marketing compliance standards across all content creation efforts. Ultimately, the goal of web pages is to provide useful, relevant information to your consumers. Delivering a trustworthy online experience means understanding the goals of your consumers. This means answering their questions with expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. In doing so, you’re providing your audience with an optimal online experience.
At Workshop Digital, we believe that compliance and SEO are symbiotic and integral to digital strategy for the financial sector—or any highly regulated industry for that matter. Much like compliance, SEO is all about creating websites and content that your users want, understand, and enjoy.
Interested in learning more about marketing compliance? Download our guide to read more.
Disclaimer: Workshop Digital is not a legal firm nor a consultant on legal or regulatory matters. We simply provide digital marketing with an eye toward compliant content and execution. If you believe your team requires the expertise of a legal or regulatory team, please retain those services. This article is not intended to provide legal or regulatory guidance whatsoever. Workshop Digital and its employees are not liable for any company’s legal or regulatory actions.
*For additional information on regulatory guidelines, it’s essential to consult your legal and compliance teams.