With an ambition to become the leading wealth manager in Asia, HSBC has been on a journey to open up conversations with a younger generation of investors – who are ambitious, innovative, and “big picture” thinkers – by letting them tell their stories about how they are charting their life journeys, and challenging conventions in their own ways.
The bank believes its customers today are a different breed from the past, and are more engaged and inspired when they are able to incorporate a personal, authentic, and relatable voice in their storytelling.
Knowing it has a diverse pool of young customers with different experiences, the bank decided to embark on a journey of uncovering hidden gems within this pool of customers by creating a campaign that resonated with audiences across Asia.
The bank selected an entrepreneurial husband-and-wife couple who moved to Sydney from Silicon Valley to build a thriving real estate business; a Hong Kong-based education start-up founder whose mission aligned with its own focus on empowerment through financial literacy; and an award-winning Singaporean musician and actor who is using digital innovation to challenge norms in the music industry.
Commenting on the campaign, Stephanie Ng, global head of marketing, wealth and personal banking at HSBC, shared: “For all their differences, we wanted to show how each of these individuals were all uniquely navigating their own wealth journeys and sharing their perspectives and tips through videos.”
She added that today there is a shift in online content consumption patterns, and HSBC wanted to make sure that video and storytelling were used to captivate audiences as they consume content from their devices.
“And having secured some really interesting protagonists for this campaign, we knew video was the best way forward to capture the richness of their experiences and views,” she said.
But anyone working in the realm of content knows that simply having the right story is no longer enough. As such, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was chosen as the key media partner and publication to team up with.
The credibility of the WSJ brand is today widely known by global audiences. First and foremost, WSJ has a quality reach to the right audiences in key markets.
Through many case studies, WSJ has proven its capability in building relevant segments which banks such as HSBC can target as its audience. Second, WSJ has an established reputation as a thought leader and expert voice when it comes to producing wealth management content. Last, but not least, the publication is able to accurately translate a financial institution's ambition into words, and share stories creatively.
The need for real-time changes paramount to success
HSBC also wanted its partner to be digitally driven as the target audience was mainly viewing content through their phones and mobile devices. Both HSBC and WSJ knew that to make or break any campaign, a combination of well-executed media planning and content creation was needed, and clear targets were set with the media planning teams early in the game to ensure the right reach and penetration of audiences.
On the content asset creation front, data also led the way in creating work that would resonate and interest the target audience. Once launched, the WSJ’s campaign management team was on the ball with real-time monitoring of the campaign to ensure quick optimisation on both the user interface and media buys.
With a large inflow of data during the digital campaign launch, audiences could quickly be segregated into different sources to ensure that any deviation from the norm or dip in performance could be instantly rectified.
Challenges faced and overcome
But, of course, no execution is ever without its challenges. One situation that cropped up early in the execution was when mobile users were showing signs of not watching the campaign videos to the very end. Through close observation and monitoring, the team found the reason behind this to be because the screen was cluttered which was distracting for the viewers.
With a WSJ team on standby, a quick UI fix was implemented to declutter the screen, and almost immediately, the campaign saw user engagement increase significantly giving the team confidence to use the same fixes for future video players.
On the media side, the team was also challenged by HSBC to obtain an even split of page views from different target markets – which can sometimes be quite challenging as different markets can respond differently to the same content. However, through real-time monitoring, the team was able to shift budgets quickly to different target markets to ensure even traffic was flowing in as per the client’s wish.
Deploying Dow Jones InSite, a proprietary first party audience tool, also enabled the WSJ team to reach the right audiences and ensure the banners were clicked on. The data unearthed from the execution was then funnelled back into creating solid recommendations for the client to further improve the campaign all while reaching the right audience.
Deciding on the platform
Despite the early challenges, particularly for this execution, mobile placements were key to the success of the campaign. Of course, this was further bolstered by WSJ’s audience targeted placements.
“Audience targeting can be a hit or miss given we are targeting a more niche group of people, we may sometimes have a lower probability to garner clicks,” said Jordan Sudradjat, campaign performance analyst, The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group.
Nonetheless, for this particular campaign, audience targeted placements saw click-throughs high above benchmarks set, which showcased the power of the creative team’s assets in attracting audiences. The pre-roll and full-width placements also performed really well for the campaign as the video ad units were not only able to give a sneak peek into the video content, but also created the right environment for audiences to consume video content.
“Through our monitoring of campaign data, we found that audiences from these ad units actually engaged more with our content after clicking through, and using this insight we were thus able to drive more traffic to these placements to help further drive engagement,” Sudradjat said.
In terms of how HSBC was evaluating the success of the campaign, apart from hard metrics such as click-through rates, video completion and drill time, the bank wanted to measure the ad impact and the campaign’s effectiveness via a brand lift study.
“What was important to HSBC was to understand how the audience reacted or engaged with the content – whether it was being consumed and if it was resonating with the right audience, and the steps HSBC could take to address it,” Ng said.
Only when HSBC was able to follow up with its target audience, so it could learn more about wealth management and HSBC’s wealth offerings, could the bank accurately determine if the campaign was successful. To date, HSBC has seen a positive uptake in the perception towards its brand, which it feels has been encouraging, and which aligns with the bank’s ambition to become the leading wealth manager in Asia.
Three best practices for video content creation
- Ensure you have the right length
In today’s world, marketers can no longer expect consumers to spare more than a few minutes of their time. Understand the platform on which your video is being hosted, and don’t try to cram too much content around (or into) the video.
- Focus on people and the right stories
Genuine storytelling will go far in the world of authenticity. Consumers are looking to be inspired, so find a genuine and honest story to tell your audiences. Audiences today want lesser of “talking head corporate styles” and more original content that focuses on beautiful film-making and a transporting experience.
- Informality and authenticity
Consumers can smell an over scripted piece of work from miles away. Genuine and unscripted content with bloopers and mistakes are far more acceptable in today’s world where consumers are seeking something real. Over-scripting can also make your subjects feel uncomfortable.