As one of the largest financial services companies in the United States, Bank of America has long understood the importance of supporting and strengthening the places it serves. When our country found itself in the midst of a pandemic in 2020, the communities already in greatest need were, almost without exception, the ones hit hardest. And the bank’s support for those communities became more critical than ever. We wanted to find a way to communicate how we’re acting upon our commitment to them – an effort that has continued even after the pandemic abated.
The Bank’s efforts have traditionally taken a number of forms: working with community leaders to identify and improve the quality of life, including the creation of affordable housing and skilled jobs; supporting new and existing community-based small businesses; and delivering on its ongoing financial commitment to provide greater economic access and opportunity in these historically underserved communities.
Post-pandemic, we considered it imperative to raise awareness of the existing need among our customers, teammates and communities – and the people and organizations addressing those needs. With that as our objective, we wanted to spotlight concrete, specific ways in which the bank is supporting solutions that change lives.
To tell these stories in the most powerful way, we chose to focus on the non-profit agencies and organizations themselves, as well as on the people who benefit from their programs. Our strategy was to position Bank of America as a community steward, telling stories that were bigger than the brand. We did not want the bank to be the star of the content, but a supporting actor.
We decided that the best way to achieve that was to create a series of pages spotlighting the local markets we serve, with a primary focus on selected success stories – including both organizations and people. At present, we have identified 93 of these local markets, accessible via an aggregate anchor page on the Bank of America site.
To populate each local market page with the strongest possible content, we worked with more than 200 local and regional organizations. These pages feature a blend of videos, articles, and podcasts – whatever storytelling method best suits the information.
To fulfill on the other aspect of our strategy – driving awareness – we developed a cross-platform content strategy, utilizing owned digital and social channels and partnering with local market and global influencers. Additionally, we promoted our Local Markets content through media partners including Black Information Network, Politico, Axios. Axios Latino and GZero. The last two partnerships included newsletter sponsorships.
Some of the content pieces that best illustrate our approach are:
Opportunities for entrepreneurs – How a new business and cultural hub in one of Cleveland’s largest Hispanic neighborhoods is providing training, support and affordable retail space to local startups.
On the path to a permanent home – A profile of the El Camino Homeless Organization, north of San Luis Obispo, CA, and how it sprang into action to provide shelter and employment outreach during the pandemic.
An historic Houston neighborhood on the rebound – A print/video package showing how the once-thriving, predominantly Black/African Americas Fifth Ward is reversing decades of decline through reinvestment.
Paying it forward – How Salt Lake City’s Hispanic business community has helped thousands of local entrepreneurs with multilingual training and counselling as they create and grow new businesses.
Amid adversity, the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) business community stays strong – A print/video package featuring a leader of San Diego’s Asian business community on the challenges API owners face — and how a new program is helping them thrive.
To track success, we measured audience clicks to our anchor page and total social engagements. At the same time, we tracked our collaborators and publication partners on their ability to drive awareness.
Of course, with a campaign such as this, the ultimate goal was ensuring our investment was making maximal impact in the intended communities.
Bank of America connected locally to public and private partnerships and organizations throughout the US, and supported communities in areas that mattered most – and we’ve told their stories to amplify their reach and demonstrate their impact.
In addition to the 93 community markets, we have also worked with 300 local newspapers, radio stations and social media channels to effectively highlight the bank’s efforts.
As of Q1 of 2023, the individual Local Markets pages combined saw nearly 340,000 page views and 38,000 engagements, with an average time on page of 1.40 minutes – a testament to our ability to maintain an engaged audience. All local market pages saw quarter-on-quarter increases in Natural Search traffic - 65% QoQ page views increase on average over the pages. What’s more, nearly 50% of the traffic in Q1 2023 came from direct page loads (with email, display and paid search all making less than 1% of the page views), demonstrating the interest and impact of our content. And despite needing to scroll past the 25%-page mark, visitors were looking to better understand Bank of America’s commitment, with an average 3.7% Click-Through-Rate to our explainer page.
The GZero Signal and Axios Latino newsletters were massive awareness drivers, with an average open rate of 45% for Axios Latino (average daily send 18,000) and 42% for GZero Signal (average daily send 74,000).
Most important, though, is that Bank of America is helping bring the needs of underserved, underdeveloped communities to the forefront. Which is the best result possible.