Financial services has yet to fully embrace the power of content marketing. A successful tactic for many has been the creation of long-form content. The question now is, which firms will win the race and fully capitalise on this opportunity?
The aloof and silent role of financial services firms (be they banks, insurers, investment managers etc) has long since vanished and this industry is now highly communicative.
Campaigns driven through social media, email and the web are now being widely used to win back consumers that have become increasingly sceptical of such brands.
In light of this, long-form content has become a crucial way of engaging with this audience, ranking high on SERPs and delivering more value to readers.
According to a recent Savvy Investor survey of those working in the insurance, asset management and pension industries, 81% of respondents ranked white papers on investment principles or strategies as the most useful tool in their arsenal. At the same time, 57% ranked in-depth reports on their investment outlook as the most useful content.
These findings are significant and tell us written content is still considered a vital marketing medium. Furthermore, more value is being placed on substantial and long-form content over lighter-touch blog-style pieces (usually the go-to format for a lot of smaller financial services firms).
This is no way to discredit how powerful video can be in communicating with customers. However, assumptions that video has killed traditional content marketing ignores the fact that people still enjoy to consume information by simply reading. The smart firms will keep this in mind by creating content across a blend of mediums and strategically map these back to business initiatives.
So, where is this heading?
Consumers are inundated with content and we constantly receive marketing messages from all directions. Therefore, while it might seem counterintuitive to combat this with more content, there's a method behind the madness.
When we refer to long-form content, we're referring to a variety of online content you'll be familiar with. For example, you may have encountered pillar pages that cover a broad subject or keyword, providing customers or potential prospects with a dedicated resource on this topic. Alternatively, you may also have read guides, infographics or whitepapers which are extensive in nature, usually providing insights from thought leaders or the latest findings from research.
Google ranks this content based on how well is serves the reader.
Because this kind of long-form content that, providing they offer the right standard of quality, depth and problem-solving, can stand out from all this noise. This is the kind of content that can be revisited, offer the reader real value and ultimately be shared among peers (and other potential customers).
Longer-form content doesn’t just mean longer pieces. This content creation requires stronger analysis and insightful data where possible.
At the same time, it will become increasingly important for content to be evergreen and have a longer shelf live (think thematic content that could potentially even be serialised).
Easier said than done (or written)
Obviously, longer-form content – enriched with research and data – takes more time and resources to put together.
This means many financial services brands, despite considerable resources, are struggling to catch up.
These findings unveiled a number of challenges financial services brands will have to tackle if they want to produce winning content:
- Silo mentality – 60% of content marketers are held back because of poor communication between different departments
- Poor UX – Even strong content is suffering by not being user-friendly, with 43% of content marketers citing poor UX as a challenge
- Skills shortage – Given the intricate subject knowledge involved (which may need to be simplified for a consumer audience), 63% of content marketers admitted they didn’t have enough skilled content strategists of creators on their teams
How marketing teams can catch up
Unfortunately, there is no short cut to creating long-form content that engages, educates and converts. And, realistically speaking, researching, drafting and distributing a great piece of content is still no silver bullet for success.
However, there are a few things businesses can do to help steer their content strategy in the right direction...
Avoid the sales pitch
Objectivity and impartiality is best! Adopt a client-first approach and refrain from being too on-the-nose about your USPs. Instead, consider what your audience would want to read about and then go from there (we doubt they would want to read a sales pitch).
Review what you’re already doing
Without looking inwards first, you won’t know what your current content strategy needs. From a slight tone re-tweak to a complete repackage, come at your content with a fresh perspective and objectively ask what could be done better.
Understand your customers better
Great content will come from a deep understanding of your customers and the problems they're looking to solve. Brands that have done the work here will fare better. It's also important to review what your competitors have had success with. For instance, if you're competing in the way you address specific problems, where could you add further value beyond what they've produced?
Consider paying for a leg up
It pays to promote so think about how you can get your content out there inorganically. Consider how you could use whatever budget you do have and syndicate your content where it matters most! If budget is an issue, consider which friendly partners you have who would be willing to share or host your content.
Get dynamic with data
Overall, marketing should be as informed as possible and content is no different. Get to grips with whatever data analytics your CMS affords and feed your content strategy whatever insights you can gleam. By building a better picture of your audience, and how they engage (or don’t engage) with your content, you can be much better placed to proceed.
A little something to help
To help financial services firms get more from their marketing, at MirrorWeb we've created the Ultimate Guide to Compliant Marketing in Financial Services. This guide is filled with expert insight from some of the leading marketing teams in the industry, offering practical advice and actionable tips covering topics such as social media policies, risk warnings and internal approval processes.