The fact that I work for a content agency that loves content marketing should really come as no surprise. Southerly understands its importance, and we constantly hark on about its capacity to make businesses more visible, and subsequently more profitable.
However, we also recognise that content marketing strategy isn’t easy. There are challenges to be overcome, and understanding what they are, and how they can be conquered, is key. Knowing what tools to use as content creators, what topics to tackle, and how often you need to produce content can seriously help you achieve your goals.
Content marketing has the power to help any business, regardless of industry, but today’s blog is going to focus on one particular sector: finance. And, though we’re going to highlight obstacles currently affecting banks, building societies and all manner of financial institutions, much of what will be discussed could help you, regardless of what your organisation does.
Some robust insight
Our friends over at Editions Financial recently released a piece of research that delved deep into the state of content marketing in global financial services organisations. The report, designed to better comprehend the problems faced by such firms, allows us to see at a glance what approaches are being used, whether current methods are appropriate, and what can be done to make content marketing more effective going forward.
The report – which can be read in full here – offers a solid indication of what financial firms are doing well, as well as where there is room for improvement. And, as it’s such a solid piece of focused study, we’ll be using it as the foundation of this article.
The big issue
As stated earlier, there are numerous challenging aspects of content marketing. However, some elements are trickier than others. And, according to Editions Financial’s research, the most significant content marketing challenge is being able to produce work that is sufficiently engaging time and time again.
This is, to my mind, entirely understandable. It can be difficult to come up with new matters and subjects to examine, especially if the work you do is somewhat niche. But, with a bit of forethought, and by committing to in-depth research (we’ll discuss this in more detail in a moment), this needn’t be a major concern.
One of the most deeply-rooted content marketing principles is producing work that people actually want to read. Let your audience dictate what is interesting and what isn’t; they’re the people you want to influence, after all. Find out what resonates, and then produce more of that. Sure, you may end up covering similar topics to those you’ve previously spoken about, but there will always be new studies, reports, events or quotes to differentiate one article from another.
It’s important to stand out, but you can do that through the quality of what you produce, as well as by covering completely unique subjects. You don’t necessarily need to take on an issue that hasn’t been covered before; often, it’s far better to write about something you know your audience will appreciate, and to do it in a way that is superior to anything your competitors have offered up.
The art of research
As a content marketer who is keen to tackle latest developments and topical trends, I’m very conscious of the value of research. Without thorough investigating, it’s almost impossible to produce an article based on accurate facts, figures and statistics.
For any marketer, creating work that is precise should be second nature; without having evidence to back up a point, it can be very difficult to get others to listen to what you have to say. Most audiences are pretty savvy; they tend not to take content at face value unless it can be supported.
Anecdotes and personal experience often work well when writing blogs and articles, but such content is, by its very nature, subjective. If you favour this approach – which I often do – try and sprinkle some factual elements throughout your work; this will add credibility, and only serve to enhance the point you’re making.
However, it seems that a great number of financial institutions don’t appreciate the significance of research. According to Editions Financial, one in 10 companies surveyed believe research is either ‘not that important’, or ‘not important at all’. To me, this is as surprising as it is concerning.
I’m reluctant to sound like a broken record, but I can’t overstate how crucial research is to producing content of quality. Without insight, you’ll find it very difficult to give your audience content they’re able to sink their teeth into. If you want to be regarded as an expert, you need to ensure that everything you produce is bursting with nuggets of valuable knowledge. This will also keep them coming back for more.
What does your audience want?
Nobody knows what an audience wants to read better than the audience itself. So, with that in mind, it makes sense to ask people what content they’d like you to produce, right? Remarkably, not even half of the organisations surveyed said they speak directly to their audience in a bid to better understand their needs. Quite simply, if you’re not engaging with your audience, you’re facing an uphill battle from the outset.
We’ve spoken often about the value of designing personas, and of taking the time to learn how to speak to a specific audience, but it’s just as vital you acknowledge your audience’s requirements, and figure out how to give them the information they need. Without this knowledge you’ll be relying on guesswork, and rarely is that an efficient route to success.
Utilise the right channels
Of course, producing great content is only truly effective when you can get it in front of the people that you want to consume it. Not everyone can be reached via the same channels, and so it pays to know the distribution outlets that will give you the best chance of reaching an engaged and attentive audience.
Figuring out the most efficient channels can sometimes require a little bit of trial and error, so tracking metrics – clicks, open rate, conversions, shares – is vital. Not only will this give you an idea of how best to reach people, but it will help you measure ROI.
Only 34 per cent of respondents said their organisation is either ‘very good’ or ‘pretty good’ at tracking content marketing ROI, which reveals that, for many organisations, there is clearly room for improvement. Any content strategy worth its salt is crafted to boost the bottom line, and yours should also have this target. Having the right data, and being able to accurately interpret it, will help ensure that your marketing efforts only become more effective going forward.
Finding the time
One issue faced by many organisations, regardless of sector, is finding the time to produce quality work consistently. Content marketing efforts can often fall by the wayside in favour of tasks that can reap immediate financial gains. However, should this be the case, your SEO will suffer, and you will struggle to make an impression online, which could – and likely will – be detrimental to your cause.
We understand that it can often be a struggle to produce quality written work consistently, and that’s why we’ve developed our Blog Factory offering. We work closely with numerous global organisations to produce editorial strategies, blogs, articles, images and social posts, and now we’re turning out attention to SMEs. We want to help small businesses prosper through content marketing.
Need help planning your content? We’re running a free webinar on 21st February that will cover content strategy and planning, SEO and best types of content to get results. Register today.
Or, if you want to learn more about content marketing in the finance industry, you can get in touch with us here. We look forward to hearing from you!