March 4, 2014 by Gavin Llewellyn
With all the research suggesting that 2014 will be another big year for content marketing, it’s important to review how content can be used effectively in your specific sector. In this article I will review content marketing approaches for financial services, a sector I’m involved with.
Each industry sector has its own unique traits and idiosyncrasies and financial services is certainly no different. In fact, due to the complex nature of many financial products, the challenges of creating engaging content and an increased focus on compliance and regulation, one can argue that content marketing for financial services companies is a particularly tricky discipline to master.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges that exist within financial services there are also considerable opportunities that content marketing can exploit if planned and executed effectively.
I would suggest that the steps for establishing a content marketing process is very much the same as it is for any other business but with a few exceptions in certain areas to support, and make the most of, the particular characteristics of a financial services organisation.
Start with strategy and planning
As a financial services organisation, it’s important to be clear from the outset as to how content and content marketing can and should be used at your business. Whilst there will always be an opportunity to be bold and imaginative, you’ll need to assess your company’s appetite for ‘risk’ and what you may/ may not be prepared to do. Start by answering the following questions:
- What is content? And what does ‘content marketing’ mean to us?
- Who is our audience?
- What are our competitors doing?
- How can content support our business and marketing goals?
- How can content be integrated into other areas of marketing and the wider business?
- How will content be sourced, managed and created?
- How will content marketing efforts be measured?
One of the important, early steps in the content marketing process is to build a business case for investment. This will help not only help gain budget but also buy-in from various teams and departments from across the company.
Benefits of content marketing for financial services
The obvious, stand-out benefits of content marketing for financial services is consistent with the wider market and include:
- Builds brand awareness and craft your brand ‘story’
- Drives positive results from organic search rankings and traffic
- Fuels social media marketing efforts
- Supports advertising, PR and outreach
- Drives purchases
Begin crafting an outline framework for your content marketing strategy:
- 1. Set your core goals and objectives
- 2. Conduct a competitor analysis of direct and indirect competitors
- 3. Define your audience and target markets
- 4. Integration
- 5. Policies and guidelines*
- 6. Content calendar
* This will be particularly important for reputation management and compliance purposes.
Once you’ve defined a clear strategy and formed an agreement on how content will be used to support your wider marketing and business goals, it’s time to begin creating your content calendar.
Map out broad themes
Start by considering the key financial trends throughout the year. As a rough guide, this could look like:
- January – February – debt consolidation; winter holidays
- March – April – ISA season; spring and Easter holidays
- May – July – home improvements; wedding season; summer holidays
- August – September – New car purchases; back to school/ university work
- October – December – Christmas planning and spending
Drill down into the detail
By outlining the broad trends for the year, you can then start to drill down into more detail and define the various topics for each week and month of the year.
For example, for the month of January this could look like:
- New years resolutions – building better money habits
- Pay off your debts vs. saving
- What did the nation bought this Christmas?
- How to improve your credit score
- Best ways to manage your finances
- Insuring against a cold snap
- Money saving advice for winter breaks
- Winter travel tips
Decide on the most appropriate content types
Once you have a good idea of the main themes and topics, it’s time to begin thinking about the types of content to be used.
It’s important to remember that the medium itself should never take the lead. For example, there’s been a wayward obsession with infographics for the past few years, with the flawed assumption that an infographic in itself will drive interest and engagement
What gets attention is the combination of great data, design and story. An infographic may not always be the most effective type of content for the theme or topic you’re trying to talk about. It may instead be a video, article, case study or guide, so all option should be considered.
The key is to consider the message and target audience it’s aimed at and choose the most appropriate type of content to connect with them. Some of the most popular types of content for financial services include:
- Written articles and blog posts
- Tools and calculators
- Guides and e-books
- Infographics and data visualisations