Content, content and more content, has been the mantra of most marketing teams for the last few years. From those few early adopters of the ‘editorial calendar’, figures have grown to show 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers plan to use content marketing in their campaigns.1
An important point to make here is where content marketing fits within a campaign. Many marketers, myself included, have learnt lessons the hard way when it comes to running content marketing campaigns. You cannot run them in isolation, content marketing must be part of an integrated marketing plan if you are to generate the best engagement from it.
Many asset managers have been guilty of furiously spraying out what really are no more than the musings of particular fund managers or analysts purely because the piece was written – with no discernment for how useful that content will be to the target audience. What are the results of that approach? An awful lot of work combined with less than awful read or download figures. There’s nothing more upsetting than seeing a piece obtain a grand total of 6 views over the space of 6 months, believe me!
So, what’s the answer you ask? My answer is preparation, preparation, preparation… oh and integration, automation and measurement.
- Understanding what your audiences want to know about is a key part of preparing any content marketing strategy. This also needs to be considered across different jurisdictions because what may tantalise a UK adviser may be of no interest whatsoever to an Italian asset manager. You need to evoke an emotional response from your content, so curation criteria should be around creating tailored, quality content that will truly resonate with your audiences. Not just what the credit analyst wants to write about on their recent trip! Headlines can be an enormously important factor here, you must try to catch their eye and be clear how the content is going to add value for them in the headline and the first couple of sentences… otherwise you may lose them. Or worse, not catch their interest at all.
- Equally important is knowing how and when they want it. Data from engagement with different types of formats i.e. written content, video, audio, images etc and distribution methods i.e. email, website, social, webinars etc should always inform your planning. Again, there are cultural factors at play so for any EMEA based campaigns, marketers need to consider the best way to disseminate messages in different jurisdictions. It’s noisy out there so you need to get and keep them interested by being creative with different formats – e.g. just because you need to send out an email doesn’t mean it needs to be written content. It could contain infographics, video or audio – whatever best suits the audience appetite. And don’t forget, that can be offline too e.g. direct mail or through innovative event ideas.
- What would they want to know next/where should we guide their user journey to provide the best experience should be the new mantra in marketing teams. All too often, the mad rush to create content to deadline means developing a multi-touchpoint, continuous journey either gets overlooked entirely or sadly stops in its tracks after a couple of pieces. You need to develop a ‘content ecosystem’ that draws the audience into an engagement funnel, with multiple touchpoints through various channels and formats, creating a consistent and continuous experience with the brand. This takes a lot of planning, getting content (in whatever its chosen form) created ahead of time so its ready and set to deploy through the appropriate systems at the right time for the audience – not the right time for the investment writing team!
- And this is where we come onto integration and its close personal friend – ‘measurement’. The journey, or as I called it earlier, the ‘content ecosystem’ that you want your audience to immerse themselves in must be appropriate and timely measured against key performance indicators (KPI’s) – and all that data needs to flow back into your CRM. After all, the goal is to generate quality leads for sales! But more than that, being able to measure and demonstrate your campaign activity’s impact in terms of ROI and using that data to continuously inform and evolve your strategy is the name of the successful content marketing game.
Many marketing teams now have the digital tools and strategic know-how they need to implement an ongoing automated content marketing strategy. I believe we can be optimistic that the next three years will hold plenty of opportunity for financial marketing teams to finally regain some ground on our FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) marketing cousins.