How Content Marketing Drives Sales

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Published Date:08-07-2017
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The Evolution of CONTENT MARKETING in the FINANCE INDUSTRY: RESEARCH AND LESSONS LEARNEDOverview Content marketing isn’t a new strategy for the finance industry. In fact, Credit Suisse has been publishing its own magazine, The Bulletin, since 1895. For many financial institutions, the value of content marketing is the same today as it was 130 years ago: It strengthens relationships with prospects and customers by building trust. But what, specic fi ally, are financial institutions doing when it comes to content marketing — and, more importantly, what do they need to be doing to evolve and stand out? The challenges for marketers in financial fields are similar to those in other industries: The marketplace is changing, and customers are no longer responding to “one-size-t fi s-all” approaches. But this industry has its own unique considerations, as well, such as the fact it operates in a heavily regulated industry and its customers can no longer be categorized as being interested in only business finance or only personal finance. This white paper provides an overview of the current state of content marketing in the finance industry and explores key examples that can show you ways to evolve your own program. Our goal is to help you understand where your industry peers are today, and give you the tools to think about your content marketing program die ff rently in preparation for what may lie ahead. Yours in content, Joe Pulizzi 2Research: State of the Industry Before we look at where the finance industry is headed, let’s see where its marketers’ feet are planted today. Usage and budgets Each year, the Content Marketing Institute surveys marketers from a wide range of industries to better understand their content marketing practices. Our fih a ft nnual content marketing survey showed that 78% of financial marketers use content marketing. These marketers spend 18% on average of their total marketing budget on content marketing, and 57% plan to increase their spend. Effectiveness and strategy Of the financial marketers who use content marketing, only 25% consider their organizations to be ee ff ctive at it. How Financial Marketers Rate the Effectiveness of Their Organization’s Use of Content Marketing Very Effective 4% 21% 43% 24% Not At All Effective 7% 01020304050 3Throughout our research, there is one trend we have observed among those marketers who are more ee ff ctive: They have a documented content marketing strategy that they follow. Percentage of Financial Marketers Who Have a Content Marketing Strategy 4%  Yes, and it is documented  Yes, but it is not documented 26% 37%  No  Unsure 33% 37% of financial content marketers have a documented content strategy; if you are among those who do not, this is the first step you should take to improve your program. Download CMI’s guide, The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer, to help you get there. In terms of organizational structure, 45% have a dedicated content marketing group in house. Another 13% plan to have a dedicated content marketing group. 4Goals and metrics Financial marketers say brand awareness, engagement, and lead generation are their most important goals for content marketing. Unlike marketers in other verticals, financial marketers are more likely to prioritize customer retention/loyalty over sales. Organizational Goals for Financial Content Marketing Brand Awareness 82% Engagement 82% Lead Generation 75% 68% Customer Retention/Loyalty Sales 64% Lead Nurturing 63% Upsell/Cross-sell 55% Customer Evangelism 51% 0102030405060708090 5How do financial content marketers measure success? Like most other marketers, the majority (71%) look to website traffic. Financial marketers die ff r, however, in that they put more emphasis on time spent on the website when compared with marketers in other verticals, who are more likely to measure sales and conversion rates than time spent on the website. Metrics for Financial Content Marketing Success Website Traffic 71% Time Spent on Website 46% Higher Conversion Rates 41% Qualitative Feedback from Customers 36% Sales 35% Sales Lead Quality 33% Sales Lead Quantity 33% Inbound Links 29% Subscriber Growth 29% SEO Ranking 27% 0102030405060708090 6Like every other vertical we have studied, financial marketers are not cond fi ent in how well they are tracking ROI. How Financial Marketers Rate their Organization’s Success at Tracking ROI Very Effective 2% 14% 24% 32% Not At All Effective 13% We Don’t Track 14% 01020304050 7Content Creation and Distribution Sixty-seven percent of financial marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago; 41% are publishing new content multiple times per week. On average, financial marketers are using 13 content tactics. Financial Content Marketing Tactic Usage Articles on Your Website 89% eNewsletters 88% In-person Events 88% Social Media Content – Other Than Blogs 87% Videos 80% Webinars/Webcasts 69% White Papers 69% Illustrations/Photos 63% Infographics 62% Online Presentations 56% Case Studies 55% Research Reports 55% Blogs 54% Microsites 52% 0102030405060708090 8On average, financial marketers are using five social media platforms to distribute their content. Financial Content Marketing Social Media Platform Usage LinkedIn 90% Twitter 79% Facebook 75% YouTube 71% Google+ 36% SlideShare 20% 0102030405060708090 9Financial marketers also are using paid advertising methods to promote or distribute content; on average they use four methods. Financial Paid Advertising Usage Search Engine Marketing (SEM) 71% 65% Print or Other Offline Promotion 64% Traditional Online Banner Ads 57% Native Advertising 49% 36% Promoted Posts (e.g., promoted Tweets) 48% Social Ads (e.g., LinkedIn ads) 43% Content Discovery Tools 15% 0102030405060708090 10Challenges Like their peers in other industries, financial content marketers are encountering multiple challenges. Challenges that Financial Marketers Face Measuring Content Effectiveness 68% Producing Engaging Content 66% Lack of Integration Across Marketing 46% Producing Content Consistently 46% Producing a Variety of Content 45% Technology-related Challenges 44% Gaps in Knowledge & Skills of Internal Team 42% Lack of Buy-in/Vision from Higher-Ups 41% Lack of Budget 40% 40% Finding Trained Content Marketing Professionals 0102030405060708090 11Lessons, Examples, and Takeaways While understanding the data is interesting, it is even more useful to understand — and get inspired by — how financial marketers are using content marketing today. LESSON: Follow Your Purpose Example: SunTrust Banks, Inc. prides itself as being a “purpose-driven bank,” focused on “lighting the way to financial well-being.” In keeping that promise, SunTrust’s content marketing has a distinct direction, says Sheri Malmgren, senior vice president and director of social media and content marketing at SunTrust Banks, Inc., which is a client of Imagination. Take its “Live for a Sunny Day” integrated campaign, which puts a positive spin on financial well-being with its concept of living for your sunny days, not just saving for the rainy ones. The campaign has its own website, which acts as home base, but is incorporated across SunTrust’s custom content program. On the site, visitors can pick from one of seven “sunny day” scenarios — from planning a wedding, to having family time, to saving for retirement or college. 12Each “sunny” choice leads visitors to a page with content tailored to that purpose — podcasts, quizzes, videos, savings calculators, and email newsletter sign-up opportunities. A Facebook post example for “Live for a Sunny Day” reads: “For kids, a sunny day is an activity they love. For parents, it’s ao ff rding it.” Site users who click on the post are taken to a microsite l fi led with ideas about how to save, cut back, or find creative ways to support their children’s ae ft r-school activities. TAKEAWAY:  Create a strong and well-den fi ed mission so your team has clear focus when creating custom content. This also can help your audience better recognize how your company can positively impact their lives.  Think about creating content based on your audience’s needs — don’t create it based your company’s desire to talk about the products or services it sells. 13LESSON: Don’t Be Afraid To Evolve Example: Over 15 years ago, Wells Fargo created a print magazine for the small-business audience. The magazine was well received because its content covered topics relevant to the typical small- business owner, explains Doug Case, small business segment manager at Wells Fargo, which has more than 3 million small–business customers. Wells Fargo is a client of Imagination. However, the print version started losing traction with its audience eight years ago so Wells Fargo created a digital platform to bring some of the content from its magazine to online readers. Five years later, the online portal was no longer sufficient, and the company wanted to add dimension to its value proposition as America’s No. 1 small-business lender. “We needed to frame our messages in a way that would resonate better with today’s small- business owners in America,” Case says. That idea was the seed. The Wells Fargo team dove deeper to understand the content interest levels of small-business owners, their capacity to consume content, and the channels on which they wanted the content delivered. Wells Fargo also examined its content competitors — which meant looking beyond its finance industry competitors to all companies that serve the small–business community. Wells Fargo went beyond the surface topics that should attract business owners and explored what would attract business owners. Thus, the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business initiative was born. 14“We wanted to create a site ( that was easy to use … We added an immense amount of new content reorganized around the important stages of a small business. We lean toward shorter content such as topical videos, articles, and infographics.” TAKEAWAY:  Don’t be afraid to shift your content marketing strategy, to stay in step with your evolving business and your evolving customers.  Think beyond what topics your customers are interested – look at how, where, when, and why they use content – to create a fully informed strategy with a greater opportunity for success. 15LESSON: Have a Hub + Promotion Strategy Example: SunTrust has content hubs for all its target audiences (B2B and B2C) across the bank, including the Personal Banking Resource Center. It features recent headlines for articles, videos, and infographics with images, followed by a larger library of content below. Users can navigate to a specic t fi opic of interest. Bank products and services are incorporated alongside the content when relevant but are never the subject matter of the content. But SunTrust doesn’t just expect people to find the hub on their own — it proactively reaches out to them by including banner ads on its main website, and by using pay-per-click campaigns to leverage distribution platforms such as CNN, Fox Sports, and Forbes. SunTrust also incorporates Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into its content promotion. “The audiences have die ff rent expectations when they’re in those channels. We’ve had tremendous success with sharing content from our resource center,” SunTrust’s Malmgren says. TAKEAWAY:  Think about where you audience is congregating, and use both organic and paid methods to drive new visitors to your site. (Remember: On average, your financial marketing peers are using five social channels and four paid methods to distribute and promote their content.)  Use a central resource point to which you drive traffic. When readers click on an article headline, they not only can read that piece but can explore other content on your site. 16LESSON: Think Print Example: TD Ameritrade went old-school in 2007 when it launched thinkMoney — on paper. Though a mobile app and digital version are available as ungated content, the print version gets mailed directly to clients and is distributed at the company’s branches, at industry events, and in its onboarding kits. The quarterly publication features 40 content pages that are full of fresh thinking, humor, and trading how-to’s from equities to futures. At one point, TD Ameritrade called the magazine its best marketing investment. Why? It found that its readers trade five times more than non-readers do. TAKEAWAY:  It doesn’t have to be “the digital highway or no way.” Given the exodus from print, companies that publish in this traditional format are finding it to be a good way to stand apart from the crowd.  Look for ways to measure how your content contributes to bottom-line results. While the customer journey is easier to follow for online content, you can still leverage your CRM systems to compare your readers to your client list. 17LESSON: Think About How Employees Interact With Customers Example: Individual bankers are financial companies’ greatest asset when it comes to making an impact on a customer or prospect. Given Wells Fargo’s 6,200 locations, that’s tens of thousands of in-person engagements every day. “There’s no better way to deliver content than from a banker in the store. We love it when owners find their way to the content online, but in combination with our bankers, it’s a strong leverage point for us,” Case says. “The conversation we’re having with business owners through content marketing is very much aligned with our visions and values, as well as with the conversations our bankers are having in our stores.” TAKEAWAY:  Content is not an island unto itself. Find ways to involve your team members in promoting and sharing your content with your customers and prospects at all points of interaction.  Your best research comes from the people who work directly with your customers. What concerns do your customers share with them? What are problems do they have in common? What questions are they asking your staff? These conversations can be essential for informing the direction and topic selection for your content eo ff rts. 18LESSON: Don’t Forget The Fun Example: T. Rowe Price uses a fun, illustrated video-storybook telling of the couple who discovers how much college could cost for their child. Now, most parents already recognize the high cost of college, but the video offers a light way to remind them that having a 529 plan is an excellent way to save and reduce that college-funding stress. The video, which is hosted on the company’s YouTube channel, is just one component of the College Savings Chillout microsite, which also allows visitors to order a print version of the story and offers six lessons to help them get started saving for college. TAKEAWAY:  Tell stories in ways people can relate and recognize themselves in personally – they want to know you understand them and their struggles.  Have fun — the topic you choose may be serious, but your content format and tone don’t have to be. Look for ways to inject a humor into your content or make the conversation a little less formal. 19LESSON: Capitalize On Relevant Trends Example: Fifth Third Bank translated a jaw-dropping statistic into an entire platform of content. When it learned half of recent college graduates don’t have full-time jobs, the bank posed a question to its audience: What can Fifth Third do to help this next generation? Then, it ponied up 1 million in free job-coaching services and asked job seekers to post on Twitter with an explanation of why they deserve the money. Fifth Third selects 80 winners a day, and participants can post one entry tweet a day. Using the hashtags BrandofYou and 53Enter, entrants are creating a conversation (originating on Twitter and shared on the Fifth Third microsite), and in turn, the bank is receiving interesting insights into the minds of the coveted millennial audience: “I need to win this because an 80,000 + education doesn’t need to go unnoticed. Aside from that I’m pretty awesome too. BrandOfYou 53Enter” ShelbyNoellexx “I’ve worked a different job every year and need help finding the right job to pay my school debt off right away BrandOfYou 53Enter” AndynotJeff “As a college grad with a double major, I believe it’s time to stop grooming dogs and start grooming myself for success. BrandOfYou 53Enter” Lizificator But it’s not just a contest. Fifth Third’s Brand of You microsite also shares inspiring stories of recent college graduates and offers practical guidance, like tips for taking a professional headshot or templates for creating a resume. 20

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