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August 25, 2020
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The state of finance content marketing: 5 trends transforming the industry

By Christopher O
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The state of finance content marketing: 5 trends transforming the industry
Marketing

Content marketing is as broad an industry as it is specific. While there are general models and practices to how things work, there are also in-depth insights that allow different industry players to perform at the top of their game.

One of those industries that perform well with content marketing – and continue to do so – is finance. Having worked with a series of clients in this niche in the past, we have learned quite a great deal from our partners.

That knowledge base informed this piece on the current state of content marketing within the industry. Beyond that, we also explore the trends for what’s to come so that marketers – from the copywriter to the CMO – can get the best out of their efforts.

The Trends That Dominated the Past Decade

A common saying in the finance and money market is that ‘past performance is never an indicator of future movements in the market.’ Of course, such past performance could contribute to how things play out – but not usually to a T.

If there is a small chance of being able to make inferences from the past performances, though, then we have data worth considering in such historical performance.

Looking at the finance players in different countries globally, here are the trends that dominated their content marketing. Today, they still hold some water and should not be discarded yet.

Transparency

The Royal Commission into Misconduct on the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry published a report into banks and financial players in the Australian market in 2019.

This report showed that not all of the concerned players were behaving rightly. As is expected from the current wave of sophisticated consumers, there was a call for more light to be shed on banking affairs and projects.

That led to a wave of transparency in practices that resonated through the content marketing that these institutions put out. From February 1st when that report hit the shelves, the people had a new pain point – transparency. It, thus, became a battle of who could provide more insights into how they run things behind the scenes.

The mandate was simple: go public or go home.

This trend will continue into this year – which marks the start of a new decade – and beyond.

Wirecard AG recently filed for insolvency after an independent audit showed that they inflated their earnings and financial holdings.

The fact that they had been audited by Ernst and Young for years without that claim ever making it to the public drew a lot of public scrutinies. That, and the shareholders in the company are still reeling from losing more than 90% of their stock value in a mere 24 hours.

Going forward, brands in the financial sector would have to be more open about what they do if they hope to stay relevant.

Focus on Data

Consumers are currently exposed to a series of models allowing them to compare and contrast different financial products in the quest to find the best thing. In fact, the consumer market is now so sophisticated that it does not need the interference of third party 'experts,’ so to speak, to make decisions.

There is simply too much material for research available to the average user right now.

The data tells the stories that the words cannot tell. The market has grown beyond one that can take action based on your assertions alone. They need to see the facts, numbers, and data supporting the taken stance.

This takes us a little into the realm of thought leadership. It does not always have to be thought leadership that gets this treatment though.

While other industries can survive on leaving the hard facts and research to their cornerstone content only, the financial sector cannot. Every piece of content that you put out is sensitive and should be backed with strong facts where needed.

After all, the money market is neither place for emotions or blind trust. It’s all about the fundamentals, not promises.

Keep Research Original

What’s better than having data-backed content? Making sure it is original data, that’s what.

There is a reason why news content brings in a lot of traffic. The audience knows that they are getting something that they would not find anywhere else – either in part or whole. They would, thus, flock to the source of the news.

The same is true for the original data.

KPMG has made a name for itself via the CEO Outlook original research project which reviews the opinions of more than 1,500 CEOs globally.

Ernst and Young excel at creating well-timed reports at different industries too, helping the players and their partners in such industries to make sense of current trends while preparing for the future. Of those, we have the COVID-19 Industry Pulse Report for this year which spans different industries.

Relatability

Banks and financial institutions believe that they have to maintain this tough exterior outlook to their clients. It is almost like every one of their communications experts attended the same classes on keeping a tight upper lip. If the successful Monzo experiment in the UK has shown us anything, it is that such a communications plan won’t work for long anymore.

Firms in the financial sector should position themselves for the average consumer to feel okay accessing them. The human side of the brand should shine through – both when selling to personal consumers and other businesses too.

Monzo leveraged financial content with easy-to-understand, everyday language to reach a bigger audience base faster. They promised that they were here to make banking easier, and they are delivering on that.

The Trends for 2020 and Beyond

With the calendar turn to the year 2020 came the birth of a new decade also.

Truth be told, the year has been off to a rather slow start. When things move, they tend to be erratic – no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Extracting the emerging trends with relevant volume behind them, though, birthed the following list:

Trend #1 – Content Repurposing

Many marketers see content repurposing as a means to get the most out of a piece of an idea. That is true, but far from the best thing here.

Building authority is better than just building content. When you take the same idea and repurpose it around various channels, you will be building authority on that topic.

Say you put out a highly successful blog post focused on how to diversify an investment portfolio for beginners. This can be followed up on with an email series that goes in-depth into every kind of recommended investment. That could also spawn into a YouTube video series where you detail how to identify the best investment options under the different packages.

That said, content repurposing also allows you to keep quality over quantity.

Coming up with a single golden idea takes a lot of research. It would, thus, be a shame if all that research can only birth one piece of content. In fact, that puts extra stress on the content marketing team – which could lead to poor deliveries as time goes by.

For more insights, we have discussed how to generate the right content mix to build authority in your niche at iResearch here.

Trend #2 – Sticky Content

Any financial niche that you can think of already has a ton of content around it.

That is not a discouragement to not try and create content of your own. It is, rather, an invitation to have an in-depth understanding of your audience.

When audience management is mentioned, most marketers go the way of creating a buyer persona. This time, we want you to look beyond that and get personal with the audience instead.

Do not try to create the perfect/ ideal consumer. Seek out the ‘flawed’ customer. Then, you can direct your content marketing to address those flaws to make them whole. That is when they become the perfect consumer for you – and only you.

Different company models will allow for consumer connection and outreach in different ways. In-person approaches are often best. If there is anything that we have learned from the coronavirus pandemic and flock to digital, though, it is that you should also make digital processes work for you.

Explore our agile marketing guide to always stay on top of new, emerging, and changing buyer personas in real-time.

Trend #3 – Thought Leadership

One of the trends that ruled the past decade is original research. It remains today but with a step forward towards thought leadership.

According to Craig Badings and Liz Alexander, co-writers of the Thought Leadership Tweet Book 01, "a hallmark of a true thought leader is the confidence to take the route that 99.9 percent of the industry experts don’t even see.”

The question here is not that of seeing something unique that others in the niche seem to have missed. It is having the confidence to explore such routes, challenging the norms, and advancing relevant conversations in the process.

Effective thought leadership goes beyond just original research. It entails championing a cause that dynamically embraces the vision and mission of the brand while setting the pace for others to follow. It is a resource-intensive process that should be followed diligently. Above all, the dividends from thought leadership are just so juicy to be ignored.

Trend #4 – Digital is a Must

“The biggest deals are mostly closed in person.”

The above statement is true for most industries and not just the financial sector. Why is that, though?

It could easily be chalked down to the need for people to get assurances in person. We could also say that it is because of the tangibility of physical conversations. Truth be told, those are mere excuses to cover up for possible insufficiencies in closing deals in other ways.

There is a trust that comes with meeting in person which most content marketers have not been able to replicate online. The coronavirus pandemic has shut down many galas, trade fairs, exhibitions, meet-and-greets, etc.

We are now at the mercy of digital channels.

In the time since the pandemic started, many have started implementing the move to digital. Once the pandemic is over, the effectiveness of your content will be a factor of how well you have built out your digital channels in the meantime.

Digital routes to delivering content better should also be explored. How your audience sees your content, react to it and access said content should be at the top of the priority list. Cutting away the compulsory need for physical meetings, scalability is guaranteed and growth, imminent.

Trend #5 – Simplicity

The specificity and sophistication of the financial industry mean that it comes with industry vocab of its own. For better inclusivity of all audience types, these terms should be broken down in as simple, relatable terms as possible.

Not everyone can grasp what liquidity, retracement, consolidation, and such other keywords mean at first glance. Even for those who understand it, they might end up getting confused when those terms are used in non-familiar contexts.

Choose, instead, to go down the path of maximum understanding. Seek to ensure even the least financially-savvy reader in your audience list gets a solid grasp of the message you are passing across.

Even experts with knowledge of industry terms will prefer to come to your content for simplicity. Furthermore, you will remain the favorite of the beginners who learned all they can about those terms from you, even after they have left this stage.

Following the Money

The trends above promise to deliver the highest ROI for financial marketers in 2020 and beyond. This is, by no means, an extensive list of all the possible trends out there for the financial industry. Armed with these, though, you can launch a better content marketing plan in the discussed sector.

Do any of these trends jump out? Get in touch with a thought leadership expert to find out more

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