This week, we complete our look at the State of Play report 2019, which identifies the big content marketing trends for financial services companies.
The report is based on a survey of marketers across financial services. Here we explore:
- The formats that work
- The challenges to effective content marketing in financial services, and
- The ways marketers are measuring the effectiveness of their activity
How to create engaging marketing content
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that, according to the report, ‘Marketers are creating more content than ever’. The survey shows an increase in output for every format.
Social media volumes have risen the most. 20% of marketers in the previous survey used social media; today this figure is 44%.
The report has interesting insight into the changing nature of social media content, citing two key points:
- There are now so many social media platforms, each with their own style. Even within a platform, the content that will work for, say a Linkedin post and a sponsored Linkedin ad, will differ.
This means that creating social posts doesn’t mean a ‘one-size fits all’ tweak to existing content. It means creating bespoke pieces of content for each
platform and each channel within those platforms.
- People are increasingly engaging direct with content within their social feeds. In other words, where you might once have used social media as a gateway to material on your own website, today’s preference for native content means that people expect to see embedded videos, for example, within social posts.
Email remains the most popular format, used by 48%. The report’s authors expect firms to up their game on email as a result of GDPR, with data processing rules leading to better segmentation and personalisation for a more bespoke reader experience.
Long or short content?
Should what you produce be short or long? A question that’s often asked – and the answer is, according to the report at least, that there is no set answer. Whether short- or long-form content works best will depend on your audience and what they want from it.
And of course, this isn’t static. Sometimes, your reader might want a short soundbite; at others, a deeper dive into a topic. Importantly, the ongoing popularity of longer pieces shows that long-form content has its place in the marketing mix.
Storytelling formats are growing in use – blogs (up 7%) and whitepapers (up 10%) have risen in popularity.
We’ve looked before at the rise of storytelling in content marketing. The growth of formats that support this helps marketers to cut through the growing ‘noise’ of content.
The growth in events this year (up 12%) suggests that marketers are increasingly using a ‘funnel’ approach to marketing and sales, with audiences guided down a path of increasingly focused interactions.
Events themselves can also be used to generate content, with the potential to spin out blogs, podcasts, whitepapers and other follow-up materials from the topics covered at the event.
The report says that ‘the ideal model for maximum efficiency of output remains COPE (Create Once, Publish Anywhere)’.
Delivering content at scale is the Holy Grail – with the proliferation of channels making this more important than ever. A third of respondents to the survey have some form of automation to help with this.
We’ve previously identified automation as one of the four essential B2B marketing tools you should be using and explored the ways that automating both content production and distribution can transform marketing efficiency.
‘Producing content that’s sufficiently engaging’ is the biggest challenge for content marketers; 40% cite this. 36% believe a lack of knowledge, skills or training is holding them back. Al ack of defined strategy is the biggest hurdle for 33%.
If these are obstacles you face, our blogs on the most effective marketing content and how you can use it and how to maximise engagement with your content marketing have good tips and suggestions.
Marketing ROI has also always been a challenge. 54% of respondents in the report say that they could improve their measurement.
There is a tendency for marketers to focus their attention at the top of the conversion funnel – spending more time on awareness activity than on converting to sales.
There’s an appetite for better measurement, though, with a quarter of marketers seeing lack of measurement as their biggest challenge when delivering an effective content marketing strategy.
Measuring what matters is essential. The growth of digital marketing, with its abundance of clear metrics, means there is no excuse for focusing on softer or vanity metrics.
There is plenty of hard evidence that marketers can use to improve their content strategy. As the report says, ‘It’s untenable to have a blank in the spreadsheet where those hard conversion metrics should sit’.
There’s a world of possibility in content marketing. In terms of creation, distribution and measuring to refine its effectiveness, financial services marketers have a wealth of tools at their disposal.
But most clearly feel there’s more they can do to hone their approach. We suggest you read the full report, as it has many useable actions and helpful tips on creating the optimal content strategy.
For financial services marketers, compliance provides an additional and unavoidable element to the process. Increasingly, regulated firms are turning to automated workflows to manage their marketing, and seeing tangible benefits as a result.
To read more about how automation can facilitate your content production – protecting your brand, supporting regulatory compliance and saving you significant time – you can download a copy of our whitepaper, The benefits of automated workflow systems. You can read a free copy here.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.