As I discussed in a previous blog, content marketing (the practice of producing online and offline literature to attract clients through education) has steadily been replacing ‘the hard sell’ for businesses in all sectors and it is becoming increasingly prevalent in financial services.
I am currently in the process of conducting research on accountants’ attitudes to content marketing so would greatly appreciate it if you could take part in a short survey, which should take no more than two minutes to complete. I will be donating £1 to the Children of Syria Appeal for every response received.
Marketing strategy of choice
From jargon-busting glossaries to informative white papers, all types of firms in the financial services sector have been adopting content marketing. They choose this strategy not only to raise their profile among peers and to attract new clients, but also to regain the public trust that was lost following the financial crisis.
According to a report published by UK marketing agency Editions Financial (entitled Financial Content Marketing: The State of Play), more than 75% of senior financial services marketers believe that content marketing is more effective than other approaches when it comes to rebuilding trust in the industry.
Yet less than 2% of financial services companies judge their own content marketing efforts to be ‘highly effective’.
This is despite the fact that more than 95% of the 500 organisations surveyed by Editions Financial use content to market their products and services.
But with 88% of respondents expecting content marketing to become more important in the next 12 months, what are the emerging trends that you could take advantage of?
Should your firm scrap printed content, such as magazines, in favour of digital media? Is an emailed newsletter a waste of time now that all your clients are using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?
First, let’s look at some of the latest innovations that may not come as such a surprise.
Mobile marketing will increase in importance
Chances are, a high proportion of you reading this will be doing so on their smartphone. If you avert your eyes from the screen (please come back!) you’ll probably notice that whether you are in a public area, or at home with your family, the majority of people around you are also glued to their pocket-sized screen.
Data from internet analytics provider Comscore has shown that globally more internet users now access the internet through their smartphone than their desktop PC.
With Google recently updating its search algorithms to prioritise sites that are optimised for mobile devices, and research from Morgan Stanley stating that 91% of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach all of the time, it is a given that financial services firms will dedicate a significant amount of their marketing budget to mobile content.
At the very least, you should be checking that your firm's website is optimised for mobile and therefore not slipping down the Google rankings so that clients struggle to find you through organic search.
Growth in video
With the growth of mobile, an increase in video marketing is also inevitable. IT systems provider Cisco predicts that mobile video will make up 69% of all mobile traffic by 2018. According to Editions Financial’s survey, 69.7% of financial brands are already using this format and they rate video as the most effective channel to use.
While smartphones and tablets provide an effective way to reach your clients, they also provide a cost-effective way for you to produce decent-quality video content to share with your clients. Whether that’s purely producing introductory video biographies of your firm’s directors or slightly more technical webinars, it pays to produce a script beforehand so that you can appear in your best light.
Email is still effective
It may come as a surprise, but despite the growth of social networks in recent years, email is still the king when it comes to driving traffic to financial services websites. A joint study, conducted by digital consultant Econsultancy and marketing technology company Adestra, found that email marketing was ranked as the best channel in terms of return on investment.
It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that respondents to Financial Editions’ survey ranked email as the best channel at driving website traffic. It was deemed most effective by 24.2% of respondents with social media ranked second most effective.
Firms need to get a bit more intelligent with their email marketing, however. The most effective email practices now revolve around targeted, relevant, personalised emails based on clients’ needs. For example, you shouldn’t be sending an email regarding tax changes that affect SMEs to clients who are employed high earners.
Print isn’t dead
Perhaps the most interesting trend is the effectiveness of more traditional approaches such as branded magazines and white papers. Almost a third of financial marketers rate print magazines as an effective way of reaching their audience, particularly in an increasingly crowded digital marketplace.
This is backed up by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, who says: “I predict that we will see a surge in print magazines from brands. As most brands continue to focus heavily on digital, smart brands will realise that it is much easier to cut through the clutter by leveraging ‘the post’ – without much competition at all.”
So if you produce a regular magazine to send to your clients, it’s not quite time to yell “Stop the press!”
About Sally Percy
Director of Love Letters financial content agency. Freelance business and finance journalist. Former editor of Accountancy magazine and The Treasurer magazine.