The title of this post seemingly poses one of the most critical and impactful questions of our time:
Can artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and cryptocurrencies cure the malaise currently plaguing content marketing?
The answer, unequivocally, is no. AI, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies have absolutely nothing to do with content marketing. So why did I pose the question, and make it the title of the post? Because — like so many other authors these days — I have to resort to click bait to entice more readers to read my content.
Content Marketing Should Be Easy, No?
Many firms across a wide range of industries have rightfully adopted content marketing as an important component of their marketing mix, including many of The Financial Brand’s readers, who primarily come from two camps: 1) marketers from financial institutions who use content to market to consumers, and 2) marketers from vendors and consultant who use content to reach financial institutions.
Although their target markets are very different, the two camps share the same three content marketing goals:
- Develop (or acquire) great content;
- Get the target market to read the content; and
- Realize the business benefits of having the content read.
Easy-peasy, right? Hardly.
Your Content Sucks
A cursory review of the content published by financial institutions under the banner of content marketing reveals two problems; 1) a serious lack of differentiation across financial institutions, and 2) weak content.
Regarding the first problem, Tearsheet recently reported:
“The News and Stories section of Chase’s website features the headline 7 essential rules of saving; Bank of America’s Better Money Habits offers 7 steps to stay financially fit and Capital One weighs in on 7 ways to enjoy your wedding season without crushing your wallet. The similarity in look, feel and presentation can make branded articles seem less authentic.”
As for weak content, my colleague Sam Kilmer wrote that he recently received a “personalized” email titled “5 Savings Strategies for Your Down Payment.” Strategy #5 on the list was: “You may need to make more money.”
You may need to make more money? Brilliant…
Here’s another great piece of advice often found in much of the content published by financial institutions: You may need to save more money.
What particularly annoyed Sam was the fact that the institution sending that email knows that he’s getting close to the end of his mortgage, on which a down payment was made years ago. Undifferentiated, weak, and irrelevant. There’s a winning combination for you.
Sucks Is Lacking, Too
I’m not very inclined to stick my fingers in electrical sockets. But commenting on banking industry vendors’ contents would be doing just that, as my personal business model involves getting paid to develop content for those vendors.
At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, I will say this about a lot of the content published by vendors trying to reach financial executives: Simply reporting survey results doesn’t make for great content (99% of the time).
If you field a survey that asks questions that have never been asked for, and get answers that truly break ground in providing knowledge to banking executives about something, then yes–simply reporting survey results can be great content. But that rarely happens–probably not even 1% of the time.
Typically, the surveys driving vendor content ask about priorities, challenges, what technologies will impact the industry, etc. Asking about those things is fine. But simply reporting the results hardly qualifies as a great content. Banking execs want to know what to do about those challenges and technologies.
Nobody Reads Anymore Anyway, Do They?
Let’s say you accomplish goal #1 and develop great content, or, if you’re a vendor, you hired me to create great content for you. Now what? Well, now you have to get people to read that content.
Good luck with that.
The rise in the popularity of podcasts suggests that maybe people don’t like to read much anymore. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is this: It’s easier to get people to read tweets about your content than to get them to read the actual content itself.
There’s a new marketing metric content marketers should track: the RPV (Retweets-to-Page Views) ratio.
I’m fortunate that I have some influential friends in the fintech space who often tweet and retweet the links to my Snarketing posts. What I’ve noticed is that after they tweet, many of their followers will retweet it.
But I’ve also noticed–painfully–that few of those tweets and retweets actually result in page views. The RPV ratio on my content must run 100 to 1.
It begs an important question: Does my content actually have to be read in order for me to reap the benefits of it?
Realizing the Benefits of Content
If my business objective is establishing myself as a thought leader and influencer in the fintech space, then maybe I don’t really need people to actually read my content.
As a financial institution marketer, maybe your objective is to establish your financial institution as a provider of advice and guidance to consumers about managing their financial lives. If that’s the case, then quantity of content might be enough to help accomplish that goal, regardless of how good the content is, or how many people actually read it.
But I’d bet that financial marketers want to gain more than just awareness and affinity from their content marketing efforts. They want engagement (i.e., some positive form of action on the part of the reader to evaluate, pursue, or deepen a relationship).
If that’s your goal, I’d like to offer a piece of advice, one that goes against the grain with at least one other perspective on this matter. According to Adobe (as reported here on The Financial Brand):
If you’re going to take content marketing seriously, you will need to bang out big volumes of material.
I disagree. In my experience (developing content for vendors), a single piece of really good content can do more to drive bottom-line results than cranking out a ton of content — even if the content is good.
In my experience, the vendors who are most successful with content marketing are those that build marketing campaigns around a single piece of content, with the focus of that content well-aligned to the core marketing message of that firm.
It should be no different for financial institutions. A bank or credit union doesn’t typically run 100 different ads over the course of the year. Instead, it runs a single ad multiple times to reinforce the message. And just as that ad is (or should be) carefully crafted to elicit a specific response from a specific audience, so should content developed for content marketing purposes.
Now get out there and retweet the link to this Snarketing post!