These days, a blog is a no-brainer for most marketing strategies—unless, of course, you’re a financial services company.
Launching and managing a successful blog is challenging for any business, but financial companies (banks, asset managers, advisors, even nimble FinTech startups) face some unique hurdles that make it harder than usual—things like strict compliance rules, risk-averse company execs, and a lack of content creators with financial expertise.
Despite the challenges, more and more financial companies are waking up to the benefits of blogging. When I helped launch my former employer’s blog six years ago, we were one of the first asset managers to do it. Since then, I’ve worked with a number of SuperScript’s clients—financial companies with varying budgets and buy-in—to manage and create content for their company blogs.
And each time, I’ve seen results that make it worth the effort.
I don’t recommend starting a blog to every client. If you don’t have the resources to support it and your marketing goals are better served using a different channel, it’s probably best to focus your efforts elsewhere. But if you have the time and budget to do it right, it’s my belief that most financial companies can benefit from having a blog.
The financial industry has a trust problem. There are a lot of reasons for this, but a big one is the perception that financial companies aren’t transparent or communicative enough with their customers and the general public.
A blog is a great way to “open the kimono” for your target audience and influencers. Use your blog to explain complex products and concepts in plain English, provide objective insights on the economic events and challenges that worry investors, and discuss the evolution of your business practices.
A blog is a fantastic way to reap the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO). For one thing, it forces you to continuously update your site with fresh content (search engines like that). And if you’re strategic about it—for example, optimizing blog posts for long-tail keywords—it can be a significant driver of traffic, conversions and brand awareness over time.
With the advent of FinTech solutions like robo-advisors and online lenders, financial companies of all types and sizes are competing for hearts, minds and dollars in an increasingly commoditized market. Why should someone choose you when there are dozens of competitors vying for lowest price, coolest user experience and flashiest marketing campaign?
Not only does a blog keep mid-funnel prospects coming back to your site, it helps them make a buying decision. Use your blog to illustrate your expertise in the space while highlighting the features and benefits that make your product or service better than the other options out there.
A blog is a great way to learn about your target audience. Over time, you can see which topics and formats are driving traffic (organic, referral, social, etc.), conversions and engagement—then use that information to impact your marketing strategy and even product design. You can also use your blog to solicit feedback, both in the comments section and by using a blog post to pose a question on various forums.
Most financial companies already create a fair amount of content, and a blog is an easy place to repurpose that content for different audiences and in new formats. For example, internal sales emails, market commentaries, white papers, even product brochures can become blog posts, infographics, videos and more.
I often hear people say that blogs don’t convert, but that’s simply not true. Take the time to optimize your blog and individual posts for conversion, and you should see results. For example, if your goal is to drive leads, offer a downloadable white paper within related blog posts. If your goal is to drive downloads or sign-ups, put your compelling call-to-action on the sidebar and at the end of the post.
Doing social media the “right” way is hard for most traditional financial services companies. It’s tough to engage with your audience and react quickly to events when 10 people need to review each tweet (and compliance doesn’t work 24/7). Sharing compliance-approved blog posts on social channels provides value to your audience and allows you to contribute to conversations your customers care about.
Consumers are increasingly looking to influencers—bloggers, authors, celebrities, etc.—to help them make decisions about financial products. Just look at the 2016 FinCon attendee list for a plethora of personal finance bloggers that could be reviewing and promoting your product or service.
While many of these influencers prefer a paid relationship, you can strike up an organic relationship with some by interviewing them for a post, promoting their site on your blog and social media, and other tactics that provide value for them. And because they’re often experts in their field, influencers provide a constant source of great topic ideas for your content strategy.
Make sure to measure.
A blog can be an incredibly effective marketing tool, but it takes time to see the benefits listed above. Companies that expect immediate results run the risk of feeling like their blog is failing and potentially abandoning the effort—which is obviously a complete waste of time and money.
So don’t start a blog (or do social media, or any other marketing strategy for that matter) without first getting clear on your goals. Do you want to drive traffic, gather leads, get downloads, or something else? No matter what your objectives are, get the analytics dialed in from day one, so you can measure results, make tweaks along the way and keep stakeholders apprised of your progress.
If you take a strategic approach and let the metrics guide you, any financial services company should benefit from having a blog.