How B2B Financial Firms Can Use Content Marketing to Win Big

by | 05.Feb.19

Many B2C financial firms (including fintech) have taken to content marketing like ducks to water; in the B2B space, financial firms have been slower to invest in content-driven experiences. But those that join the early adopters and find ways to use content to attract and engage their audiences will gain a significant market advantage.

Financial firms may be missing the connection

A recent report by Econsultancy and Adobe showed that financial services and insurance companies (FSIs) were less likely to prioritize content marketing than other sectors. In fact, only 17% of FSIs cited content marketing as a top priority compared to 26% of firms in other sectors. Yet FSIs are more likely to be focused on optimizing the customer experience, with 28% of FSIs identifying CX as the single most exciting opportunity for their organization compared to just 18% of firms in other sectors.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect when the customer experience is a high priority, but content marketing is a low priority. Without a content marketing strategy in place, firms in the B2B financial space risk forfeiting opportunities to attract prospective customers into the funnel and engage them at every step of their journey.

Concerns about risk may delay participation…

Why do B2B companies in the financial space seem to have less of an appetite for content marketing? One factor that could be holding them back is a reluctance to “be the first.” B2C companies in the financial sector are connecting to millennials with slick content hubs like Santander’s Prosper and Thrive and WealthSimple Magazine, where you might find Kim Kardashian sharing her attitudes towards money. But on the B2B side, there are fewer companies modeling brave approaches to content, and it’s harder to be among the first to blaze trails.

Another factor could be the perception that content marketing opens up new risks in a highly regulated industry. Content marketing can require a company to explore a wider range of topics, be more informal or conversational, and even express opinions. There’s more content to govern and more chances of making a blunder. That can feel scary to a company that has traditionally stuck to the safer territory of promoting its products and services.

…But delayed participation also creates risk

Companies that offer financial products and services may be averse to risk, but the greater risk lies in ignoring the market reality: B2B audiences are hungry for content. A 2015 report from BrightFunnel showed that between 2014 and 2015, the number of marketing touches required to close a B2B deal jumped by 52%. Buyers want to conduct their own research and control more of the buyer journey. In fact, Forrester estimates that buyers now self-manage as much as 90% of their journey before contacting a salesperson. To be part of the conversation, companies need to produce content to support that self-managed journey at every stage.

While evolving customer demands give B2B financial firms one good reason to use content marketing, increasing competitor participation gives them another. According to 2015 data from the Content Marketing Institute, 78% of financial marketers use content marketing. B2B financial firms may have been slower to participate in content marketing, but the momentum is building and the adoption curve is growing steeper. Firms that continue to hold back are likely to find themselves gradually edged out by competitors.

Content marketing recommendations for B2B financial firms

If you’re a B2B financial firm with plans to invest more seriously in content marketing, here are three suggestions for starting off on the right foot.

Start with the basics.

Organizations that haven’t taken a considered approach to content marketing before need to start by ensuring that they have a solid foundation to build on. Having up-to-date, validated personas in place will enable you to produce content that’s tailored to the needs and interests of your target markets, and conducting an analysis of your competitors’ content will ensure that your content explores new themes and captures a fresh, original voice. Once you’ve identified the market needs and gaps, you’ll know where you need to focus your content-creation efforts.

Get ready to “rock”.

Producing a piece of “big rock” content can be a great first step into content marketing. A big rock is a substantial and valuable piece of content that provides a deeper analysis of a specific topic. It’s usually an ebook, a white paper, or a video or podcast that provides a comprehensive exploration of a specific theme or challenge. Big rock content is a good way to demonstrate credibility and expertise, and if it’s well conceived, it can be broken up into smaller pieces of content that fill your pipeline, boost your cadence, and drive additional engagement with your central big rock piece.

Diagram of content pieces that can come from a big rock piece of content

A single piece of big rock content can drive an entire campaign

Think laterally.

Many financial firms are understandably hesitant to generate content because of the strict regulations that surround their industry. However, many have successfully circumvented or reduced the need for extensive oversight and compliance by focusing on complementary topics that don’t explicitly cover financial matters. For example, the B2B blog for Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, covers topics that range from business-plan tips, Q&A sessions with small-business owners, and getting more value out of merchant service contracts. Similarly, the Human-Centric Investing blog maintained by Hartford Funds, a money management firm, features advice from clinical psychologists, motivational speakers, and other professionals to help investment advisors build a human connection with their clients.

Many financial regulations apply to communications, but they are primarily focused on regulating the promotion of the products and services you sell. By focusing on broader trends, tips, and ideas, you can sidestep those restrictions and create a range of content that delivers value to your audience.

Three examples of effective B2B financial content

These DemandLab clients—all B2B financial firms—have found ways to reach their target markets and showcase their expertise by producing content themes and types that address specific needs and deliver valuable insights.

LLR Partners: This private equity firm created a content hub that regularly publishes real-world, peer-tested advice for fast-growing, high-potential companies. Browse the content hub or read the case study to learn more about this award-winning content project.

PEF Services: This fund administrator developed a respected white-paper series on a range of topics aimed at helping private capital firms and institutional investors strengthen their back-office operations. Browse the white-paper collection here or read the case study.

Ipreo by IHS Markit: The private capital division of this fintech firm produces a range of thought leadership, but one piece, in particular, helped them turn dormant leads into a multimillion-dollar opportunity. Read the case study to learn more.

Are you a B2B financial firm interested in exploring content marketing options? It’s our favorite niche! Contact [email protected] to start the conversation.

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