Over the last several years, we’ve spoken with many CEOs and marketing executives at financial services companies and found that almost everyone is frustrated about their failed SEO & content marketing efforts.
They have probably tried one of the following;
- Ran test after test, trying different messages, putting CTAs in different places, sliders, popups, you name it. Nothing working.
- Expanded through marketing campaigns such as; PPC/Google Ads and social media marketing but wasted a lot of money before they realized it was time to bring in some specialists.
- Considered bringing in a team of marketers from within, the onboarding process takes time, plus mishires are common, even after a marketer has been onboarded.
- Hiring a digital marketing team to develop an effective content strategy but failing to attract high-quality leads consistently.
Then, they conclude that driving businesses with website/content is complex and doesn’t work. No leads. No conversions. No Return on Investment.
And they wonder if all their content marketing effort is worth it again.
But over the years of working with financial service providers, I’ve found that most financial services content marketing teams make critical mistakes.
This article will outline five reasons why financial services firms don’t get results from content marketing and how our approach fixes the mistakes.
The gaps in the financial SEO and financial content creation space
Many digital marketing agencies and consultants focus on the wrong things or don’t have enough expertise in-house. This results in wasted time and money for clients who don’t see any real ROI from their content marketing efforts.
We set out to build a financial services content marketing agency that would close the gaps in the industry and deliver real results for our clients.
First, let’s look at the gaps.
Gap 1. Beginner level and regurgitated content from Google that doesn’t speak to savvy customers
This is one of the most common problems we see. They produce content that is either basic and not helpful to someone researching a financial topic or simply a regurgitation of what’s already there.
A B2B customer is savvy. They have advanced questions about financial planning. Many have tried it before and are looking for better solutions.
In short: they are not beginners.
This is true for many B2B companies and some B2C companies. For example (these are drawn from our actual clients):
- [B2B] An Accounting app company sells to founders and managers that have been using other accounting software or other tools for decades.
- [B2C] A financial planner has customers who have had financial challenges for months and years and have talked to multiple advisors. They have Googled a ton of information about their challenges – their queries are not simple.
- [B2B] A content marketing agency (like ours) sells to heads of marketing (VP, Directors) or founders that have decades of experience. They’re not interested in learning what content marketing is. Instead, they want results, not to learn how it works.
But why is their content not working for your business?
Most content marketing agencies hire freelancers with minimal, if any, domain expertise. They give their writers a topic (Write about accounting apps or financial planning for small businesses) and ask them to develop the argument independently.
How will that blog post impress savvy potential customers? It can’t.
That’s the reason why so many financial and fintech companies create beginner level content such as;
- “Top 10 Accounting Apps for Sole Traders in 2022”
- “Beginners Guide to Content Marketing for Financial Companies”
Is it possible that a seasoned expert in your industry, who happens to be the CEO/Founder, wants to know what the top 10 trends are in their field, or worse yet, read another “Beginner’s Guide” (or even “Ultimate Guide”) in the area they’ve been working in for years?
For example, if you’re a financial planner for small businesses or certain individuals, your customer isn’t searching for simple definition terms – even if they have search volume.
This type of beginner-level financial content does not address actual pain points that savvy customers (typically B2B or B2C) have.
It’s not remarkable content even if it hits some arbitrary length requirements and has a beautiful web design or user experience.
It sounds as though it should work, it may even rank on page 1 of Google, but it doesn’t work when analyzed closely.
As a result, we recognized that to be a top financial content marketing agency; we require a system to produce high-level content for sophisticated consumers. More about it later in the article.
Gap 2. Hiring freelance writers who don’t work for most companies
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t hire a freelance writer; I used to be one myself. However, from experience, content marketing agencies work with freelance writers or specialist freelance writers.
The freelance writing model doesn’t work for most financial companies, even though it does for personal finance blogs. Here are the reasons;
- Freelance writers are less likely to write about your products and services (and hence produce top of the funnel content that does not convert)
- Specialist financial writers are usually too expensive for startups (all for good reasons)
- Lastly, most financial writers don’t know about SEO strategy (it’s not their job)
I know this because when I write for personal finance bloggers and especially financial companies, I always have a nagging feeling: What is it that my reader really wants to know? Is that what they’re interested in? Where should I mention my clients’ products?
As a freelance financial writer, I didn’t understand my reader’s pain points. Neither did I always understand the company’s product or services (although I did understand the financial industry niche).
If you’re a B2B or B2C company with a long sales cycle and contracts of $1,000+ per month, you need to write advanced content about your product or services. You need to go in-depth, talk about the technical matters, including case studies, and answer specific questions.
But if you work with freelance writers who know nothing about your products or services or are generalists, you’ll end up with the generic and regurgitated types of articles. It’s great for beginners but doesn’t impress your advanced customers.
Regarding the financial industry, generalist writers might create articles based on research on Google and might be unaware of the regulation about topics you need to cover. It helps to understand certain nuances and services beforehand regarding the financial industry.
To get customers to convert and be interested in your services, there’s no way around it: your writer needs to understand the industry, your services, and your customers.
Gap 3. Unwilling to be accountable for results (leads generated)
You’re in business. You want more business, more leads, more revenue, and more impact.
However, when you talk from one digital marketing agency to another, not any of them wants to be held accountable for the business they generate.
They say their deliverables are about content output.
- “We’ll produce ‘X’ articles every month.”
- “Each article will have a minimum word count of ‘X.”
- “Each article will be SEO optimized.”
But you don’t want content; you want results for your business are leads, qualified leads that close at a high rate.
People use the term inbound marketing loosely, but what is the point if you aren’t measuring and reporting on inbound leads?
Furthermore, most of them were unwilling to take responsibility for traffic one step before leads. They’d simply remark that “you should start to notice organic traffic rise over time.”
This issue affects both B2C and B2B businesses, but it is particularly critical for B2B enterprises since lead quality and traffic quality are more important than volume.
This is in contrast to affiliate sites and personal finance blogs. They’re playing a content volume game: producing as much content as possible to rank for as many keywords as possible.
For these blogs, the content can be simple. You’re not trying to win trust with a business customer in a complex niche that has 6 months sales cycle. Instead, you’re trying to show up for customer-based search terms such as “best budgeting apps for couples” (and dozens of similar search queries)
Most laypeople can write and understand this content (thus, many freelance writers can easily produce it) — it’s just a matter of producing enough to rank for enough of those keywords.
Most freelance writers understand and can write on these topics. They also don’t need to be that in-depth. Readers are looking for scannable content.
In contrast, this doesn’t work for businesses in specialized niches with customers who have advanced knowledge in the space.
And sure, traffic is important — but more traffic does not always equal more conversions.
Businesses that invest in content marketing expect to see a return on their investment. But there’s no way to calculate that return if you don’t know how many leads/customers/sales your content generates.
Common objection – Some people may say that attribution is impossible, and you can’t quantify how many conversions your content causes. And, sure, it’s not a perfect science — but there are methods to measure conversions.
You can track button clicks, form submissions, and other conversion activities using Google Analytics and similar tools to determine how many conversions you’re getting.
How many agencies have you interviewed that are willing to track conversions? It seems to be a general trend, and you may agree with me that most businesses track their conversions at all.
Instead, they focus on vanity metrics such as publishing X number of articles per month and number of page views per month. The problem is that you create content that generates traffic but no conversions at all. Examples of topics are;
- Best budgeting apps for couples
- The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance for Beginners
- Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
- 10 Best Budgeting Apps For Students.
- What is Budgeting and Why is it So Important
People are researching your target keywords and probably find them helpful, but they are not your target market. And most likely won’t convert to use your services.
Tracking conversions will help you quickly see which article types generate business for you. It will also help you align your content strategy with your business objectives.
Gap 4. Lack of Systematic Distribution & Promotion Process
When working with financial companies, I’m not okay publishing blog posts and praying for traffic to come to get the results I want.
But content promotion isn’t easy either. We have to be creative and keep trying new things.
Most agencies will tell you that they can help promote your content (dropping phrases such as “social media marketing” ). Still, when you dig in, you realize that it consists of writing a few social media posts for you and sharing them on your social media channels.
That’s not enough to get real results. I knew I wanted to build a unique and full-service financial content marketing agency that reports on business results: traffic and leads.
Gap 5. Full-Service Financial Services Content Marketing Agency is Hard to Find
It can be difficult to find a full-service financial content agency to meet your needs. Most agencies specialize in one service, such as; content writing, social media marketing, or paid ads.
We also discovered that most often because most SEO service companies lack expertise in producing conversion-based content to rank for those keywords. They put their effort into enhancing the existing material.
Some SEO vendors review websites, try some fixes, and pick some keywords you should target. They optimize a few pages for those keywords and recommend you spend your entire SEO budget on link building or social media marketing to try and rank those pages.
This will force you to work with multiple vendors whose strategies may conflict at some point.
Our Strategy for Building One of the Best Financial Services Content Agency
Solution 1: In-depth Research of Your Company’s Products & Services, Competition, and Customers.
I transitioned from freelancing to owning an agency because I get to work with a team that brings in additional resources. We work as an extension of your marketing team. Plus, I wanted to see my direct impact on businesses rather than just churning out content for them – without getting feedback on whether my content works on not. My own sites are my guinea pigs – so I’m not learning on the job (your company.)
Working with a team means we can invest the time and energy into in-depth research on your company, services/products, and niche. We’re invested from the beginning.
In the first month of working with you, we’ll talk to your customer service team, sales team, product managers, and even customers. The research helps us understand your customer pain points and service/product features in-depth, allowing us to create a content strategy that focuses on converting your readers into customers – not just generating traffic.
We follow pain point SEO and focus on creating Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) content rather than “ultimate guides” and “X tips” type articles. We use the Content Takeoff Framework, which allows us to focus on conversions.
That’s not the final goal.
But having an in-depth understanding of your business and services/products means we know when to mention certain service/product features or highlight case studies.
We’ll not be able to go into so much detail about your services/product without understanding their features.
Solution 2: Produce Advanced Company-Specific Content
Advanced topics require;
- Knowledge of the most pressing pain points your customers face. That’s what we try to achieve in solution one above.
- A process for answering these advanced questions at a level that an industry veteran or knowledgeable consumer would feel matches their own.
For the first requirement, we do extensive customer research as covered in solution 1 above. This ensures our topics are on the pain points that their target customers actually have, which results in higher conversion rates.
For the second requirement, we employ journalism skills to produce quality content. In short: when writing on an advanced topic, our SEO strategist first interviews experts within your company to speak on that topic and then acts like journalists to convey their ideas into the article.
Thus, the writer doesn’t pretend to be an expert in your field. This is a massive shift from the traditional content marketing services you find out there and is essential to producing genuinely high-quality content.
We’re not going to grab a few quotes from experts and throw them into an article. We take about hour-long recorded interviews where we shape an entire article around the viewpoint and knowledge of an expert.
When you read an advanced article, you can tell an expert informed it, or it’s actually a story of someone who lived through an enlightening experience.
It’s essential to produce advanced content for B2B or B2C companies with advanced customers.
Solution 3: Targeted Promotion Strategy
As the content marketing landscape rapidly changes, we must use the strategies and tactics to promote and distribute that content. Gone are the days when a few social media posts were enough to get the word out.
At our agency, we believe that targeted promotion is the foundation of a successful content marketing strategy. We experiment with various content distribution methods; including paid advertising and manual link building.
We promote your content to the right people, to generate more leads, conversions, and sales for your business and provide the best possible chance of success in today’s competitive landscape.
We have a 2-pronged process:
- Paid Ads / PPC (Short Term Traffic). We use Facebook/Twitter ads to promote content. First, we target cold audiences with interest and demographic-based targeting. Secondly, we target lookalike audiences based on the client’s customer list or website visitors. Specifically, we promote 2 or 3 paid ads per blog post via Facebook or Twitter. This will speed up the ranking process and quickly get leads in the door.
- Manual Link Building (Long Term Traffic). When certain pieces start ranking for keywords, we strategically deploy link building to boost them to page 1 or the top of page 1 in Google. This is a white hat, manual link building. We partner with a link-building agency that helps us build backlinks to our pieces of content.
We combine paid ads to give a short-term boost in traffic, followed by long-term sustainable organic traffic that helps grow traffic over time.
Solution 4: Offer A Full-Service Financial Services SEO Package for Financial & Fintech Companies.
Any business that wants to succeed online needs to invest in SEO. However, SEO can be complex and time-consuming, with many different moving parts.
Yet most businesses don’t have the in-house expertise to handle all of them. Plus, it can be difficult for companies to know where to start, or how to troubleshoot when things go wrong. Additionally, most SEO agencies only focus on one area of SEO, such as social media management, content, or paid ads.
As a result, they end up working with many different vendors to get the full benefits of SEO, each of whom has its own area of expertise.
This can be frustrating because it’s hard to get a cohesive strategy when working with so many different people. And it’s also hard to hold anyone accountable for results because SEO has so many parts complementing each other.
At our agency, we offer a full-service SEO package that covers all the major areas of SEO. We create content, drive traffic to it, and report on conversions. So you can focus on running your business, and we’ll handle the digital marketing.
As a result, we can provide a high level of accountability for our services.
Let’s Turn Your Content into Customers
At Content Takeoff, we specialize in helping financial businesses create standout content that resonates with their audience and generates qualified leads – not just content.
Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or convert leads into customers, we can help you achieve your goals.
We start by getting to know your business, understanding your target market, and developing a strategy to reach your ideal customer. Then, we create high-quality, original content optimized for search engines and designed to convert your target audience.
Finally, we distribute your content through paid social media and our extensive network of publishers, ensuring that it reaches the right people at the right time.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you grow your business.