4 Takeaways From the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit
Last month I attended the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit in San Francisco, which featured marketers and technologists from all over the world addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the industry.
Most of the event’s speakers focused on how banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms and wirehouses are reaching retail audiences through an array of consumer-facing digital content—rather than thought leadership specifically. But there were several interesting takeaways that can help inform how Wentworth Financial Communications’ audience leverages digital tools to enhance the reach and impact of their white papers, blogs, e-books, and other forms of thought-leadership content.
Mobile is the rule, not the exception
Mobile is no longer a secondary or ancillary consumption channel for the end-consumer of your thought leadership. It’s the channel. As a result, you can still create a 3,000-word white paper, but you better think through how you’re going to formulate a distribution strategy to get its most compelling parts in front of your desired audience on mobile.
“A white paper might be something that only five people read,” said Tim Peters, lead content strategist with Tata Consultancy Services. Peters was part of a panel discussion that touched on how thought-leadership content can be better applied in today’s digital marketing environment. “But it can spawn iterations and variations for smaller things—other social media forms. So you can spend a lot of effort on something that may not get a lot of traction, but it can spin off onto avenues that will get traction.”
For many marketers, that means distilling a long-form piece’s main elements into bite-sized social media posts or other mobile-friendly content items that will grab their audiences’ attention and, eventually, entice them to read that longer-form piece later.
Data is the digital marketing currency of (today and) the future
Whether it’s capturing leads, downloads, website traffic, clicks, brand awareness, or net promoter scores, today’s marketing trades on one thing above all else: data.
To this end, your thought-leadership strategy needs to be designed to accommodate this reality. From a higher-level, marketing infrastructure perspective, it means making sure you have the technology, distribution methods/strategy, and measurement systems in place to capture the data your thought leadership generates to show its value. And from a content creation perspective, it means tracking and analyzing the performance of various topics, content mediums, and distribution methods and using this information to inform your future content efforts.
Get in a new media mindset
By now, most marketers know that podcasts are big (you can read the stats here). I, too, am a big fan.
Why are they big?
First, according to the tail-end of Dorsey’s presentation that I caught, they’re a passive medium, meaning end-users can tune in and listen while they’re doing other things, as opposed to having to be fully focused on engaging and reading a text article.
Second, they’re conversational, and less formal, meaning they’re generally easier to consume when compared with long, dense blocks of text.
And, finally, they’re a great medium for interviewing and storytelling.
Storytelling is an especially important ingredient nowadays in digital marketing and thought leadership, according to Dorsey and the other event speakers—and it’s an element that transcends podcasts.
Which leads to my final takeaway from the conference …
Don’t sell, story tell—build credibility and trust as a result
People don’t want to be sold. They want to be educated. They want to be entertained. They want to be fed useful information at the right place at the right time that’s most relevant for them and their needs.
And, funny enough, it almost doesn’t matter anymore who’s providing people this information or if it’s even relevant to what they’re selling as a company.
“Marketing has started to move away from just talking about the product,” said Tim Rickards, managing director at Charles Schwab & Co., during his presentation, “Content Marketing to Drive Engagement and Trust.” “In a way, the product is almost secondary or tertiary to some type of a story or connection.”
So even though the marketing industry is already deeply driven by data and other hard, quantitative metrics, what’s driving those metrics most is companies’ ability to create content that educates, entertains, and draws connections between businesses and clients in an authentic, compelling way.
“I bank with Fidelity, and I’m just blown away by the content they supply me,” said Tata Consultancy Services’ Peters during his panel discussion earlier in the conference. “But it’s almost never selling me anything—there’s a link, but it’s almost never selling me anything. And this is exactly what I want from them, and what I would want from anybody selling a high-value product. I don’t want to be sold.”
Click below to download our entire thought-leadership creation process infographic.
About the Author Frank Kalman is the chief operations officer at Wentworth Financial Communications. Frank and the team of writers and editors at WFC help professionals across the financial services industry build their brands by creating investment-grade white papers, bylined articles, newsletters, blogs, social media posts, and other forms of content marketing.