Content marketing has rapidly emerged as a key marketing strategy within the fintech industry in a relatively short time. I vividly remember my content marketing conversations with clients in early 2014. Our agency had spent the better part of two years developing our content marketing service offering and formally launched it in March of 2014, after testing out our processes with a client in the previous year.
Those early conversations with clients were a little humbling. Our clients had no idea what content marketing or HubSpot encompassed. Had we misgauged the importance of content marketing? We spent the better part of 2014 educating our prospects and clients on content marketing (also known as inbound marketing); how to use these tactics to build brand awareness and generate leads; and the importance of marketing automation systems.
My, how things have changed! 2015 was a content marketing tsunami.
We would like to share some of the latest content marketing trends and our fintech- related experience over the past year.
Content marketing has arrived!
Today, content marketing is an integral part of almost every B2B company’s overall marketing strategy. According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report, published by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs:
- 88% of B2B organizations said they are using content marketing.
- B2B marketers allocate 28%, on average, of their total marketing budget to content marketing (not including staff). The most effective companies allocate 42% of their budget to content marketing, and the most sophisticated/mature businesses allocate 46%.
- 76% of respondents indicated that their organizations plan to produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015.
Our content marketing business grew five-fold. Roughly half of our agency’s new business prospects came to us wanting to implement an integrated content marketing and PR program. And HubSpot was recognized as the preferred brand within the fintech industry.
Top challenges remain content creation
According to the 2016 B2B Benchmarks report, the three top challenges in executing content marketing programs were:
- Producing engaging, informative and effective content (60%)
- Measuring the effectiveness of content (57%)
- Creating content consistently (57%)
Most of our clients have limited marketing staff, and if they do have staff they are product managers, marketing coordinators or graphic designers already overloaded and engaged with executing multiple marketing programs and without the time or necessary writing skills or knowledge of marketing automation to implement content marketing programs with scale.
Content marketing programs require a set of many specialized skills, with content creation being at the heart of successful execution. Most companies today understand that they need a knowledgeable industry partner to help them execute.
Companies become more effective as they mature
The 2016 B2B Benchmark presents a not surprising observation that content marketers become more effective as they gain experience.
We see a well-defined pattern with our fintech content marketing clients. Year one is all about content creation – a steady diet of blogs and white papers – properly administered on the company’s website. As companies become more mature with their content creation capabilities, they begin to focus on their lead processes: defining the characteristics of a good lead, how leads are qualified and communicated to the sales organization and reporting.
We also see content marketing creating greater alignment between marketing and sales teams and the integration of content with our client’s outbound marketing campaigns. The benefits of content marketing extend well beyond the initial creation of the content.
Which brings us to our last set of observations.
Common goals for content marketing
The 2016 Benchmark report states that “Over the last six years, B2B website traffic is the most often used metric” for measuring the success of content marketing programs. This is consistent with why many of our clients have engaged our agency – to build their brand awareness.
But our clients also tell us that they are implementing content marketing to improve their overall lead generation capabilities, and acknowledge that their content is critical to increasing their online visibility – a critical success factor in today’s product evaluation process.
This is consistent with the 2016 Benchmark report’s findings on the top organizational goals of B2B companies for content marketing:
- Lead generation – 85%
- Sales – 84%
- Lead nurturing – 78%
- Brand awareness – 77%
Fintech companies are now implementing content marketing programs to provide a lead generation channel to support the way today’s buyers are looking for new ways to solve their business issues and researching the providers that offer relevant product and services.
The fintech industry is no different from other B2B organizations. As HubSpot, our marketing automation partner, has observed in its latest State of Inbound Marketing report, “Content marketing has become a preferred marketing strategy, regardless of company type.” In order to compete and win in today’s markets, fintech companies must implement robust and integrated content marketing and public relations initiatives. It’s the ante to play the game.