Our annual State Of Play survey of financial services marketers told us their number one concern related to delivering effective content marketing is ‘producing content that is sufficiently engaging’.

If you don’t produce content that is sufficiently engaging then you’re wasting your money, right? So how do you ensure your content is sufficiently engaging? Surely it’s simple – you find out what topics your audience are interested in, what formats they prefer and the channels through which they choose to receive their content.

But that involves understanding your audience. 90% of our surveyed marketers agreed that research and insight were ‘important’, ‘quite important’ or ‘very important.’ Yet less than 50% of them actually talk to their target audience to understand their needs. This leaves a pretty significant gap between creating content and creating engaging content.

You need to look your customers in the eye, ask questions and allow the answers to take you to unexpected places, guided by flashes of insight that no amount of social listening will ever reveal.

Desk research (52%) and web/social analytics (47%) were the preferred methods of insight gathering. Now, both of these are important, but they are restricted in their impact because

  1. you need to know what you’re looking for;
  2. they don’t tell you what your audience haven’t realised is important yet; and
  3. they don’t really enable you to gauge the level of sentiment they feel about a topic.

These flaws amount to two doubly important issues: You’ve ultimately pre-determined what you’re going to create content about and you’re simply fine-tuning your messaging; and you’re going to be joining a conversation, not starting it. You’ll be a follower, not a leader. And you won’t be surprising anyone – you’ll just be adding to the noise that already exists. Ouch.

To succeed in content marketing, you must get closer to your customers. You need to look them in the eye, ask questions and allow the answers to take you to unexpected places, guided by flashes of insight that no amount of social listening will ever reveal.

We’ll be discussing this issue, along with the other inconvenient truths coming between you and effective content marketing, in our Financial Services Forum webinar on Wednesday 27 June. Please join us at 10 am for what will be an insightful and entertaining event.

Kevin

BY Kevin Hearn

Kevin has over 15 years' marketing experience, most of that spent agency-side helping brands connect with their customers. He’s worked with some of the world’s biggest financial organisations and loves nothing more than sitting at his desk with a blank sheet of A3 and a brand new content strategy brief to solve.