This story is based on my own experience as the Chief Marketing Officer at a financial services company. The decision which I outline below, resulted in millions of dollars in additional profits for our company, and I hope can substantially boost your profits as well.
First a little backstory. My company was pioneering a new field in electronic trading, enabling individuals to speculate in the currency market. Through the company’s online platform, individuals could buy and sell Japanese Yen, Euros, and British Pounds.
The company was doing well. However, I had discovered something very disturbing. Our clients were frequently visiting websites of our competitors to get currency market news and research. I took this information to my CEO, and we decided to do something about it immediately. We decided to start providing in-house research to our clients (and everyone else). This decision turned out to be one the most important in the company’s history and has provided the company with millions of dollars of benefits on an annual basis.
Why did our content strategy turn into a multi-million dollar winner?
Pre-Existing Unmet Demand For Content
While many people were very interested in trading currencies, the major financial sites for individual investors weren’t offering very much content on the topic. What content the major publishers were offering, did not help people with what they wanted to do most, which was to make more informed trading decisions. As a result, individuals were going to small websites and currency trading company websites to get market research.
Before embarking on a strategy for developing content for our existing and potential clients, you should ask yourself:
● Are your clients information needs already being well met?
● Where are they going to for information?
● Is the information that is available high quality and focused on their issues?
Ability To Inexpensively Drive Traffic To Content
In my example, we had a great way to drive visitors to our content. The firm was spending millions of dollars per month to generate leads and build an e-mail list. “Marketing” the firm’s research to existing and potential clients was a great way to communicate, without bombarding them with sales messages. Using research as the focus, the firm was able to communicate with leads on a more frequent basis, while improving their view of the company. One important way to drive cheap traffic is leveraging your existing marketing efforts and database.
There are other ways to drive traffic inexpensively to content (in a high cost per lead business), however, the main one is search engine optimization. Getting your content to rank highly in Google can be done, but it will take an investment of time and effort.
If your company is already spending lots of money on marketing and you think that the content that you plan to produce would be valuable to potential clients, that is very good sign.
Commitment To Quality
I think this is an area where many firms fall short. They often farm out the creation of content to inexpensive freelancers, who are not subject matter experts. While these writers often craft very well-written pieces, the work tends to be very generic and not very useful. Your potential clients may know more than the author of the content in these cases, potentially causing their opinion of the firm to go down. Off course, you can also forget about them visiting your content portal again.
In the case of the financial services firm, we started using sales professionals who also traded currencies personally. In other words, they could relate to the client experience and provided the type of information they would want to read. They did this part-time at first, however eventually the project proved so valuable to the firm that we had them focus on it full time.
Are you going to have experts creating the content? If not, your content strategy will likely fail.
Ability To Monetize & A Long-Term Time Horizon
Building an audience for content takes time. In a period when marketers and companies want to realize results within the same quarter in which money is spent, spending money on strategies without an immediate return like content can be difficult.
In the case of the financial services firm, we started out with a simple goal. Can we create content that the firm’s clients wanted to read? We put enough resources to get a definitive answer to that question. Not surprisingly, the content that the firm created also had interest to potential clients and the client’s of competitor firms. However, it took one to two years before we saw the huge client acquisition benefits of having a robust content creation strategy.
While creating content can have many benefits, like improving the reputation of the firm and providing a higher media profile, marketers are often asked to quantify the benefits numerically. There are three benefits which I like to look at it:
1. Client Retention / Value. Does providing clients quality content increase the client’s lifetime value?
2. Lead Conversion. Does providing quality content increase the conversion rate of leads into clients?
3. Lead Acquisition. Does the strategy attract new potential clients to the firm?
These questions can often be measured and assigned a monetary value. If a firm knows the answers to these questions, content creation which can be viewed as an overhead expense, can be turned into a profit center.
The End Of The Story
When I left the financial services company a few years ago, the company’s research site had over a million visitors per month and was the firm’s number one source for new clients. However, since then a number of the firm’s competitors (other providers of currency trading services) have launched competing sites try to copy its content strategy. None of them had the same level of success.
Why? There was no longer unmet demand for content. The market had changed and there were many sources of quality content.
They had trouble finding ways to inexpensively drive traffic. They looked at their content as a way to purely drive new acquisitions and did not integrate it into their overall marketing efforts.
I left the financial services company a couple years ago. Since then it will not surprise anyone that I have gone into the business of creating quality content, publishing several niche websites including Fit Small Business, Learn Bonds, and Forex News.