If you can think of the most pertinent, familiar, but also useful buzzwords for marketing in the financial services space, amongst those will be such terms as “digital experience” or “customer journey”. It’s no coincidence however that these two ubiquitous phrases work in tandem, with the former certainly having a positive influence on the latter.
But what is the point of all this? Well, for marketer’s hoping to engage new and existing customers, delivering a multi-channel digital experience is the best way to attract, engage and hopefully retain consumers, through a whole range of personalised content via desktop or mobile, akin to a shopping experience.
Of course, content can come in many forms these days, and the presentation and compiling of your marketing collateral is even more important than it sounds. With blog content starting at the very top of a dense marketing funnel, website URLs, SEO considerations and design touches are either holistic or under-the-microscope details that all culminate in an attractive and useful content hub to achieve ROI for a business.
Here’s our guide on how to best construct your own content hub, utilising all the tools that are now at your disposal, thanks to a digitally-focused marketing evolution.
The importance of being organised
Nothing good comes from a simple wing and a prayer here. Pre-planning may seem laborious, but thinking of a content hub as a long-term project is exactly how to go about it; without planning, the initial content storyboard or blueprint basically won’t be completed to justify the rest of the hub’s development.
The first thing to think about is exactly what your business objectives are, specifically when it comes to those of the marketing and sales teams, which we cannot stress enough work collaboratively to bring this project together (along with other teams, more on this soon). Who are your ideal customers? How have their wants and needs for your services changed in the past few years? What information can you offer them? What have they been searching for? What content will make everything simple for them to understand, and is worth checking out? This can also include what different online offerings you wish to produce, as well as offline offerings for some marketing campaigns.
Going back to working with other teams, checking in with your customer services or customer success teams that have feedback on which content clients are loving, what they are not loving, most successful outreach, and answers to company surveys are also useful in gaining a perspective on how to retain the interests of existing customers.
With much of the internet to comb through for ideas, it may seem like a minefield thinking of all of the topics that could possibly be written about in your content hub. Thankfully, there are a few shortcuts that you can take. Firstly, taking a peek into what your competitors are publishing may seem sneaky, but will give you an indication of what is popular reading across the board within your market. Elsewhere, there are services online helpful for discovering themes to shape future series for your content; one of the most excellent tools for finding out exactly what’s being read online is Google Trends, whereby simple keywords can spin up maps to show which sub-regions in the world are most in tune with that content, suggested similar topics, and how interest has fluctuated over time, all of which can be manipulated by the user. Other brainstorming tools available on the market include Feedly, HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator and BuzzSumo, which can seem like a bit of a cheating tool, but certainly cuts the valuable time you could spend producing such content.
SEO topics are also really important to cultivate, and can become the initial stepping stones to branch out into many forms of content. Once you know what is hitting the front page of Google, tailor your content around it, and make sure a CMS can assist in maintaining great SEO within your hub.
Finally, get a content calendar to start filling in with all of your planned future posts. Old-school calendars with garish designs could be a nostalgia trip, but we’d recommend going digital. Google Calendar works wonders.
Types of content
Now that you’ve construed a mixture of themes, of importance to current and future readers, get cracking on the building blocks of the hub’s frame: the content itself. This can also come from your own homegrown content team, be outsourced from third-party agencies and freelance writers, or through partnering with other businesses through the humble ‘blog-swap’.
Blog Posts – informative snippets and longer-form articles on a range of topics. Often opinion pieces on behalf of an individual or company. Can be easily formatted into weekly or monthly series.
eBooks – more in-depth guides or white papers looking into a specific theme in detail, or outlining product(s) or service(s) a company provides.
Case Studies – a way to present how research you have carried out, or how partnering with an individual or company, has borne success.
Press Releases – a piece of company news, perhaps focusing on an event or an individual hire, which can be shared via agencies to reach publications.
Infographics – the formatting of data, graphs, research and written word in an easily consumable, well designed graphic. Can be embedded into blog posts.
Videos – filmed snippets to display products, thought leadership, interviews, or company news. Can be animated or real-time, soundless and captioned for optimum social media sharing, and ideal for sharing via a YouTube channel which receives 2 billion monthly users.
Podcasts – shorter form interviews and opinion pieces, audio only, and able to be embedded into blog posts and channels including Spotify and SoundCloud. Highly popular.
Social Media – Tweets and LinkedIn posts to boost your pre-existing content which can be managed in programmes such as Buffer.
Any posts could also be ‘repurposed’ in another form down the line too; a blog post made into a short video snippet for social media sharing for example. And, as outlined earlier, any theme can act as a pillar to attribute a whole set of different content to, valuable to make as a collated series or to string together as part of an automated marketing campaign. Therefore the content really can be the lynchpin for a whole strategy.
Eye for design
This brings us to the importance of the hub’s back end. A repository to curate and store your content is an absolute necessity. A Content Management System (CMS) such as the formidable WordPress is where all content media (from words to tags to images and galleries) for your website and content hub/resources page is contained.
Along with the initial formatting of all of your written words, the CMS is a multi-branched programme. Available to CMSs are plugins allowing for best SEO practice, assessing your use of focus keywords, readability and metadata tagging to ensure that your content is best presented on the web. Alongside these, eBooks, webinars and videos can be given their own landing pages within a CMS, whereby content can be presented as their own entity and hidden behind forms to gather a downloader’s information. It’s a perfect way to link your content to lead retention. Linking to other forms of your content in many places of the content hub also assists with SEO.
With forms and landing pages, your hub can also benefit greatly from the integration with marketing automation tools and a CRM such as Salesforce. Such services that are successfully available include Marketo, Pardot or Eloqua, all of which can gather the data of page visitors in your content hubs for use by sales teams.
On top of the attraction of customers, user experience is paramount to keep them interested in your resources. Many blog sites and pages adopt a so-called “tile style” format, which consists of iconography and images, short descriptions of the presented content, and calls to action, laid out much like a product catalogue for an e-commerce site. There’s certainly a reason why shoppers stay loyal with particular brands and websites. The hiring of an internal or third-party graphic designer can really boost the presentation of your content hub to make it not just look amazing on the eye, but be easy to navigate.
And, naturally, additional to this but by no means an afterthought, all forms of content must be mobile friendly. They must be optimised for a smaller mobile screen and achieve fast load times; otherwise, those surfing your content will be unlikely to persist and come back for further viewing.
Once all of these elements are in place, it’s all about the promotion of your content, too. Of course, social media sites are the best ways to reach the fingertips of potentially interested clients, with paid campaigns on these platforms (such as LinkedIn Campaign Manager) elevating your content strategy by bringing it to the forefront of relevant targets’ feeds.
From planning to curating to sharing, there’s an art to crafting a content hub: its contents are one thing, but the presentation and consistency across multiple formats before sharing it with the world are all important aspects to a whole digital marketing strategy. With so many digital means available to the modern day marketer, honing each piece of technology is another step on top of creativity, but certainly a necessity for boosting the potential of the services you provide.