Op-ed

The Long Dark Winter of Content Is Coming – Now Is the Time to Get Ready

With restrictions on ads, messaging, and compensation, the battle for new users is shifting towards strong and relevant content

For the Financial Trading sector, the proverbial winter is coming. It seems odd to say this in May, but a storm is sweeping in from MiFID 2, GDPR, changes in Google and Facebook advertising conditions, and market maturity. The market is also losing differentiation: trading platforms have already become a commodity for traders; restrictions on bonuses, leverage and standardized registration (and KYC), restrictions on sales scripts and calls. The effects are going to be felt by everyone in the industry: brokers, technology companies, affiliates and service providers.

Adapt to survive

The strong will survive and believe it or not, come out the other side bigger and stronger. There are a number of practices companies are going to have to learn and adapt to. To attract new clients companies will need to create genuine brand awareness and demand as well as differentiation. After that, they will need to nurture and keep their clients and build brand loyalty. Most people believe that price is the motivating factor. It is a factor, but it is by far not the most important one. Customers look for trust, value, and service. Your business can influence the client regarding service and have a big say on value, but trust is earned and in this digital age comes from peers, experts, and influencers, plus brand awareness.

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In general, the new customer journey begins with “discovery.” People search for information. The first battleground is SERP, your ranking on search engines. People tend to like to both the brand appear high on their search terms and see information by “neutrals” as well – peers, experts, and influencers. Believe it or not, ads also influence decision making. With restrictions on advertising, the battle lines are being drawn, and the key weapon is content, content, and content: content strategy (what you want to say and to whom), content creation (creating engaging value content), and, content distribution (how your content will be spread).

Re-think Content

There is a common view that content marketing consists of your website content, blog, maybe some social and some PR. In reality, it goes far deeper than that. A good content strategy will increase the number of visitors to your site and conversion rates, and create brand awareness and brand trust.

Content marketing has some obvious benefits. Firstly, is SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking. The top three results on any search generally produce the majority of clicks, and now we also talk about rank zero – this is the additional snippet of information Google presents above the search results – the most relative information.  To rank zero, you need to provide information that is valuable, and generally, you need to rank in the top three. As your brand recognition grows, you will see more traffic from search and direct – these tend to be the best converting traffic as they arrive with intent. The second increase, if you have distributed the content well, will be from referrals (other websites) and increase from social channels.

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The first step in building the strategy is thinking what you want to say and to whom. Then a content plan can be drawn up. The key to good content is to engage and give value to your audience. Content is not only written but also includes video and images – video becoming increasingly important. Good pieces often include two, if not all three elements. Shortened teaser videos and images for social networks are key to boosting content engagement and visits.

When your strategy and plan are in place, the next key step is distribution. Have content on your site is great, but think about the “discovery” your customer makes. Having your brand appear on many websites and channels builds confidence in your potential customer. This has even bourne a new type of activity called “Influencer Marketing.” If you are unfamiliar with influencer marketing, it is about getting individuals with an audience to endorse your brand. This is very much the basis of sites like Tripadvisor as well.

The execution is relatively straightforward – but one thing to keep in mind is being agile. You need to be ready to pounce on something topical very fast. The other challenge is about keeping creativity and keeping the ideas flowing.

Battle lines

With restrictions on advertising, messaging, and compensation, the battle for new users, is shifting towards content and getting eyes on content. Competition is going to get fierce – in the words of the Highlander: “There can be only one!” There can only be one rank one and one rank zero. History counts: to have a presence this winter, you need to start before summer. Winter is coming!

Nicc Lewis is the CEO & Founder of Expozive – Marcom / Marketing Agency & Consulting

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