When thinking about their content marketing, financial services companies might borrow from the playbook of scientists searching for antiquities.
Modern archaeologists often scour the earth for hidden ancient structures using various kinds of aerial imaging technology. Although it’s not quite as cinematic as relying on a weathered, furled up treasure map, the distant, “eye in the sky” vantage point affords scientists a highly effective and efficient method for discovering promising new dig sites.
During a drought in 2018, for example, archaeologists discovered a 5,000-year-old monument buried in a wheat field in Ireland, simply by using drone technology.
The Stonehenge-shaped structure they discovered was wooden instead of stone, and wood tends to retain moisture. When viewed from above, the areas directly above the buried structure were slightly darker than the rest of the drought-stricken crops because some vegetation was able to grow due to the slightly higher levels of moisture directly above the structure. The vegetation patterns formed very distinct outlines of the underground monument when viewed from above by a drone.
This is not to suggest that financial services companies need to equip their marketing teams with drone technology. However, if financial brands were somehow able to plot topographical images of the collective knowledge of their customer universe, they would likely find fairly distinct and consistent patterns highlighting the areas where their customers share common misunderstandings or lacked any knowledge at all.
These areas would signal rich opportunities that could be excavated with an intelligent content marketing strategy.
How financial services companies can find target-rich sites
To drive deep engagement in content marketing, financial services firms need to identify the informational gaps between the products they offer and consumers’ understanding for how those products are intended to be utilized.
Branded research – market research studies sponsored by a company – can be the single most effective method for identifying such gaps because it offers an otherwise unavailable vantage point.
When leveraged correctly, branded research is a gamechanger. Research findings can help shape the strategic direction of your financial services brand. Research also builds brand authority by showcasing your company’s thought-leadership.
Also, since research findings identify the high-demand topical areas of an audience, the results can become the impetus for an enormously powerful content marketing campaign.
Not only can the research findings become the topic of a robust and powerful content campaign, but the findings will also reveal for your content teams the topics most likely to attract and engage an audience in future content campaigns.
When you shape a content marketing program around the specific informational needs of your customers – as identified through branded research – you all but guarantee yourself a way to attract, engage, and motivate a steady stream of new, prospective customers.
In this way, branded research can be a goldmine for a financial services company.
An example of a market research study
A substantial content marketing opportunity for financial services firms in the annuity industry was uncovered by the Stanford Center for Longevity, which recently partnered with Principal Financial Group to undertake research on why retirees do not utilize annuities more in their financial planning.
The white paper Lifetime Income to Support Longer Life explored the question of why retirees don’t use income annuities to “pensionize” the retirement savings they’ve spent their professional lives accumulating.
The “retirement income challenge” is a significant, albeit not widely recognized, social issue. It revolves around the fundamental question of how to convert a lifetime of savings into a structured and well-timed income plan to fund a retirement that could last 40 years or more. An income annuity is a financial instrument specifically designed to address this challenge.
Income annuities serve the same functional purpose as Social Security and pension plans in that they provide a predictable, guaranteed income that cannot be outlived. However, according to the Longevity Project’s study, only 7 percent of respondents said that annuities were a component of their retirement strategy.
This, despite the fact that numerous studies have found that retirees with a guaranteed income are generally more satisfied with their retirement experience than their non-annuity owner counterparts. The paper cites a Towers Watson study that found, among “retirees with similar wealth and health characteristics, those with annuitized incomes are happiest.” It makes sense. An income annuity provides predictability and security, two important factors for a secure retirement.
Further, the opportunity for financial services companies is almost limitless. As the chart below indicates, between 2020 and 2050, 10-12k people will be turning 65 every day. And yet, little over 100 income annuities are sold each day.
What does all of this mean for financial companies that have a stake in the annuity business? These companies have a product that directly targets a major pain point for millions of Americans, but the people most in need of that product are either confused about how it works or wholly unaware of the product’s existence and how it functions.
The solution? Education. A robust, sustained, and targeted content marketing program – underpinned by the informational gaps uncovered by Principal’s market research study – can help drive annuity awareness, adoption, and utilization.
The research findings can set the direction for a methodical content plan resulting in a series of blogs, videos, infographics, and other content assets that can be leveraged as a content marketing campaign to educate retirees, as well as the advisors they trust, about the role income annuities can play in their retirement planning.
The Principal-sponsored research on income annuities is just one example of a market research study that can be used as the foundation for a robust content marketing initiative and, if leveraged well, will prove to be a goldmine for Principal. There are endless possibilities for similar research-based content marketing initiatives.
If approached strategically, an intelligently constructed content marketing campaign, built around a branded research initiative, can help a financial services company bridge consumers’ informational gaps, thus converting readers into a steady stream of new customers to grow market share while simultaneously elevating your company’s brand authority
Interested in learning how to use market research to fuel your content marketing campaigns?
Contact us to learn how ContentOvation can conduct market research on your behalf to provide your company with strategic direction and boost your thought leadership.