Should finance brands gate content?

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Quid pro quo
By Jacqueline Malafiej, contributor. 17 October, 2017
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Do financial service brands have a right to gate content on the basis that their content has a currency consumers are willing to trade on? Is it reasonable to expect, that in exchange for their details, customers are ready and willing to buy according to your sales cycle? The answer is, it all depends on how lucrative your content is. Quid pro quo.

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Unless you’re giving away the keys to the kingdom, not all content is worthy of gating. Even when producing weighty white papers or thought leadership pieces, if a brand and its customers aren’t aligned on their definition of value, then it’s going to be a tough sell. The fact of the matter is, consumers aren’t always picking up what you’re putting down. They don’t always care for what you do, and how many bells and whistles you can throw in. They want to know how you’re going to solve their problem and how you can genuinely help them.

Giving customers what they want

A single customer journey today is dynamic, accessible, continuous, and ideally, occurring across multiple channels. In other words, it's non-stop. The race to win the hearts and minds of customers and grow share of wallet is a daily preoccupation in metric-based marketing. And the finance brands that are winning this race are the ones moving away from the traditional strategy of promoting their products’ features and benefits, to instead engage customers with relevant and valuable content, delivered during the customer’s own moments of truth. So, how does a gated or open content strategy fit into this mix? And how do you decide what’s right for your audience?

The finance brands that are winning this race are the ones moving away from the traditional strategy of promoting their products’ features and benefits.

The benefits of an open content strategy

Before we delve into the potential benefits of a gated content strategy, let’s first touch on the benefits of delivering freely available content to your customers.
- Increase audience and reach of your content
- Increase your perceived goodwill
- Align with your search strategy and optimisation
- Increase your pool of re-marketing prospects

When to gate your content

With these benefits on the line, when should finance brands consider gating their content?
- When you have something extremely valuable to share that aligns with your audience’s needs and concerns. Something so valuable, people would be willing to buy it
- When you want rich, qualified customer lead data
- When you have a specific and thorough CRM solution to convert each lead

A way to get the best of both worlds

One tried and tested approach is to gate an extremely high-value piece of core content, and then atomise elements of it across a mix of owned, earned and paid channels. LinkedIn refer to it as the ‘Big Rock’ strategy. LinkedIn also shares what content works best on their channel for finance brands. 

From the hero piece, dissect and repurpose smaller components that still demonstrate value to the customer, but can be freely shared across your entire channel mix. And of course, don't forget to amplify and optimise them ongoing. Here are some amplification and distribution tips specifically for finance brands. By taking this approach you will be able to effectively align your content with your existing search and keyword strategy, increase your audience reach and remarketing pool, all while potentially improving lead generation. The other benefit is that each of these content pieces ultimately link back to the piece of gated hero content, where your call to action is an exchange of data for your prized content.

Want to see this approach in action? Check out some of the US brands winning at a fair value exchange - Betterment with their free investment review, Prudential and Society of Grownups and their suite of online courses.

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Jacqueline started her working life in advertising, though has spent most of her career in marketing. Her work with world-renowned blue chip brands has spanned the entire marketing mix, from brand and content strategy, channel development, and CX, to digital and social programs. Jacqueline’s passion lies in the science of combining creativity with commerce, and her expertise is focused on balancing creative integrity whilst ensuring measurable, commercial outcomes. Struck by wanderlust, Jacqueline is a keen traveller, photographer and writer.