This week Ron Shevlin of Snarketing 2.0 announced that his blog will soon become a regular column on The Financial Brand. It’s exciting news because as anyone in the industry knows, Snarketing 2.0 and The Financial Brand publish the best stuff out there on bank marketing, and now they’ll be better together.
Shevlin’s articles this week are interesting for a number of details, including his recap of his blog’s history. He tells how the blog’s name has changed over the years from Marketing ROI to Marketing Tea Party to Snarketing 2.0 and how it has taken “8 years and 950+ posts to get Snarketing where it is.” That’s dedication.
All of this fits the theme of his blog this week, which has centered on content marketing. Between Shevlin’s posts and the comments from James Lay of CU Grow on those posts (which could be articles in themselves), there’s a lot to learn. I’ve listed three concepts below, along with my take — in the tradition of Snarketing 2.0.
1. Content marketing takes consistent effort over a long time. It took Shevlin 8 years to get where he is, and Lay says that “an 18 month commitment is needed for content marketing to stick and start moving the needle.” Eighteen months to start moving the needle. In other words, content marketing is all about the long game. If you can’t commit, don’t start.
My take: This is the key to content marketing. Rand Fishkin of Moz talks about how the typical expectations on returns from content marketing are horribly flawed. He shows what realistic expectations should be in this screenshot:
In other words, you likely won’t see big returns on content marketing efforts for a long time—and that’s only if you’re producing quality stuff and iterating consistently to make your content better and better. Like Shevlin and Lay say, content marketing is all about the long game.
2. Content marketing shouldn’t focus on driving traffic. According to Lay, any content marketing strategy needs to focus on leads and conversions—not traffic. Shevlin brings up the point that banks don’t have the same needs for driving traffic that Amazon or online magazines do because banks don’t sell lots of products directly on their site and because they don’t get ad revenue.
My take: Traffic certainly isn’t the critical metric for marketers, but there is something to be said for a bank that can draw a big readership. I mean, take a bank that regularly pulls 100,000 readers a month compared to a bank that only pulls 10,000. Which one is more likely to rank higher in Google searches and thereby drive online name recognition? Chances are, the bank with more traffic. Shevlin and Lay are right that leads and conversions should be the focus and that there are much better ways to spend marketing dollars than merely trying to increase traffic, but there is something to be said for driving up the number of dedicated readers—particularly those who can buy your products.
3. The effectiveness of content marketing depends largely on the brand’s overall image. Shevlin says that “the strength of the brand influences consumers’ perceptions of the content.” Lay adds, “Content marketing won’t save the brand. But if it is a strong brand, it can for sure enhance it.”
My take: It’s true that having a good brand will improve people’s reactions to the content, but there are ways around it. The best example of this is Bank of America’s partnership with Khan Academy. By all measures, Bank of America has terrible brand value, but by positioning themselves as partners with Khan (a non-profit with stellar brand value) the bank has been able to regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views per video and make inroads toward saving their reputation. Partnerships like this can be brilliant for using content to improve brand image.
Altogether, the recent articles from Shevlin contain some of the best advice out there on how banks can do content marketing right. I recommend reading all three: