The accounting and financial industry is a difficult field to write for. It requires a balance of distilling a complex financial topic into simple concepts that your audience—typically not experts in the field—can easily understand.
The key to success in financial content writing is trust. You win if you build a credible relationship with your audience, whether it be through simple tax advice or an in-depth guide into cryptocurrencies.
But that’s not always easy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Even experienced content writers and agencies tend to experience significant challenges when dipping into this industry. That can lead to frustrations and, too often, a lack of emphasis on content marketing altogether.
You’re not alone. We’ve asked 16 experts in the field on the challenges and frustrations they feel with financial content marketing. Many of them also shared potential solutions to overcome these challenges.
1: Finding Knowledgeable Financial Writers
“It is tricky finding content creators who are knowledgeable when it comes to the U.K. financial industry. The other problem is that it’s not exactly the easiest niche to research online as there are a lot of rules, regulations, and complexities, which can make things quite confusing for someone with no prior knowledge or experience of the industry. This means that we often have to write our content ourselves.
This is not ideal from the time aspect, but we recently published a very in-depth piece that has a mixture of different ways to consume the content including text, a very detailed infographic, and a video. We have had great feedback on this piece and it has started delivering leads directly over the last few months. We plan on making more in-depth pieces of content like this in the future.”
“The biggest challenge we face when creating content for our clients in the financial industry is finding writers who have extensive knowledge of the financial market to write accurate and informative articles for those working in the industry.
It takes careful screening and research before we select a writer. Once the writer is chosen, the content itself may not always come back the way we were hoping. Sometimes it can be rather dry when it comes to financial content, so it’s important to add the brand voice to the articles.
We recommend sharing the brand voice and style with the copywriters so the content is consistent. Another solution we have found helpful is providing outlines for our writers. We typically talk with the client and ask questions for recommendations on hot industry topics before we begin researching. Then, based on research, which includes the addition of LSI and NLP, we provide a list of keywords and relevant content we would like the copywriter to include. This helps to create a uniform content strategy.”
“I’ve worked with content producers in the past for financial content including, mainly relating to the financials of homeownership, personal loans for renovations, and home equity lines of credit. Though I only buy a few pieces of content a month, it’s a challenge to find well-written content that fits my needs.
Either the content is vague and only gives the barest overview, or it’s too technical and can’t be easily understood by the average homeowner. Searching for people with a financial background helped, but as I mentioned, sometimes their content was dry and difficult to read. I’ve had to go with a trial-and-error approach, testing out a variety of content producers and retaining those that provide what I’m looking for.
This has skewed more toward freelancers than financial industry experts, and I do worry that tackling more complex topics will gradually rule out freelancers as an option. Either way, I think if you want quality financial content, you have to be willing to pay top-dollar for something that’s accurate and informative but also approachable.”
2: High-Resource Needs for Quality Financial Content
“The biggest challenge is convincing the client to spend $500 to $750 per article on money site content when other agencies are charging $50 to $100. Once the client sees our prices, they immediately turn away. But I make sure to let them know that there’s a gigantic difference between a $100 article and a $750 article. A great article doesn’t take a few hours to create, it takes 10+ hours. You can’t get those man-hours in a $100 article—not even close.
So people charging $100/article are skipping crucial steps to writing a great article. They’re likely lacking in: research (possibly just rewriting another article on the web, something Google doesn’t like), SEO optimization (which goes beyond keyword placements), keyword research, writing quality, editing, or all of these. A $100 article is going to be more expensive in the long run because it’ll require more backlinks to rank AND it’ll be more likely to be penalized in the future as Google becomes smarter detecting low-quality content.”
“Although we’re not a financial services firm we work specifically (and very closely) with independent RIAs and broker-dealer firms and are currently leading the financial industry in empowering financial advisors to digitally transform their online presence through beautiful, compliant, unique websites, landing pages, and content creation.
In a recent survey, we polled financial advisors and uncovered that 39% are never posting blogs or other content to their websites, while another 31% noted they were making updates 1-2 times per month. We know that for smaller RIA firms creating quality content on a consistent basis is just incredibly time consuming and most firms don’t have the budgets to have in-house staff members dedicated to copywriting and/or marketing to take on the role so a lot of times the owner him or herself is spending late nights cranking out a blog a month if they’re lucky.
Thankfully, there are a lot of third parties in the financial services space that offer ghostwritten and other types of content libraries that advisors can use to help bridge that gap. At Twenty Over Ten, all of our users have access to a completely customizable content library called Content Assist. This is a new type of content offering solution on the market that was developed specifically for financial advisors to assist them in creating blog posts. Users are able to choose blog posts by category (retirement, home-buying, young adults, etc.), load them into their website, and then edit and further optimize the content for search engines. Advisors have the ability to customize and edit the content to add their voice, SEO keywords, and further promote their expertise, or use the content as-is.”
“The biggest frustration our financial services clients face is access to a collaborative and marketing friendly compliance team. The regulations of both FINRA and the SEC are unique and vary based on the firm business model and how compensation is received by a financial professional. If you follow appropriate procedures and ensure content is approved in advance, you mitigate risk. Yes, it is crucial that your content in compliance and there are several options that help firms integrate a process.
Global Relay and other software packages archive social media, website digital properties, and email on an ongoing basis. This helps in keeping track of content and ensures that you kept accurate records should you have a regulatory compliance audit.
Apart from the issues of compliance, high-quality content is oftentimes an overwhelming time commitment. Many successful advisors and executives in the industry overlook the opportunity to create original articles, videos, and other digital assets that feature their expertise. Consistently creating high quality can be a challenge. If the creator is well versed with industry best practices, establishing a representative digital presence through SEO becomes a true opportunity for growth.”
“One challenge we’ve faced with developing ongoing content for any focused industry, including in the finance industry, is the depth of experience needed to produce content that actually adds value. For instance, in developing bi-weekly blog content for a client in the FinTech space, we needed to make sure that not only were we using the right vocabulary for the audience but that we were also developing thought leadership pieces to drive conversation and, eventually, engagement with our end client. This is challenging for most people, let alone a freelance writing team that is new to an industry.
One tactic we’ve used to ramp up writers is to develop a repository of industry-specific resources to quickly teach the ins and outs of the space. We make a point of including two types of resources. The first is rote information. This can be information on how the industry works, typical players in the space, most-used technology, etc. Essentially, anything that offers a high-level understanding of the overall category. The second is opinion-oriented content. This includes pieces by industry leaders and experts offering opinions on the general direction of the category, trends to keep an eye out, and potential threats. This content adds a nuanced layer of insights into the spectrum of activities and perspectives in the category. With these two resources available, we’ve found writers can not just develop original ideas faster but also produce more robust, thoughtful material too.”
3: Timing Issues in Content Creation & Review Processes
“We have found that the biggest challenges with content creation involve the in-house approval process and legal team review. There are a lot of hands that a piece of written content must go through before it can be shared with the public, which makes it hard to be relevant to what is currently happening in the industry. On the other side of the coin, our financial industry clients are always open to new ideas to market and create content. It seems like everyone in this industry is looking to disrupt it and make their brand stand out!”
“The biggest challenge is growing competition. Topics like sinking fund, cash management, or banking are already ranking on the first page of Google, and coming up with new ideas can be challenging. When I write content, I don’t usually get any motivation from my manager or even help from colleagues since I’m the only writer. I alone have to do all the research, and it can be really tough to come up with ideas that are fresh and useful.
The other major challenge is creating high-quality content with updated information in little time. The industry is getting updated regularly, so writing content with fresh data requires time, and it can be a big issue if the time is short.
The solution: take your time. No matter what topic you choose in finance, you need to do more research on the current facts. Which means more time is required. Discuss with your immediate supervisor how much time is needed to publish the topic and set your own deadlines which you can easily meet.”
“I think there are two main challenges in executing content marketing for clients:
- Time constraint. Many clients expect a lot of content pieces in a fairly short time to maximize their budget. It’s simply impossible to maintain quality if we develop the content pieces in a hurry, which will bring us to the second challenge.
- Expectation. It’s very important to understand that content marketing requires consistency, and we can’t expect instant results as soon as we’ve published our content. Many clients simply don’t understand this and have the wrong expectation.
When developing content for my own business, these two challenges aren’t so prevalent since we are a marketing agency, but I can imagine the in-house content creation team in finance companies might stumble upon similar challenges when their bosses don’t really understand content marketing and the inbound marketing principle. Thus, managing client expectations and properly communicating your strategy is very important to ensure content creation (and content promotion) success.”
4: Lack of Reliable Writing Partnerships
“With SEO becoming more and more content-centric, writing good quality content becomes very important. We have tried different models, the first one was that the client will provide the content: we faced timeline issues, many times client wouldn’t have time to get it done, and when a client hired a freelancer, we noticed a certain dip in quality of articles after a couple of good ones.
Then we changed the model and decided to sell it as a service in our own package. Initially, we outsourced it to the freelancers but the deliverables suffered many times and we could not get them to understand the client’s requirements. Then, then we hired an in-house content manager who could understand the niche and client’s requirements as well as their competitors, understand the needs of the SEO team and then write a piece. We slowly built a team around the manager and it has helped us in providing more value to the clients. But still, it always remains a challenge to meet the ever-increasing need of the content and find good writers who can deliver good quality content on a regular basis.”
“Being a very small business owner, I am relying on freelancers and project consultants to deliver work. There is little accountability when it comes to delivery and communication. If you let go of the paddle swing, you are in big trouble. I have hired 3-4 content writers, and only one of them is super active and responsive.
I have seen when you recruit people who are young and want to learn or make additional income, they will deliver fast. We write on average 2-6 blogs a month of 2,000 words each. I have to call multiple times to get an update. A recent example was of a team of writers with whom I discussed writing a 4,000-word guide. I asked them to create a ToC and it took them 2 weeks to respond. If you don’t chase them, very few will reply. If you have the budget, it’s better to hire a full-time employee.”
5: Lack of Audience Expertise
“We educate personal finance readers on how to improve their banking options. We need to educate people with zero foundation, as well as those who have already read around a little, and even people who have been misinformed. So, it’s important for us to follow a reader’s journey on our site using heat maps, exit pages, and other indicators to determine the content that’s most suitable for each visitor, as well as see a bigger picture of which resources are working and which aren’t. Then, we double down on themes that are in-demand, as well as retarget visitors with ads that speak exactly to their interests and pain points.
My best advice for outsourcing content creation to freelance writers is to have absolutely air-tight briefs. And, you need a rock-solid editor in-house. Otherwise, you’re going to be spending just as much time re-writing a piece you already paid for as you would have to just write it yourself.”
6: Finding Unique Angles on Common Topics
“One of the biggest frustrations I face when creating blog content is finding a new way to approach popular topics. I typically choose a topic that is popular on social media and has keyword potential, but once I know what I am going to write about, the hard part sets in. The hard part is making my article interesting, engaging, readable, and fresh. A well written article is just not enough these days to get readers’ attention; you need other elements to keep your content fresh and different.
After being clueless about what content actually performs well, I started doing a bit more research to be more strategic with my blog posts. In just 50 days, I was able to promote a new long-form article that is now the most read and most shared article on social media for my company blog. I typed in the topic that I was writing about into Google and looked at the top ten search results. After going through the top ten blog posts, I made a note of any unique elements that were included in those articles. After I pinpointed my favorites, I used those elements as a reference point with the intent of creating an even better version compared to what I saw.
I really like to use Google Analytics to see which of my blog posts are performing well. When I analyzed my previous content, I looked not only at the number of page views, but I also focused on the average time spent on the page. I noticed a certain blog post that was captivating my readers and causing them to spend more time on the page. I tried to identify the elements that made that article a success. Once I identified the elements that made it a knockout piece of content, I tried to use it as a template for my upcoming article.”
“Deciding on content ideas is always the most difficult part of the job. When it comes to the finance industry, content needs to not only be helpful to your audience but be written for conversions. That requires a lot of research and a deep understanding of your audience. For our industry, we alleviate a lot of writer’s block because of the deeper understanding of our audience.
We realized that in the financial industry, who visits our site and why is often very segmented. Creating relevant content that each segment would regularly check for is a top priority. For our industry, it’s most important to have practical knowledge and tools that help pour clients make better choices with their investments. We also really looked into the newest keyword and SEO trends in our industry and make sure to report on content that best suits our audience.”
“Our team at MDR is very small and I am the only one who does SEO-type work. Because I am the only one specifically coming up with content ideas, how to pitch them, and who to pitch them to, it can be difficult at times to come up with new, fresh and creative ideas for content. There are tons of things to talk about within the aspect of personal finance, but not a lot of things change, so trying to come up with an idea that hasn’t been done a hundred times already can definitely be challenging.”
If you’re involved in financial content marketing, especially as the agency driving the ship for clients, chances are you’ve encountered at least one of these challenges. They’re impossible to avoid entirely, but you can work specifically to overcome them.
One way to start: high-quality writers who know your industry and are ready to elevate your finance and accounting content. And that’s exactly where Verblio comes in.
We have a network of writers that have both expertise in the finance field and the time you need to build high-quality content. Check out one of our sample blog posts in the accounting industry for a taste. Ready to start a content creation partnership? Let’s talk.