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Financial journalism’s lessons for content marketing

Financial Copywriting

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Financial Copywriting
Financial Copywriting
Financial Copywriting
Earlier this year, one of the global banks sent a thought leadership paper surveying central bankers’ changing holdings to the Financial Times. The resulting article, showing that central bankers intended to cut longer-term debt holdings, led the newspaper’s front page and was widely read all over the world.

What this shows is the value of old-style financial journalism in the new world of content marketing and copywriting for financial services. For banks, asset managers and insurance companies – many of which are only now catching on to content marketing the lesson is that high-quality, long-form articles are far better at engaging readers than the short, snappy content that’s meant to rule in the internet age.

Of course, this view goes against conventional digital wisdom. But the truth is that while high-quality articles, blogs and white papers don’t necessarily generate the most online clicks, they do get read more. In other words, high-quality financial copywriting is as powerful as it always was, it’s just that it’s being published in different ways.

Readership of high-quality content is rising

Research by a leading authority on web content reveals that online readership of ‘long-form content’ is rising. John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks, a New York-based Internet incubator, analysed millions of online reads, defined as when people complete more than 75% of an article. His analysis found them increasing all the time, especially for high-quality publications such as the Atlantic, New York Times and the Guardian.

What’s more, his analysis showed it’s wrong to pay too much attention to clicks as most people who click on a page don’t read on. Meanwhile higher quality articles, blog posts or papers typically might not earn the highest number of clicks, but they do get read more making them far more valuable.

 

The traits of traditional journalism that count

Following 10 years as a financial journalist and 20 years as a financial copywriter and thought leadership writer, I have lots of anecdotal evidence about what engages interest and what doesn’t. When it comes to copywriting for financial services, I believe the following three journalistic principles matter:

  1. Thought leadership writing and content should have a clear point of view and, occasionally, break real news. Insightful, original articles and papers attract huge attention.
  2. Objectivity is important. The most successful thought leadership writers publish papers and blogs that are entirely independent. They don’t push products and services.
  3. Good writing makes a huge difference. Like any piece of writing, thought leadership writers should be creating content that is a pleasure to read.

Yet journalism and content marketing aren’t the same thing. As George Orwell, the celebrated journalist and author of Animal Farm and 1984, is reputed to have said: “Journalism is printing what someone does not want printed; everything else is public relations.”

The best journalists are adversarial, constantly seeking the story that doesn’t want to be told. So, while journalism is an essential part of training for content writing, it takes a fundamentally different approach.

 

Why does this matter now?

It’s slowly dawning on banks, asset managers and insurers that content marketing isn’t a fad – it’s a powerful tool. Some have written content for a few years and produce highly sophisticated financial copywriting. Their performance metrics are showing them, conclusively, that high-quality writing and content makes a difference.

Yet the majority are just beginning and still don’t understand the value of high-quality content and copywriting for financial services. As such, many still post poorly written commentaries that their customers aren’t likely to find interesting, neglecting to make the most of their online platform.

All of which means there’s a lot they can learn from a journalist’s skills – and there’s a growing market for good financial copywriting.

Financial Copywriting
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