What is Fintech Thought Leadership?
Fintech thought leadership taps into a company’s domain expertise to create content that adds value by presenting helpful information and/or solutions about and for pain points and problems their target audience has.
Thought leadership can take the form of a video, white paper, ebook, article, Q&A, event, webinar, case study, or content that illustrates your brand’s authoritative knowledge without focusing on products or services. The key is to harness your brand’s know-how and experience and package it into a unique, in-depth, and thorough piece of content that provides value to your audience.
In addition to educating an audience, thought leadership has tangible business impacts as well.
Edelman and LinkedIn recently published a B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, and the findings were compelling. Some highlights:
- Decision makers are paying attention: The number of decision makers who report spending more than 4 hours per week reading thought leadership increased from 12% to 21%.
- 55% of decision makers use thought leadership as an important way to vet organizations they are looking at partnering with.
- 61% of C-suite executives are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that has articulated a clear vision vs. one that is not publishing thought leadership.
The Value of Fintech Thought Leadership
Understand the benefits of creating fintech thought leadership before investing time and resources. Thought leadership should be tied into an overarching marketing strategy. Brands that align this element with overall marketing priorities and objectives will see the best return on investment.
Thought leadership is typically part of a bigger content marketing effort. Content marketing has become table stakes for companies of all types who want to succeed in the digital world; according to the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B businesses report using content marketing. Thought leadership is sometimes overlooked as a critical element to a successful content marketing program.
Great thought leadership can elevate your brand’s messaging and build credibility and trust with decision makers. By creating compelling, forward-thinking, unique content, brands can build up their authority and reputation within a specific industry or on a specific topic. This, in turn, builds trust and relationships with your target audience. By injecting value into your content, you make people feel good about your brand, which ultimately impacts your bottom line. More specifically, companies that create good thought leadership enjoy:
People share great content. Creating valuable content makes people more inclined to share, raising awareness about your brand. Historically, the media creates and covers stories. Thought leadership enables your brand to own, create, and drive stories in the marketplace.
INCREASED ORGANIC TRAFFIC
When you publish high-quality content on your site, implement search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, repurpose long-form content into shareable snippets for multiple channels, and do a good job promoting all of that content, you get more organic traffic to your site. That’s more opportunities to convert.
IMPROVED LEAD GENERATION
Offering high-quality, compelling content behind a gate typically inspires people to trade their contact information for your fintech thought leadership content. That contact information can be used by marketing and sales to move people closer to a conversion. Conversions boost your bottom line.
IMPROVED DEMAND GENERATION
Offering high-quality content that is available to the masses can drive increased awareness and demand for your products and services. It also allows you to own your brand story and create interest in the topics you have deep experience in.
Creating an Effective Fintech Thought Leadership Strategy
A great thought leadership strategy will enable brands to answer an audience’s most pressing questions and help solve their most serious problems. This requires good planning and effective execution. The result is moving targets closer to a conversion by continuing to provide relevant, valuable information at regular intervals while removing doubts and objections and building your brand’s credibility for that audience. So what does an effective thought leadership strategy look like?
Documenting Areas of Expertise
This may seem obvious but it’s a necessary exercise in order to produce the most meaningful content. In some cases, your area of expertise will be straightforward; you may be a chargeback remediation company, so your best thought leadership content will focus on that topic. For companies that have a larger area of focus—like payment processors—it is more important to accurately determine the best thought leadership niche.
In identifying your niche, it’s important to nail down precisely what you do and which of your products and services make you an authority. So a payment processor doesn’t necessarily have to talk about the life cycle of a transaction (though that’s not entirely out of scope), but may want to hone in on best practices for accepting credit card payments online for merchants. Not only does this align with the brand’s area of authority, but it provides helpful information to a key audience: online merchants. That’s the sweet spot for thought leadership: the intersection of your expertise and helpful information for your target audience.
- Biometric Authentication
- Ecommerce Fraud Prevention
- Machine Learning for Payments
- Payment Processing for [Industry]
- Cloud-Based Payments
Understanding What Your Audience Needs to Know
To continually hit the sweet spot, it’s imperative to thoroughly understand what it is your audience is looking for. Strategic fintech thought leadership answers an audience’s most pressing questions in order to be useful and to move the audience closer to a conversion.
Honing in on the most pressing questions and most problematic challenges requires somewhat of a scientific approach. There are a few ways to mine what your audience is looking for:
Keyword research should be a foundational exercise for any content marketing program. You want to ensure your high-quality content derives SEO benefits. Keyword research can help you produce meaningful, SEO-friendly content that helps you rank in search engines.
Subsequently, it can improve your inbound results, boost visibility and traffic to your website, and move prospects through your funnel. But it can also help you tap into what types of words, topics, and questions your target audience is searching—which provides fodder for your thought leadership content. To get a better grasp of what these search terms and phrases might be, consider the following workflow:
Build a List of Generic Topics: Create a list of generic “bucket” terms that apply to your business. What are the broad topics people may search for and that you want to rank for in results? E.g., “payment processing”, “payment gateway”, etc.
Hone in on More Specific Phrases: Take the terms from Step 1 above and flesch them out to be more specific. For example, “payment processing” could morph into “payment processing for insurance”. The term “payment gateway” may be more accurate as “mobile payment gateway”. The goal is to brainstorm as many relevant phrases as possible. These represent phrases people may search for to find content on a related subject.
Build Out Related Search Terms: Use Google to determine other search terms that might be relevant. Type in some of the core keywords and phrases you already documented and see what Google suggests as “Searches related to x” (at the bottom of Google’s results). Add the relevant recommended searches to your list. Also try tapping into Google’s auto-suggest feature: type in one of your basic queries and see how Google fills in the blanks. It may drum up more ideas that you initially overlooked.
Turn Words & Phrases into Questions: Turn your existing list of keywords and phrases into relevant questions. For example, “payment processing for insurance” may yield questions like “how do I streamline payment processing for insurance?” or “managing risk in payment processing for insurance”. These questions tend to be much more specific and lend themselves well to content topics and titles. When ideating these types of questions, act like a journalist and cover the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the keyphrase at hand.
Keep a Running List and Add New Phrases & Questions Regularly: Effective thought leadership is an ongoing process during which you deliver fresh content at a regular cadence. To populate new ideas, it’s important to continually add to your list of phrases and questions. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and paid tools like SEMrush to gather valuable insights on what your audience is searching for, peaks in search volume (which could indicate seasonality), and competition level. It may also illustrate changes in interest levels on certain topics and trigger new ideas for thought leadership content.
Forums like Quora or industry-specific communities are treasure troves for researching your audience’s top questions. Simply search your basic keywords and see what types of questions people are asking. An added benefit is that you may be able to leverage some of the already-provided answers to build your outline for these content pieces. For newer questions that may have zero answers, earmark the link. This will be a ideal place to drop a link to your finished, published thought leadership when the time comes.
Looking to what your competitors are doing is a great way to get a handle on anything you may have missed up to this point in your research. Make a list of your top three competitors and peruse their blogs, resource centers, press releases, and other published content for topic ideas that you may have overlooked.
Many companies overlook the value of content sitting in their inbox (or incoming mail/messages from customer support channels). Look to your sent folder for helpful answers/information you’ve already provided to prospective or current customers. Those answers can be respun into more in-depth thought leadership pieces that include a more detailed dive into the issue at hand.
Audience personas help you gain insight into prospective customers and influencers so you can create compelling, engaging content tailored to their needs.
You want to spend some time on this step, otherwise your entire content marketing program could be a total bust. You want to be focused and deliberate in your content development and that requires a deep understanding of the people for whom you’re creating content. The idea is “tell, don’t sell” and to “tell” effectively, you need to understand what appeals to your audience. Don’t shotgun it.
It may be tempting to jump right into content creation, but your mantra should always be quality over quantity. Quality requires data and data requires research. Personas are research-based representations of your ideal audience(s). Note, this may be – and usually is – plural. It can be tempting to pigeonhole your audience into one distinct box, but the truth is that decision makers have different motivations, different goals, and different preferred content consumption methods. These should all be accounted for in your personas.
Once you have a more thorough understanding of the problems you can help solve for your audience, it’s time to think about actually creating your fintech thought leadership content. We’ll cover that process in more detail in the next post, or you can download the full Payments Thought Leadership Playbook.