Content marketing is something that fund managers have caught on to in recent years, and it provides a very effective way of connecting with partners and clients. Indeed, in Kurtosys’ annual survey 63% of respondents said that content marketing was their most productive marketing channel, while 65% said they would be investing more time and money in it over the next year.
This is all well and good, but effective content marketing is more than just a box-ticking exercise. There are a number of considerations to take into account if you want to execute a content marketing campaign – and these should be extended to any customer-facing content that you create.
And while tone, format, frequency and platform are all worth pondering, there’s one crucial question you need to ask yourself when it comes to this content:
Can the audience actually understand it?
The Asset Management 2016 Website Clarity Index makes for damning reading. According to this report, 98% of websites in the asset management industry that were examined didn’t meet up with readability guidelines. This is a frightening statistic, and it’s something that everyone in the industry should be doing their best to change.
As the report points out, it’s essential for asset managers to communicate clearly if they want to boost engagement with their target audience. The first thing that asset managers need to understand, then, is who exactly is the audience. While a good deal of website visitors could have a grounding in the world of finance – IFAs and the like – there will also be plenty of people who are not so familiar with it.
The fact of the matter is that audiences shift over time. If asset managers want to use content marketing to connect with new audiences – younger investors, say, from the millennial and Generation Z age groups – then they have to talk in terms that can be understood by that audience.
So what exactly are asset managers getting wrong on their websites? Of course the subject matter is complex, so the overuse of jargon and industry speak that means nothing to people who don’t actually work in asset management is a major crime. But this is by no means the only problem.
According to the report: “It is clear that long sentences and poor readability are prevalent on Asset Management websites.” Long sentences aren’t necessarily a bad thing if well punctuated. However, it is when they are overused that they become a problem. They’re intimidating to the eye, and if they include jargon or complicated concepts then they can be confusing. Similarly, large paragraphs should be avoided too – they are off-putting to many readers, who would rather see text broken up into manageable chunks.
Using passive voice rather than active voice is another issue. Again, it isn’t that passive voice is bad per se – it’s just that it shouldn’t be overused.
Asset managers who want to get their content marketing right can take some basic steps to achieve this goal. They are:
Hire experts. A writer that understands asset management is probably easier to find than an asset manager that knows how to write clearly for all audiences. Get a writer, let them interview your key spokespeople and give them the responsibility for creating clear messages.
Be engaging. When the topic area is dry and complicated, drawing the reader in can be tough. Think carefully about the tone of voice you use. Try to be friendly and instructive, but don’t overdo it – this could come across as patronising. Often taking a visual approach is the best way to explain a concept or grab a visitor’s attention – just make sure you get the balance right.
Avoid acronyms and jargon. Where it is necessary to use complex terms or acronyms, spell them out and explain them.
Check and double check! Here’s an interesting sentence from the report regarding how clear language boosts compliance: “Similarly, if they clearly understand what you want them to do they are moer [sic] likely to do it.” Note the spelling mistake – oh, the delicious irony of an error in a report about readability. But this illustrates the point perfectly – mistakes do get made, and can embarrass you at the worst possible moment. The more checks and balances you have in place when it comes to your client-facing content, the better, as it will decrease the chances of mistakes happening. So, everything that is written needs to be seen by at least two other people before it is published.