There’s nothing quite like arriving at a hard-won success with your content program. You’re hitting your goals, your metrics look great, and everyone is popping champagne (literally, if you work at a startup; metaphorically, if you don’t).
But by the time you’re sipping that second glass, chances are there’s a new challenge to tackle. If your company is growing, there’s a decent chance you need to do it all over again.
Whether it’s to introduce the brand to a new demographic or promote an entirely new product, high-growth companies often need to tell a new story to a new audience. But one successful content program is hard enough—how should a brand approach their second effort? Is it a matter of starting from scratch, or should you clone the strategy that’s worked for you already?
These are the questions Betterment, a fast-growing automated investing brand, has faced after finding success with its first content program, which successfully captured an audience of retail investors. Its resource center, as well as collaborations with publishing partners like Investopedia, has helped the company double its customer count in the last eight months.
So it’s only logical that great content would continue to be a key part of the marketing strategy for Betterment’s new brand, Betterment Institutional, a tool for financial advisors and other industry insiders. But Betterment is discovering that replicating content success isn’t as easy as it may seem.
Replicate what is replicable
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here,” says Betterment Content Manager Catherine New. “It’s a process to build an editorial property. We worked really hard to refine the process from copy flow up to production and publication. It works.”
While the audience, voice, and topics may need to be different for Betterment Institutional than for its retail program, the behind-the-scenes processes can be duplicated. That includes collaborating with the right internal stakeholders, reaching out to publishing partners, and building a social following.
“Every editorial/content team has to come up with the right recipe to make the food people want to eat,” New says. “For us, a lot of our lessons learned have been about our internal process.”
Determine the key differences
Even though some of the internal processes are the same, that doesn’t mean BI’s content will be a direct reboot. In order to connect with a new, unique audience, the second publication has to be distinct. New and her team are executing this in a variety of ways. For instance, while it wouldn’t make sense to have Betterment’s retail customers write content for their peers, New is tapping outside financial advisors to write some of the content for BI.
Connecting with a new audience also means understanding their particular perspective. While Betterment’s retail content addresses a more general audience of consumers with little to no financial knowledge, BI is reaching out to a much more savvy reader. The industry insider content will also be more technical than the retail brand’s stories—and on top of all of this, it will have to address a unique challenge: negative perceptions of the product.
“Betterment and other automated investment services had originally been cast as the enemy of financial advisors. But that isn’t the case,” New says. “[It’s about] making sure that we’re communicating the right message to financial advisors. The idea is that the Betterment product isn’t a threat to them, but actually a tool to help them build their practice.”
Every audience has its own distinct qualities. While replicating processes can work for a brand launching a new publication, identifying what makes the new audience different and customizing content around those factors is critical.
Clone the quality
Though the topics addressed in BI’s content will be different from the retail program, one lesson the team will carry over from their first success is to forgo the temptation to generate traffic with a large quantity of articles. Instead, their focus will be on high-quality content that attracts more relevant and valuable readers.
“Quality over quantity,” says Betterment Growth Manager Sarah Kaufman. “It took a little while for us to learn that as we started to increase publication frequency, though we had an inkling that it was the case.”
Amongst retail customers, they’ve found content that relies on their own data and analysis performs well—stories such as “High-Frequency Monitoring: A Short-Sighted Behavior” and “Data Suggested Women Are Better (Behaved) Customers,” which New says helped to spawn at least five organic press articles in publications like Fortune. They’re hoping to find similar success through high-quality reporting for the BI audience.
“We use Betterment data to set our stories apart,” Kaufman says. “It’s very rare that you’d read one of our stories and say, ‘Yeah, obviously,’ because we’re always looking for fresh angles. We use data to really show evidence of the points that we’re making. And a lot of times it’s exclusive data.”
At BI, they’ll also work to replicate the successes they’ve found with interactive content, like this handy IRA calculator, and stay away from reactionary stories on breaking financial news. Though it may not include custom data or interactive content, every brand has a unique recipe for high-quality content. Identifying that winning combination and folding it into a second publication can position the new venture for similar success.
Repurpose promotion and distribution
The Betterment content team has found a winning balance between production and promotion, and it’s one they plan to use with BI’s content.
“Oftentimes people spend 80 percent of their time on the actual production of the content and only 20 percent of the time on the promotional side of it,” Kaufman says. “It should be more of a balance so that you actually get people seeing and reading the content and ultimately going back to your site and converting.”
For Betterment and BI, that means a mix of social channels and strategic publishing partnerships.
“A lot of the partners we had pre-BI we knew were a bit more advisor-focused,” Kaufman says. The new BI brand allowed them to make better use of those partnerships by writing advisor-focused content to better match those publications’ audiences.
The Betterment Institutional site is just about a month old (though some relevant content from Betterment’s original resource center has helped populate the archives already), so how well the team’s blend of replication and reinvention will work remains to be seen. But their recipe is built on proven ingredients.
“We are using our original framework as a starting point, but we are very nimble,” says Kaufman. “We’ll build on it when we need to do so.”