Fintech startups are getting a lot of funding. (In fact, in Q2 of 2017, fintech companies raised a whopping $5.2 billion.)

A good deal of that money goes into making apps that are changing the way we budget, bank, save, borrow, lend, and trade. Another portion goes into hiring great folks.

And a lot of that money goes into marketing.

We do a lot of blogging in the financial space, so we wondered: in a hot industry like fintech, what’s “normal” when it comes to blogs?

So Tyrel and I dug into the data in the B2C fintech space, and found some pretty surprising things.

You can read up on our methodology at the bottom of this post—but let’s jump into the juicy stuff first.

8-fintech-marketer-findings

8 findings every fintech marketer needs to know:

1. Top-of-funnel content is on the rise.
Of the companies who blog, 64% publish content for the top of the funnel.

2. Fifty percent of fintech blogs publish fewer than three new posts per month.
Content isn’t exactly free-flowing: in fact, 35% of blogs didn’t exceed two posts a month.

3. Long-form content is rare.
Only 15% of blogs include one or more articles longer than than 2,000 words.

4. Subdomains or subdirectories?
Fintech can’t decide. 48% of blogs are hosted on subdomains, 48% are on subdirectories. But which is better?

5. Explainer posts get the most organic search traffic.
For one-third of B2C FinTech blogs, the post that gets the most hits from search engines is one that explains a process or concept to consumers.

6. The average post gets shared 60 times.
But the bottom 50% of blogs get less than 27 shares per post.

7. Facebook retargeting is catching on, but not dominant yet.
Only 47% of B2C FinTech blogs have installed the Facebook pixel.

8. Not everyone blogs.
But sheesh—they really should. Surprisingly, 11% of companies analyzed do not have a blog at all—and of the companies who do have blogs, 15% published zero posts May–July, 2017.

Some of this is to be expected (like #1 and #5). Some of it is shocking (lookin’ at you, #8). And some of this is just plain weird (#3? Seriously?).

Let’s dig into each of these findings.

Top-of-funnel content is on the rise.

But one-third of blogs still don’t produce it.

64% of B2C FinTech blogs focus on educating or entertaining the market.

As the general consumer market tires of promotional content, more companies are using their blogs to attract attention by solving problems for prospective customers. Most blogs (64% of the blogs we analyzed in this study) create content that educates and entertains the market.

Since it’s usually not aimed at the consideration or purchasing stages of the buyer’s journey, this sort of content is often called “top of funnel” content.

But that doesn’t mean that all blogs are used for content marketing. One in three of the blogs we analyzed had no such content. It’s still very common for companies to use blogs as a place to publish press releases, executive statements, and product updates.

By category:

Percentages of blogs in each category that include top-of-funnel content

This is important because top-of-funnel content is one of the smartest ways to position your brand ahead of the traditional finance companies in your space. According to Zuper CEO Jessica Ellerm, if new entrants “combine financial nous with brilliant creative, then the un-commodification of financial services may come a lot sooner than anticipated.”

Takeaway:

There are a lot of FinTech brands vying for awareness, and 64% of them are producing content that educates and entertains the consumer finance market. If you want to compete, your blog should address the finance-related questions on your market’s mind.

Notable examples:

  • YNAB (You Need a Budget)
    This personal finance blog tackles all kinds of problems consumers face, from the basics of how to make a budget, to investing basics, to budgeting with a partner. They publish roughly five new blog posts per week, most of which tackle real-life budgeting issues.
  • Ellevest
    This investment platform helps women make savvy financial moves. Their blog is a trove of investment tips, career advice, and goal-setting guides. The Ellevest blog tackles their market’s problems on the blog—which makes it a valuable resource even to non-Ellevest customers.

 

The median blogging schedule is one new post every week and a half.

A consistent content calendar can differentiate your brand.

The average posting schedule came to 13 new posts during the quarter of May 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017—which works out to about one new post per week. However, the majority of blogs weighed in well below the average: half the blogs published 8 or fewer new posts over this 13-week window (about one new post every week and a half.)

And not all of these posts are for consumers, either. Even if a blog creates top-of-funnel content, it’s not unusual to find a company statement or press release or product update filling a given week’s slot.

By category (average / median):

Blog posts published over one quarter

Takeaway:

Coming up with content ideas is a struggle—and many fintech blogs go long periods of time without publishing any new content. But a consistent content calendar can differentiate your brand.

 

Notable example:

  • Nest Wealth
    Nest Wealth consistently publishes new blog posts each week. One of the ways they generate relevant content ideas is by directly asking their audience what topics they would like to see covered on the Nest Wealth blog. In fact, about 80% of their blog content is inspired by questions and comments from their audience.

Our purpose is to help our clients lead their best financial lives, so our blog needs to address the issues and questions that matter most to them. We’ve found that the best way to learn what kind of content our clients want is to ask them! You would be surprised how generous people tend to be with their ideas and suggestions when you take the time to ask.

—Jenny do Forno, head of customer experience, Nest Wealth

 

Long-form content is rare.

Very few FinTech blogs are publishing 2,000+ word articles.

Only 15% of B2C fintech blogs have at least one article of 2,000+ words.

When we started this study, we assumed that brands educating consumers on topics like personal budgeting and wealth management would frequently feature long, comprehensive articles about the ins and outs of finance. But that’s not the case: only a handful of blogs published so much as one article that was longer than 2,000 words during May–July, 2017.

“Length is strength” has been a motto in the blogging space for years. Writing comprehensive articles has been a successful tactic for generating inbound links, viral shares, and long-term organic traffic. SEO giant SEMRush’s 2017 study of ranking factors found that, on average, pages with more content tend to rank higher.

By category:

Percentages of blogs in each category with at least one article of 2,000+ words

 

Takeaways:

Word count isn’t everything. But given the lack of long-form content in this space, there’s a good deal of opportunity to publish comprehensive content that brings in search traffic. The B2C fintech industry should craft long-form, in-depth articles that thoroughly answer consumers’ questions about finance—before someone else does.

Notable example:

  • Wealthsimple
    This investment tech company delves into the financial lives of celebrities, and also publishes long-form how-to articles that tackle common consumer problems.

 

The jury’s out on where to host blogs.

Subdomain or subdirectory? FinTech blogs are evenly split.

48% of fintech blogs are hosted on a subdirectory of the brand’s main domain. Another 48% are on subdomains.

There’s a good deal of (quiet) debate around whether or not a brand’s blog should live on a subdirectory of a site (website.com/blog) or on a subdomain (blog.website.com). In the B2C fintech space, it’s a tie. Of the 85 blogs we analyzed, 41 live on a subdirectory, and 41 live on a subdomain.

domain-vs-subdomain-seo

Subdomains vs. subfolders: what’s the big deal?

A subdomain is attractive to companies who want to launch a blog with minimal distractions to engineering and IT teams. Specifically, a subdomain blog gives a company two popular advantages:

  • Easier setup. It’s relatively easy to install WordPress (or another CMS) on a subdomain. Setting up a blog on an existing domain often involves more engineer help—especially if the main site is primarily a Web app.
  • Marketing control. A subdomain blog makes it easier for marketers to test and experiment with their content—without the risk of wrecking other parts of the site.

However, subdomains carry some significant marketing risks, too:

  • SEO risks. Although search engines are improving on this front, it’s still common for search engines to divorce a subdomain from the main domain—in which case, the SEO benefits you gain from publishing great content on your subdomain blog won’t flow as nicely to your product’s site. (Moz SEO expert Rand Fishkin gave a high-level overview of this problem in 2015.)
  • Tracking difficulties. Tracking behavior across subdomains is possible, but it’s a more involved process for marketers.

Takeaways:

All other things equal, blogging on a subdirectory is the better SEO move.

But if you’re a startup and you have a choice between starting a blog on a subdomain today and starting a blog in a subdirectory six months from now, we recommend starting on a subdomain—but plan to merge it into the main website in the future.

If you’re considering moving your blog from a subdirectory to a subdomain, consider the risks.

 

Explainer posts win organic traffic.

Taking the time to explain finance can really pay off.

For 33% of B2C fintech blogs, the post that pulls in the most organic search traffic explains a process or concept for consumers.

Most marketers know that blogging is a reliable way to build more organic traffic from search engines. But what kind of blog posts bring that search traffic to you?

We analyzed these blogs to see what kinds of posts tend to pull in the most organic traffic, identifying the single post on each blog that generates the most traffic from search engines. Five major categories of top posts emerged, in order of frequency:

Five categories of top posts:

In order of frequency

 

  • Explainer posts: 33%
    These posts unpack a complex concept, define terms that may be unfamiliar to consumers, or guide consumers through a process.
  • Blog home pages: 14%
    This is the “cover” of the blog, so to speak. It’s usually a running list of the most recently published posts.
  • “Life problem” posts: 13%
    These posts don’t necessarily explain a process, but they do address real-life problems that consumers feel (such as the stuffiness of local loan offices, or the connection between physical and financial health).
  • Product updates: 13%
    While top-of-funnel content is on the rise, there’s still a good deal of fintech content about the products themselves—and sometimes, a product update pulls in more organic traffic than any other post.
  • “Best of” posts: 7%
    These posts round up recommended resources, quotes from influencers, and the like.

Takeaway:

Take the time to explain finance.

The market wishes they understood the differences between a 401(k) and an IRA. They want to know how to get out of college debt. They want to know when to rent and when to buy a house. Write explanatory content, so that when they Google these questions, you’re ready with an answer.

Notable examples:

  • YNAB (You Need a Budget)
    It’s YNAB once again. At least once a month (usually more often), they add another blog post to their “How to” category. If you want an example of a blog that regularly produces explainer posts, this is it.
  • Neighborly
    When you think of investments, “municipal bonds” don’t leap to mind. But startup Neighborly is changing this by giving investors the opportunity to invest directly into communities they care about. Neighborly’s blog puts out overviews and primers on the world of municipal investing—they’re a great example of a niche fintech company creating content that not only educates their market, but grows it.
  • Artivest
    Artivest’s blog is a treasure trove of explainer content, brimming with regular posts as well as whitepapers and guides helping serious investors understand their options.

 

Most blogs get fewer than 27 shares per post.

And 15% of posts didn’t get any shares at all.

Marketers count on their posts being shared to social media by people who find them entertaining or enlightening. Social shares are an important part of the blogging process. They’re a form of word-of-mouth marketing that expands your audience—and they can give you a read on how your content is resonating with the market.

But how popular can you expect a post to be on social media?

fewer-shares

The average post in the B2C fintech space gets shared 60 times across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and through links from other sites (this is after dropping the top and bottom five percent of blogs). However, not every blog post gets 60 shares (or any shares for that matter). We took a closer look at the data and found some caveats:

  • While “average” post may get 60 shares, the majority of blogs get fewer than 27 shares per post.
  • A given blog’s “most viral” post gets, on average, four times as many shares as the average post on that blog.
  • Of the blogs that published new posts during the research period, 15% didn’t get any shares at all.

Shares by category (average / median):

Blog posts shares over one quarter

Takeaways:

  • If your posts are consistently pulling 27+ shares, you’re pulling ahead of the pack.
  • However, 27 shares isn’t a very impressive number—you can do better. To get more shares, consider promoting new blog posts to your existing audience through email and in-app messages. Make sure your employees know about new blog posts as they go live, too—odds are, at least one of your team members will find your content interesting enough to share. At the very least, make sure your blog interface gives readers clear opportunities to share the post they’re reading. (Sumo is a great tool for this.)
  • NOTE: As we researched these websites, we found a startling lack of infographics (and custom visual content in general, for that matter). If you want to stand out in this space and increase your average shares per post, consider creating infographics, videos, and other custom visual content.

 

Notable example:

  • Wealthfront
    Wealthfront seeks to demystify investment and provide “context for all.” They back this up with thoughtful articles packaged in high-end, magazine-esque design. Their blog posts are shared with remarkable consistency: the average Wealthfront post gets 220 shares. And that’s not because of one viral post doing all the heavy lifting: their most viral post during the research period got 441 shares.

 

Facebook retargeting is catching on.

49% of blogs studied had installed the Facebook pixel.

Retargeting (or remarketing) is the practice of serving advertisements to people based on previous interactions with your Web properties. There are several retargeting platforms available to marketers today, but Facebook’s user base and targeting abilities make it a lucrative tool for growth marketers.

It’s not uncommon for companies outside the fintech space to install the Facebook pixel (which allows you to use Facebook for remarketing) on their blog. After readers find blog posts via social share or search engines, the brand will serve them ads—usually ads for free downloads, webinars, or trials.

The Facebook pixel is free to install—so initially we assumed that most of the blogs we’d analyze would have done so.

facebook-pixel-install

We were wrong—but just barely. Forty-nine percent of B2C fintech blogs have installed the Facebook pixel.

However, things got really interesting when we compared the use of the Facebook pixel to the old subdomain-vs.-subdirectory issue:

  • 73% of blogs on a subdirectory have the Facebook pixel installed.
  • 27% of blogs either hosted on subdomains or elsewhere have the Facebook pixel installed.

It’s just as easy to install the Facebook pixel on a subdomain as it is to put it on a your main website, so it’s more likely that we’re looking at correlation than causation here. The small percentage of pixel installs on subdomains may reflect the reason why companies choose to blog on a subdomain to begin with: they just need to get a blog up. If integrating this channel with the main site can wait, then perhaps the Facebook pixel struggles to work its way up the list of dev priorities as well.

Takeaways:

  • If you haven’t already, install the Facebook pixel. (You can use Facebook’s Chrome extension to see if your site already has the pixel installed.)
  • If you’re setting up a blog on a subdomain, don’t forget to make sure the pixel is installed on the subdomain, too.

 

Not everyone blogs (but they probably should).

Of the 96 brands we studied, 25% have either no blogs, or inactive blogs.

This may be the most surprising finding yet. In a world where we’re used to seeing “Blog” in the main navigation of most tech company websites, a quarter of B2C fintech websites aren’t blogging.

About 11% of the sites we studied had no blog to speak of. The other 14% have blogs, but didn’t publish new posts during May–July, 2017.

Which brings to mind the question: Does this affect organic traffic?

We compared the websites with active blogs to those with no blogs, and to those with inactive blogs using SimilarWeb and Ahrefs (factoring out direct traffic—or traffic from people entering the site’s URL directly into their browser).

We compared the average website with an active blog to the average website without an active blog. The website with an active blog received:

  • 9.6 times as much organic traffic
  • 3.3 times as many referring domains
  • A Moz Domain Authority score of 51 (out of 100), 11 points above non-blogging sites

Takeaways:

  • If you want to increase your organic traffic in the B2C fintech space, you will want to blog.
  • It’s never too late to start blogging. (Especially now that you’ve read this report!)

Thanks to our blog, we really don’t spend nearly as much on marketing as a company our size normally would. YNAB has always grown through word-of-mouth, and blogging has fueled that. Our audience sees a blog post that’s helpful, and they share it—our blog gives our fans another way to articulate and share what budgeting with YNAB means to them (which, lucky for us, is often a lot!).

—Lindsey Burgess, CMO, YNAB

Some notes on our methodology

Tyrel and I assembled a list of more than 300 unique brands in the financial technology space. This would have been a lot more difficult if CB Insights hadn’t done so much heavy lifting—thanks, Anand!

We narrowed that list down to 96 brands that met the following criteria:

  • They targeted the consumer market. B2B blogging and B2C blogging are pretty different. No sense comparing apples to pears.
  • Their websites and blogs are in English. I’m pitifully monoligual. =/
  • The companies serve consumers in the US, CA, UK, and/or Australia.

Then, we analyzed these brands’ websites using a handful of tools:

  • BuzzSumo for social data
  • SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SimilarWeb for traffic data
  • Moz for domain authority
  • The Facebook Pixel Helper for, well, checking to see if the Facebook pixel is installed

We examined content that was published during the quarter-long period of May–July, 2017.

Curious to learn more?

Shoot us a note to schedule a call with us if you’d like to discuss this—there’s a lot more data under the hood that we’d be happy to share.