Unless you’re an accountant, reading personal finance blogs might seem like a bore, right? Think again. As the Great Recession recovery continues, Americans are constantly looking for ways to spend smarter. This mindset contributed to the rise of a wave of daily deal sites (like Groupon, LivingSocial and GiltCity), which many suspected would be a flash in the pan – but the latest comScore data shows LivingSocial is one of the fastest rising web properties as of March 2013. Plus, the idea that Millennials spend fast and loose is proving false. The Luxury Marketing Outlook report that makes clear Millennials do their homework on the web and “want to be sold to” before making a purchase plunge. (A portrait of cautious young shoppers is expanded on in a thoughtful post by one GenY-er, Monica Nickelsburg, for The Week.)

As people look for ways to save, they turn to the web for insights and ideas on how to make more money and spend wiser. Enter the opportunity for personal finance blogs to suddenly seem more interesting. At the start of the year, comScore found finance sites offering financial information and advice were one of the fastest-gaining site categories on the web.

Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance
Andrew Schrage, co-founder of Money Crashers Personal Finance

Brafton caught up with Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, to explore the content marketing strategy behind the success of his personal finance site. MoneyCrashers.com boasts an impressive domain authority of 81, and it’s a content-driven site (with the tagline “Your Guide to Financial Fitness”). Schrage told us what he thinks makes his brand’s content strategy work, and offered some tips for fellow finance marketers.

Q: What’s your No. 1 tip for creating a personal finance content strategy that gains traction?

One of the best strategies to consider when undertaking content marketing is the “freemium” approach. Making all of your content 100 percent free to use and review for all readers is a sure way to build a stronger brand and online presence. We currently offer all of our content for free, as we don’t want to prevent people from getting access to valuable financial information. Accuracy is also crucial. The internet is rife with inaccurate and false advice, and this sort of thing can significantly damage a brand. Fact-checking and following up to ensure that any advice put forth is factual is a must.

Q: How do you find the finance topics that your audiences want most?

Involving your readers and subscribers to find out what content they would like to see can be effective. Actively elicit their opinions and post content based on that feedback, and you’ll be sure to build your online presence. Engage them via social media, and pair your site content with social media marketing to see what resonates. 

Q: That’s great advice. A lot of companies overlook social listening! What social marketing strategies have worked best for Money Crashers? 

We work to make social marketing experiences interactive for our audience … A simple Facebook or Twitter strategy just doesn’t cut it in today’s digital world.

We work to make social marketing experiences interactive for our audience in order to fully utilize our content marketing strategy. A simple Facebook or Twitter strategy just doesn’t cut it in today’s digital world. An effective brand must also use some of the lesser-known social media platforms, such as Google+ and Instragram, to be successful.

Posting an article on ways to reduce credit card debt is one thing – but having a robust conversation about it through a TweetChat or Facebook discussion takes it to the next level. Engaging our readers is exactly what we try to do on our Facebook and Twitter channels. We use these channels to give our customers a voice, including during our popular Friday TweetChat (#MCchat).

Q: We support Twitter chats as well. These types of integrated content strategies can take a lot of resource – what’s the biggest content marketing challenge you’ve overcome? 

One of the biggest challenges is simply understanding what constitutes good content. It needs to be factual, but it also needs to be relevant. For example, we posted an article with tips to save on groceries, but we had a clear segment of readers in mind. That sort of post wouldn’t work with an affluent audience. Effectively targeting content is the first step. Then, leveraging content for marketing all comes down to what your readers want to see more of. You must look for ways to create content that is useful to your readers while in turn reaching your content marketing goals. It’s a fine line.

Look for ways to create content that is useful to your readers while in turn reaching your marketing goals. It’s a fine line.

Q: Which digital content do you think is going to have the biggest impact moving forward?

One development in SEO to consider is something called newsjacking [aka news content marketing]. This involves tying your content into current events, rather than simply focusing on dispensing advice. It’s important to try to grab the reader’s attention by using a news hook. It’s something we’ve seen success with at Money Crashers. Also, business owners should start thinking about video content. Most people associate online content marketing with blogs as their main strategy, but video marketing has recently become more important. Post pertinent videos relating to your business on YouTube, and you can certainly gain a better presence. It’s an area we’d love to get more involved in.

Q: What’s the most overlooked metric that marketers can learn from?

One metric that many overlook is the load speed of your website. This is especially important with the advent of mobile devices. People using smartphones or tablets are much less likely to wait around for a page that takes 10 to 15 seconds to load. I’d also add that four of the most important content marketing metrics to track include the number of visitors, the number of unique visitors, the average amount of time spent on the site and the bounce rate.

Check out Schrage’s content marketing at work at MoneyCrashers.com