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Chris Moloney
Chief Marketing Officer, Wells Fargo Advisors

Wells Fargo Advisors is the third largest investment services firm in the U.S. and serves both B2C and B2B markets. With respect to the company’s B2B content, Chief Marketing Officer Chris Moloney says the majority is centered around thought leadership and building awareness and trust, although they have recently begun to use content for direct purchase impact and creating relationships, and he sees that being a big focus for 2014.

Moloney says that content marketing’s impact on the business has exploded, and they are seeing a great deal of search happening on the web and social media prior to people making a purchase decision. As a result, Moloney says it is critical for the company to be present in these avenues with thought leadership content.

“Content is even more important to have in these areas than pure advertising because of the influence that content is having on the purchase journey,” he says. “It is more approachable and consumable than traditional advertising, and we want to be able to provide the important information that people are seeking.”

Because most of the company’s content is online, he says they are able to easily track engagement levels and usage of content and how those track to conversion rates. The company also tracks content that is emailed or distributed in paper form, although offline content is more difficult to track.

Because of the industry in which the company operates, Moloney says it is important to be sensitive to consumers’ needs and to demonstrate why the company is the best option for them.

“As an investment services firm, it is a very emotional and personal decision for people to decide to use us, so it is important for them to feel good about their decision,” he says. “Content needs to reflect who we are, and what other people are saying about us through social media is critical. In the last three years, we have see our content move rapidly to the online space, and this has been a big driver of our strategy.”

In terms of segmentation, Moloney says they group customers as individuals, as groups, as companies or as new potential clients. They also provide content based on whether a customer is new or is being recruited for additional services. However, this segmentation can provide some challenges in the development and delivery processes.

“Our biggest challenge in content development is that people are consuming content in different ways,” he says. “For example, a huge number of people are now searching for video content via YouTube, and being able to rapidly produce video content has been a struggle for us. It can be fairly expensive and can take a lot of time to produce. Another area where we are working to get stronger is infographics so that we can present complex information in a visual, easily digestible way.”

Content is typically only distributed by employees or affiliates of the firm due to the compliance-heavy nature of the industry. Moloney says that content distributed by social media or the web must go through a review and approval process, and it is all tracked.

“Content is distributed through the web with the goal of capturing a lead, and if someone becomes a lead, we can see the path they took to get to that point and are able to track their content consumption,” he says. “If we don’t receive lead information or personally identifiable information, we use broad Internet measurement tools to see the flow of who is consuming content or visiting our site, although we may not know who each individual is. The combination of these things allows us to understand engagement even if we don’t know who you are.”

Moloney says the company uses a few different organizations to gather online analytics and information about the people who visit their sites and consume content. They have a wealth of data—so much that it can complicate how they make decisions.

“We are still learning how to make decisions based on the data we have available in order to get a better understanding of the purchase journey,” he says.

To gain exposure, Moloney explains that they pay to advertise and promote their online content rather than syndicating it, and they have also participated in research initiatives and promoted this content through advertising, PR, social media and more to reinforce their position as a thought leader and trusted expert within the industry.

While most of their content is directed toward consumers in the middle-to-lower parts of the sales funnel—where purchase decisions tend to be made—for 2014, he says the company is going to increase their focus on content geared toward the upper funnel in order to build early awareness and consideration. He also expects video to play a greater role in their content strategy.

“Video is going to be a big leap for us because it is a great way to communicate the fairly complex benefits of our services, as well as what differentiates us,” he says. “This can sometimes be hard to do through advertising or print ads, so we will be shifting our focus to video and will hopefully build engagement as a result.”

““Content needs to reflect who we are, and what other people are saying about us through social media is critical. In the last three years, we have see our content move rapidly to the online space, and this has been a big driver of our strategy.””