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2023 Research: Top Content Topics, Formats, and Tactics for Marketing to CFOs

Published on Mar 23, 2023

2023 Research: Top Content Topics, Formats, and Tactics for Marketing to CFOs
Lieu Pham
Lieu Pham studioID

By Lieu Pham (VP Strategy, studioID) | Melissa Mattoon (Senior Strategist, studioID) | and Liam Berry (Senior Strategist, studioID)

Targeting CFOs in your marketing strategy? Let’s take a closer look at the trending topics driving clicks and engagement for 2023 based upon CFO Dive’s first-party readership data.

The 2023 CFO Content Forecast 

Welcome to our latest CFO Content Forecast which explores the CFO audience’s most pressing issues, most popular content, industry-wide themes, top-performing formats, approach recommendations, and more.

In this first edition, you’ll find analysis of our proprietary readership data, complemented by internal expert interviews from our own content strategists. The result is an insights-packed overview of the topics and trends driving conversation and engagement within the CFO community.

Let’s dig into what CFO leaders are prioritizing and how they’re responding to this year’s most critical challenges.

What’s Resonating With CFOs So Far in 2023?

CFO Dive audience data

Top 10 Headlines Reveal CFOs are Eager to Go Beyond the Big Picture

Following the upheaval of the last few years, conversation has understandably leaned towards big-picture perspectives on what’s impacting the landscape at large. But in 2023, CFOs are ready to go beyond musings and jump into action.

They’re on the lookout for deeper insights and tools to help them navigate the complex intersection of growth initiatives, minimizing costs, reducing risk, and leveraging technology. They want to be prepared for any eventuality and ensure that their companies are well-positioned to succeed, regardless of the economic climate.

CFO Dive’s top 10 headlines highlight the concerns of an evolving CFO role with a widened scope and responsibility:

  1. ‘Quiet hiring’ dos and dont’s 
  2. FASB decides to require expense disclosures
  3. 4 CFO trends to watch in 2023
  4. Using a price-volume-mix analysis to improve performance
  5. Tech firms hunt for ‘operating’ CFOs
  6. AIG fires interim CFO, citing confidentiality brief
  7. Tyson CFO pleads guilty to criminal trespass, intoxication charges: report
  8. How CFOs can purge quiet quitters
  9. KPMG primes shrinking CFO, CPA pipeline
  10. SEC aims to set climate risk, cybersecurity rules before May

*Headlines reflect highest engagement headlines of Q1 2023, listed in ascending order.

💰Build high-performance campaigns that resonate with CFOs. Reach out to the studioID strategy team for expert guidance.

Recurring Topics Reveal the Ongoing Priorities of CFOs

CFO content trends marketing tactics audience data

Above: Topic x volume, maturity, & depth matrix by studioID

Keeping up with regulation and compliance

Rules and enforcement standards in the CFO space are constantly evolving. CFOs are engaging with insights that help them stay in compliance and understand which mistakes are most costly.

Strategies for risk mitigation and planning

Top-performing stories revolve around risk management and cost optimization strategies.

Upskilling the CFO role

Like many C-suite readers, CFOs are looking for expert advice — often from respected peers — on how to be the modern, adaptive CFO.

Staffing, labor issues, and talent management

As economic uncertainty continues to throw many businesses for a loop, stories dealing with issues of staffing, layoffs, and talent acquisition are driving the most pageviews. 

Themes Generating the Most Interest:

  1. Leadership 20%

  2. Best Practices 16%

  3. Trends 13%

  4. Financial Reporting 10%

  5. Technology 10%

  6. Accounting 10%

  7. Economics 9%

  8. Strategy 9%

Above: Most popular content tags (Article Tags | Percentage* of Total Pageviews) *Percentages rounded to the nearest whole number

CFO content trends CFO marketing tactics CFO Dive audience data
Above: Word cloud of most popular terms based on all tagged content during the past 30 days.

💬 Related Reading: How to Create Ownable Conversations: A Step-by-Step Guide to Engaging with Niche Communities

Top-Performing Content Formats

White Papers

In-depth white papers and playbooks are a favorite among CFOs due to their well-researched and comprehensive coverage of a key topic that helps them make informed decisions.

CFO content formats marketing tactics

Above: Versapay x CFO Dive Playbook


Both ‘listen-at-their-leisure’ on-demand webinars and live interactive webinars satisfy the CFO’s need to learn about new financial trends and solutions and connect with experts and peers.

Screen Shot 2023-03-23 at 4.02.54 PM.png

Above: Dun & Bradstreet x CFO Dive Webinar


Quick-to-parse infographics complete with data visualizations appeal to CFOs because they efficiently communicate complex financial data in a clear and aesthetically pleasing manner. Plus, infographics are easily shareable with their teams and peers to foster discussion and action. 

Screen Shot 2023-03-24 at 9.51.05 AM.png

Above: Excerpt from FTI Consulting x CFO Dive Infographic

“This is a data-motivated audience. So there’s always interest in content that is rich with data-driven insights.” — Caroline Lewis, Content Director of studioID’s financial services vertical 

“We’re also seeing greater desire among our clients to conduct their own proprietary research,” says Lewis. “And to bring their research to life through visual and interactive storytelling. This audience is more and more receptive to content that goes beyond your standard white paper or research article.” 

CFO content trends CFO marketing tactics CFO Dive audience data

Above: Tracking trend changes in CFO Dive’s top stories. Below: A look at the overarching narrative shift. Both authored by studioID. 

CFO content trends CFO marketing tactics CFO Dive audience data

The Opportunities: What’s Next for CFOs?

CFO content trends

While some CFOs will be focused on buffering the storm of financial turbulence, others will be looking for growth opportunities. Optimizing capital, improving operational efficiencies, and minimizing risk are all top of the CFO agenda right now — not just within the finance function, but across the entirety of the business. 

Opportunity #1: CFOs are eager to get ahead of recessionary impacts. 

Trusted economists, business publications, and CFOs alike are doing all they can to predict just when the recession will officially happen, and the impact it will have. 

To get ahead of potential repercussions, CFOs are busy shoring up pricing, improving margins, and positioning themselves to succeed — even in a bear market.

studioID strategists recommend capitalizing on this trend with content that helps CFOs:

1. Crunch the numbers on cost-savings

Right now, CFOs are especially mindful of costs. To elicit a purchasing mindset, you need to focus on how your offering can actually contribute to cost-saving measures that can help them weather the storm.

2. Diversify their revenue streams 

Recessions can have a disproportionate impact on certain modes of commerce. How can your offering help CFOs find new profit centers? Tell that story and you can be top of mind during important conversations.

3. Offer enhanced financial agility 

The ability to quickly pivot and adjust to changing economic conditions can be a significant competitive advantage during a recession. If your offering provides access to richer or quicker data, be sure to highlight those benefits in content.

“As key leaders in operational efficiency and fiscal responsibility, it’s not surprising that CFOs have been hungry for content related to automation, AI, and digital transformation,” says Lewis. 

Given the current economic situation, CFOs are under pressure to choose technology investments that will make the greatest impact. Resources that help them make those decisions with confidence are winning.

Opportunity #2: CFOs are eager to improve their C-suite skill set.

Gone are the days where CFOs were solely responsible for running the finance team. Today, they’re expected to lead the charge across everything from digital transformation to new investment opportunities. 

From adopting an operational mindset to getting hands-on in the measurement of non-financial business KPIs, the role simply isn’t what it used to be. Companies are demanding more well-rounded leaders to take up the mantle. 

studioID strategists recommend capitalizing on this trend with content that helps CFOs:

1. Plug into data analytics and machine learning

With the increasing use of technology and data-driven decision-making, CFOs will need to have a strong understanding of data analytics and machine learning to effectively analyze and interpret large amounts of financial data. Content geared towards helping them make informed decisions and identify trends that could impact the business will play into this desire and perform best with this audience.

2. Build confidence when it comes to cybersecurity

CFOs are key decision-makers for a wide variety of technology purchases — and the ever-rising financial impact of security breaches are becoming a key part of that consideration. CFOs need resources designed to reveal and help them understand the potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with new systems, and will require an executive brief to reassure them on cybersafety.

3. Improve cross-functional communication 

“CFOs used to remain focused on the balance sheet and accounting principles, but now they are expected to also serve as a strategic business leader and are often called on to drive innovations like automation and digital transformation.” — Carolina Starin, Senior Content Strategist, studioID

“And it’s not always a comfortable realm for them to step into,” says Starin. “So it’s no surprise that CFOs are eager for insights on how to build new skills around things like communication, storytelling, negotiation and conflict resolution, gaining buy-in from a board, or adopting an innovation mindset. They are eager to cultivate the skills of a modern leader.” 

As businesses expand globally, CFOs will need to be able to communicate effectively with individuals from different cultural backgrounds and understand the financial regulations and practices in different countries. They need insights that resonate across cultures, borders, and economies to show off their global-thinking credentials.

Opportunity #3: CFOs are bullish on expansion, and bearish on expenses.

Despite increased attention on the recession, CFOs are not letting that threat limit their investment — reversing a trend where new capital expenditure and R&D had declined over the past decade by 27%

However, cutting unnecessary expenses and rightsizing staff are trendy with shareholders as they demonstrate a measured approach to spending. Balancing these two seemingly counterintuitive goals will define the success of the CFO in 2023.  

studioID strategists recommend capitalizing on this trend with content that helps CFOs:

1. Balance investment with cost-cutting

CFOs want to strike a balance between investing for growth and cutting costs to maintain profitability. Show them how your offering or product philosophy aligns with one (or both!) of these goals and you’ll catch their attention.

2. Leverage technology to drive growth and efficiency 

As CFOs look to enhance efficiency and drive growth, emerging technologies — such as automation and artificial intelligence — are starting to look like potential levers to pull. Discussing these topics, especially where relevant to your offering, will allow you to piggyback on a popular conversation and get your name in the running.

3. Understand the evolving role of ESG 

“ESG has been consistently top of mind for CFOs over the last year. And that’s really only expected to grow as leaders look to better understand what the latest regulations and climate risks mean for their company,” says Lewis.

“It’s really a critical part of the CFO’s role to think about what ESG means for the bottom line.”

Due to the ever-growing focus on sustainability and environmental impact, CFOs need to understand the financial implications of these initiatives. If your content (or your offering) can enable CFOs to better understand the company’s environmental impact through a financial lens, then you’ll provide real value that resonates with this audience.

💸 Related Reading: 5 Ways Marketing and Sales Teams Can Still Thrive During a Recession

Key Takeaways: Equip CFOs with Unique Data, New Skills, and Help Them Build a Business Case for Investment

As financial leaders search for solutions, content remains one of the most sustainable ways to reach this audience. However, it’s not without its own set of common challenges, which have only been amplified by increased competition, shrinking budgets, and an audience fatigued by compounding challenges. 

If marketers really want to resonate with CFOs at this juncture, they’ll need to rely on authoritative insights that go beyond instincts.

We hope that this proprietary data that focuses on learning about the CFO audience will help you make an informed decision on where to invest.

We’ll keep the insights coming, but we believe their real value is derived when you pair them with your brand’s value proposition. Where can you add value to the CFO’s day? And what can you say that’s unique to your brand?

Reach out to the studioID strategy team to discover how to add your brand’s perspective to these trending topics.