Written by: Danielle Stitt
Asset Management marketers are going to be increasingly marginalised and find “fighting” for budget increasingly difficult unless we can show ROI on marketing spend. That means producing outcomes that drive to the company’s bottom line.
In fact, the Economist Unit global research paper on the future of marketing showed that in three to five years, approximately 80% of companies will classify the marketing function as a revenue driver.
So to keep our seat at the C-suite table, I believe financial services marketers need to better leverage our marketing activities, particularly in regards to content. So let's consider:
1. What content marketing is looking like for asset managers at the moment
2. How you can fully leverage the time, effort and resources that are going into content production
3. What are the key things you need to do before you even consider producing one more piece of content
Content Marketing for Asset Managers
The Content Marketing Institute’s latest research of financial services organisations shows that 78% of us are on the content marketing bandwagon but only 25% of us think it’s being effective.
That’s so depressing!
This number is low partly because only 37% of financial services marketers have a planned content strategy. And we all know that without a plan we are really hoping we will get some positive outcomes if we tootle around doing a bunch of stuff. Unlikely.
Having a clear plan is enormously helpful in terms of giving CEOs comfort to sign off on marketing spend.
Looking at the minority that state their content marketing is effective, what can we learn?
Firstly, they have a content marketing strategy that ladders back to the business’s goals. The top three organisational goals are brand awareness, customer engagement and lead generation. These are all quite different goals, requiring different content, channels, mechanics and metrics.
To illustrate how this could work for brand awareness, consider a content strategy we did for a client who targets advice-giving accountants. BlueChip was engaged to help them with brand awareness across digital channels. We focused on a content strategy that started with getting clear on who they were talking to, that is their personas and what they wanted to be known for with those personas.
And if you’re new to personas or don’t see the value, let’s consider these two gentlemen:
Two men, born in England in 1948, both exceptionally wealthy, both have 2 children, both married more than once, spend winter in the Alps, both love dogs. Demographically they’re identical, right? But if I told you one was Prince Charles and the other was Ozzy Osborne, would you be messaging to them the same? Probably not. That’s the power of persona work - truly understanding who you’re talking to.
We then mapped out a content calendar for the 12 months ahead. It covered online and offline events both within the brand and within the industry more broadly. It dictated a cadence for communication with each of the personas and ensured the content formats were matched with the channels where accountants were congregating. In effect we helped them get intentional and turn on all the levers.
Seven months later they have overachieved their KPIs or in the words of our client, “it’s gone off”.
And if I can summarise why this has been such a success, I’d attribute three key factors:
1. They started with their personas in mind. Thinking about it, we are all super busy and will not waste time digesting content that we don’t believe will be relevant to us and by relevant I mean either helps us overcome a problem or pain point (e.g. how do I generate a decent investment return in a low interest rate environment) or moves me closer to my aspirations (e.g. growing my financial planning practice). These personas were developed via focus groups, desktop research, input from front-line staff and our own industry experience. We also conducted keyword research in order to ensure our content had a higher chance of being found when our personas were searching.
2. The content themes we landed on spoke to accountants as business owners and trusted advisers. We decided to focus on 4 main themes for the content. We also identified the 4 key channels that best reached the audience – a blog amplified through an eDM to their database, LinkedIn, YouTube and SlideShare. Having run small scale test campaigns previously we knew our audience was on these channels and ready to digest the information we were looking to share.
3. Finally, our client committed to a multi-channel, disciplined implementation. While strategy can be really exciting, it’s worthless unless it’s executed with discipline and commitment. Likewise, using all the channels available to you ensures you have a higher chance of success.
Leveraging your content
Which brings me to sharing some thoughts on leveraging that investment you’re making in content generation.
Asset managers have long been content marketers. Fund fact sheets, quarterly investor reports, portfolio updates, adviser roadshows…. these are all examples of content. However, they’re often viewed as compliance documents whereas we see them as marketing pieces which must meet compliance guidelines. There’s a difference.
And when you see the world that way, there’s a difference in what you do with them.
Taking your typical B2B buyer, this graphic illustrates how he is interacting with your brand.
The stats are quite compelling, particularly the fact that your typical B2B buyer has completed 57% of the purchase process before even talking to your BDM.
And, yes, this is across industries so if you’re thinking this isn’t relevant in funds management, consider a 2015 survey by Brunswick Group that found 41% of investment professionals surveyed saw something on a digital channel that then promoted them to launch the construction of an investment decision.
Perhaps the humble fact sheet published on an unloved section of your website needs a second look?!
Let me illustrate the power of leveraging your content across earned channels.
At BlueChip we took a very simple piece of content and turned it into 192 new leads within 1 month. Carden, BlueChip’s Managing Director, was at the FSC Annual conference last year and saw a fintech panel was on the agenda. With the help of a marketing assistant in the Philippines, we created a simple one page map capturing all the fintech players in Australia and housed it behind an email capture form on our website. The map was nothing mind blowing, just something that hadn’t been done yet and which Carden knew would be of interest.
During the fintech panel, we launched the map through Twitter using the conference and other hashtags. Amyone who attended the FSC Annual events will know there was always a healthy conversation going on in Twitter during the sessions. Needless-to-say, our humble map was picked up in the stream, shared and retweeted and generally received all sorts of attention on the day and in the weeks following. As interest was dying down, Carden reached out to an industry influencer with a large following and asked him if he could share our map and through that one share, we jump started another flurry of downloads and therefore new leads for our business.
I also see your hard earned media coverage as another piece of content to be leveraged. Too often our clients put enormous effort into securing a positive article in the AFR or one of the trade media and then do nothing with that.
There are so many ways you can squeeze more from your media relations and we had great success doing that for a funds management client with interviews on LiveWire, articles in Money Management and mentions in the Fin’s Street Talk around the launch of their new product. We seeded that media coverage in investor-centred communities then saw in their Google Analytics that those communities were in the top 5 sources of prospectus downloads. That’s having 2 bites of the cherry.
Creating content with purpose
Lastly let’s look at practical tips you can incorporate into your content marketing strategy to increase the likelihood of it making a significant impact on your business. We are all awash with information and increasingly we marketers are finding it difficult to cut through the noise.
Firstly, get clear on where marketing can add value to the business. Are you working an awareness funnel, a lead gen funnel or a client retention funnel? Perhaps on different parts of the business, different objectives are applicable. Just be intentional and clear.
Secondly, set KPIs and establish a dashboard for tracking against those KPIs. It’s easy to slip into reporting on vanity metrics like audience views but I encourage you to think more deeply about what metrics really matter in terms of delivering for the business. For example, 4000 people seeing a blog may not be that impressive if it was just passing across their LinkedIn timeline but not really SEEN. Perhaps the more important metric is how many people interacted with that content by clicking through to a report, sharing the post or commenting on the topic.
Some metrics are forward indicators of how marketing is performing. Using the same 4000 blog views example, you may need to see that volume of audience reach because you know your conversion rates from views to leads and from leads to investors requires you to achieve X number of investors from Y number of leads and Z number of blog readers.
By tracking these stats you’ll also be able to constantly improve the probability of your content being a success. The data will tell you what topics are resonating most with your target audience and in which channels you are most likely to find them.
Thirdly, develop your personas. In our experience, most brands need between 2 to 4 personas. More than that becomes unwieldly and you find there isn’t much difference in the messaging required anyway. Persona development does require time but the rewards far outweigh that upfront investment.
We find your front line staff such as your BDMs, customer service teams and anyone within your organisation that regularly deals with prospects and customers are your best source of information.
We are in the fourth revolution now, the age of the customer. The Google Think insights in Figure 3 support the hypothesis that our customers are in control. They have access to so much information, they can do their research without us. So it’s important that when they are doing their research, they find relevant and useful content produced by you. You won’t know what relevant and useful looks like until you’ve fleshed out your personas.
Finally, use your website as the repository for all your content but use social channels, trade and business media and all the other paid, owned and earned channels for “fishing” with the aim of bringing the “fish” i.e. your potential clients, back to you. Your prospects won’t be visiting your website until they are fairly advanced in their decision making process.
We live in a multi-channel, always-on world which makes our roles as marketers probably more complicated than it has ever been in the history of marketing. However, it’s also an incredibly interesting time to be a marketer as we are in prime position to be a major driver of business growth. We just need to step up, get commercial in our mindset and own that position.