The world just went digital.
Admittedly it’s a process that’s been ongoing for a couple of decades, but the Coronavirus crisis pushed it into overdrive.
Face to face contact ground to a halt.
And in the financial marketing sector, things that many firms have been doing in-person – due diligence, onboarding, sales conversations etc – were suddenly, through necessity, pushed online.
Even after lockdown is just a bad memory, it seems unlikely that this situation will change much. Everyone can now see the ease and simplicity of digital interaction, so the genie is not going back into the bottle.
The result is that the investor journey is now almost totally digital, which has accelerated the rise of the ‘invisible investor’ – those prospects and clients who you never even see.
This has changed the sales and marketing dynamic for many firms in asset management, funds, investment management, private banks etc – sectors where business has often revolved around events, meetings, and hosting at big sports events.
But what does this mean for the financial marketing sector?
In this ProFundCom blog we’ll look at the rise of the invisible investor and examine how you can best adapt to, and capitalise on, this new reality.
The Invisible Investor Is More Demanding
This is the first thing you need to understand.
You could be forgiven for thinking that enticing investors you never see is easy, as you can skip the hard yards of meetings, events and corporate entertainment.
The invisible investor is typified by a new generation of millennials who are entering the market and are used to the instant gratification offered by technology. When they want to buy something, Amazon delivers it the next day. When they want to eat, Deliveroo brings their favourite restaurant to the door. When they want entertainment, Netflix et al have got whatever they want on demand.
This is now the norm for all of us, but people who have grown up in a connected world want the same service when it comes to investing.
So, a quarterly report simply isn’t going to cut it any more. Not least because people are busier than ever before – so they want pertinent information when they want to see it, not when you want to send it to them.
Basically, you must deliver a service that makes their life easier.
For your existing investors, this means you must provide a digital experience on your website that goes way beyond a few paragraphs of self-congratulatory copy about the history of your firm. You need to provide an investor portal where your clients can access their accounts to track investments and see if they are on the right path, or if they need to make a course correction.
And to attract new clients, in a world where you are increasingly unlikely to meet them, you need to think in terms of digital content – articles, emails, videos etc – that is both easily accessible and put in front of prospects without much effort on their part.
Understanding The Digital Investment Journey
The invisible investor is living a digital life, scouring the web for information that guides any investment decisions – rather than relying on the advice of a relationship manager.
And this means that there is no longer a linear investor journey in the digital age. Whereas once it went, basically, from first contact, to meeting with a relationship manager, to sale – now the journey is all over the place, with various digital touchpoints along the way.
From first appearing on your radar to a sale, you connect with an invisible investor in multiple different ways and across multiple different channels.
The starting point on this journey?
More often than not, it’s an introduction to your firm through some form of thought leadership content. Whereas once it was performance that caught the eye, it is now pertinent and intelligent insight into sector-specific topics that are an initial attraction for a potential investor.
From there, the next logical step on the journey is a visit to your website – where you should have more thought leadership content available, to further underline your credentials.
From then on, if the job of digital marketing is being done properly, the invisible investor should be encountering you everywhere – from emails to social media, to blogs, and press pieces.
Even post-sale this process should continue, through digital onboarding, ongoing investment advice, regular account updates and even (if necessary) retention review.
And how each investor and prospect interacts with your firm will be different, which means you can’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing.
So, what do you do to ensure that you are able to connect with everyone you need to – both prospective and existing investor – in a way that satisfies a multitude of different personalities and approaches to investing?
We’ll cover that next…
How To Adapt To The New Digital Marketing Challenge
When facing up to the new digital demands of financial marketing, firms normally take one of two approaches:
The first is to throw money and staff at the problem, by increasing marketing and sales headcount.
This comes at vast expense, but more often than not it leads to reduced profit.
That’s because it is a blunt approach to the problem – often made by non-marketing people who have little or no idea of the priorities of the new breed of invisible investor, or what their journey is going to look like.
It can also exacerbate the age-old problem of a disconnect between the sales and marketing teams, as it’s difficult to align two big and cumbersome departments.
Effectively you have more people, and thus a bigger wage bill, who are still doing the wrong thing.
Instead, the best way to adapt to, and take advantage of, the new marketing landscape is to realise that a digital problem needs a digital solution. You must invest in your digital capabilities to boost how you connect with prospects and clients online.
As mentioned earlier, this starts with quality thought leadership content – as this is the key to attracting the invisible investor.
But how do you distribute this content?
According to our own research at ProFundCom, the main channel you should concentrate on is email. During lockdown, we worked with Greenwich Associates to analyse communication preferences for fund and wealth management information. This found that 92% of people wanted to receive data via email, above any other method. Communication fatigue was cited as the main reason for this as, with face to face contact out of the window, people were being bombarded with Zoom calls, IMs, texts etc, etc. Other important factors given were the ability to get more detailed content through email, being able to look at it when you want, and the ease of filing the information on your own system.
So, email will give you the most effective reach. But obviously you can’t neglect other channels – web, social etc – as the more you get your content out there the more interest you generate, and the more investment journeys are going to be started.
But the beauty of producing digital content doesn’t just lie in its ability to reach millions through the digital ether.
It is also the information it can reveal about the people looking at it. Because, when people interact with this content – opening, clicking, liking etc – they leave behind valuable data that can transform your marketing efforts and ability to raise AuM.
And it’s not just through marketing – investors and prospects also leave a digital footprint through live chat on websites, via investment apps, payment platforms and more. All this activity reveals information that can help you become better informed about your client base.
But to make the most of all this data, you must track and analyse it…
Bringing It All Together
So, to connect with the invisible investor, you must concentrate on digital communication, then suck up all the data that your prospects and existing clients leave behind as they engage and interact.
But what do you then do with it?
If you’re clever you use this data to analyse what the people on your marketing database are – and are not interested in. This has two advantages:
Firstly, you can ensure you send out content that they like in the future, which keeps them in the fold and increases trust.
Secondly, you can provide your sales teams with real-time information about who is ready to invest, which investors are open to cross-selling opportunities, and even which existing clients may be looking to redeem.
It’s obvious how useful that information is in regards to raising and preserving assets, as your sales teams are able to target people based on solid marketing intelligence.
You can do this by setting up AI-based marketing automation that uses behavioural weighting to assess responses and activity. This is simply a set of adjustable metrics that tell your system how to score activity. For example, when a prospect responds consistently to a certain type of fund information by opening emails and clicking on links – then they are recorded as having a particular interest in that fund. That is incredibly valuable information for a sales rep
And all this information, from across your whole marketing spectrum, can then be automatically transferred into a ‘lead deck’ within your CRM, where your sales teams can see all engagement data pertinent to a single client or prospect in one place.
To boil all this down, there are two vital things to understand here:
A) You are increasingly unlikely to meet investors face to face
B) The investor journey is now non-linear
You must understand both these points and realise that the days of knowing, seeing and engaging with investors in the traditional sense are largely gone.
Accept that and you will look at your marketing through new, digital eyes.
Then you will see that you’ve got to have content out there, so these faceless investors come to you. And when they do, you need the capability to track what these people are doing and let your sales teams know, so they are acting upon solid and pertinent marketing data.
Do this and your marketing efforts will thrive and be able to achieve the ultimate purpose of boosting AuM.