I love industry surveys that offer insight in easily digestible snippets.
Recently, the Mutual Fund Education Alliance & BackBay Communications released one such survey on the perceptions about content marketing by those in the investment management industry who have adopted the practice.
The results of the survey, while not surprising, do offer some insight into where asset management industry peers are having success, as well as the challenges they face.
Here are some of the key findings and our takes on them:
- “Content marketing for investment managers is an opportunity to…”
- engage with new clients (82%)
- raise brand awareness (50%)
- grow AUM (46%)
- raise awareness of new products (Product Managers polled at 50%, Marketers at 21%)
That only 46% thought content marketing was an opportunity to grow AUM is likely a function of investment management marketers having an outdated conceptual framework about how it works, as well as the potential it truly represents.
From personal experience in meeting with clients and prospects, I often find that the perceived effect that content marketing for investment managers can have on AUM is muted. While everybody knows that there is an infinitesimally small chance of an investment manager getting a major account solely on the basis of a Google search... that’s not the point.
The point is: content that is genuinely helpful and actionable (i.e. NOT promotional) helps to establish differentiation, initiate a dialogue, and creates the conditions whereby a visitor interested in and willing to engage with a firm’s content allows themselves to become a prospect and ultimately a client.
Obviously, depending on a firm’s client focus, that journey will take different paths and require different content, but the outcome can be the same: AUM growth that results from a firm’s enhanced reputation, a proven and differentiated business mode, and a demonstrated client focus in everything they do.
It is this outcome, I think, that is reflected in the 82% who believe content marketing for investment managers is an effective way to communicate with new clients.
The rest of these numbers reflect a limited idea about content distribution; that it is difficult to promote it efficiently and effectively, beyond the firm’s existing contacts list.
In other words, discomfort or refusal to use social media as a distribution conduit severely restricts a firm’s ability to raise brand and product awareness. Social media is the most effective, efficient, and easy way to promote a firm’s content and, by extension, their firm.
- 82% utilize white papers and videos
- 59% believe white papers are the most effective content medium.
That white papers are viewed so favorably is no surprise: they have been a staple of investment management marketing for years. In the past, if you’d asked a portfolio manager what would be a good example of thought leadership, their two-word answer would have been: “white paper.”
But while the nerdy, finance-geek white paper that has been de rigueur for years still has an important place, firms need to think about white paper creation more broadly.
In other words, white papers need to be LESS about the things which make finance professors swoon and MORE about answering the questions, addressing the concerns, and generally making life easier for your clients and prospects.
Marketing-focused white papers have been trending strongly in other industries for years. It is time that investment management marketers begin taking a more assertive role in how white papers are conceived and composed.
- 23% of firms have a dedicated content creation team
- 18% use freelance services
Given that most investment management firms operate more or less on a shoestring budget (at least as far as marketing is concerned), this pair of statistics was perhaps the least surprising… and the most defensible.
Content creation can be handled in-house, so long as a firm has a clear investment management content marketing strategy, an editorial calendar, and the composition responsibilities are spread among the portfolio managers, marketing team, and compliance.
And given the technical and rather insular way in which those in the financial services industry communicate with each other, the use of freelancers can be problematic - many of the clients and prospects I’ve spoken with note that the content they've paid for in the past has often been unusable, or required significant in-house revision.
- That’s why it is best, when outsourcing the content creation effort, to find a firm (!!!) who knows the industry: the philosophies, processes, and general patterns and rhythms which govern long term industry dynamics.
- “What is your primary challenge?”
- Developing a content marketing strategy (64%)
- Producing content with enough frequency (41%)
- Leveraging content to its maximum effect (36%)
Again, none of these are much of a surprise. Uncertainty surrounding these three issues is usually a result of not really knowing what questions to ask at the outset of the campaign.
Unless a firm has...
- concrete goals with quantifiable, measurable metrics based in reality
- self-awareness with regard to the firm’s culture; and
- an institutional willingness to devote resources to an endeavor that might not generate bottom line ROI for a year...
it will be impossible to create a professional strategy to govern a firm's content marketing.
Creating and leveraging content to its best effect are also a function of resources and commitment. In other words, are you prepared to do what you must to make content marketing for investment managers work?
(Still not sure? Email me and we can set up a time to go over the ins and outs of content marketing. )
- 36% think measuring the effectiveness of the campaign is difficult
- 15% do not measure their content marketing campaigns
Measurement is not nearly as difficult as it may seem, so long as you know what to look for. Bottom line ROI that’s generated from the content marketing strategy can be a bit tricky, but integrating a website analytics program (Google Analytics or HubSpot) with your CRM can help to take some of the mystery out of the job.
As an example, I use the HubSpot CRM, which helps me to track the performance of each of my website's pages, as well as helping me to convert visitors to contacts.
Once a contact enters my CRM, I can track all the ways in which they engage with my content, which offers specific insight into what content people like and what they don’t. This intelligence allows me to create targeted content that helps to move prospects through the sales funnel.
As for the 15% of managers who don’t measure their campaigns at all? Well, that’s kind of like investing in a company, then never bothering to check the stock price. It doesn’t make much sense and can ultimately hurt the firm.
- 40% say their sales and marketing teams are well-aligned to capture the benefits of content marketing via client acquisition
- 59% plan additional spending on content marketing next year
Here are the true believers: those who have enjoyed at least some measure of success on their own, or are working with an Inbound Marketing firm, such as ours.
Shameless plug: We help investment managers to
- create great content
- distribute it where its prospects are most likely to be spending their time online
- measure the success of the effort, and
- help them to build their lead list, nurture those leads, and ultimately convert those leads into clients.
If you want to learn more, click below: