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How digital communication can help you to get a better brand awareness and direct customer acquisition

The question “If you’re not in front of the client, how do you make sure that you are even in the conversation?” has become essential for salespeople over the past two years. The answer is “digital communication”: creating and marketing high-quality content in digital formats are key to raising awareness of one’s brand, attracting new clients and retaining existing ones, even if face-to-face presence is not required anymore.

What smaller asset managers in particular need to look out for to make themselves heard in the crush of all those social media posts and webinars, Hagen Gerle explains in the following article for FondsTrends, the information platform of Hauck & Aufhäuser Fund Services PricewaterhouseCoopers Luxembourg and CURE Intelligence about current and future-oriented trends and topics in the fund business.

There really are still some new asset managers who think they can get a personal appointment with the investor’s board in these times,” a sales expert told me on the phone the other day. The complaint sounds familiar to salespeople: Some investment houses still hope to continue their old model, i.e.: participation in investment conferences and personal visits to investors and distribution partners all over the country. But those days are gone.

The alternative, which also seems to have arrived in asset management, is called digital communication. However, in order to be noticed in the throng of social media posts, videos, webinars and online conferences, smaller investment houses in particular need to pay attention to three points: Focusing on a target group, addressing this clientele with relevant content and using fewer but the right channels.

“Omnichannel is the standard, not the exception”

After almost two years of experience with lockdowns, travel restrictions and cancelled events, new distribution channels have become established among many market participants. And for good reason.

“If you’re not in front of the client, how do you make sure that you are even in the conversation in the first place?” asked Dorit Erzmoneit and Patrick Ide of the Dutch digital marketing agency GrndWorX in a recent article for Deloitte. Their answer: digital tools can help clients to “inform and educate themselves, track market trends, assess product options, and shortlist strategies and suppliers – and all this before sitting down with a single salesperson.”

Indeed, digital communication – creating and marketing high-quality content in digital formats – is the key to raising awareness for one’s brand, attracting new customers and retaining existing ones, as surveys and studies from the past two years have shown.

“Omnichannel is the standard, not the exception”, for example, stated the management consultancy McKinsey last spring in its study “Omnichannel in B2B sales“. According to this international survey, 83 per cent of B2B leaders believe “that omnichannel selling is a more successful way to prospect and secure new business than traditional, ‘face-to-face only’ sales approaches.”

For asset managers, building brand awareness, generating new leads and improving the overall customer experience are the three most important goals of their digital presence. This was the result of a survey conducted by the British digital agency Nurture in the summer of 2020 among almost 60 asset and wealth managers from Continental Europe and Great Britain. According to their survey, personnel reinforcement in marketing should therefore primarily take place in the areas of “digital” and “content”.

High-quality content, served bite-sized

Whether it is market commentary, infographics or a podcast interview with the fund manager: word has spread in asset management too that high-quality (i.e. original and inventive) and bite-sized content is “king”. In a survey of more than 230 investment specialists by the investment content platform Savvy Investor (SAVVY Insights Content Marketing Study), 81 per cent of the participants chose “white papers” as the most useful form of delivery – especially if they are delivered as PDFs (90 per cent) and personalised by email (78 per cent).

The distribution of content on editorial platforms is also becoming increasingly important. These can have a great multiplying effect if they bring together many fund providers and thousands of subscribers; however, they often work with preferred (paying) partners. Because of the sharpened B2B audience and its deep knowledge, such platforms are more a field for investment writing than for marketing.

LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube in front

The relevance of social networks has risen sharply in the investment world over the past two years. The preferred social media channels in the industry (based on the research by Nurture, DVFA/IR Club and Digital 8.AI are LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. According to this, Facebook plays more of a role in the sales of asset managers with branch and private client business. The social channels for (moving) images, Instagram and TikTok, are not (yet) relevant in the marketing of investment companies.

The engagement of fund companies on LinkedIn in particular is becoming increasingly important: it rose by 170 percent from 2020 to 2021. The current (2021) “Global 100” survey by Peregrine Communications shows that ten percent more investment firms were on YouTube in the same period.

Opinions differ on the use of video and podcasts: while videos were named the third best format for content marketing in a survey by Statista 2020 (Statista Content Marketing Strategy) with 65 percent (after text with 74% and infographics with 67%) and podcasts (21%) are being produced by more and more investment companies, both were described in the Savvy Investors survey as the “least useful formats” for transmitting content.

Webinars have become accepted as a substitute for roadshows, breakfast seminars and complete investment conferences. No wonder, then, that hosting webinars is an attractive business segment in itself. This is suggested by the offers of various platforms and media with (more or less) strong online presence, which call up prices of up to EUR 12,500 for a 45- to 60-minute webinar.

Less than 1,000 YouTube subscribers

But not every investment company has the resources and the budget to cover all social media channels, produce videos and podcasts by the metre and host webinar after webinar. Even among the 100 largest investment companies worldwide with their own YouTube channel, more than half (56%) do not even have 1,000 subscribers there in 2021 (compared to 75% last year), Peregrine Communications found out in their study.

“Less is often more” can therefore also apply to the use of digital communication tools. This refers both to the concentration on a few but continuously used social media channels and to the use of simple video conferencing technology that is familiar to the participants as well as the second and third usage of content.

An example will illustrate this: An asset manager writes a new, in-depth market analysis. He not only makes that available for personalised download on the website but he also discusses it in an interview on YouTube. His sales colleague meanwhile presents the report during a webinar to which he invites via a series of LinkedIn posts – starting with the “save the date” four to six weeks before. After the webinar has taken place, all participants (and also interested parties who unfortunately couldn’t make the date) receive an editorial summary with quotes from the fund manager by email. This is always quicker to digest than watching the 45-minute replay …