Anyone who’s attended any of our recent webinars on digital marketing knows that I’m a fan of marketing automation strategies. These programs enable you to track the online engagements of advisors who receive your marketing emails, visit your web site or interact with your social media posts. They can also apply “engagement scores” to users that can help your salespeople determine which clients and prospects they should reach out to because they are new opportunities or at risk.
However, the results that marketing automation delivers are only as good as the quality of your online content and the relevancy of the people you’re trying to reach. In a recent webinar, How to Strengthen Your Digital Marketing in 2020, I discussed the benefits of marketing automation but also provided six strategies boutique firms should consider to make their digital marketing programs more effective in boosting your firm’s visibility and generating qualified leads.
1. Let your business objectives drive your marketing and sales decisions
I can’t tell you how many times boutique firms ask me where they should spend their limited marketing budgets – on social media, email marketing, web site upgrades, or even marketing automation software.
My answer is always, “Invest your marketing budget in the things that align with your business objectives.” Of course you want to grow AUM. But where do you want it to come from?
If you’re focusing on the relatively smaller market of institutional consultants, you may want to focus most of your marketing spend on developing highly technical content that meets the requirements of institutional consultant databases. If you’re trying to generate interest among investment advisers, then you may want to rely more on email marketing, search engine optimization and social media to drive traffic to your most compelling thought leadership content and encourage them to proactively add themselves to your subscriber list.
2. Make sure you’ve got a compelling story to tell
If your focused funds are beating their bogies and generating alpha due to skill rather than luck, you’ve got a compelling success story to deliver to the marketplace. Encourage your investment experts to overcome their fear of disclosing their “secret sauce” and work closely with your sales and marketing team to create this story. They don’t need to give away the store, just provide enough details – including the reasoning behind a few selected successful trading decisions – to convince advisors that your portfolio managers are subject matter experts worth following.
3. Create compelling thought leadership content
Take the elements of the story you’ve compiled and deliver it through a variety of content vehicles, including commentaries, blog posts, videos, podcasts and webinars The most effective content places your portfolio managers front and center, so get their commitment to devote some of their time to lending their voice, face, or byline to the content you’re creating.
If your firm is not a household name, don’t be afraid to be bold. Any company can push out a generic, backward-looking market commentary. But advisors are interested in hearing contrarian and controversial views and predictions that are grounded in well-reasoned convictions. Advisors will forgive you for being wrong every now and then. But they won’t stick around if you’re boring.
4. Upgrade your web site
If your website looks like it was designed in the Y2K era, it’s time for an upgrade. Modernize your site’s design and structure for today’s increasing mobile viewership to simplify navigation, allow for quick scanning of text, and heavily promote new content. Make it easy for visitors to find product information as well as the new thought leadership content you’re committed to creating.
And to boost engagement and lead generation, add “Contact Us,” “Join Our Email List” and social media share buttons to every page.
5. Protect your email reputation
While some advisors will find your website though searches, some of your visits will be generated by effective email campaigns. Marketing automation software can track the activity of everyone who receives a message, but the results you generate are only as good as the quality of your email lists.
Many firms buy bulk lists of advisor emails to bypass the arduous task of building these lists through personal contacts. The problem is that most of these advisors haven’t opted in to receive email from third parties, and more specifically, you. And many of these addresses are incorrect and outdated.
These sub-standard lists hurt your email campaigns and your email reputation. The fewer opens and clicks and more bounces and “unsubscribes” your email campaigns generate, the more likely that firms and domain servers will tag emails coming from your company as spam and block them. Your most compelling email messages may be hobbled at the gate if the “Internet police” prevent advisors from receiving them.
Don’t believe this is true? Go to senderscore.org and enter your IP address or domain to see your firm’s “email reputation” score. If it’s low, you’ll need to do a lot of work to raise it. Start by:
- Removing “bounced” and “undeliverable” email addresses from your distribution lists.
- Boosting open and click-through rates by offering compelling offers of thought leadership content rather than the usual product-pitch messages that turn advisors off.
- Personalizing messages by adding the recipients’ names in the subject line or as a salutation in the message itself.
- Using A/B testing to send the same basic email message to two different groups of recipients using different subject lines or email design elements to see if one approach delivers significantly better open and click rates.
And, rather than purchasing email addresses, try to expand your email list organically by encouraging advisors to sign up for your content on your web site and social media platforms, while leaning on your salespeople to add new names through their networking efforts.
6. Add professional marketing expertise to your staff
If you’re going to make a significant investment in content development, email marketing or marketing automation software, you won’t get any meaningful results if you leave the execution to people who don’t have marketing expertise. Whether you’re adding sales and marketing headcount or using an outside marketing firm, it pays to trust people who know what your target audiences are looking for, how to create and distribute compelling content, and how to use these technologies to identify advisors who are most likely to respond positively to contacts from your wholesalers.
If your firm has never used dedicated marketing resources before, you may be surprised at how much experienced creative and strategic talent costs. But a former client told me, “Marketing costs a lot, but it’s cheaper than staying small.”