This week, Vested UK partnered with Kurtosys for our third Breakfast & Brainfood event of the year (read more about our past events around consumer optimism and SME finance). This time around, we gathered together with senior asset management marketing professionals to discuss current trends in digital marketing and exchange ideas on what the future looks like in this constantly changing space.
To kick off the conversation, Kurtosys Head of Digital Richard Watts presented the latest findings from their fifth annual Asset Management Digital Marketing Survey. He was joined by BNY Mellon’s global head of digital, Dominic Traynor, whose insights and views acted as a catalyst for a fruitful exchange between participants. Here are my takeaways.
What does personalisation look like in the ASOS era?
It wasn’t a surprise to anyone around the table that personalisation and targeting were at the top of the priority list for the next 12 months. In a world where online retailers deliver a high level of personalisation and can anticipate or facilitate each customer’s next move, shouldn’t asset management firms be able to deliver the same to their clients? Spoiler alert, the answer is no. The combination of financial regulation and data privacy means that asset management marketers cannot operate as freely as their ASOS peers. So how do we create a more personalised experience for clients and prospects?
Leaving the more technical considerations to my colleagues at Kurtosys, understanding your audience and creating interesting and useful content is always a good start. It seems obvious, but too often content is dictated by what internal stakeholders want to talk about rather than what clients and prospects are actually interested in.
Evolution in clients’ online behaviour offers real opportunities to rethink your content, in terms of themes but also format. With many firms battling for investors attention — and trying to drive individuals to a firm’s website rather than third parties for information, the quality and accessibility of relevant information will continue to be key to driving traffic. The PR practitioner in me will of course always encourage firms to think thematically and produce thought-provoking content. The reality is that creating simpler content that actually answers your clients’ most commonly asked questions will play a huge part in improving a firm’s digital footprint and visitor experience. The good news is that with a little bit of collaborative work between PR, marketing and sales, all this can be combined and even tied directly to your products and services to drive sales. Should we call this integrated communications?
Digital maturity is about people, not tech
According to Kurtosys’ Asset Management Digital Marketing Survey, only 11% of respondents think that their company’s digital marketing currently is at a “mature” stage of its development. The majority, 52%, believe it’s in the “developing” stage while one in three (35%) think their company’s approach is still “basic.” As we discuss these metrics, someone around the table points out that digital marketing is perpetually evolving and that reaching maturity in this field would be like reaching Utopia: impossible. There is some truth in this statement but taking a more pragmatic look at the issue, budget and resources allocated can already give an indication of a marketing departments’ digital advancement.
But while firms work to tick all the marketing boxes regarding tools available, some may overlook the importance of investing time in finding and training the right people. The consensus around the table was that without the right expertise and culture in your team, having the most sophisticated tools will never deliver an efficient digital marketing strategy. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” famously said Peter Druker. That doesn’t mean that strategy and tools are not important, but building the right culture in your team and ensuring that other internal stakeholders buy into it is certainly a very good step towards digital marketing success.
A question mark remains over voice technology
Our conversation shifted to the future of voice search and SEO. Will we all soon be asking questions to our phones and watches on the train rather than quietly use our keyboard? The impact of voice technology was at the very bottom of the priority list in the survey, and there was clear consensus around the table. This came as a slight surprise considering that most studies expect voice search to steadily increase its share in the next few years, a forecast supported by increased sales in voice assistants like Alexa and Echo.
B2B marketers at least seem to be slightly underwhelmed by a technology perceived as a marketing gimmick, more cool than practical. But is the industry underestimating the trend and missing an opportunity to anticipate upcoming changes? Only time will tell, although we would certainly recommend that our marketer friends keep abreast of developments and ensure that their digital strategy is flexible enough to adapt to any changes from Google and other digital rainmakers.
We should embrace regulation and automation
When it comes to distributing content, most will recognise that the burden of GDPR was also a clear opportunity to review their database and refocus marketing efforts on targeting the right people with the right content. It will be particularly interesting to see the resulting evolution of click-through rates in the coming years.
This strategic shift from quantity to quality also bears the question of the future of automated processes in the day-to-day implementation of your strategy. Marketing automation came third on the list of priorities in this year’s survey, but do asset management marketers actually have enough good content to feed the machine? The general feeling is that this will increasingly become a challenge. Bringing the conversation back to integrated communications once again, a better collaboration between your sales, marketing and PR teams on content will go a long way in building a strong pipeline of high-quality content for your audience.