Hidden habits of the most effective asset management communicators

Ridhima Sharma
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Hidden habits of the most effective asset management communicators

A report that looked at how well 100 European asset management firms market themselves across their integrated marketing channels was released in Q4 2018 by Peregrine.

This quantitative study, which was based on over 7000 collected data points, provided a framework for benchmarking how well each firm performed. Connected Content provided an extremely fertile testing ground to assess what underlying best practices supported these performances through a more granular, qualitative analysis of their behaviours.

Peregrine's follow-up research has sought to provide explanations for what practices and behaviours drive the scores of the best performers from Connected Content, while also seeking to explore those behaviours and aspects of outstanding integrated marketing communications (‘IMC') performance that may have underweighted.

In Connected Content, Peregrine took the first step towards defining the core IMC metrics for asset management firms and using these metrics to analyse the state of play in the industry. The report confirmed that asset management firms are operating in a challenging marketing environment where it is harder to capture audience attention.

The subsequent research has found that overall, those asset management firms which outperformed, by placing higher for their IMC score than for their AUM, were 20% more likely to grow their AUM over the year. For smaller managers that punched above their weight, the connection was even closer, with 8 out of 10 outperformers from the bottom quartile by size increasing their AUM over the year.

Asset management firms are able to access more data about both themselves and their competitors than ever before. The real challenge is being able to make sense of this data. This means being able to understand which are the important metrics to watch, and how to understand and make sense of broader trends across the industry.

In this report, Peregrine has sought to unpick those behaviours and those activities which separate the best from the rest.

In looking at which factors foster messaging effectiveness it became clear from looking at the underlying data that asset management firms tend to have three or four ‘pattern interrupt moments' throughout the year. These moments tend to drive around twice as much search volume as usual and are caused largely by corporate newsflow, but can be strongly influenced by proactive corporate strategy / profile pieces.

While thought leadership does not seem to correlate with ‘pattern interrupt moments' for asset management firms, it is strongly correlated with an excellent media perception score, no doubt due to the higher volume, quality and sentiment of the ensuing coverage.

The findings for Google Page 1 confirm something that was emphasised in its last report, namely that the effective management of Google Page 1 needs to be treated as a dynamic rather than a static process. This is illustrated by the fact that one of the strongest Google Page 1 performers from the previous report has had its Google Page 1 severely weakened by its failure to combat negative newsflow. More than this, there are a number of firms which continue to have excellent Google Page 1s despite suffering from some negative news. The difference between the two scenarios is the best firms recognise that a strong Google Page 1 requires continued work and ongoing content creation.

Turning the lens on website effectiveness, it became clear that what sets the best managers apart from the rest is an ability to create a clear and effective website user journey for their audiences. However, even among the best performers, there was still room for improvement in including more engaging content such as video and educational content on the homepage.

Peregrine has also outlined 20 social media best practices to enable companies to emulate the best asset management firms across LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. These best practices outline how best to connect content across digital channels, as well as how to optimise content for maximum engagement.

In looking at what factors are most likely to contribute to the best brand awareness scores it became very clear that there are three main drivers of backlinks to corporate websites: news media articles, thought leadership in the media, and sponsorship. For the largest and most well-known firms in our research, news articles in the media predominate. However, for smaller or less well-known firms with a lower residual brand awareness, it may be easier to target sponsorship opportunities or high quality thought leadership content.

The research also uncovered two new areas of integrated marketing that appear to set the best asset managers apart from the rest. Firstly, search needs to be integrated into how asset managers evaluate their overall marketing performance. There is a clear difference between how well the best firms dominate non-branded search terms compared with the lower-scoring firms. Secondly, paid search is an area where the best asset managers are rapidly expanding their budgets. Some of the most effective asset management firms have increased their paid search spend more than ten-fold in the last twelve months, suggesting that in the digital arms race paid search is seen as a critical weapon in firms' arsenals.

The asset management industry is changing at considerable speed, rapidly integrating new ways of marketing to investors, and this is is driving an increasing divergence between the best and the worst marketed asset managers. The gap between the best and the rest is increasing, but the good news is that smaller or less well-known asset management firms now have more data and intelligence on their immediate competitors than ever before. The upshot is that firms with the appetite to learn, and the agility to execute, should be able to make significant gains very quickly, while also staying ahead of competitors.