Author: Michael Liwski, Vice President of Strategic Performance @ Zero Company Performance Marketing | Digital Marketing That Drive Performance | Straight Shooter | Growth Aficionado
Bio: Mike is our resident enterprise marketing crackerjack, a rising star on our Account Executive team and a leathered business leader and ROI guru in the Growth group. He worked at PIMCO for nearly 15 years in Institutional and Retail Marketing areas. With over 20 years marketing financial products, Mike frequently speaks on and writes about the ETF and Mutual Fund space with an emphasis on digital marketing, AI and investor audiences.
It has been a few years since we wrote this post about the Best Mutual Fund Marketing Strategies.
Since then, a lot has changed both within the ETF and mutual fund investment management industry and in the digital marketing space. At the same time, a lot of things have stayed the same, and many of the marketing tenets highlighted in that article remain effective for investment management firms. (If you missed that article or would like to review digital marketing and advertising strategies for asset management companies, visit www.zerocompany.com/mutual-fund-digital-marketing-strategies to learn the different ways that you can gain investors through digital marketing by raising awareness and drawing interest, as well as ways to leverage digital media in your mutual fund marketing.)
Now let’s dive deeper into what investment management companies and marketers can do to raise awareness, build interest and, ultimately, grow their Assets Under Management (AUM) from institutional, investment professionals (RIAs, advisors and wealth managers) and self-directed, accredited or high-net-worth individuals.
In this article, we’ll take a deep look at:
- Dealing With an Open Loop Conversion Funnel
- Building Funnels for ETF Digital Marketing or Mutual Fund Marketing
- Going to Where Potential ETF and Mutual Fund Investors Are
- Maximizing Your Financial Management Company’s Digital Assets
- Coordinating Your Asset Management Firm’s Inbound and Outbound Marketing
- It’s Time to Leverage Proven Mutual Fund and ETF Marketing Strategies
Dealing With an Open Loop Conversion Funnel
Unlike many industries, the conversion loop in mutual fund marketing and ETF digital marketing is not a closed loop, but rather, an open one. This makes it difficult to track marketing-dollars-spent-to-AUM growth.
The first and foremost reason why tracking is a challenge is because there are multiple touchpoints. Both mutual fund marketing and ETF digital marketing involve a number of touchpoints in the investor journey. These touchpoints may include organic and paid marketing, educational materials, financial advisor recommendations, news reports, and more.
Another challenge is limited availability of relevant data. Mutual fund and ETF companies do not have direct access to all the investor data they need to track the impact of their marketing efforts on the growth of their AUM. For example, they don’t have visibility to financial advisor recommendations and other touchpoints involved in the investor journey. An individual investor could see a piece of marketing on their desktop or even offline, then jump to their mobile brokerage app and place a trade, thus breaking the journey loop. As a result, it can be challenging to attribute the impact of marketing efforts to the increase in AUM.
In spite of those, asset management companies need not fret or throw the digital marketing baby out with the bathwater. They can use a combination of attribution models, data analysis, and other techniques to gain greater visibility into the impact of their marketing efforts. And with the advent of AI data crunching power, better causality is within reach (more on this in a future post). This can help them make more informed decisions about how to allocate their marketing budgets.
Also, there are many worthwhile conversions that can be tracked. They can also conduct more precise initial targeting to make sure that they have a better starting point and get data-driven results. At Zero Company, our more than 20 years’ worth of experience and findings have shown that any investor audience needs about 5 touches to break down their barrier, gain their trust, and entice them to consider making an investment.
To do those, you might need several paid advertising platforms, organic channels, and other outbound efforts. Let’s learn more about which ones those might be and how we link them to draw the right audience closer.
Building Funnels for ETF Digital Marketing and Mutual Fund Marketing
Let’s say you already have your financial company’s website up and your mutual fund has been launched or is about to be launched. Now what? Why isn’t it raining in AUM?
Let’s take a look at the statistics. According to data collected by Statista, there were 8,754 ETFs globally in 2022, compared to merely 276 in 2003. In 2021, there were 7,481 mutual funds in the United States. There’s apparently a lot more competition in the market.
What about marketing competition in spending dollars? According to the Gartner survey, average marketing spend has increased across almost all of the industries surveyed. Financial services companies had the highest budget—10.4 percent of total company revenue (up from 7.4 percent in 2021). And although almost all industries had higher budgets, CMOs in consumer goods companies reported that their spending has stagnated compared to Financial Services.
Image 1: Percentage of Revenue Allocated to Marketing
Sounds good, doesn’t it? So if your company’s budget is on the lower end of the spectrum and you have to make it work, what CAN you do? What can you do intelligently and in a way that drives results?
You need to go not just to where your audience is; you need to meet them at the right point in their intent and interest journey. To quote Wayne Gretzky’s father, “you have to skate to where the puck is going.”
Multiple Starting Points for Your Funnel
There can be multiple starting points for your funnel. For instance, you might find new contacts by attending or sponsoring an event. How do they fit into your funnel?
We are also often asked how we can monetize traffic from our earned media. These areas are critical to keeping your funnel fed, and we’ll get back to these. But they are not the most important and also not where we’d like to start.
Instead, we would like to start at the bottom of the funnel or at the points closest to conversion, and then work our way backwards. How can your asset management company do that?
Is it through Programmatic Advertising, where you can create detailed audiences like “Accredited and Avid Investors who have more than $500,000 in brokerage accounts” and have financial apps installed on their devices (to learn more about that, visit our Financial Programmatic Custom Audiences page)?
Or is it through social media, where you can target people who already follow your company page or have relevant interests and likes?
Or is it via search engines? Ding! Ding! Ding! BINGO!
However, keep in mind that it’s not as easy as it sounds. A lot can go wrong.
Experience really matters. For example, keyword matches alone have changed dramatically and no longer mean what they used to. Exact match is also no longer an exact match.
A lot of your advertising budget can easily go to the wrong keyword. Take, for example, searches for “tech etf” [phrase match]. Though your bidding intent could be to get in front of someone searching for “best tech etf”, “top tech etf”, “five star tech etf”, by just bidding on “tech etf” as a phrase match, you could end up showing your ads to people who searched for phrases like “why tech etfs are bad” or “should I avoid tech etfs”.
So, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is definitely the place to start, because you could find potential investors who are looking for, say, “best tech etf 2024”—but, again, a lot can go wrong. Still, start with Search.
Also, keywords aren’t the only way for you to get in front of your desired audience with SEM. There are ways to build audiences within Search either as customer list audiences or customer matched audiences that leverage your first party data to custom intent audiences, remarketing, and many more.
Note as well that Search is not the only channel that you should incorporate in your marketing campaign. What those other channels and decisions should be would depend on who your audience is.
What other channels should you consider if you’re targeting audiences like Investment Professionals, High-Net-Worth Individuals (HNWI) or High Earners, Not Rich Yet (HENRYs), Active Traders, and Accredited Investors?
Going to Where Potential ETF and Mutual Fund Investors Are
Marketing to Financial Advisors, RIAs and Wealth Planners
Investment professionals are a different breed. RIAs are hard creatures to find. Financial advisors, on the other hand, are quite segmented. On the one hand, you have independent advisors and, on the other hand, you have wirehouse or brokerage advisors who are limited in their scope. How can you get in front of them?
If you consider what’s available to you based on your first-party data (data that you own or data that’s part of your CRM) and across different platforms, there are highly sophisticated targeting tactics that you can use today. For example, our team of digital ad experts here at Zero can help your investment management firm harness the power of LinkedIn Ads to connect with possible investors based on their job title, company size, and industry.
We’ve actually gone beyond that by building databases and lists to target those people. And by leveraging LinkedIn’s customer match and look-a-like audience capabilities, we’ve run thousands of impressions through campaigns and tests to gain new leads.
We also know the value of retargeting and account-based marketing, and we can help you create personalized and relevant content that resonates with financial advisors, wealth planners, and registered investment advisors (RIAs).
Although it is no doubt powerful, LinkedIn is not the only way to reach investment professional audiences. We can also use programmatic advertising to pinpoint networks and even specific segments of advisors. Need just Morgan Stanley or BoA Merrill Lynch advisors in the U.S.? Done.
Our digital marketing agency is dedicated to helping investment management firms with their ETF digital marketing and mutual fund marketing campaigns. We understand the unique challenges and struggles that financial firms face, and we leverage our two decades of digital marketing experience to create tailored strategies that deliver outstanding results for investment companies.
To talk to our team and learn more visit https://www.zerocompany.com/industries/fund-marketing.
Marketing to Individuals
We can also help you target individual investors in your mutual fund marketing campaign or ETF digital marketing efforts. And we normally don’t do this using only one channel. Our advertising strategies are founded on data about your target audience, particularly where they are and what they’re consuming online.
We know how challenging it can be to locate high-net-worth investors, accredited investors, and retail investors. The good news is that using the right digital marketing tactics, you will not only find them but also engage them with persuasive messaging that speaks to their specific needs and challenges.
We can help you locate your target audience with pinpoint precision using a combination of SEO, PPC, paid social, YouTube, and programmatic advertising. The exact mix and percentage that we devote to each of those would vary depending on your financial company’s unique background and objectives.
The channels that we can use depend largely on your budget. But regardless of the size, our digital marketing agency’s philosophy is to build the funnel in reverse with the audience that has the highest intent (or high intention). For this example, let’s assume a budget of $25,000 per month. (We have some clients that start with as little as $2,000 a month in ad spend until we get it right and then we raise the budget from there.)
- SEO: By optimizing your website for keywords that your target audience is searching for, you can ensure that your mutual fund company appears at the top of search engine results. Just like in other marketing tactics, your SEO efforts should focus on creating valuable content that speaks to the needs and interests of potential investors. For example, if a retiring executive types “best ETFs for retirement” in Google, he’ll be able to see in the top results for that page some blog article on your website that answers that specific question. He would then likely click on it and be directed to your website, where you cannot just answer his question but also make him aware of your ETF.
Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC): PPC ads allow your financial firm to target people based on their search queries. For example, if a high-earning startup founder searches for “high yielding emerging market mutual funds,” she can see your ad in the search engine results, which offers a clear solution to her query and leads her to a landing page that provides more information.
Keep in mind, though, that PPC Specialist experience is critical. As we said earlier, keyword match types have radically changed. Exact match is no longer an exact match, and you may get yourself and your campaign into trouble with poor search term match types. Campaign management has also changed a lot in the past year due to AI, algorithm developments, and new campaign types (like Performance Max). If your asset management company is not familiar with those advertising developments, it’s best to entrust your pay per click ads to PPC advertising experts.
In addition, to effectively coordinate your paid advertising campaigns with your inbound efforts like SEO, your financial firm should have a clear and powerful message for your target audience. And again, it needs to be consistent in all of your marketing channels.
Your paid ads should not just be targeted but also personalized based on data and insights you’ve gathered on your audience. This can help you identify and target your ads to the most promising prospects—people who have not just the capital to invest but also the interest in mutual funds and ETFs. You can use PPC ads to reach potential ETF and mutual fund investors in places where they are most likely to be receptive to your message: for example, in a financial literacy blog or search engine result page (SERP) for the keyword “how to plan for retirement”. Paid advertising can be highly effective when combined with inbound marketing strategies like SEO, as it can help your company reach a much wider audience and drive more traffic to your website.
By coordinating digital paid ads with your inbound efforts, your asset management firm can build a comprehensive marketing strategy that appeals directly to your target investors and effectively communicates your unique value proposition, thus, improving your chances of converting them and increasing your AUM.
- Paid Social: Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others (including newer ones like TikTok and Reddit Ads) offer incredible targeting options that allow your investment management firm to reach audiences on social networking sites based on their interests and behavior. For example, if your market research has revealed that your target investors are into sustainable investing, you can create a Facebook ad that connects to people with that unique interest and leads them to a landing page with more information.
- YouTube: As the second largest search engine, YouTube offers an excellent opportunity to reach potential mutual fund or ETF investors using video. By knowing what your target market watches, you can produce video ads that align with their interests and offer an answer to their question or solution to their problem. For example, if you have data that shows that most ETF investors enjoy watching YouTube videos about retirement planning, you can produce a video ad that offers tips on how people can maximize their retirement savings.
- Programmatic Advertising: Lastly, programmatic advertising is also a useful vehicle for ETF digital marketing and mutual fund marketing. It uses software to automate the buying and placement of your online ads. By using data to target your audience based on their browsing and search behavior, you can reach them in multiple platforms using personalized messaging that aligns with their distinct challenges and needs.
In conclusion, by using a combination of SEO, PPC, Paid Social, YouTube, and Programmatic Advertising, your asset management company can locate high-net-worth investors, accredited investors, and retail investors with pinpoint precision and engage them with messaging that speaks to their specific needs and challenges. By breaking through the financial industry’s sea of sameness, you can differentiate your financial firm and stand out from the competition.
Maximizing Your Financial Management Company’s Digital Assets
Your company most likely already has existing digital assets like a website and social media pages. But did you know that there’s a way to make the most out of that digital real estate in your ETF digital marketing and mutual fund marketing strategies?
To do so, here are some things that your financial company can do:
- Implement SEO strategies to optimize your website: Your website is, hands down, the foundation of your company’s online presence. In essence, it is your home on the web, and you need to make sure that the right people find their way to it online. Your website should be optimized for search engines, easy to navigate, and provide a great user experience. Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your website rank higher in search engine results. This involves optimizing website content with relevant keywords (this might sound easy, but it really isn’t if done right), improving website load times, and building backlinks from reputable sources. It also includes ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly and has a quick load time (otherwise, you’ll turn off prospective investors who don’t have the patience nor the time). It’s important to have clear calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website, guiding visitors to do your desired actions like signing up for your newsletter, booking a call with one of your representatives, requesting more information on your ETFs or mutual funds, and so on. You also need to regularly monitor and update SEO strategies to stay ahead of your competitors. And the way to do it, might not be how you think. In fact, we would most likely recommend you do it from the inside out. To learn more, start here so we can discuss this in more detail.
- Create valuable content: Producing and sharing valuable content is key to attracting, engaging, and ultimately, converting your site visitors into ETF or mutual fund investors. Having great content in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, and infographics will provide educational resources for your target investors and establish your investment company as a thought leader in the financial industry. Sharing that content on your social media pages can drive even more traffic to your website. (This means that you need to be aware of the latest trends in social media, such as the recent launch of Threads.)
- Engage with your target market on social media: Social media platforms offer an amazing opportunity for your asset management firm to engage with your audience and build strong relationships. It’s important to regularly post relevant content on your social media pages and engage with your followers by actively and swiftly responding to their messages and comments. You should also acknowledge their reviews and thank them for taking the time to write those—even if they are negative. Sharing user-generated content (UGC) and leveraging social media influencers can also help you boost brand awareness and reach.
- Use paid advertising: Paid advertising, such as PPC and social media advertising, can help drive traffic to the website and increase brand awareness. It is important to carefully target ads to reach the desired audience and to regularly monitor and optimize ad campaigns for maximum effectiveness.
By implementing these strategies, an ETF provider or mutual fund management company can maximize their existing digital real estate and effectively reach and engage potential customers.
Coordinating Inbound and Outbound marketing efforts
To engage their target market and increase AUM, an ETF provider or mutual fund company should coordinate inbound and outbound marketing efforts.
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting potential investors using valuable content and engaging experiences.
On the other hand, outbound marketing involves using more traditional advertising methods like sales calls, email marketing, and paid advertising.
To effectively coordinate these for your mutual fund marketing or ETF digital marketing, your financial services company should craft a clear and cohesive marketing message that speaks directly to prospective ETF or mutual fund investors. Your message should be consistent across all of your marketing channels, from your website to your social media posts to your online (as well as offline) ads, and so on.
Your inbound marketing efforts should focus on creating and sharing useful content that addresses the needs and interests of your target market. This can be in any of various formats: videos, graphics, blog posts, or other educational resources that will help position your asset management company as an expert in your industry. By providing free content that addresses the questions and challenges faced by aspiring investors, your financial firm can attract, engage, and earn their trust. This makes them more likely to want to entrust their capital to your firm as well.
Email Marketing: Email marketing can be a highly effective outbound marketing strategy for your investment management company. It enables you to directly target potential investors and send them personalized messages relating to their distinct needs and interests. This can include newsletters, promotional emails, and other targeted messages that provide value while also promoting your firm’s investment vehicles like ETFs and mutual funds.
To maximize the results of your email marketing campaign, your asset management firm should make sure that your emails are relevant, targeted, and engaging. This includes segmenting your email lists based on relevant factors like demographics and behavior. This also often involves personalizing your emails with potential investors’ names and other information, along with developing compelling subject lines and content that entice recipients to open and act on your email.
It’s Time to Leverage Proven Mutual Fund and ETF Marketing Strategies
In our rapidly evolving world, the strategies we outlined above offer a robust framework to effectively do mutual fund marketing or ETF digital marketing. If your investment management company wants to increase your AUM, integration of open loop conversion funnels, targeted audience engagement, maximized digital real-estate, and the synergy between inbound and outbound efforts are your key drivers of success.
If you’d like to cut through the noise, differentiate your investment firm, and stand out in the competitive financial services market, the strategies we discussed in this article can be of immense value. They can help you successfully attract, target, and engage potential investors; build long-term relationships with them based on trust and shared goals; and grow your total AUM.
To fully capitalize on these insights and to tailor them to your firm’s unique objectives, we invite you to book a free consultation with the industry experts on our digital team here at Zero Company Performance Marketing. We can help you unlock the full potential of your mutual fund or ETF growth strategy. After all, our team of digital marketing experts have more than two decades of experience in developing personalized strategies that resonate, engage, and ultimately convert investors.
Schedule a commitment-free call with us today!