How J.P. Morgan Serves Up The ‘Next Best Content’

J.P. Morgan Asset Management has a well deserved reputation for its content prowess, including the Quarterly Guide to the Markets and its many iterations.

Thanks to a vendor-organized Webinar last week, we now have a better idea of the thinking behind the digital experience that the content is used to support.

Below is a screenshot of the 58-minute “Asset Management: The Digital Transformation” presentation featuring idio CEO Ed Barrow and J.P. Morgan’s Global Head of Digital Experience Tom Libretto. It’s not embeddable so you’d have to click on the image or this link to go to the idio page and watch.   

Before you do, I’ll share a few of my notes.

The first 20 or so minutes from Barrow are broad and bounce around a bit. Some of his comments and generalizations throughout may test your patience. (Example: “Clients no longer trust past performance and Morningstar ratings to make investment decisions.”) And, there are more than a few idio product plugs. But hang in there for Libretto’s insights.

Too Much Content?

In the asset management industry overall, Libretto said, “The reality is that we don’t need to produce as much content as we do. We need to understand more and more what types of content, in which formats, wrapped around what type of context, are going to compel a client to engage and take the next step with us.”

Content Planning

At J.P. Morgan, “before there’s heavy investment in content production, we do the due diligence to determine what the objectives of the content need to be or are, and how the content will or won’t be promoted,” he said.

Editorial meetings include regular discussions akin to television programming (e.g., “how many slots do you have to fill?”). That forms the basis for an editorial calendar view of what’s available, identification of formats and syndication opportunities across distribution channels. 

Libretto repeated Barrow’s use of the word “surgical” to characterize how the team determines which formats—including “word counts, font sizes, graphical cues or peeks of content—are capable of driving interest. All of those things are part of the content continuum as we convert from raw material into a digital experience.”

“Emotional conversations” about what content gets produced are avoided by use of a scoring system, according to Libretto. “So,” he said, “when something hits a threshold and we all feel it’s compelling enough to promote, we have the resources to promote that output”—which they do across a multitude of paid and content syndication distribution points.

Data Leads To Content Intelligence

Most fascinating was how J.P. Morgan is merging, cleansing and aggregating its estimated 45 to 50 data sources, as well as buying third-party data, for the purpose of modeling the role that content plays.

In addition to the legacy nature of some systems and system redundancy, the sheer volume of data is a challenge. Libretto’s approach is aimed at determining which types of interactions—face-to-face meeting, Web visit, app open, transaction, etc.—matter and which don’t. Sequence is a focus, too.

To be able to isolate and correlate interactions that are leading indicators to a near-term business transaction provides “a much, much smaller, tighter set of interactions to optimize your strategies around. You can almost discount the others [he estimated that about 90% of the data could be ignored] or use them for other purposes to enhance the client journey,” Libretto said.

The idio solution is one of the tools that J.P. Morgan has begun to use to provide 1)contextual relevance for the content consumer and 2)real-time actionable insight for the firm.

idio’s contribution is on what can be learned from the content being consumed by a visitor to the J.P. Morgan domain. Topic interests are gleaned from the various content pieces accessed, and referred to for the purpose of building a profile that seeks to understand the visitor’s challenges and predict in real-time the next content to offer.

The slide above provides a look at how previous content and conversions drive “next best” content or action recommendations, although few specifics were given. 

idio provides a "data source on which to fire a variety of next step actions, whether it be dynamic content rendering of the next piece of Web content or firing an alert to a salesperson that we have high conviction that somebody who just read something—in combination with other interactions we’ve seen come through over the last n periods—means that a meeting should be queued up sooner or later," Libretto explained.

Need To ‘Move The Needle’? Some Metrics For You To Consider

The 2015 asset management marketer finds himself or herself thinking much more about Sales. That’s a good thing, you might agree.

When senior management expresses the conviction that “marketing should be moving the needle,” there can be no doubt what that means: Marketers increasingly need to be able to draw a line between funded marketing activities, sales and overall business results.

The mandate to demonstrate results typically starts with marketers getting more involved in the tracking of sales contacts and communicationsincreasingly via a CRM/marketing automation combinationand progression through a sales cycle.

This expectation represents a stretch in a few directions for today’s typical mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketer. For example, Marketing’s participation is often despite any formal grounding in Sales management or theory. We are largely a self-taught bunch.

So, when the Twitterverse directed me to The Essential List of Sales Metrics published by the RAIN Group last month, I thought I’d mention it to you here. Below is a screenshot of the partial list, you'll find the entire list and PDF on the RAIN Group site

The organization of the list—by strategy, structure, operations, talent management, capabilities, enablement and motivation—might itself be helpful. The Enablement category is most on-point for fund, retirement and institutional marketing although other metrics (e.g., adoption rate of CRM) may be relevant, too. Lead generation has its own subsection.

Consult with care, however. In its entirety, this list is likely overkill for your organization and definitely for the role you play. You wouldn’t want to initiate a conversation, for example, by proposing an “Overall cost of replacing a seller” metric.

Historically, the asset manager CRM was developed for Sales' use only. In order for it to capture what's needed to measure Marketing’s contribution, your Sales/CRM partners need you to step up. See whether this list inspires your consideration of how your work adds value that can be tracked and measured. 

A Quick, Easy And Crazily Accurate Way To Detect Personality

Here’s a Website to check out if you don’t have the time or interest to use the old school way of getting to know someone. In fact, even those I meet in real life are usually vetted later by me against what Crystal knows. After all, I'm just a human, my impression is based on just one interaction.

Crystal, on the other hand, is a tool that uses a “proprietary personality detection technology. [It] analyzes public data to tell you how you can expect any given person to behave, how he or she wants to be spoken to, and perhaps more importantly, what you can expect your relationship to be like.”

A submission of a name on the free Crystal site initiates a query of thousands of publicly available online data sources to find information written by or about the person. Another potential input is from people who directly contribute, although given the age of the site and its relative obscurity, my guess is that’s not much of a factor yet. Crystal then runs what it finds against a personality detection analysis to match with one of 64 different personalities.

The “accuracy confidence" index returned with each result indicates 1) how much relevant data was found and 2) how much of it was able to be used to determine the personality.

Toward More Effective Sales Interactions

This is worthy of our attention not just because I want to lighten things up for you after what has been a rough several weeks. Crystal is yet another service that demonstrates what can be learned about clients and prospects online.

If part of your digital marketing work involves helping drive businesswhich includes helping Sales professionals sharpen their effectivenessyou might want to show them Crystal. Just be aware that near-term productivity will take a hit because this tool is addictive. I found it in April and have only now been able to tear myself away to mention it to you.

Below are a few of the “predicted personality profiles” of the zillions of profiles that I have run. I selected these individuals because:

  • They’re prominent in the investment space and you might know them.
  • They’re active online and there should be plenty of data to base a profile on.
  • These snapshots seem pretty consistent with what I’ve observed on my own. Then again, it’s been mostly online. I should say, I’ve met only one person in real life (hey, April).           
  • They strike me as good sports who won’t mind my showing their publicly available personality profiles here. 

Shown are just the tops of the profiles. On the Crystal site, you’ll also see insights for use when emailing, talking and working with the personality, as well as what does and doesn’t come naturally to him or her. And, depending on whether you’re a free or paid user, you’ll see some predictions on how the personality works with you and your team, including some insights on conflict. 

Insights Into The Personality's Coworkers, Too

A click on other people in the same company reveals a LinkedIn-esque feature displaying the availability of personality profiles of others who work there. For example, after I checked out the profile of LPL Financial's Mark Casady, I was offered a View all to see Casady's coworkers. Hmm, this could get interesting...

Don’t read too much into what’s said here about LPL, by the way—variations of success "at the expense of freedom or creativity” and “could discourage creative risk-takers” appeared for just about every investment-type company I searched.

Finally (and least helpful in my opinion), Crystal will help write a personality-appropriate email.

I know I should conclude by mentioning the risks in relying on technology. To be sure, there are some. For example, no matter how big the data gets, online services always tend to misidentify Pat Allen as a him. (On the off-chance that you look me up, my profile is 90% exactly correct except that it’s not true that I’m disorganized!)

In general, though, there are risks in not taking advantage of what technology can offer and how the insights provided can help warm up an encounter.

Go, explore, detect for yourself!

The Rise Of Advisor Teams

Count on the financial advisor “team” construct to throw a wrench in the best-laid plans of strategic mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketing.

In a perfect world, marketers would be able to use an integrated marketing automation/customer relationship management (CRM) system to link financial advisor response to marketing communications for sales follow-up, and overall sales and marketing reporting.

Teams confound attribution and analysis—the individual who sees and interacts with emails and Websites is not always the same person who:

  • Conducts investment product due diligence
  • Meets with wholesalers
  • Makes the go/no go decision
  • Ultimately enters the order

However, firms that want their advisor partners to succeed—and you know you do—will need to figure out a way to combine the communication and product usage data of multiple professionals to measure overall sales and marketing effectiveness. Because a whitepaper released by Pershing last week makes clear that advisors are prospering in teams. 

published last week by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company

published last week by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company

The rise of teams, also referred to as “ensembles,” may be even more of a challenge for broker-dealers, according to Pershing.

“Although advisory teams generate significant revenues, broker-dealers are still working to understand them. Often their affiliation models—from compensation to relationship management—still treat advisors as reps, rather than as talented groups,” Pershing says in Why Teams Are the Client of the Future for Broker-Dealers

See if the below passage (click to enlarge) sounds familiar.

Teams Have Larger Relationships, Grow Faster

While Pershing prepared the 24-page report to help broker-dealer clients adapt, it includes plenty of insights for asset managers. I recommend that you read it in its entirety. What follows are just a few noteworthy points the paper makes.

  • Teams are prevalent across all business models, according to data in a 2013 compensation survey cited by Pershing. Today's numbers would be higher, presumably.
  • The average productivity of advisors who are part of an ensemble team or firm was almost 12% higher ($565,000) than those practicing on their own ($505,000), based on data from the Pershing-sponsored 2014 InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study.
  • The typical $2 million ensemble firm grew at a rate of 17.1% in 2014 compared to 13.7% for solo practices.
  • “The size of the average client relationship appears to be a perfect function of the size of the firm, i.e., the larger the firm, the larger the average relationship,” Pershing says.

According to the report, firms with less than $1 million in revenue have the smallest client relationships with less than $4,932 in revenue per client (total revenue divided by the total number of clients). “Super-ensembles” attract clients with revenues three times higher (between $14,937 and $16,362 on average).

  • Today’s typical advisory team is three times larger than it was in 2001.
  • Close to 40% of the ensemble firms in the 2014 InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study are looking to acquire and merge other practices.
  • Broker-dealers that fail to adapt to ensemble firms are vulnerable to losing them to RIA-only or hybrid business models. 

Pershing cites the 2013 FSI Broker-Dealer Financial Performance and Compensation Study to quantify what's at risk: “...Much of the revenue broker-dealers lost in 2013 came from the loss of top-producing advisors: the average firm lost six relationships with over $500,000 in productivity each. If broker-dealers could stop the ‘bleeding’ of large relationships, this alone would increase their rate of growth by 50%.”

What all has to change in your firms practices in order to adapt?

By Accident Or By Design? LinkedIn Exposes Advertisers' Campaign Data

Update: I published the below post early this morning. Mid-day I received an email from someone in LinkedIn’s Corporate Communications saying, “We were made aware of this issue that enabled a limited number of LinkedIn members to see this campaign data. It has since been fixed.”

That’s good news, it was inadvertent and not by design. I can confirm that I for one can no longer see the Sponsored Update campaign results of more than a dozen investment companies and other firms, as I described below.

But I still have questions regarding the visibility of the data, how it became visible and, ultimately, what sorts of protections and monitoring that LinkedIn has in place. Without a better understanding of LinkedIn’s controls, advertisers’ interest may very well cool.

When I hear more, I’ll update the post. I’m doing this piecemeal because my email goes out at 3CDT and this first update should be in place, at the minimum.

Something happened on LinkedIn this week (is still happening as of this posting Thursday morning) that serves as a fresh reminder about the hazards of relying on others’ ever-evolving platforms.

On Tuesday, while in the process of working on a client’s competitive review, I noticed that LinkedIn was showing the results of firms’ advertising campaigns—the impressions, clicks, interactions, followers acquired and engagement rate of sponsored updates. I was dumbfounded.

To give you an idea, below I show a J.P. Morgan update, one of the best-performing updates in the samples I reviewed and off-point for mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) firms.

On the company page, the shaded sponsored update campaign results (under the heading "Gained from Sponsoring") appear to be a show/hide module. I would have assumed its display would be driven by the account login—only those with admin access to the company page should be able to see results for only their own campaigns.

When I first realized what I was seeing, I'll admit that I made a beeline to check out the BlackRock company page. LinkedIn has singled BlackRock out for its sponsored update success (see a related post), and I wanted to see the data for myself.

Curiously, no data could be seen in most of the BlackRock campaign results modules. As shown in the example below from 10 months ago, the campaign name (revealing the target audience) and elements displayed but with zeros where the data would be. That can't be right.

BlackRock Sponsored Update Zeros

Also new to me Tuesday: Each company update that hasn’t been sponsored has a "Sponsor update" button that opens to a sponsored update promotion. That seems odd to show to all, given that only the company can sponsor an update on its own page.

From time to time, I use my clients' logins to access their LinkedIn analytics. Thinking that my use of multiple logins may have somehow confused things, I cleared my cache but still saw the data.

Then I asked several others to tell me whether they could see what I was seeing. Most logged-in desktop or laptop Chrome or Internet Explorer browser-users could. The one who couldn’t see the data was accessing LinkedIn via Safari on a MacBook Air.

Investment companies were my focus, but I also found that I could see the campaign data from companies not in the financial services space, too. 

Firms whose campaign data was visible in my spotcheck include:

  • Aberdeen Asset Management
  • Calamos Investments
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Franklin Templeton
  • Goldman Sachs
  • LPL Financial
  • Morgan Stanley
  • OppenheimerFunds
  • Putnam Investments
  • T. Rowe Price

If you work for one of these firms, I'd reach out to your LinkedIn account manager and demand to know what the heck is going on.

The question for LinkedIn: Is the publication of this data by design or by accident? I’d sent a tweet about my discovery Tuesday and then an email to LinkedIn’s press account Tuesday evening but have yet to receive a response. I’ve been checking Twitter and Google search results for any official or unofficial commentary on this. So far, crickets.

When and if I hear from LinkedIn, I’ll update this post. My expectation (and hope) is that this is a programming glitch that will be promptly addressed. In the absence of a credible explanation from LinkedIn, I find this breach and its persistence for most of a week to be unacceptable and inexcusable. Shouldn't somebody be paying closer attention?

What About Protections For The Advertiser?

Sponsored updates are an important source of revenue for LinkedIn. They drove almost half of the Marketing Solutions' $140 million quarterly revenue, which was up by more than double since July 2014, according to the company's July 30, 2015, earnings announcement. There is every intention to build on that, and the financial services vertical has been one of the areas of sales (and content) focus. 

Let’s proceed with the assumption that showing others’ campaign data is not how LinkedIn expects to drive sponsored update adoption. This episode nonetheless is a teachable moment for all of us increasingly intrigued by the possibilities of using social platforms to more effectively reach audiences.

If you’ve ever used a social network for any length of time, you’re likely to have been surprised by changes it’s made. Facebook is notorious for this but every platformand especially the public companies under pressure to demonstrate growth in usage and revenue—will change things up without notice. And, that has frequently included the exposure of additional data. While most of these surprises have affected individuals, brands and companies acting as content publishers have been caught unaware and needed to scramble.

I submit that advertising on these platforms raises the stakes, for both platform provider and the brand willing to commit a piece of its advertising budget.

Social networks are disruptive by definition. They don’t necessarily play by existing rules. As I thought about seeing all that campaign data this week, I wondered whether advertisers may be making assumptions that those running the social platforms either don’t share or aren’t aware of.

What assurances have been extended—more to the point, where is it writtenthat campaign results aren't something to tinker with by publishing or otherwise sharing?

By now, and through some trial and error, the networks have learned the importance of safeguarding personal data. But how much vetting has been done by advertisers to understand the steps that are taken to make certain that competitors don’t see one another’s marketing response data?

How seriously do LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook et al take the need to protect their advertisers, for some of whom advertising effectiveness is a leading indicator of their business results?

We have all been impressed by what the social networks say they can do. Their targeting capabilities and the level of reporting available surpasses what’s available from traditional media sites. They've been compelling enough to command significant sums for pricey products. 

This episode makes it obvious that we need to broaden the sales discussion to explicitly communicate what we require new marketing partners to do, and to confirm that platform and advertiser are aligned on the importance of keeping campaign results private.