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?

7 Examples Of How Context Matters For Mutual Fund, ETF Marketers

You can’t control the U.S. mail. If your large cap growth promotion happens to arrive at a financial advisor’s office on a day when the stock market is tanking, well, that’s how it is. Shake it off—you didn’t know, how could you? Looks like that piece is not going to work as well as you’d hoped.

And, that pretty much sums up the powerlessness of a direct mail marketer. Moving on…


Communicating online is less forgiving. Digital marketers are assumed to have control of their online communications including not just the What but the When and even the Where and the How.

Add to this mix the fact that financial advisors are not just reachable online but also more knowable online. This heightens expectations that communications are relevant and appropriate.

The context of what's being communicated is an increasingly important factor to consider in the planning and execution of mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketing. 

“Context” is a concept that’s open for interpretation, and I’ll admit to taking some liberties below. But let’s start out right, with a definition, courtesy of an ebook from StrongView, Context Changes Everything.

StrongView explains context “as a combination of the consumer’s [client’s] disposition and situation, coupled with the business’s disposition and situation.”

Disposition refers to the essence of who a consumer is and includes demographic and behavioral data. Situation refers to dimensions that are constantly changing—location, social setting, sentiment and needs, for example.

“The relevance of a firm’s interactions is related directly to its understanding of customer context,” StrongView writes.

One of my favorite non-asset management examples: Do you remember when NetFlix accidentally released Season 3 of House of Cards in mid-February? Boston residents thought that was by design, as a consolation as Boston braced for another blizzard. Think of the goodwill engendered if that had been the intention. 

If you don't already, I’d encourage you and your team to begin to pay attention to context. Who knows how the Apple Watch is going to rock content marketers’ world, starting with tomorrow's pre-orders. But it seems a safe guess that “wearable” content delivery will make context-awareness even more important.

To urge you along, I offer the following list of how context can make a difference. It’s in no particular order and in a slightly different tone. I’ve let myself go snarkier than usual to make obvious to you the need for alertness on the part of marketers, supported by enabling technology including customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation and Web, email and social analytics. Opportunities abound for relevant communicators. This is a partial, random list—surely, you can think of more?

What Not To Do

1. Overestimate The Compelling Value Of That PDF

Send a blast email with a link to a PDF at a time of day when you'd reasonably expect most recipients to be checking their email on smartphones. Do you communicate across multiple time zones? Right, well, you could stagger the email sends by location, drawing on regional information no doubt extractable from your CRM. It is more work. How important are those PDF opens to you?

1A. Burn Through Your New List


Use your hard-fought-for list of conference emails to email attendees while the conference is underway. Please don't. They won’t read your introductory message then, and all you've done is waste an opportunity. Conference attendees are battling to stay on top of their business emails, yours will be one they’ll be happy to quickly dispose of. Choose your time and message wisely.

2. Play Hide-And-Seek With People Who Are Already Stressed

Move your tax-related content from one place on the Website to another in the months between January and April. Oh, and don’t sweat the details about trying to map redirects to every single (likely Google-indexed) page. Are you trying to incur the wrath of your clients and the people who answer the phone lines at your firm?

The graphic below is excerpted from a Google Finance Trends infographic (link opens a PDF) that reports that tax-related searches are starting earlier in the year, and that more are happening on mobile devices. Plan your enhancements for during the off-season.

3. Dawdle With The News

Twitter is all about what’s happening now or maybe in the last 24 hours. A February tweet announcing the availability of your 12/31 communications is going to impress no one. That’s not what Twitter is for, I wouldn’t bother.

Did you see the number of firms that jumped on the Lipper award announcements last week? InvestmentNews published this list immediately after the evening ceremony March 31 and quite a few firms took to Twitter the very next day. Looks like Thornburg needed a full day but imagine how that ginormous image looked in a tweet stream.

That’s the way to do it. If your announcement is still working its way through your process, I’d say that ship has sailed on Twitter—the news was so last week. (Your timely addressing of bad news would be expected, too, but let's save that for another list, another day.)

Off-topic but I also really like TIAA-CREF’s use of its Twitter header image to promote its Lipper dominance. Where is it written that asset managers need to use a moody photograph of their headquarters as their Twitter image and never ever change it?  

4. Advertise 24/7 If You Can Help It

Pay for broad match AdWords searches all day and all night. Unless you are convinced that financial advisors are looking for solutions in the wee hours, I have one word for you: dayparting. Let the non-advisor (most likely) night owls amuse themselves with organic search results or run up some other firm's pay-per-click budget.

5. Get Caught Sleeping At The Wheel

Release a blog post on your firm’s philanthropy (or whatever) on the day the Fed raises interest rates for the first time in seven years. Throw your body in front of this if you have to.

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a blog contributor offering a reaction post that day, don’t publish anything. It’s better to say nothing than to reach your blog subscribers—on a day when they’ll be paying extra attention to what you contact them about—with something that suggests that your team is either on autopilot or blissfully unaware.  

6. Just Stroll In There Like It's 1999

Fail to train your wholesalers how to check for LinkedIn profiles and updates (including links to blog posts), tweets and Facebook updates prior to calling on advisors. Advisors research their clients (and vendors) and you can be certain that they expect others to be doing the same due diligence on them. I may have mentioned this before.


7. Lump Everybody Together

Track and report on your Web visitors as one homogenous group, as if desktop, table and mobile sessions all yield the same experience. As if all visitors regardless of device have the same motivations or needs. 

If you were to segment the traffic, you would see some eye-opening differences.

Note: Blane Warrene, co-founder of Arkovi Social Media Archiving, now financial technology speaker and advisor and editor at large of TheDigitalFA, and I discussed the state of asset manager marketing on Blane’s Digital Well podcast last week. Blane is fun to talk to and it’s a freewheeling discussion (what was supposed to be 30 minutes turned into 40). If you check it out, here’s hoping there will be something in it for you.

Maybe There's A Difference Between Male And Female Advisors

Asset management marketing is getting increasingly sophisticated. To support that statement, I’d point to mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) firms’ heightened capture and reliance on business intelligence and analytics, integrated communications across multiple channels, the increasing mastery of non-text forms of communicating.

Segmentation, for example, is an area where firms are making strides. The more customized, even personalized a communication, the greater its relevance.

But I’m wondering where investment management marketers are on what may be the most fundamental segment of all: gender. Does your customer relationship management system (CRM) capture the gender of your contacts? Can you/do you run reports segregating male financial advisors from females to isolate differences in response and even AUM and sales?  

My experience, and my impression corroborated with a few additional pings to others in the industry, is that the overall availability of information about the gender of database contacts is spotty.

Gender is a custom field in both Salesforce and SalesPage CRMs. But while it’s relatively trivial to add, it must be identified as a requirement—and at many firms that hasn’t happened. Capturing gender data isn’t a priority for Sales, which tends to drive CRM implementations.

Granted, most of the contacts in an asset manager’s CRM are going to be male. But, according to data kasina reported in 2013, female advisors made up 17% of advisors across all intermediary channels. That's plenty of female names as well as uncommon names or names that could go either way (e.g., Pat Allen) that justify a mandatory gender field.

Learning From Social Media Analytics

The insights being gleaned from social media use are what prompt the question now. Underlying virtually every social platform is a database that’s core to its value. The networks, and third parties with access to the APIs, produce demographic analyses that can be quite helpful to understand who an account is reaching and whether content adjustments are necessary, as is often the case.

To give you an idea, here’s a Demographics Pro analysis of the @RockTheBoatMKTG Twitter account.

The content I selected to tweet over the last six years is what attracted this group to the account. Seeing this was both eye-opening and sobering. These people look like they mean business. No, I won’t be bothering them with my real-time insights about The Bachelor.

At the same time, analysis of aggregated usage data is resulting in reports and commentary drawing gender distinctions between what works on social networks. To wit: 

  • “Pinterest’s Problem: Getting Men to Commit” was the headline of a Wall Street Journal article that offered “gender differences in information processing” as one reason for Pinterest’s unpopularity with men. Studies by Joan Meyers-Levy, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota, “have shown that women are able to process information more comprehensively and do so at a lower threshold. Men are more selective and tend to focus on the essentials… 

In other words, Pinterest’s busy design may create an information overload for men. “If this was a magazine, they’d turn the page,” Ms. Meyers-Levy is quoted as saying. “It works for females because they like detail, they like more complexity.”

I read this article and then headed over to a busy, busy fund profile page. Hmmm. 

  • Several conclusions are being made based on differences in how social media is being used. 

Women are more vocal, expressive and willing to share, reports BrandWatch in this post aggregating gender data from multiple social media survey sources. More women use Facebook and Twitter. They’re interested in making connections and staying in touch. More women than men (58% vs. 42%) consume news in social media. The data show that women are more active altogether, more active on mobile devices and more likely to follow and interact with brands.

Men, who outnumber women on LinkedIn, use social media to gather the information they need to build influence—they perform research, gather relevant contacts and ultimately increase their status. 

  • Closer to home, Putnam’s December 2014 research on financial advisor use of social media was the first work (I believe) to report in-depth on advisor gender differences. The findings track other research, showing that women financial advisors do more but also benefit more when using social media for business. The screenshot at right is from Putnam’s infographic and shows that 71% of social media-using female advisor respondents gained clients versus 64% of male advisors. Their average asset gain of $5.6 million is more than three times the median of $1.7 million, slightly more than the average male gain of $5.5 million. 

Most interesting are the gender differences between the social media content that advisors react to. According to the Putnam data, female advisors are far more likely to respond to your blogs, podcasts and slideshows.

Pursuing More Hits Than Misses (Absolutely No Pun Intended)

An irony is that financial advisors themselves are increasingly focusing on gender differences between their male and female clients—with help from a few asset managers’ value-added programs.

Most mutual fund and ETF content teams today are somewhere in between producing just what’s required (the legacy of the good old days when the time and expense of print served as a natural limiter) and churning out as much as fast as they can. As the range broadens and volume rises to take advantage of burgeoning opportunities, the chances are that there will be more misses than hits.

A better command of the demographics of the names in your database could help steer some of this. Also: Tracking such data might help mitigate the risk and/or address challenges that arise when a disproportionate number of females are involved in the process of creating fund communications directed at salespeople and users that skew largely male.

Those of you with consistent, reliable data on the male/female composition of your database have an advantage. You’re able to study and understand any response differences that may exist. You can compare the demographic reach (including gender and other dimensions) of your owned communications with your social communications. You can test whatever content adjustments seem indicated. You could plan all-male or all-female communications, I suppose, but I’d tread carefully making any assumptions there.

Sales may have limited interest in documenting a contact’s gender in the CRM because they pride themselves on knowing the top 250 producers they’re focusing on—they don't have to check to see who's a woman and who's a man! If Marketing’s charge is to better understand and nurture the interest of everybody else, isn’t gender an obvious piece of data to begin to collect and understand?