Marketing Playbook Recap: How Asset Managers Can Up Their Digital Game

Last week, I hosted a  little webinar called Marketing Playbook: How Asset Managers Can Up their Digital Game. In it, I outlined how asset management teams can deliver engaging, almost one-to-one conversations with their prospects and investors through scalable digital channels — all while staying compliant. I wanted to take the time today to recap a few of the major talking points for asset management marketing today and to let you know that you can re-watch the whole webinar on-demand right here.

Without further ado, let’s review a few key points.   

Digital transformation

To point out the obvious, the asset management space has changed in the past few years thanks to digital transformation. The biggest change has been to how clients interact with portfolio managers and sales teams. To summarize: they don’t. Today’s clients prefer to self-educate with on-demand and easily accessible resources online. This movement towards self-education and research means fund managers need to equip clients and prospects with relevant, timely content when and where they want it.

Still, digital transformation hasn’t changed the core objectives — fostering relationships, establishing trust and imparting knowledge. Instead, it’s shifted those objectives into overdrive, requiring sales teams to learn and adapt to new digital distribution models and work more closely with their marketing teams to get data on which advisors to target.

Knowing your advisors

Part of that adaptation means knowing your advisor base. This is an issue for most asset management marketers. According to a recent Merkel survey, only 15 percent of leading asset management marketers say they communicate with their advisor base through personalized, engagement-driven messages. Exactly zero percent of respondents say feel they’re doing an “excellent” job of using data to improve the advisor experience.

Those numbers hide a more troubling trend. What they suggest is that asset management marketers aren’t collecting data on their advisors, clients and more. In the new digital marketplace, data is king and must inform every aspect of marketing communications. You simply can’t craft personalized experiences today without knowing your audience base. You can’t know your audience base without data.

Making the webinar connection

So here’s where webinars fit into all this. Webinars, and especially webinar platforms like ON24, are powerful tools marketers can use to disseminate a range of content in a personal manner. Depending on the platform, you can gather actionable insights on your audience, so your team can gather assets easier.

It’s one of the few technologies that can disseminate compliant and personalized data quickly and on a digital scale. Executed well, a webinar program can create active environments for guided content consumption that audiences can consume live, on-demand or both. Additionally, webinars can simplify compliance with centralized, gated messages and muted lines.

Now, simplifying content access is great, especially for areas, like asset management, that depend on a lot of information to capture clients. At ON24, however, we’ve found that leading marketers at asset management companies go beyond simply delivering content — they engage their audience with interactive polls, knowledgeable hosts and subject matter experts, live Q&A forums and a whole lot more.  We’ve even seen customers use data from surveys, polls, and Q&As can to improve product offerings.

There’s a reason for this. The more engaging and interactive you make your content, the more connections you can make to raise your AUM. What’s more is the fact that your organization can gain insights into high-value and interested prospects as they consume your content. You can also boost investor trust through thought leadership events, or build a knowledge center for financial advisors to earn CE credits. We’ve found that companies like Fidelity, State Street and Capital Group are moving to webinars for these reasons and more.

The days of having sales doing the heavy lifting to win business on its own, from awareness and education to investment and purchase, are over. With webinars, marketing can now play a sizable role in informing and guiding the customer, prospect, investor and advisor’s journey. And they can do this while gathering data on what interests an audience. ‘

Digital transformation has changed a lot of things and not always for the better. Quality webinars, however, can deliver a lot of value with relatively little effort. In fact, if you’d like to see one in action, simply click on this link and watch last week’s discussion at your leisure.

How to Improve Audience Participation in Your Webinar

Each year when ON24 releases its annual Webinar Benchmarks Report I look for the most interesting or unexpected statistic in their data. This year the benchmark that particularly caught my eye was listed under Audience Engagement Metrics. ON24 reported the overall percentages of attendees across all webinars who performed certain actions within a webinar.

All three numbers improved from last year, which is encouraging. But the absolute figures are still far lower than they should be. If you find similar attendee interaction percentages in your webinars, you have room for improvement in the way that you stimulate interaction and make audience members want to take an active part in the proceedings.

Let’s look at each type of interaction in turn and see if we can find some best practices to improve response.

Downloading Content Resources

The most common mistake made by webinar administrators and presenters is to place too many documents in the resource folder. This leads to “option paralysis.” Attendees are unsure of which resources are most important and valuable. Faced with a selection choice and no obvious clues as to which choice is best, people tend to make the fall-through choice of “no action.” It is the fastest and easiest way to deal with the problem.

If you really want to improve the uptake on your reference information, pick one – and only one – document to make available for download. Now attendees can take an immediate action without any selection or discrimination process.

If you want to make multiple documents available, place links to the resources on a customized web page. Then in your webinar, give attendees the link to the resources page. This again lets them take a single, quick click-through action with no decision process involved.

Submitting Questions

There are several tricks for getting attendees to interact through the typed chat or questions interface in your webinar. In the interest of brevity I will just summarize a few of the most important techniques:

  • Get them used to using the interface with a simple direct response at the start of the session. “I want to make sure you can hear me and that I see your submissions. Would you just type your first name and hit Enter?”
  • Refer to comments or questions throughout your presentation. Just sprinkle in a few references here and there to prove that you are paying attention. “Rick just commented that he always uses this technique. That’s great. Thanks, Rick!” Or “Betty, I see your question about statistical accuracy. I’m going to address that in just a few minutes.”
  • Use first names. When you say the name of a questioner or commenter, other people feel encouraged to type and see if you will say their name on the air.
  • Ask for something specific. Don’t use a generic request like “So, are there any questions?” Instead, give them a guideline as to what to type. “What is the top difficulty you have had?” or “What functionality do you think still needs more explanation and detail?”

Responding To Polls

Low response to polls is usually caused by insufficiently framing the poll in terms of value to the attendee. Far too often, presenters introduce polls as an information-gathering tool for the benefit of the presenter or hosting company. If you find yourself using the following kinds of phrasing, you are setting yourself up for poor participation, as you are asking the audience to do work for your benefit:

  • “I would like you to answer this poll for me.”
  • “Here’s a poll we created to get a sense of how these products get used.”

Instead, try setting up the benefit that the attendee will get by contributing to the poll:

  • “Here’s a chance for you to see how you compare to your peers in the audience.”
  • “Now it’s your opportunity to guide me. Your response will tell me how much detail I should go into in the next section.”

In each of these three interactions, the key is to think from the perspective of the attendee, rather than the presenter. The fact that you are offering an opportunity to engage and interact is not enough. You need to give each participant a reason to take the action, with clear and unambiguous instruction as to what they should do and how they should do it. Following these guidelines will improve the participation you see in your live webinars.

is president and founder of Webinar Success, a consulting firm that assists companies in producing and delivering effective and compelling web seminars. Molay combines a technical background with experience in corporate marketing and public presentations. He is a prolific blogger on the subject of web conferencing and its applications and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and industry publications. He is a frequent public speaker on the topic of more effective webinars.

The Art and Science of Driving Webinar Registration

I often poll marketing audiences about their biggest webinar challenges. Almost every time, I hear that their biggest challenge is on driving registration — in a recent poll, we found that 42.9% of respondents had the biggest trouble with getting people to register for their online event.

Why is driving webinar registration such a challenge for marketers?

Perhaps the biggest explanation for this issue is the fact that our prospects are now busier than ever, making it very hard for them to take the time to tune in on a certain day at a certain time. They’re also bombarded with tons of promotional emails, making them wary of any kind of advertising — social or otherwise.

So how can we get them to sign up for our webinars if we can’t even get them to read emails promoting them? The key is catching your target audience at a moment of receptivity with a message that resonates — it’s both an art and a science.

The Science of Getting People to Register for Webinars

As marketers, we rely too often on a static process to promote our events: a single email (sent multiple times) and perhaps a few tweets with the name of the event and a link. Depending on your brand and the appeal of the subject matter, this may be enough to capture a sufficient audience, but it certainly leaves a lot of prospective leads behind.

Truly innovative marketers are now experimenting with the process of promoting their events. This includes sending out emails at the right time, promoting different types of emails (HTML, plain text and hybrid — and with embedded videos, for example), experimenting with drop schedules and timing, and mixing up social promotions with different messages and types of outreach.

1) Send your promotional emails at the right time

Though the best time of day and day of week to send emails depends on your business, industry, and audience’s behavior, it’s helpful to get an idea of when your emails are most likely to succeed (and time your sends accordingly). In our annual benchmark report that analyses thousands of webinars hosted by our customers, we found out the optimal times for sending your emails are

2) Extend the promotional period to drop more emails

When you look at industry best practices for when people actually sign up for webinars, there is an enormous percentage of people who sign up more than seven days before the event — as many as 36% of sign-ups will take place more than a week out. As a result, make sure you give yourself enough time to promote the event (beyond a week) in order to improve your results.

3) Mix up email types

Doing different types of emails in different drops is typically a very successful approach. One flow I typically recommend is to send an HTML two weeks out, a plain text email seven days out, and then an HTML email again on the day of the event. This can give the impression that the event is much larger and more significant than it first appears. This process also makes it more likely that your recipients will read one of the emails since one is different from the others in the campaign.

4) Mix up promotional messaging

This is similar to the previous tip, but instead of email format, we’re referring to the readable content itself. While you may be delivering the same message, changing up the tone and verbiage can help cut through the noise. You might try taking a more personal tone with your messaging in one message but keep to a more formal tone with others.

The Art of Promotional Content

The art of driving webinar registration comes in how we design our promotional content. For many companies, all of the creative energy gets put into the webinar presentation, not the invitations. This leads to the classic “If a tree falls in the forest …” dilemma. Your content doesn’t exist if no one knows about it.

Writing compelling promotional content is the first exposure your prospects will have to your message. It’s the doorway to your webinar. To make sure you’re creating compelling promotional copy, make sure your writing has at least one of the following elements:

1) Upsets the status quo

Great promotional material is always going to galvanize action from the recipient, and an easy way to do this is to deliver content with a headline that stops people in their tracks. If your material tells audiences what they expect or already understand, it’s easily glossed over. But a contrarian headline or lead sentence can snag the interest of a recipient. For example, a webinar touting the title “Big Data as We Know It Is Dead” is sure to garner interest. Just be sure that the content of your webinar actually delivers on that headline — otherwise, you could alienate the registrants you worked so hard to earn.

2) Promises change

In this case, we’re again referring to the lead or headline of your promotional material. Succinctly, you need to articulate exactly what prospective attendees will be able to accomplish once they’ve attended your webinar. How much will they save? What will they achieve? How will their lives or businesses be better? If you can deliver this message in a brief format, more people will be likely to attend your event.

3) Challenges common beliefs

While this may seem similar to “Upsets the status quo,” there are subtle differences, primarily related to phrasing. Challenging common beliefs means posing a question related to the recipients’ day-to-day experiences that challenges them to re-think a foregone conclusion. “Do you really need analytics to be a successful marketer?” would be a question that might make a recipient stop and wonder what an event is all about.

4) Titillates

The pure definition of “titillate” is to “excite agreeably,” and this can be an effective strategy, provided that it’s combined with substantive information that will further compel the recipient to attend your webinar. Perhaps this may take the form of a preview or teaser of the event, so your audience gets a sense of what to expect from the event itself. One approach is to provide background on the expertise of the speakers and/or presenters who will be running the event.

5) Addresses known pain points or needs

This may appear obvious, but for many promotional materials, a clean, clear description of how you’re going to address a common problem is the most effective means of getting recipients to pay attention. If a target spends all day trying to install X and then sees a webinar that says “How to Install X Three Times Faster,” that person is going to consider that event carefully.

Successful webinar promotions artfully and strategically capture people’s attention, whether it’s through a subject line that threatens the status quo, an opening email sentence that promises change, or a tweet that spurs the imagination. As marketers, we have to be just as creative in promoting our events as we are delivering them. It’s a little bit of art, and it’s a little bit science, but mostly it’s just great marketing.