As the world has become more digital, it has also become harder to effectively and accurately reach customers in those digital worlds. Marketing analytics firm Alphix Solutions is addressing the challenge that asset managers face in navigating this ever-changing world of effective digital marketing, to help provide an edge when marketing to institutional, intermediary and retail investors, according to Angus Maclaine, strategic advisor. The key marketing challenge in reaching investors? Privacy regulations. In complying with the laws, traditional marketing attribution models are becoming less reliable in terms of demonstrating return on investment — a development that is expected to exacerbate. Alphix Solutions’ intelligent and integrated data platform, which tracks website and campaign data, is specifically designed for asset managers to meet these challenges and offers targeted analysis and outcomes, without being compromised by cookie consent, privacy settings and adblockers.
Intelligent, Data-Driven Marketing That Delivers ROI
Pensions & Investments: Why is marketing attribution of central importance to asset managers today?
Angus Maclaine: In an investment sector where downward pressure on fees has never been more intense, every dollar that is spent influencing and acquiring customers counts. It’s essential to make your marketing dollars work as hard as you can in terms of driving tangible business outcomes. With privacy regulation and audience behavior moving in a direction that makes attribution and measurement much harder, the job of a marketing department has never been tougher. But in the process of attributing marketing spend to performance, managers can now deploy tech-based marketing platforms that map activity to campaign performance.
Until recently, marketing attribution efforts have struggled in this industry, partly because asset managers operate in an intermediated space with a long sales cycle. It is not like the retail sector, where customers may hit a ‘buy now’ button, which directly attributes that payment action to a specific marketing trigger. In the asset management space, the connections are not as clearly defined. A potential customer may arrive at a website and take an action of intent such as clicking on a fund’s fact sheet, watching a video or registering to download a white paper. But these are not true conversion points in the same way as the final click in a retail environment; we need to be able to link them together to demonstrate their cumulative value in delivering ROI.
P&I: What are the implications for asset managers’ marketing efforts, considering data-privacy requirements in the U.S., U.K. and Europe?
Maclaine: If you want to measure website activity with cookies, privacy regulation across these markets generally requires that you receive consent to do so. This kind of measurement is key for marketing attribution in cookie-based analytics systems. Many users don’t give that consent, so asset managers are missing a meaningful slice of what is even measurable. In the retail space, marketers are pushing users to sign in and provide logged-in user data, which helps plug the gap lost through diminishing cookie coverage. For asset managers’ websites, the value exchange isn’t evident enough to drive registration and as a result, the majority of asset managers’ content sits in front of a registration wall, leaving them with very little idea of who is interacting with the website. In addition, current privacy-focused technology prevents cookies from being dropped, giving an inaccurate view of volumes as well.
In Europe, privacy is viewed as a human right and the direction of travel for privacy-focused regulation could lead to even greater complexity. This makes it difficult for marketers because the more privacy regulations expand, the more difficult it will be to use traditional attribution models effectively.
P&I: Why do financial marketers need an intelligent, data-driven marketing system today?
Maclaine: If you don’t have an intelligent approach to data management, you’re wasting money, especially with the sustained pressure on fees. As part of our training of new media buyers, we ask them to perform a calculation: If given a $1 million marketing budget by an asset manager with fees set at 10 basis points of AUM, how much business must be generated to see ROI? Actually, $1 billion worth of business is needed just to produce $1 million of revenue from fees. When the ROI is that high, you need access to the most intelligent data systems available, along with the best processes and technologies to manage them.
Marketing has evolved from a unidirectional flow of information, where the information is sent ‘out’ to an audience, to a world where there is a dual flow of information. Measuring the audience’s interaction with the marketing collateral is vital. Technology deployed with attribution models can help marketing deliver business intelligence on what is likely to perform well, what is not and what products and strategies should be pursued to meet their objectives.
P&I: What are the key features of a marketing platform that can address current needs?
Maclaine: For us, it’s simplicity, accuracy, speed and granularity without the collection of user data that requires consent. Marketing teams must be able to react to what their customers are interested in rapidly, they need to be able to measure accurately and they need to have complete granularity over the data they use to make decisions on how to communicate, when and to whom. One example of granularity is around understanding the nature of traffic sources in terms of bots vs. humans. Traditionally, this has not been shared with marketing and data teams, which has spilled into inaccurate marketing reports on the true web traffic. But marketers need to understand the genuine interactions in order to deliver suitable follow-up messaging and intent-based insights.
Asset managers will have varying levels of ability to target specific audiences, dependent on location. Generally, if you want access to an institutional audience, you should partner with a firm that has reliable first-party data and allows you to target them based on their contextual interaction. The marketing technology that exists today allows for firmographic matching for an additional level of attribution. We can see the names of the companies coming onto a client’s website through various identification solutions that are compliant with privacy regulation. This allows us to deliver richer attribution, improves marketing performance and supports the development of targeting strategies based on company names and intent, not just on numbers.
Also, when delivering marketing activities in a financial services firm, you are trying to measure success in the same way that fund managers measure financial performance — against an appropriate benchmark. We can design marketing platforms that accurately report on the performance of every component of a marketing campaign to ensure that asset management marketers can use specific indices to compare their position against industry performance.
P&I: What are key features of Alphix’s analytics platform?
Maclaine: We’ve built technology that is specifically designed to support asset management marketers execute their professional duties. The core differentiator between Alphix and traditional analytics platforms is that Alphix is a cookie-free platform that measures a website’s behavior, as opposed to an individual user’s behavior. We don’t employ cookies, anywhere, at any stage. Since we’re not tracking individuals, we are privacy friendly. Also, unlike other analytics platforms, Alphix does not need user consent to track user behavior. Our platform can track crucial activity on asset managers’ websites without that requirement, so you never miss a visit or action.
Alphix’s system is deployed globally for many of the world’s largest money managers, which gives us an unparalleled ability to model behavior across all of these sites. This allows us to look at trends of genuine vs. bot behavior and to profile activity at the level of company names. Viewing this firmographic data across multiple sites allows us to evaluate behavior and interest in a live environment for both institutional and wholesale investors. That allows us to build very powerful comparative index-based benchmarks.
P&I: What types of clients are implementing these more sophisticated marketing and data-analytics platforms?
Maclaine: Our analytics platform has been adopted by a wide range of managers, from those with multitrillion-dollar AUM down to boutiques. We can see how these clients adjust their marketing functions to make the best use of the data that the platform delivers. The most effective ones have highly strategic marketing teams that are determined to drive their businesses forward by using data in an optimal way, beyond basic benchmarking and reporting to intent-driven marketing. Although other cookie-free platforms exist, Alphix is the only one specifically designed to meet the needs of the asset management industry. We are deeply engaged with the industry, and we’re taking marketing analytics forward to meet the needs of asset managers as we move into a cookie-free world.
Alphix Solutions is a part of Fundamental Media Limited. Whilst Alphix Solutions has been designed to meet the regulatory requirements of the E-Privacy Directive and the GDPR/UK GDPR, this article is not intended to be, and does not constitute, legal advice. Further information is available on request.
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