What we think

Five reasons why most asset managers’ web content fails

September 2014

Asset managers are upping their game when it comes to content. They’re packing their web sites with blogs, videos and white papers. But the harsh reality of digital traffic reveals that most of this effort is futile.

While a few YouTube videos attract views in the hundreds of thousands and some LinkedIn blogs regularly score many thousands of hits, the vast majority don’t do nearly so well. Most asset managers make do with posting old-fashioned investment commentary content on their web sites and social media. The result: large, well-known asset management brands earning fewer than 100 views.

So, what’s the problem? In simple terms, most asset management companies haven’t thought through their content strategy properly. They haven’t worked out who they’re talking to and what these people are interested in. Instead, they’re repurposing the same quarterly and monthly market reports they’ve always sent out to clients, prepared by the same investment writing and communications teams.

But a few firms are doing things differently, and they’re differentiating themselves by creating great content that’s engaging and relevant. They have great writers, with intelligent insights into geopolitics and insights, who write fascinating blogs. Some of them are filming slick videos that strike a chord with viewers, proving that even financial content can go ‘viral’.

Reasons for poor content performance

In my view, the following five reasons sum up why asset managers’ content is generally ineffective:

  1. No one’s interested
    All too often asset management content is based on historic market commentaries. Traffic figures show how few people are interested. For example, a Fidelity Investments YouTube video called ‘Fixed income quarterly perspective’, posted in August 2014, had attracted just 81 views at the time of writing in early September. By contrast, content that evidently tackles ‘big’ topics gets more mileage. To return to Fidelity, its ‘Personalised medicine – thinking big’ video, posted in June 2012, which showcases the view that healthcare will evolve from a provider-centric to a patient-centric system, has been viewed over 142,000 times.
  2. It’s not ‘a good story’
    Good newspaper journalists and writers have are said to have a nose for ‘a good story’. That same instinct for what will interest people matters online. Maybe that’s why Larry Fink, Chairman & CEO of BlackRock, has more than 19,000 views for his LinkedIn post ‘Why millenials should try their luck in Mexico’. I am guessing that a lot of 20 something year olds read the article. But supposition aside, it’s a high-quality piece of writing that’s well-written and makes some original points about opportunities in Mexico’s young economy.
  3. There’s no star quality
    Star quality lights up content. Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz, former CEO of PIMCO and a well-known financial commentator, must be one the best-known investment bloggers. He regularly contributes to the Financial Times and his LinkedIn page has more than 470,000 followers, many of whom regularly tune in to his frequent blogs.
  4. It’s poorly presented
    Every organisation with an online presence needs to be a publisher. This means possessing the basic skills of writing slick headlines, breaking up copy with sub-heads, writing short catchy sentences. Of course, old-fashioned, high-quality writing counts too. But style matters.
  5. It’s not tailored
    Finally, content must be tailored to the audience. Again, it seems that all too few asset managers have defined their audience personas.

Investing in high-quality writers and digital skills

The asset management industry is growing again, but it’s commonly accepted that those adapting to fast-changing investor preferences and distribution practices will prosper most. It’s notable that often the fastest-growing and the challenger organisations are those that have mastered digital content. This is not so difficult, but it takes a change in marketing culture, plus an investment in high-quality writers and digital communication skills.