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Adaptive Content Strategies for Mid-Size Asset Managers

Mid-size asset managers should consider investing in an adaptive content strategy to compete effectively, grow AUM and retain tech-savvy clients.

Mid-size asset management firms are often reluctant to invest significantly in their website designs and content. But the need to grow assets under management (AUM) and retain increasingly tech-savvy clients is making this a priority. Clients are using a variety of mobile devices to access the Internet in increasing numbers. Asset managers of all sizes need to create and deliver content that clients can access easily via their computer, mobile phone or tablet. The content itself needs to adapt to the platforms and needs of the client. This adaptive content can be expensive to create, but it is an investment that all asset managers eventually will need to make.

 Large asset managers, including Oppenheimer Funds, Putnam Investments, Royce Funds and Ivy Funds, already have made their websites platform agnostic and populated them with adaptive content. Fidelity is going one further and designing content delivery applications for “wearable” technology, such as Google Glass. Mid-size asset managers – those with between $100 million and $1 billion in AUM – need to meet advisor and investor expectations that are being raised by these larger firms.

 Meanwhile, advisors are becoming more tech savvy. LIMRA and McKinsey & Co. estimated in 2013 that 73 percent of advisors use smartphones to access data, and 91 percent would like to. The respective figures for tablets were 60 percent and 88 percent.

 Mid-size asset managers will find that an effective adaptive content strategy will drive growth. Multiple small interactions that provide clients with meaningful and authentically helpful content increase their loyalty. Attracting and maintaining advisors and investors builds revenue and AUM. Adaptive content that can be delivered in multiple formats – research, white papers, webinars, email, blogs and social media, for example – can serve client needs and enhance a firm’s reputation for thought leadership.

 Granted, effective adaptive content is difficult, time-consuming and costly to create. It needs to be interesting, or amusing, and sometimes disturbing, to the target audiences. It should reinforce key messages and the brand promise. Finally, it needs to be flexible enough to be delivered using multiple media or platforms that match the habits of target audiences.

 Mid-size firms facing pressure on fees and competition for clients may see creating and delivering this material as a daunting undertaking, requiring ongoing website redesigns and a long-term commitment to generating content. However, there are ways to leverage adaptive content to make it more cost effective, as well as useful to the client.

 Principal among these is “COPE” – create once, publish everywhere. Mainly this refers to the variety of web and social media platforms. But adaptive content has less technology-dependent uses as well. These include its use in materials for meetings, live events, PowerPoint decks, signage for trade shows, telemarketing and service center scripts, direct mail, public relations, advertising and recruiting.

 In order to achieve the COPE level of flexibility, adaptive content strategies need five key elements. First, there must be an intelligent content management system that can display content on different devices in an automatic or dynamic fashion. Specifically, it should be able to serve up content based on the user’s demographics, behavior and status – for example, prospect, new client or current client. It should be able to publish, or retire, content from multiple web locations and social media outlets simultaneously. This allows the asset manager to monitor audience engagement in real time and tweak the content in response.

 Since it would be prohibitively expensive to create new content for each type of user and each type of platform, adaptive content needs to be reusable and accessible via multiple platforms in many formats. To accomplish this, the content must be structured, or be easily restructured, into small chunks for delivery via these different platforms, and those that may emerge in the future.

 Next, the content needs to be presentation independent – it should be raw content without pretentious or overwrought formatting. And finally, it should have meaningful metadata that makes it easy to be captured by web crawlers.

 These characteristics make it easier to tailor the content for automatic delivery via multiple platforms, and also for multiple audiences – such as advisors, prospects, clients, investors, the media and employees.

 Adaptive content should also employ search engine optimization best practices in order to get as much visibility as possible. For example, it is important to research the target audience to determine the most effective keywords, and to use them in headings, sub-headings and the web snippet. Each keyword should have its own landing page, and each page should be indexed. It’s also important to provide social media buttons for bookmarking content, and to include links to other credible sites.

 It is clear from this thumbnail sketch that establishing and executing an adaptive content strategy can be complex and potentially resource intensive, at least at first. But the advantages for mid-size asset managers in terms of client acquisition, engagement and retention, reputation enhancement and growth in AUM are compelling. And, given that larger firms are already investing in their strategies, mid-size asset managers that want to join that top tier will eventually need an adaptive content strategy in order to compete effectively.