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There’s a pesky myth in the proxy solicitation industry that digital delivery methods aren’t as effective as paper. But the reality is that digital communications (email, text, web and social) are proven to help funds achieve their proxy goals.
These are the top five reasons digital delivery methods should be part of every fund’s approach to shareholder engagement.
This is the age of Amazon. Google. Apple. Twitter. Customer expectations are changing as fast as technology itself: Everything must be quicker, easier and more intuitive. Shareholders want the same kind of experience they’re getting everywhere else.
Let’s be real: Email is the new “snail mail.” So, if we’re not using email, we’re way behind.
Digital communications will continue to increase as the industry develops more sophisticated digital targeting strategies. For example, some funds are already using social media to drive voting. Targeted ads on platforms like Facebook enable shareholders to vote their shares in only a few clicks. Our engineers are also exploring how text messaging and push-alerts can be leveraged to drive favorable voting outcomes.
Shareholders who choose digital communications vote at roughly the same frequency as paper-only shareholders. They also tend to vote sooner and hold more shares (on average). In a normal campaign, paper ballots comprise about 40 percent of voted shares, while electronic ballots comprise about 35 percent (the remaining votes are executed by phone). We expect this ratio to flip in the next few years.
Digital communications tend to minimize voting turnaround time. Email delivery and response is immediate. Shareholders don’t need to fill out paperwork by hand and then send it back through the post. Faster turnaround enables funds to track voting in real time. They can identify when they’re missing voting benchmarks, and then make adjustments (e.g. issue strategic communications) to drive better outcomes.
Every fund knows that printing and distributing paper ballots can be enormously expensive. Postage alone consumes a significant portion of a fund’s proxy solicitation budget. Even phone solicitation is a pricey expense. Digital communication avoids most of those costs. You can easily scale up and deliver multiple reminders with marginal additional spend, making digital delivery a real boost to the bottom line.
Investors are opting for digital communications at higher rates than ever before. Broadridge’s own database contains 130+ million digital consents. Shareholders are ready for digital. Are you?