By Patrick Headley, Sales Director, GI Direct.
The financial services sector in general has already harnessed the power of targeted and personalised communications and carefully tailored inserts are now commonplace in many financial communications.
Some organisations have started to benefit from the opportunities afforded by ‘white space management’ – in other words using the available space on documents such as bills and statements for advertising additional targeted product offers or propositions, or selling the space to appropriate third parties.
Adding marketing messages to an existing document is highly cost-effective and provides an additional advertising medium for cross-selling to the existing customer base at a very low price.
However, our recent research found investment management companies are not maximising their statements as a means of communicating on a personalised and targeted level with individual investors.
While 42% said they fully viewed investor statements as a valuable tool for communicating with, and engaging, clients, 50% said they viewed them as only a somewhat useful tool for maintaining contact, and the remaining 8% saw statements simply as regulatory documents that have to be sent out in compliance with the FSA.
Adding tailored marketing messages and personalising statements is a realistic option for investment management companies. By tailoring the documents clients receive, firms can build brand awareness and customer loyalty and also make recipients aware of other relevant funds they may wish to invest in.
Despite this, our study revealed that only 25% of firms are sending personalised communications to all of their clients, even though 79% say they have the capability to do so
Clearly some investment management companies are already producing high quality personalised investment statements. Firms that are starting to consider doing so will need to take certain practicalities into consideration:
Choosing a suitable communications supplier – that is to say the company that prints, puts together and sends out statements and other materials to clients – is an essential part of the process.
Despite this, our study found that finding a print firm that could do the best job of personalising and targeting investor statements was not necessarily a major priority, with only 9% saying it was a primary consideration when choosing a supplier.
High quality personalised digital print allows businesses to vary the images, message, offer and content of a document in a single print run, according to each recipient’s profile. The rise of highly targeted customer communications using variable colour has been well documented and it has now moved into the mainstream.
A study by InfoTrends found that the primary reason transaction document owners were using colour print was that it conveys a higher value to the customer. Aside from impressing recipients, use of colour also provides clarity, which in turn, according to Infotrends, can reduce call centre inquiries and the associated customer support costs.
Despite the strong case for colour print, only 33% of respondents to GI Direct’s survey said their firms use colour graphics to help the investor to understand investment information such as fund performance and fund holdings.
Putting key marketing messages in investor statements requires all the disciplines of data-driven marketing.
The different types of investor need to be segmented into groups in order to address their differing priorities and concerns with distinct creative, presentation and content. Accompanying letters and other documents also need to be similarly personalised and segmented in order to manage client relations.
Firms have to ensure that client profiling and data-modelling work is physically translated into the communications they send to clients. This is vitally important to ensuring that tailored communications engage the customers and make them feel valued.
By analysing client data, specific offers or messages can be targeted towards relevant recipients rather than all clients receiving generic content in their investor statements. This saves time and money, which might otherwise be wasted by communicating the wrong messages to the wrong recipients.
Moreover, tailored communications elicit better response as the relevancy of the message means the recipient is more likely to read it and respond. Therefore, companies are able to up-sell and cross-sell relevant products or services and ensure a certain level of response.
Finally, the environmental benefits of tailored communications cannot be ignored, especially given the drive for reduced carbon footprints in business.
The print industry is still prone to negative preconceptions with regard to its environmental impact, and clients and the Government are continuously putting pressure on the industry to improve its environmental record.
Greater levels of personalisation, tailoring and targeting help investment management companies to build better green credentials and businesses that are seen to be advocating green practices are able to increase customer loyalty.
Tailored communications mean less paper needs to be used as only the information relevant to the specific recipient is included in the document. Furthermore, substantial cost savings can result from improved energy practices.
In 2008 a leading investment management company reported a saving of 40 tonnes of paper as a result of personalising investor statements. Rather than using several sheets to illustrate fund performance along with various generic inserts about funds, the firm moved towards a fully integrated and personalised update booklet featuring information relevant to each individual recipient.
Ultimately, given the improved clarity, environmental benefits and cost savings involved in tailored communications, any savvy investment management firm that does not already produce personalised statements ought to be seriously considering doing so.
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