New Insight Into Advisor Marketing: Those Mobile Apps Make A Difference

Cogent Reports released some fascinating data this week about the effectiveness of various digital, traditional and media marketing tactics. Of course, what’s not to love about the headline of the press release: “Digital Outreach Delivers Impressive Results for Asset Managers.”

Websites and Webinars scored well, but the big surprise was the finding:
“On average, more than three-quarters (76%) of advisors exposed to asset managers’ proprietary mobile apps indicated they are likely to increase business with the firm, compared with only 34% of advisors who were not exposed (a 42-percentage-point lift).”

This is for Q1 data posted to the Cogent Reports Advisor Touchpoints™ portal, which tracks the performance of the marketing efforts of the 15 leading mutual fund, exchange-traded fund (ETF) and variable annuity (VA) providers.

Not to be crass but...ka-ching! Driving more business is what marketing is all about.

Of the nine Cogent touchpoints, the average lift ranges from a low of 15 percentage points for News recall to the high of 42 percentage points for mobile apps and Websites.

I encourage you to read the press release and a related blog post with an image that names the Cogent-tracked firms that are leaders in the various tactics. It’s a three-way tie between J.P. Morgan Funds, Franklin Templeton and Vanguard in the apps category, and the American Funds Website still rocks, according to this data. 

Awesome intel and thanks to Cogent for giving us a peek at the proprietary research. 

Compared To B2B, B2C

It's exciting to think that something so new (the first apps were launched in 2008, and asset manager apps followed) could be having such an impact for app providers.

Unfortunately, a relative few asset managers have committed to what's required to launch and continue to maintain/enhance an app (see a related April 2013 post and October 2013 post). Prior to this data, some have struggled to make a case for the investment required. Providers' business success with apps has been a bit of a sleeper.

Every business needs a Website and email and print materials (I guess). But a mobile app? That's been assumed to be optional in this industry—even though by 2013, 92% of the top global brands had apps in Apple's App Store and 75% in Google's Play Store, and small businesses, including many financial advisors', have followed with their own apps.

Also, a milestone was crossed last year when comScore reported that 52% of the time consumers spent online occurred within apps, leaving 40% of the time spent on desktop browsers and 8% on smartphone and tablet browsers. 

Mobile apps may be even more important when marketing to advisors than in other forms of business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. The graphs below are a rough comparison of what Cogent reports is effective in advisor marketing versus B2B and B2C marketing, as reported on by Webmarketing 123 in a February 2015 report, 4th annual State of Digital Marketing report.

There is a difference to keep in mind when considering these: Cogent data tracks financial advisor response to the digital, print and media marketing of 15 tracked firms while the Webmarketing 123 data is based on a survey of marketers’ view of content marketing effectiveness, including return on investment. 

Based on what’s shown below, what works across the three types of marketing is generally in sync. The big divergence, however, is in the importance of a mobile app to advisor marketing. It’s not like the rest of B2B marketing. In fact, the importance of the delivery form (although likely to be much heavier in content and product data) is more on the order of B2C marketing.

First here’s a simple ranking of Cogent’s touchpoints using the Cogent measure in the first image above: lift in asset manager brand consideration after exposure, in percentage points.

The graphs below show some of the same tactics, as reported on by Webmarketing 123.

B2B Digital Marketing Effectiveness
B2C Digital Marketing Effectiveness

A few additional notes:

  • "Website" is not a discrete category in the Webmarketing 123 survey. Instead, it reports on more granular work than Cogent—videos, case studies, blogs, infographics and ebooks—all of which presumably have a presence on the B2B or B2C marketer’s Website. If I could pick one category for Cogent to add to its touchpoint work, I’d ask for two: videos and blogs.
  • Note that SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search are two categories broken out in the Webmarketing 123 survey and appropriately so since both are deemed to produce more revenue (16% and 12%, respectively) than social media or display. The Cogent work does not report on these, which are less common tactics at asset managers across the board although practiced by the leading firms tracked. Metrics on these would also be great to see.
  • At what point does B2C, B2B and advisor marketing, too, address the effectiveness of advertising especially relative to the spend?