Why Digital Marketing for Investor Relations is Critical
I have an Investor Relations consultant since 2003, that is nearly 15 years in the profession. Digital marketing back then was seen as insignificant to the world of IR.
At times IR has been one of the most exciting and fun professions any person could hope.
There is always a new project, whether it is a ground breakthrough technology or start-up venture, or searching for the next new mineral deposit.
And as a result…
Setting up meetings for management, conference calling analysts, talking to shareholders (both retail and institutional) organizing investor road shows, scheduling broker meetings, or booking a CEO interview on a new radio program, the list goes on and one.
But much has changed since I first cut my teeth on a phone in 2003, and much of that is directly a result of the emergence of digital marketing in the world of investor relations.
This has a lot to do with many fundamental changes to the overall investment industry, changes that are still occurring.
After the horrific financial crisis of 2007-2008, the investment industry experienced massive changes.
The increasing trend of investment brokerages moving away from a transactional fee structure to a management fee has meant that there is less and less tolerance for speculative investments.
Compound this trend is the reality that regulations have tightened up what investments an investment advisor is allowed to introduce to a client, or if the compliance department will even sanction said transactions.
This has cumulated into the perfect storm to disrupt the traditional investor relations industry.
And for this reason, it has become increasingly more and more important for IR professionals to reach out directly to the investing public, and not to the investment professionals.
The key mechanism for reaching this elusive audience has been the Internet, and that is where digital marketing has emerged as a priority in the investor relations sector.
In many aspects, this is an exciting new time in our industry, but in others, it is rather unsettling.
Digital IR means different things to different people, and there still needs to be a lot of education to where we get to the point this is resolved.
Because we are dealing with the investment sector, it is a highly regulated industry, with very specific rules. For many Internet marketing professionals, they simply do not understand the realities of this type of environment.
And that is why IR consultants will either need to become savvy enough to understand how to incorporate a digital marketing campaign for their clients, or they will need to secure trusted sources for this service.
And make no mistake, this is a VERY specialized skill set.
One of the first things that people need to understand is that digital marketing is not SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is part of the digital marketing umbrella, but it is hardly defining, and in most cases, a totally inappropriate strategy for a public company looking to secure increased investor awareness.
Botton line SEO is highly cost prohibitive for most companies to engage, and it is probably no the best option for long-term, predictable success.
In 2019, you would be hard pressed to find an active public company that does not have some form of a website. Most of these websites will have an investor section that is dedicated to communicating with existing or prospective shareholders.
The investor section is an important digital tool that is critical to a successful investor relations program.
Unfortunately, many companies have not figured out how to maximize the potential to engage shareholders in a strategically designed investor section.
A properly designed IR Website or investor section can be a great opportunity for a company to reach out to shareholders and tell their story.
Pay Per Click Marketing
Investor relations involves many functions, one of the most important roles is to increase the overall investor awareness for the company. Pay per click marketing or PPC is one of the most effective ways to increase the profile of the company.
Previously, IR professionals would speak with registered investment advisors as a method to increase the awareness of the company, but that is becoming less and less viable as an option.
The reality is that more individuals or retail investors have discount online trading accounts to save money and make many of their own decisions.
This has facilitated the need for companies to directly engage these potential investors, who are doing their investment research through digital online tools.
PPC allows companies to select the digital media outlets that their advertisements appear, and pay only for results. The costs are predictable, and strategically designed landing pages can control the narrative when introducing the company to the public.
There are many different forms of PPC, but we have some IR related search engine marketing tips that can help you get started.
Yes, the powerpoint presentation is a digital marketing tool, that is critical to a well designed digital IR strategy.
Investor presentations are expected by the public and are often one of the first things to be accessed on the website.
But powerpoints are only the tip of the iceberg of the investor materials that could and should be developed. Another must is the corporate snapshot or summary, usually a 2-page (front and back) document that details the core facts about the company.
Another piece that is often overlooked is an up to date CEO interview, that accurately tells the story about the company and its vision for the future.
Much of investor relations is about storytelling and a well-crafted CEO interview can be effective at telling that story in a controlled environment.
Back in the day, we would aggregate a comprehensive investor package, that included the corporate presentation, snapshot, financial data, some recent press releases, and other relevant information. There is no reason the IR website shouldn’t have this all aggregated in a convenient location for visitors to download.
And don’t do something silly like put up a barrier such as a name squeeze as a prerequisite for downloading investor materials. This will only act as a deterrent for existing or potential shareholders to access these documents.
CRM, Email & The Telephone
Email and telephone are still highly effective digital tools, and they are a must for an effective IR strategy.
One of the first things I do with a new client is to look at their existing database. You would be shocked at how many companies either don’t have any database or they bring out a random collection of spreadsheets, data files and emails,
Regardless of whether you are collecting emails on the website, or business cards from a meet and greet, there are literally hundreds of free or cheap digital tools that can be used to organize these potential contacts. In a later post, I will go over some of these tools, but for right now keep a couple of these 4 in mind;
It is a free CRM, that can be used in conjunction with Hubspot’s premium marketing services, or not. In terms of a CRM, the free product is really handy, and more than enough for many IR professionals to build a decent database. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube if you need help with a specific task. Is this the best option for a CRM? No, but it is still very good, and it is free. If you’re not using a CRM at the moment, why not try out HubSpot, and once you ready, you can move on to a more comprehensive solution. Exporting your data out of Hubspot is also painless, so there is no excuse.
This is perhaps the most well known and easiest use email newsletter service available. It is free for the first 200 subscribers, so there is an opportunity to use the product a little before you have to invest in the premium services. One of the reasons that I preferred services such as MailChimp for emailing, is that they are ‘white labelled’ or trusted by many of the email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail.
A simple email newsletter service is the bare minimum though if you are feeling a little more adventurous, then a move toward a marketing automation app like Drip or InfusionSoft is an excellent choice.
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