It’s Time Institutional Managers Stop Ridiculing “Retail” Marketing and Start Learning From It

My wife just bought a stationary bike online. She researched, read reviews, comparison shopped and eventually picked one. Two weeks later we are still getting pop-ups and direct emails with offers for all sorts of exercise equipment.

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I have zero reason to expect this to be a surprise to you. We have pretty much accepted the fact that nearly every business with a web presence is tracking our activity, collecting information and targeting us with these “remarketing” ad campaigns.

Every business outside of the alternatives space that is. Makes you scratch your head as to why, though, given the level of sophistication the industry applies to all other parts of its business. What is particularly hard to reconcile is that these same managers that aren’t collecting information about the prospective investors that interact with their digital footprint are actively capturing and scrubbing every relevant transaction-related data point they can get their hands on.

What’s even more surprising is just how genuinely surprised many managers seem to be that data to profile prospect interest is even available. So, while their ‘consumer’ mind is totally numb to web-based data tracking, their ‘professional’ mind is completely astonished when presented with detailed page activity from a fund marketing deck they perused seconds ago, or viewership activity on a manager video they just watched.

People consistently tell us that if they’re going to see ads, they want them to be relevant. That means we need to understand their interests… Although advertising to specific groups existed well before the internet, online advertising allows much more precise targeting and therefore more-relevant ads.

Mark Zuckerberg,
“The Facts About Facebook,” The Wall Street Journal

Although I quoted Zuckerberg – I don’t even have a Facebook account myself, partly because of my own privacy concerns. But the reality is, I am not going to stop using the rest of the internet. So, while I agree, the persistent monitoring can be annoying, it’s not necessarily bad. Particularly when what is pushed back to you is highly relevant. So, just as you receive content related to a subject you have been following, or “random” offers on products you have sitting in a merchant’s digital shopping cart, there is no reason not to use similar modern tools to identify how others are interacting with you online.

As Zuckerberg points out, this is nothing more than just sophisticated targeted marketing - an evolution of how things have always been sold. But rather than receiving a call during dinner from a salesperson with some irrelevant offering as we once did, when done right - now you may get a notification at exactly the moment you are looking at a product you actually care about.

And for those that still think this is creepy “to do to” an investor, keep in mind that just like you are no longer asking questions of a sales clerk at the store, investors are no longer calling you with requests for general background information.  In the self-discovery economy, it’s being done discretely online.  

Then ask yourself which do you think the investor would prefer...an email from a fund manager that is marketing a strategy that she is “coincidentally” actively diligencing, or a random phone call from someone raising money for an investment product that doesn’t come close to fitting her mandate and probably never will?

By JD David