Financial advisor content marketing is having a moment. As the pandemic sent more people to remote work and prevented seminars and face-to-face meetings, reaching clients and prospects with relevant content became a powerful tool for business development.
But choosing a content marketing campaign usually creates a dilemma for firms—either they take a generic, scattershot approach that dilutes the effectiveness of their outreach, or they continually spend hours of painstaking effort creating more targeted and personalized campaigns.
Technology is now eliminating that dilemma, according to Laura Kimble, Vice President of Product and Machine Learning at Clout by TIFIN, an AI-powered digital marketing platform for financial advisory firms.
It’s important for advisors who want to grow to be able to establish and target niche clientele and prospects with the messaging and content that is relevant, and Clout’s AI is capable of choosing the best content for the right clients and prospects at the right time.
“Just like Spotify is able to recommend brand-new albums you’ve never heard before in a matter of minutes, we can recommend relevant articles that our platform pulled off the internet that same day,” said Kimble. “Our algorithms are trained to read the content, understand the context and meaning of the content and make recommendations to advisors to help them with their campaign objectives.
How does Clout achieve personalized content matching and deliver the right message and marketing to the right client, at the right time?
Clout scrapes a broad breadth of content, millions of individual pieces, that are screened for quality and then sorted for relevance. Clout’s source material comes from a variety of sources: a) publicly available RSS feeds, sourcing from over 140 different media publishers, b) a firm’s proprietary content library and c) Clout’s content library that is updated on a monthly basis based on Clout’s insight on macro trends (e.g. inflation) or seasonal events (e.g. tax planning).
“We are ingesting thousands of articles every day,” said Kimble. “Each day there are at least 3,000 articles ingested into our public article feed. Our technology is smart enough to not only make sense of this content, but also show advisors high-quality content that matches their target audiences. Our algorithm focuses on thought leadership pieces. We filter out news, stock tips, and other lighter touch articles, to focus on pieces that help explain, educate, and provide value to our advisors campaigns.”
Thus, the first part of Clout’s algorithm operates at a broad level, whittling down the articles it ingests to those that are clearly relevant for advisors, clients and prospects. The platform won’t send out day-to-day spot news or breaking news—in other words, clients and prospects won’t receive generic articles about the movements of major market indices like the S&P 500.
The second part is topic tagging—most anyone who has worked with web-pages or content management systems is familiar with the idea of tagging, associating content with certain topics for organization and to make it easier for users to find the content they want. Every piece of content that comes onto Clout’s platform is automatically tagged with topics.
“These topics can range from financial-focused topics, like saving for retirement or for college, to viewpoint-specific topics like EVs, AI, healthcare or biopharm,” said Kimble. “We have more than 460 topics on our ontology, but this continues to grow as we see advisors looking for new themes being searched on Clout.”
Everything is tagged based on words that appear in the article, the title of the article, and what Clout determines the article to be about. Then the topic tags are used to sort and personalize content.
The advantage of Clout’s algorithm is that thousands of articles can be tagged in a matter of seconds, and it allows Clout to be very consistent with the way content is tagged.
Daniel Kahneman, in his behavioral finance best-seller “Thinking Fast and Slow,” extolled the ability of algorithms to be better, and faster, predictors than human intuition.
“I might think an article needs one set of tags, but you might think differently, because we each have different criteria in our heads,” said Kimble. “With an algorithm, it is consistent. It also allows us to have a broader set of tags. If we were doing this manually, you wouldn’t want to have to sort through 460-plus tags. With an algorithm, it’s no problem.”
Clout creates a hierarchy of topics—so “Fixed Income” might be a high-level category, and subordinate to it would be Bonds, and subordinate to bonds would be corporate credits and municipal bonds. Each topic has 20-to-30 different keywords and key-phrases associated with it.
From there, content is curated for advisors, clients and prospects based on the tags, so Clout can recommend content for an advisor to deliver to their audiences.
Just as Netflix and Spotify are able to offer suggestions and playlists based on content that users have previously selected, over time Clout learns how to be more specific about the content it recommends for clients and prospects.
“The way we did this is we took a very large set of articles and went through it, telling the algorithm that this one is just news, but this other one is insight, and this other one is thought leadership,” said Kimble. “We trained the algorithm to learn that, so it can ingest the article text and title and discern which is which. It’s not 100% right every time, but we are able to trim and get excellent accuracy so it ends up learning and continuing to improve over time.”
At the end of the day, Clout is capable of delivering advisors better content to share with their audiences and saving both time and effort.
Clout’s ontology is constantly evolving and growing, said Kimble.
“We’re also leveraging the ontology from our sister firm, Magnifi by TIFIN, which makes researching and investing faster, easier and more powerful through a semantic search engine” said Kimble. “That gives us a large core of intellectual-property ontology to leverage, and it’s constantly evolving and getting better. It’s designed like a living creature that gets smarter over time the more input we give it.”
So, for example, if an advisor wants to target a list composed of women who attended a technology seminar, that list can be ingested by Clout, whose algorithms will recognize that it is a list of women who attended a technology seminar and create a topic list around women, investing and technology.
Clout will then match articles on a set of topics that it thinks that audience segment might be interested in, offering its recommendations to the advisor.
“Then as an advisor starts sharing content with that segment, maybe sending out a newsletter with five articles, we can measure which articles they are clicking on and engaging with and what they are actually reading,” said Kimble. “The algorithm might recognize that your group of women from the technology seminar are specifically interested in driverless cars or maybe also generally interested in saving for retirement, topics and nuances we didn’t initially pick up on. The algorithm will learn over time what that segment of prospects are interested in and continue to recommend new articles to keep them engaged.”
The technology doesn’t send out articles directly or without approval, it just makes recommendations, said Kimble. This is where the human component of Clout comes in.
Clout’s advisor success team helps advisors select articles to use in newsletters and social media campaigns targeted towards their clients and prospects.
“For advisors, this is a super powerful piece of technology, but you also get a dedicated financial marketing specialist when you work with Clout that can help you navigate the ideation and execution of marketing campaigns,” said Kimble. “The world’s most powerful platform won’t get used if people don’t feel comfortable using it, so we’re here to help advisors get up to speed on the platform and maximize its capabilities.”
Ultimately, through Clout’s AI-powered algorithms and dedicated marketing specialists, financial advisors are able to stand up hyper-personalized digital marketing campaigns that are relevant to their target audiences in a fraction of the time. This approach leads to highly-impactful campaigns that drive results.