If recorded in 2023, Madonna would be singing about living in a digital world … rather than a material world. With so much choice and competition, getting your website to stand out to visitors and make an impression can be difficult. One way to delight users and connect with your audience is with micro-interactions. Let’s look at the different types of micro-interactions that engage and elevate the user experience.
Button Animations: meaning animations that occur when a user hovers over a button, which can include button colour or arrow shape changes. Noticeable animations can evoke interest and/or emotion in users.
Carousels: meaning slider or slideshow of images or content. Carousels can help lay out content and important information in smaller amounts of space to reduce scrolling.
Accordions: meaning a heading that expands with more relevant information. Accordions help condense information so your target investor audience doesn’t miss important information.
Hover Effects: when a user hovers over a tile, text or image, additional information pops up – before the user clicks on that tile, etc. and is taken to a new page. This is a great way to lay out content, but the downside is that search engine optimization isn’t captured this way.
Parallax: means layering the background and foreground to give space, depth and movement when a user scrolls through the site. A great example is the visual in our Careers page. Parallax keeps users engaged and on the page longer, while not overpowering content.
Shortcuts: can include quickly sharing articles on social media, providing the ability to scroll back to the top of the page or other content, among others. Shortcuts allow you to direct users to important information.
Mobile: with so many people visiting websites on their phones, micro-interactions make viewing content easier on a smaller screen. Accordions and carousels are great for the mobile experience. Learn more about optimized mobile content here.
Modest functional animations evoke engagement and enhance the overall user experience of a website. These might seem like small changes, but they make a big difference in user retention if they are sprinkled throughout a website. Micro-interactions are also measurable in Google Analytics, since you can track where users are spending their time.
Contact us today at email@example.com to ensure your website is making a lasting impression.
We’re well into a promising new era of hedge fund marketing that began when the SEC ended an 80-year-old ban in 2013 that prevented private funds from broadly advertising their services.
Hedge funds used to be limited in how they promoted themselves online. But if you’re running a hedge fund or in the process of launching one, you now have the internet at your disposal to better communicate your message and connect with investors.
If you think your current digital strategy and your hedge fund’s website design could use some work, or if you’re on the fence about having a website at all, here are some important points to consider.
Build credibility and trust
If you’re focused on institutional investors, allocators or other well-informed groups, they’re no doubt researching funds online before meeting with you. In fact, 61% of B2B customers start their analysis with a general web search and 56% start directly on specific company websites.1
Having a professional website is your opportunity to immediately express who and what is behind your fund and, in turn, build a level of trust that’s essential with sophisticated audiences.
Be noticed and stay above the fray
If your peers have tapped into the power of search engine optimization (“SEO”), then you need a well-constructed site that can be found too.
This can mean the difference between being noticed or buried by a host of other competing fund messages. Case in point, 75% of users don’t bother clicking the second page of search results, so staying above the fray with a compelling, searchable site is critical.2
Enhance your brand and sales efforts
Hedge fund branding remains a pivotal part of the industry. Aside from pitches, a great website may be the most important way to tell your story. A well-designed website will help you distinguish your value proposition, team expertise and the strength of your investment process. It will set you up for better conversations with investors and help you explain the benefits of your fund.
Simply be there for investors
Simply being accessible and making it easy to contact you with questions and concerns is important. Having a website that highlights key team members and their contact information provides transparency and legitimacy.
If you’re looking to distinguish your hedge fund, build trust or capture more attention with a strong website, we can help. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Demandbase, Demand Gen Report’s 7th Annual B2B Buyer’s Survey, 2017
2 ImFORZA, 8 SEO Stats That Are Hard to Ignore
If your department is undertaking a wide-sweeping marketing materials audit to identify stale messages and outdated figures, or if your firm is taking its marketing initiatives in a more digital direction, this five-step process will help you lead your team through this seemingly complicated process.
Step 1: Setting your auditing goals
Before jumping into writing and design, before you even begin hunting down all of your firm’s old marketing materials, we recommend that you clearly define your goals. Why are you conducting the audit? How will the audit help your marketing initiatives going forward? Typical answers are:
“We want our marketing materials to be relevant and have a longer life.”
“We want to lower our long-term marketing costs via fewer refreshes and fewer print runs.”
“We want our marketing materials to be read by a wider audience.”
“We want to engage our clients and prospects in new ways.”
Step 2: Create a content map
Now that you’ve clearly defined your goals, it’s time to categorize and reprioritize your marketing materials.
Start by using the goals that you defined in Step 1 to determine your grouping methodology. Ways that are more traditional include grouping your materials by product or campaign. Lately, however, we’ve seen a shift to grouping materials demographically or by life stage. For example, if you are trying to target millennials, you would list in a spreadsheet all the materials that apply to this cohort.
If you group materials demographically, you’ll find that many of them apply to savers and investors at different life stages. Make sure these materials end up in both buckets. Why? When you rethink formats in Step 3, you may decide to deliver similar content in radically different formats depending on who you’re engaging.
Step 3: Rethink formats
There’s a good chance the majority of the materials that you’re auditing are print brochures. And there’s an even better chance that your firm wants to take many of them in new digital directions. A marketing materials audit is the ideal time to have these discussions.
While you may simply update these brochures, keep in mind that infographics, microsites and online articles are all great ideas because they are engaging, sharable and easy to update, all of which deliver on the goals outlined in Step 1.
Step 4: Audit your resources
Is your team big enough to handle the updates and fill in the gaps that you identified? If the wide-ranging scope of a marketing materials audit seems too large, complex or time consuming, think about hiring a content partner who can help create a strategy for your refreshed content.
If you need additional resources, make sure that your content partner has the product and industry knowledge to effectively round out your team.
Step 5: Production
Now that you know what marketing materials you have and which ones you want to refresh, it’s time for your writers, designers and developers to get to work. Coordinating your resources is time consuming. But clear timelines and focused work – that is, strategically working through your list without running too many refreshes at once – will help your team deliver great results.
Although a marketing materials audit will create some challenges, especially as your typical day-to-day responsibilities aren’t going anywhere, following these five steps will ensure that this challenging and exciting initiative goes more smoothly.
If you want to read more about auditing your marketing materials, read our post on how to better align your materials with your sales team.
Does it sound like it’s time for a marketing materials audit? Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or email@example.com.
A fresh, modern look. A brand to drive the business forward. Capturing the energy of your leadership in the industry. These are some of the goals of a rebranding project.
IFSE Institute recently underwent a successful rebrand, and we sat down with Christina Ashmore, Managing Director, and Fatema Nazarali, Director of Sales and Business Development, to uncover the best practices they implemented to take the IFSE Institute brand to the next level.
ext.: The new brand looks great. Can you tell us a bit about why you chose to rebrand IFSE Institute?
Christina Ashmore: Over the past few years, IFSE Institute has really come into its own in terms of the relationship with the brand of its parent company, The Investment Funds Institute of Canada (“IFIC”).
We had a challenge with name recognition despite exceptional loyalty among our clients and IFSE’s great reputation in the industry.
At a practical level, we needed to standardize our look and feel, given that the many small changes made throughout our history had led to inconsistencies.
“We had a challenge with name recognition despite exceptional loyalty among our clients and IFSE’s great reputation in the industry.”
ext.: Can you tell us about your rebranding process?
Fatema Nazarali: Given that we wanted to modernize the look and feel of IFSE Institute and bring the company into the future, we took a comprehensive approach and started from the ground up.
Our first step was to ask probing questions about what we wanted our brand to convey. This was long before we thought about the minutia of creating a nice, new website. We asked questions regarding how we wanted to be positioned in the industry as ourselves and among competitors.
All of our branding work needed to be in line with our strategic mission and play to the strength of the organization; namely, exceptional customer service and a high-value education.
And from here the agency started working with us on developing our key messaging framework.
“Our branding work needed to be in line with our strategic mission and play to the strength of the organization.”
ext.: Did you face any challenges along the way?
Christina: One of the biggest challenges early on was finding the time to get everyone involved. We knew we wanted to get everyone’s buy-in at all stages and show the team what we were trying to achieve. We regularly showed the team how the work was progressing and asked for their feedback on creative.
Getting the whole team involved was a great experience. They provided valuable insights as we developed the creative. We believe it helped the team to embrace the new brand.
“Getting the whole team involved was a great experience. They provided valuable insights as we developed the creative. We believe it helped the team to embrace the new brand.”
Cost is obviously a challenge. So, you need to lay out the strategy from beginning to end and request customized solutions when required. While measuring the return on investment for branding is difficult, it’s important to remember that revenue generation is not immediate and there are many intangible benefits to consider. It’s definitely worth the effort.
ext.: Why did you decide to work with an agency for the rebrand?
Fatema: We recognized that we needed marketing expertise to be able to execute a rebrand strategy. By working with an agency, we could stay focused on our day-to-day deliverables and strategic goals without needing to add headcount.
“We could stay focused on our day-to-day deliverables and strategic goals.”
Our agency ensured we asked the right questions up front, long before jumping into execution. They set up the branding strategy and helped identify where we wanted to be positioned and who we were targeting.
Given the uniqueness of the financial services industry, we needed to work with a team that had specialized knowledge. They knew our clients and business partners, and were able to tie everything together seamlessly and on point.
ext.: How has the new brand been received?
Christina: The new brand has been very well received. It’s elevated our professionalism and demonstrated to the industry that we’re taking the company to the next level.
“It’s elevated our professionalism and demonstrated to the industry that we’re taking the company to the next level.”
More than ever before, people are asking to keep our brochures in their office. The new brand has really strengthened client confidence and loyalty.
Fatema: Internally, too, there’s been a strong reception. The IFSE team takes great pride in the new brand and the company. The rebrand was a positive experience for everyone involved.
Visit ifse.ca to check out the new brand.
There are is one overarching challenge all marketers face when trying to deliver engaging, sharable content: finding the time and creative talent to produce it all.
But for financial services marketers like us, there’s another big challenge: finding people with the technical knowledge to produce accurate content for this unique sector.
Faced with these two challenges, it makes sense to work with a content partner. Here are 9 reasons why:
1. Control your operating costs
With marketing budgets shrinking across the industry, finding opportunities to manage costs is a big win for marketing VPs and managers. And using an outsourced partner to deliver this type of content can be very cost effective.
2. Improve your focus
If your marketing team has many projects on the go, the room for error expands. Having a partner that is solely focused on your content production reduces the chance of error.
3. Access expertise
A financial services content partner brings senior thinking to the table. These insights are often informed by running many projects across the industry.
4. Access new capabilities
Content partners have access to products and services that your in-house team may not, by choice or because of budgetary restraints.
5. Structured process
A content partner has a structured process specific to the content marketing world, meaning a focus on the fast and efficient delivery of your content.
6. Quicker turnaround times
Given their expertise and resources, content partners can get your work done faster. In this era of increasing content requirements, the ability to produce timely content is essential.
7. Frees up your resources
Your internal team would likely contribute more to your company’s success if they focus on strategic initiatives or on an important client. This allows your content partner to assume more of your ongoing needs, while also helping to strategizing future content initiatives.
8. Get time-consuming projects off your plate
Content, sales and practice management campaigns take a lot of time, which can distract your team from their day-to-day responsibilities.
9. Extend your team
A content partner is just a great way to beef up your team without adding headcount.
Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org and make us an extension of your team.
But can you make a PowerPoint? We’re asked this question all the time.
It’s no surprise. “Financial services marketing and investment commentaries” covers a broad range of possibilities. To find out more about investment commentaries, click here. To find out more about financial services marketing, read on.
Services at Ext. Marketing Inc.
Yes, we make PowerPoint presentations – and we can do much, much more for you. Here are just some of the ways that we can help you and your firm achieve your marketing goals while alleviating many of your concerns and challenges around resourcing:
- Copy and design for PowerPoint presentations
- Copy and design for newsletters
- Digital newsletters and eBlasts
- Copy and design for brochures, infographics, sales tools and fund sheets
- Copy and design for websites and microsites
- Strategize and execute custom content campaigns
- Write blog posts for content marketing and other usages
- Help you brand and get the word out about a new product or services
- Conduct marketing materials audits
- Copy for executive speeches
- Copy for press releases
- Lead brainstorming sessions
- Enhance your social media activity and presence
- Script, storyboard, shoot and edit videos
- We even offer print production and translation services!
You get the picture – we’re a full-service marketing and communications partner for financial services firms.
If you have a marketing challenge, we can help you work through it. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or email@example.com.
Not everyone is talking about accessible design. But they should be. This article provides an introduction to accessible design concepts and links to more information.
The following are just a few of many ideas that will get you thinking about taking on a broader, more thorough accessibility review.
Making print accessible
Accessible design for print is about clear messages – making sure that your readers understand what you’re saying.
People’s perception of colour can be affected by specific visual ailments, the environment or injury. While colour blindness impacts a certain portion of the population, the contrast between colour hues affects everyone.
It may now be a little passé, but do you remember the blue dress meme? If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time to review issues such as contrast and colour.
“Big letters” are important but it goes much further than that. In the corporate world today, the majority of accessibility discussions around fonts focus on kerning (the space between letters) and leading (the space between lines), as these have a dramatic impact on print legibility. So, avoid complicated fonts. Choose fonts with recognizable letters and don’t overcrowd your copy,.
This is a slightly more abstract idea than colour and font. Hierarchy is about the organization and prioritization of content in the overall structure of your document.
When attempting to improve hierarchy, designers often increase header size, add subheads and create bullets (where possible). Hierarchy is incredibly important in web design as well, which we’ll get to next.
Making web design accessible
While the three concepts above also apply to the web, accessible web design is about clear navigation – making sure your visitors can find the information they need. Here are two ideas that are a little more specific to the web.
Content must be intuitive. Your visitors should be able to predict specific elements, such as navigation, on each page.
People must be able to access and navigate through content no matter what tools they use to do so, from a mouse to a keyboard, as well as voice recognition.
A note on AODA
When it comes to web design, accessibility goes beyond look and feel. You need to develop your website according to accessibility principles.
Although the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) currently applies to companies with 50 or more employees, we think investment firms of all sizes should think seriously about incorporating AODA principles into their next redesign.
Examples of AODA best practices include:
- Do not add content through Cascading Style Sheet (“CSS”) because it may be inaccessible to screen readers
- Tag PDFs so that they’re accessible to screen readers
- Add ALT attributes to IMG elements in your HTML
Links for more info on accessible design
There’s a lot more to say about accessible design. Check out these sources for all the info you need:
- For more details tips and insights, read RGD Ontario’s Access-ability
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
- For web development issues, visit W3C
- Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org to start making your print and web design more accessible.
When it comes to representing your company’s brand, your logo is right at the top of the list. It should always look crisp and clear. So much depends on sending the right file type for print, web design, promos and sponsorships. But how are you supposed to know which file type to send? Here’s a tip: everything you need to know is right there in the file name extension. Some of the more common graphic file extensions include:
GIF (Graphical Interchange Format)
These low-resolution (low-res) files look best on the web, and are small enough to send via email. Avoid using them for printed materials.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
PNG files look great in PowerPoint presentations. These are also low-res, and not recommended for printing.
JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
JPG files are fine for office printing and the web. JPG files can be medium- or low-res. They are not necessarily crisp enough, however, for high-quality printing.
AI (Adobe Illustrator)
AI is a source file, meaning the format in which your logo was actually created. Most printers, large-format sign makers and companies that produce promotional products prefer to receive AI files.
EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
EPS files are also great for printers, large-format sign makers and promo companies.
TIF (Tagged Image File Format)
TIF files can be quite large in size, but are very reliable for high-quality printing.
Avoid getting into a “TIF” with your printer and “GIF” them the right logo file every time!
Contact us today at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or email@example.com for help with logo design, printing or brand development.
Experienced financial services marketing pros are quick to respond to trends and can pull together a snazzy e-campaign at the drop of a hat.
But what if your campaign doesn’t fit the constraints of your own website? Large corporate sites can be, by necessity, tightly controlled and costly to update.
The solution lies in the nifty microsite.
- (Says Wikipedia) is an individual web page or group of pages built to function as an independent subset of a larger website
- Landing page or main page may have its own address or domain and can be linked to a main site (or not)
- Can be removed from the server completely once it has fulfilled its function
- Has its own unique navigation and content
- Can have a completely different design than the main site with which it is affiliated (this is the fun part)
Why microsites are a good tool
Microsites are useful for financial services marketers who want to emphasize a new product or launch a campaign, as well as for promoting special events or contests.
What’s great about a microsite is that you can create just a few web pages that mimic the exact look and feel of the campaign you are promoting, which is something marketing teams don’t always have the freedom to do on established corporate websites.
You can create just a few web pages that mimic the exact look and feel of the campaign you are promoting, which is something marketing teams don’t always have the freedom to do on established corporate websites.
Also, real estate on a corporate home page is hard to come by – your campaign might not get the space it deserves. But you can tailor your microsite to point visitors exactly where you want them to go.
Remember to think about …
Consider factoring a microsite construction project into your next campaign budget. Some things you will need to take into consideration include:
- How long will your microsite will be live for?
- How will visitors get to it?
- How it will hook up with your main site?
Think carefully about navigation to avoid visitor confusion, and make sure you give people an easy exit back to the main page. A strong microsite will give your next campaign added reach, depth and interest, with the additional benefit of measuring the success of your campaign through analytics.
For help with microsite development, contact us at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re working at a smaller financial services firm, you may not have a brand guidelines document yet. The ideas and rules may be in your head … or they may be in constant flux. Either way, it’s time that changed.
Here are 11 good reasons why you and your company need to create clear brand guidelines. A brand guidelines document will:
1. Boost output
Enable different team members, especially in the marketing department, to work more effectively together.
2. Improve consistency
A brand guideline will help ensure that there is consistency across all of your firm’s communications, from internal HR emails to client-facing microsites.
3. Spread the word
A formalized and well-designed brand guideline will highlight the importance of the brand in relation to your firm’s public image.
4. Provide direction
Provide practical instructions on daily usage, so you’ll have to answer fewer questions. Your coworkers will thank you for this clarity.
5. Strengthen reputation
An inconsistent look and feel can weaken your firm’s reputation. So provide guidelines that reinforce a positive perception of your company.
6. Guarantee look and feel
Little things, like the regular vs. the narrow version of a font, can have a big impact. Help ensure everyone is using the right font, colour palette, graphics, etc.
7. Build relationships
Build relationships with different departments by working towards a common goal.
8. Increase output
Boost creative output by focusing everyone on the message, not the design details. You can save your design team many hours by cutting down on the number of revisions they need to make.
9. Educate coworkers
Provide a quick education on brand for new members of the marketing team.
10. Speed up changes
A well-thought-out brand guideline can make brand updates plug-and-play as any question can be addressed.
11. Stay ahead of your competitors
You can help your company maintain a leading edge by creating a strong, recognizable brand.
It might seem difficult to find the time to create a clear brand guideline for your firm, but it’s worth the effort. So schedule some time over the next while, and enlist your team and Ext. Marketing Inc., to get it done.
We can help you craft your firm’s brand guidelines. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or email@example.com.
Financial services marketers face challenges every day, from writing investor education articles to managing complex rebranding initiatives. There’s one marketing challenge that we all wish would never happen, even though it’s inevitable: communicating with investors about an underperforming investment solution.
So, tip #1: don’t hide from underperformance. Quite the opposite. Get in front of it, be transparent and talk about what matters most to investors. Trust and understanding will go a long way to building a strong, enduring relationship.
Identify investor concerns
Any project that tackles underperformance must start by identifying investor concerns. And when it comes to performance, investors typically have two highly important concerns:
- Am I overpaying for my investments?
- Will I achieve my financial goals?
Once you know investor concerns, use them to identify your key messages. Fees and the value of advice are hot-button topics in the financial services industry but for the purposes of this article, let’s move forward with the idea of reassuring your investors that they will meet their goals.
A note on the causes of underperformance
The reasons why a fixed income solution may underperform are different from those for an equity solution, and within equities, a Canadian solution may underperform for different reasons than a global solution. For example:
- A bond fund could underperform because of unexpected interest rate moves
- A Canadian fund may underperform because of its weighting to energy companies
- A global fund could underperform as a result of its geographic allocation
The point here is that no one-size-fits-all strategy exists for communicating about short-term underperformance. To do it right, you need robust product and industry knowledge, and the ability to make complex issues investor friendly.
You’ve identified the primary investor concern: they’re uncertain whether they will achieve their financial goals. Could there be a more valid concern? We don’t think so. So, now it’s time to execute.
1. Create a special brochure
By crafting a special print- and web-friendly brochure, you create an opportunity to talk about the benefits of the underperforming solution. For example, you can highlight:
- The manager’s philosophy and process – this is especially important if your firm has a strong history or if the manager has a truly unique approach
- The solution’s role in a diversified portfolio – investors may question why a certain solution made it into their portfolio, offering you the opportunity to talk about asset allocation
- The importance of focusing on long-term goals rather than short-term volatility – remind investors that they are on the right path
2. Build a microsite
If you want to reinforce the importance of diversification and asset allocation, you can create an interactive microsite that uses the underperforming solution to diversify investor portfolios. Microsites are a great choice since they can have a long life. Why? Because, in this example, the asset allocation story is important at all times.
For microsite tips, read Why microsites are a big deal.
3. Produce a whitepaper
We think that an investor-friendly whitepaper is equally valuable as a brochure in this situation because they naturally have a more sophisticated feel that relies on data. Talking about underperforming investment solutions isn’t about whitewashing poor returns, it’s about explaining the situation effectively and data can help you do this with clear examples.
For more on whitepapers, read Whitepaper tactics that work and Five best practices for creating better whitepapers.
4. Write an advertorial
Support your investors by supporting advisors. We recommend writing a piece specifically for a trade publication that not only references, but also builds, on the whitepaper mentioned above. Advertorials are a great way to reach a broad audience, and you can tie them into other marketing and ad campaigns.
5. Host a PM roadshow
Although portfolio manager roadshows might be falling out of favour as a result of their high costs, and while they aren’t our first recommendation, they’re still effective and beneficial if the portfolio manager believes a roadshow could help with retention efforts.
Since mutual fund underperformance is unavoidable, we think you should turn the challenge into an opportunity for you and your firm. Your honesty and transparency will help you build stronger relationships with investors. And don’t forget to equip advisors with relevant materials first, since they are the ones who communicate directly with clients and field many of the performance questions from them.
If you need help writing about an underperforming investment solution, contact us at 416.925.1700 or info @ext-marketing.com.
Knowing this isn’t going to help you build a website. But it will help you understand what the people you pay to build your website are doing.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) controls the underlying structure (or “semantics”) of your website. Among many other things, your web designer uses HTML to:
- Label headings and paragraph copy
- Create links to other webpages
- Label images
- Structure a page’s content
- Create lists, tables and forms
Also, well-written HTML code is more fundamental than ever as accessibility – e.g., designing a website that is easily understood by the screen readers that visually impaired users rely on – becomes more important.
When you see tags such as <body>, <p> and <section>, you’re looking at HTML that is structuring the content on your website.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) language controls how your website looks. From font size to background colour, your web designer uses CSS to make design decisions. Well-written CSS is essential because it will help you redesign your site quickly without running into problems that are hard to solve.
Have you changed your brand colours recently and they aren’t reflected on your website? A web designer can fix that using CSS without having to completely rebuild your website.
Code that looks like this:
is CSS and it’s telling web browsers how to display your website.