Schroders: using content to explain the emotional side of investment

FirstWord worked with Schroders on a successful content marketing campaign that uses animation, short films and a quiz to help people understand which type of investor they are so they can sleep better at night. Sophy Buckley reports

An eight-minute, animated online test developed to help you understand what type of investor you are is proving spectacularly popular. It garnered more than 550 items of media coverage globally within the first three months of its launch and within six months had been taken by more than 30,000 people. That’s an incredible number when you consider that most online tests are just a couple of minutes long and a fair proportion assess your cat-like attributes, rather than how comfortable you are making a loss on an investment.

The test is part of investIQ, an online content marketing campaign by global investment fund Schroders to help people understand the role emotions play in their investment decisions. Its success has seriously exceeded the firm’s expectations. Besides the number taking the test and the press interest, it has had more than 13m social-media views and prompted more than 1m social-media actions to date, including engagements and video views.

Outstripping expectations

“I’m very proud of this piece of work,” says Courtney Waterman, head of EMEA marketing. “We thought that perhaps 10,000 people might do the test in its first year. We’ve far exceeded that and it keeps growing.”

The idea behind the campaign was to give people useful tools to help them better understand how their personality might influence their investment needs and choices.

“We wanted to help people talk about the role emotions have in investing. This is very different to the traditional approach to investing, which is analytical, focusing on process and performance. That can be overwhelming. We aim to show users through educational content and behavioural science that it isn’t only what they know but also who they are that could affect their investment decisions,” she says.

There are many interesting aspects to this piece of content marketing, from the use of animations, scripted by FirstWord, through film, social media and press support, to the fact that the campaign talks to investors – a group to which Schroders has no direct link. As a fund manager, its business is with financial advisers or institutional investors.

Marketing as education

“It is aimed at the end user and we did that to showcase our commitment to investors. It is pure education, not lead generation. We don’t sell direct to investors but we felt it was in our interests to make sure people are comfortable with investing, to help them sleep at night,” Waterman explains. “We want to spark conversations with financial advisers.”

The campaign was some time in the making, ultimately launching in October 2017.

It had been clear for a while, thanks to Schroders’ annual global investor study, that there were significant gaps in understanding investment triggers. As a result, the firm had done some work on risk tolerance and product selection, but it hadn’t really developed that into any big coherent insight that could form the basis of a campaign. When Waterman joined the firm in 2016, she wanted to take this work further.

“I wanted to revive this thread, so we spent some time talking about it, let it ferment for six months and then did a big brainstorm,” she says. “We realised it was about reassuring investors. Investing is a very personal thing – like deciding where you want to work, what type of company, big or small, start-up or corporate. Different things suit different people and that’s all to the good. It’s important to know who you are.”

Exploring your inner investor

InvestIQ is a Schroders’ micro-site. It has three distinct sections, including the quiz, which is at its heart. The other sections are Educational content such as: What you know: the essentials of investing; and Understanding investing – investing in a nutshell. Then a behavioural section which explains your potential investment characteristics in more detail. Visitors can consume as much or as little of the content as they need. Some sections are voice over film; others are animations.

“InvestIQ was built in-house with close collaboration between technology, design, user-experience and content teams as well as third parties. Right from conception, it incorporated user-experience principles. During the initial discovery phase we used different personas as the starting point for everything, creating meaningful journeys for those with little investment knowledge, as well as for seasoned investors looking to learn more about themselves,” she says.

Collaborating on specialisms

Outside specialists included FirstWord and behaviour economists at Warwick University, who brought skills not available in-house. “We needed different agencies with different skill sets,” says Waterman. “We wanted the whole campaign to be robust, so we needed specialist input.”

She also gave careful consideration to the form of content for each section. “The form of the content plays a vital role in getting your message across. We were trying to bring complex and sometimes abstract investment concepts to life. Research tells us that visuals are processed much faster by the brain that text. It means users respond better to this type of rich media. We thought film would work for some ideas, but animations are great for the more abstract ones,” she explains.

Experts in the art of communication

FirstWord, with whom she had worked previously when at BlackRock, helped identify the subject areas and write scripts for the animated films. “We have excellent in-house writers, but there was no way I could take them off their day jobs. All the writers at FirstWord have had previous careers in business journalism and are expert communicators. I could leave them to identify, simplify and prioritise the relevant topics from the whole universe of investment and asset management. The first scripts had a few iterations to get the tone of voice right; the subsequent ones were very easy,” she says.

Once everything was complete, UK promotion was handled by Schroders’ ad agency – Ptarmigan – and included a campaign with the Daily Telegraph that achieved an impressive click-through rate. “At 0.42 it well exceeds Ptarmigan’s benchmark for multiple creatives on a page,” says Waterman.

The promotional campaign included a series of teasers and puzzles to show how easily your brain can play tricks on you. For example, one question asked what place you would be in if in a race you overtook the person in second place. The idea is to see if people use instinct or logic and encourange you to ‘know your own mind’.

Today investIQ is live in 17 countries in 14 different languages. That means there are 364 videos in total. “It was a huge job,” says Waterman. But the campaign hasn’t ended yet. The investIQ quiz can be white labeled for financial advisers to use – a move that has been very well received among that community. One global bank has already taken it up and several others are working on it. And Waterman and her team are looking at the data they have harvested from the micro-site and quiz for trends around which they can build more stories to help educate investors further.

“This campaign has really delivered and we’ve got some new ideas and plan to develop it further,” she says. “Content marketing is one of the most important pillars of marketing; it’s at its heart. Being able to develop non-product content is very important, whether it’s a campaign like this or sophisticated thought leadership. It’s about creating content that you know will resonate, then delivering it and putting together an ad campaign to support it using social media, online and events, all of which you can continuously measure and improve upon.”