Awards case study: How gyro increased TD Ameritrade Institutional's web traffic by 62%

See how gyro generated unprecedented levels of engagement for TD Ameritrade Institutional, including 62% increase in web traffic, 300% increase in click-through, and 200 social interactions 

Summary

After the recession, TD Ameritrade Institutional established Human Finance – a brand positioning campaign with the premise that people are more important than numbers. Years later the economy had improved, but the financial industry’s reputation hadn’t.

The organisation set out to write the next chapter of Human Finance by creating an integrated marketing campaign that humanised financial advisors. The Human Finance Project began as a recording booth that travelled to industry events nationwide, where RIAs shared why they put people first. But after the first few interviews, TDAI saw what it had really created was a movement that would elevate its brand and the RIA model as a whole.

The video stories act as the catalyst for independent advisors to contribute their own stories through video, social media and photography, as everyone comes together to challenge the negative perception of the industry. TDAI's website addresses the many facets of Human Finance, with the predominant focus being The Human Finance Project. It serves as the hub for its featured advisor videos, manifesto, the 160 plus videos it's already accumulated from industry conferences, as well as social amplification through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts, which are automatically directed to the website.

About TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade Institutional provides comprehensive brokerage and custody services to more than 4000 independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). TDAI believes the fiduciary standard – being obligated to put a client’s best interests first – gives advisors and clients the best chance for a successful relationship. That’s why its mission is to stand up for and support the RIA industry.

In addition to creating The Human Finance Project, TDAI has established an Office of Advisor Advocacy and Industry Affairs that works closely with policymakers, government officials and industry associations to ensure that RIAs’ needs are being represented.

Strategy

After the recession, perception of the financial industry was low. Most investors didn’t about RIAs, who were legally obligated to put their clients’ best interests ahead of their own.

A second challenge was differentiating RIAs from brokers. While RIAs are fee-only (they cannot accept commissions), brokers have started calling themselves fee-based as a way to fight back. And to step away from their negative stereotype, brokers now call themselves advisors – which created more confusion for investors since brokers and RIAs fall under the same umbrella. The strategy for The Human Finance Project was to:

  • Be the catalyst for changing how people think about financial advisors.
  • Create awareness of the RIA industry for investors.
  • Have brokers see the value of transitioning to the RIA model.

Objectives of the campaign

No one had addressed the negative perception of financial advisors head-on. TDAI led the way into providing insight into what the RIA profession was all about through storytelling. Traveling to industry events nationwide, a professional facilitator interviewed RIAs in The Human Finance Project booth.

The videos inspired other RIAs to contribute their stories through video, photography and social media, as everyone came together to challenge the negative perception of the industry.

To turn The Human Finance Project into a movement, participation was inclusive to all independent advisors nationwide, not just those who custody with TDAI.

HumanFinance.com/project was the content hub for the advisor stories, manifesto, syndicated content and social amplification to motivate other advisors to share their stories, learn how to build stronger relationships with clients, and help skeptical investors see the financial industry in a positive light.

Target audience

1. RIAs who custody with TDAI – it gave these RIAs a platform to share their personal stories, change the narrative in the industry and help them grow their business.
2. RIAs who don’t custody with TDAI – for the greater good of the industry, all independent financial advisors could participate in the project.
3. Brokers/students/career changers – by inspiring people to focus on client relationships, it would direct more people into the RIA profession, which desperately needs more advisors.
4. Investors – the general public has a negative perception of the financial industry. By creating awareness for the RIA model, it would inspire confidence for investors to work with RIAs.

Media, channels or techniques used

To create excitement, gyro leveraged an extensive PR and print campaign, video content, photography and social and digital media. All communications drove to Human Finance content hub. And to give the project an identifying mark, it created and used a logo animation on every communication.

The website addressed the many facets of Human Finance, with the predominant focus being The Human Finance Project. It served as the hub for three featured advisor videos, manifesto, the 160 plus videos accumulated from industry conferences, as well as social amplification through Instagram and Twitter posts, which are automatically directed to the website.

Embedding the videos with a 'share' feature allowed RIAs to share their story and help change investor perception. It also helped them build their business as prospects learned more about them.

To help advisors build stronger relationships, the website provides syndicated content from industry leaders including The Wall Street Journal, along with original thought leadership content. In addition, an upcoming Advisor Toolkit will provide an educational investor video and customisable templates, which advisors can use to easily communicate with clients.

Full-page ads have been running in industry publications, including Investment News and Barron’s, and banner ads have been placed on financial websites. The advertising focuses on its three featured advisors. It will soon begin targeting investors.

Timescales of the campaign

Research and Planning began in 2015. Due to compliance issues, there were a lot of adjustments required to ensure it could launch with the intent of the idea still intact.

Phase 1 – Testing: To ensure this was something the RIA community would get behind, it tested the idea at various industry conferences beginning in September 2015.
Phase 2 – Launch: The official launch was at TDAI’s largest annual conference, National LINC, in February 2016. This was to a large audience of RIAs, press, industry suppliers, and TDAI leadership and associates. The engagement and participation was totally unexpected, with positive response from press, clients and TDAI employees.

Results and Metrics: Over 160 videos have been recorded and shared since the project began. In addition, TDAI is now gathering photographic stories (akin to Humans of New York), of which it has over 60 contributions from just two events. Metrics associated with these are in the process of being monitored and compiled based on participation, engagement and sharing of the content. Optimisation tactics are being explored as a result.

Results

While the company only launched The Human Finance Project a few months ago, the response has already been tremendous as it endeavours to change the negative perception of the financial industry.

Brand Awareness: Overall brand awareness has increased by over 5% and rising among target audiences since February 2016.

Engagement:

  • Video story contributions: 160.
  • Photography story contributions: 60.
  • Social engagement: over 200 people have interacted with the project via social using #HumanFinanceProject since February 2016.
  • Website visits: website traffic increased by over 62% since February 2016.
  • Digital media engagement: average CTR has increased by over 300% QoQ with the launch of the Human Finance Project assets in market.
  • Inbound calls: since the launch of the Human Finance Project the total percentage of inbound calls have increased by almost 70% QoQ.

Testimonial

“The Human Finance Project is unlike any other advertising campaign in our industry since it’s truly a collaborative effort between us and our clients – Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). No scripts, just real RIAs telling their personal stories about what drives them and why they do what they do. We wanted to demonstrate that the RIA profession isn’t just about money, but rather it’s about helping people use their money to live their best lives. To date, over 150 advisors have shared their story with us, and that number keeps growing.” Kelly Caffrey, director of RIA channel acquisition marketing at TD Ameritrade.

B2B Marketing Awards 2016

This case study was submitted as part of the judging process for the B2B Marketing Awards 2016. It was shortlisted under Best multichannel campaign: ‘The Human Finance Project’ for TD Ameritrade Institutional by gyro, llc.

See the winners