Effective ETF content marketing must build on a strong foundation of overall content best practices, and requires further strategic consideration to stand out. 

Total ETF assets under management have grown at approximately 15% CAGR since 2010, almost three times faster than traditional mutual funds, per data from Oliver Wyman. As this growth continues, investment marketers will continue to launch and/or optimize their ETF content marketing efforts. 

The ETF landscape presents challenges that are not necessarily new to the investment management industry, but these challenges become even more pronounced as ETFs grow their percentage of total fund assets. ETFs are low cost for investors but also low margin for investment managers. You can only put so much budget behind ETFs when they often generate lower revenue for the firm.  

How then can your ETF content work harder and smarter for you in this environment and stand out amid increased competition? You can adopt four principles to start: 

  1. Understand that an ETF content marketing strategy is an amplified version of your broader content marketing strategy. 

The first principle is intuitive, but worth a reminder – best practices for ETF content will be an elevated version of best practices for your firm’s overall content strategy.  

You can explore recommended approaches for an overall content strategy here, but in essence, we can summarize it as – know the purpose of what you’re creating and who you are creating it for, create it well, and be sure it is distributed effectively. You cannot start by thinking of ETF content as sitting in a separate silo.  

      2. Branding must be top of mind. 

In line with this, branding matters - it’s imperative that your ETF content is tightly aligned with your firm’s overall brand and possesses a strong sub-brand of its own. 

This is particularly important for passive ETFs, through which you are not selling active expertise or capabilities but instead a pure product. Initial impressions – such as those conveyed through the ticker or your public relations strategy – are critical.  

When it comes to content, you can emphasize branding throughout using tactics such as bold and consistent visual design, serialized content, and a strong governance framework around tone of voice and topic selection. 

For example, State Street’s ETF@30 video series offers succinct, under 10-minute interviews with experts discussing the future of the ETF landscape, emphasizing their thought leadership in this area. 

     3. As ETF audiences expand, create content to feed robust lead generation pipelines. 

Across channels, interest in ETFs continues to grow. A 2023 study by PwC found that 20% of institutional investors are considering closing or converting part of their mutual fund offering and opening an active ETF range in the next 12 to 24 month. At the same time, retail investing in ETFs is expanding, growing at a three-year CAGR of 52%. 

Given this cross-channel interest, it’s essential that a content strategy supports robust and targeted lead generation. You must be very clear in who you are talking to, why, and where you want to lead them next.  

Be strategic in mapping content across the funnel. Publish themes and insights that will be relevant across audiences (your “hero” content), then nurture each of those audiences down the customer funnel with more targeted, channel-specific insights and resources. Repurpose elements of your hero content down the funnel to maximize its value and your content team’s efficiency. 

      4. Plan out your content personalization approach. 

While a successful lead generation content pipeline is the goal for 2024, you should also be looking ahead. We project that effective content personalization will be table stakes from 2025 onwards. And being able to do so efficiently at scale will be critical in the fast-moving, fee-pressured world of ETFs. 

Content personalization means targeting not just general audiences throughout the funnel’s stages, but also individuals’ fluctuating needs – delivering useful content that is meaningful to them at a particular month, week, or time of day. 

This type of content strategy builds on strong lead generation processes. Necessary ingredients include crystal-clear internal processes, a strong understanding of what content works and doesn’t work for your audiences, the ability to gather ongoing client feedback and insight, and a robust marketing technology/automation stack. 

ETFs are an integral part of the investing landscape. As firms expanding their ETF offerings, content can be a powerful tool for differentiating amid fierce competition. Seek to build an ETF content marketing strategy that is true to your overall marketing strategy, while still meeting the unique needs and motivations of ETF investors.  

White Marble Consulting is excited to continue working with clients to elevate their ETF marketing strategies in 2024 and beyond. And we’d love to hear from you – don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or best practices you’ve learned regarding ETF content marketing.