Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Indeed, 2020 has challenged everyone to radically change the way we do business, leisure, education and relationships. Luckily for us, we have the technological tools and creativity to be able to adapt to the situation.

In our COVID-19 report published last year, we found that email communications increased dramatically as clients transitioned to digital marketing and virtual events. The StoneShot Marketing Platform has sent over 48 million emails and 26,000 campaigns in 2020. Our clients also said that they have a renewed focus on their digital marketing capability, and in 2021, we expect the investments in digital to only grow.

Deloitte insights found that several investment management firms aim to develop intelligent chatbots, build digital relationships and engage with clients online.

Similarly, our 2020 annual client survey tell us that many firms are investing in premium digital capabilities underpinned by industry benchmarks and strategy. Data-driven marketing and automation is a hot area for investment with big projects slated for lead scoring, market intelligence and the personalization of websites to deliver a more tailored client experience. New services like automated factsheet production and distribution are also highly sought after.

Image: 2020 StoneShot Client survey results: services you are interested in 2021

With this in mind, here are our top five strategic themes we think will dominate 2021 marketing.

#1 Marketing from a distance

Many financial services firms are thinking about how far they reshape working practices once coronavirus is under control. Some like Schroders will allow full remote working while some like M&G will have a mix of on premise and home working as a standard. [ Source: Fund managers grapple with limits of remote working | Financial Times (]

This means that remote marketing technology and capabilities have to be rolled out to maintain efficiency across both on premise and home office scenarios. We envisage there to be more automation of repeatable marketing activity like automated distribution of blog content and fund marketing material, as well as the continuation of virtual events to cater for those working from home. To further support our clients, StoneShot has rolled out live chat support in the StoneShot Marketing Platform which mimics an instant messaging feel to aid remote productivity.

#2 Personalization

With the digital deluge of information and constantly flooding email inboxes, who has time to read an irrelevant and generic message? Our report last year on Bridging the Divide showed that advisors and professional investors preferred communications that were relevant. While one to one personalization can be implemented quickly, it’s very manual and time consuming.

Therefore, we expect 2021 to be the year where financial services firms invest in the fundamentals to personalize their marketing. These include new website projects, CRM upgrades, cleaning up and collecting good client data, building preference centres and utilizing integrations with key technological partners. To help our clients build this capability further, we released an API for StoneShot Marketing Platform Contacts and Events in 2020 and will release an API for StoneShot Marketing Platform Reporting in Q1 2021.

#3 Fusing of data and design

A McKinsey report claims that “Data and design must work in a more synchronized fashion, like a rowing team, where members provide equal and uninterrupted participation with each oar stroke.”

Given the fast-moving nature of unpredictable situations, data and design need to go hand in glove when implementing comms and marketing campaigns. No longer can data be put on the back burner in this new agile world. This is increasingly important when designing for experiences that can take advantage of technological advances while still maintaining the client’s trust.

#4 Focus on accessibility and inclusivity

2020 has shown a harsh light on the inequalities experienced across the various segments of society and the Black Lives Matter movement made ripples across the globe in the summer. 2021 will already see the video game industry making great strides towards inclusivity, one of the industries which experienced high growth in 2020.

A renewed emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity will no doubt be in the cards for the financial services sector as most firms transition from a predominantly physical world to a more digital one. Making communications, client service and core services user friendly to all age groups and applicable to all cultures is key to client retention during the transition.

#5 Timely content and localized SEO

Content was always king but it now seems to have a 2021 empire on the cards. With market movements reacting to an ever changing political and health situation, churning out timely content will continue to be a priority.

Following on from an abundance of content, localized SEO becomes increasingly important so that clients find the information relevant to their situation. As the after effects of 2020 continue to flow into 2021, the situation in different parts of the world may vary widely.

Want to know more about our 2021 marketing themes and how we can help? Leave us a message here and we will get your relationship manager to get in touch with you.