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The Acquire Podcast Ep. 1: Connecting the dots on Envestnet’s rebrand

  • Envestnet’s CMO Mary Ellen Dugan joins us on the Acquire podcast to talk about the company’s first rebrand in two decades.
  • From radio to digital to the Financial District – the campaign is connecting dots across our complex financial lives.

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The Acquire Podcast Ep. 1: Connecting the dots on Envestnet’s rebrand

Welcome to Acquire, Tearsheet’s Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Rebecca Alma Cohen, Head of Tearsheet Studios. And this is our very first episode. 

The Acquire Podcast is all about exploring marketing campaigns for new brands, products and services in the financial industry. I’ll be talking to marketing and creative leaders across the space to give our listeners a behind the scenes look into the secret sauce (well, as secretive as we can get with marketing folks) that goes into launching the campaigns, from strategy to execution. 

We’ll be rolling out a new episode every other week. If you want to make sure you never miss it, subscribe to our marketing newsletter here -- that's where our marketing specialist Rivka Abramson will let you know whenever there’s a new episode coming out, along with everything else interesting we have to say about marketing in the financial space today.

The Acquire podcast is an extension of the Acquire Conference -- Tearsheet’s annual marketing conference, which we held just last month, on 2’s-day: February 22, 2022 on a Twos-day -- a special day for our first conference of the year, kicking off a whole set of virtual and in person events we’ll be running in 2022. We heard from some incredible marketing leaders at firms, like Stash, Mastercard, Affirm, Current, Acorns, and more. You can check out the conference videos, and stay tuned as some of these firms join me as guests on the Acquire podcast throughout the year.

On today’s episode, I spoke to Mary Ellen Dugan, chief marketing officer at Envestnet. Envestnet provides technology solutions and intelligence that help financial advisors help their clients manage their financial lives and build financial wellness. Mary Ellen is joining me to talk about Envestnet's recent major campaign, and company rebrand at large, “Fully Vested”.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

The day to day 

My job is about figuring out how we drive impact in the go-to-market with various marketing strategies or efforts, so really working in tandem with the business leaders, the product folks, and sales to make sure that we’re hitting our business objectives. I think that's what every CMO is going to tell you that they're doing. Whether it's communication, advertising, growth marketing, performance marketing, and certainly brand – which we’ll get into and chat a little bit more about today.

The rebrand behind the campaign

It's the first time that Envestnet had done anything of this scale. And it probably was the first of what you would traditionally think of as a brand campaign, so it was really exciting. And it came off of this vision and a paper that our CEO had written about The Intelligent Financial Life, and it was an opportunity to bring that to life.

The brand before the campaign

The campaign “Fully Vested” is probably the culmination of about 20 years, the last two decades of Envestment, and building this really dynamic and expansive ecosystem that spans intelligence, technology, and solutions, all in service of the financial advisor, the financial professional, and retail banks. We were certainly known as a wealth-tech-advice company. This campaign takes it to the next level as we talk about this amazing dynamic around The Intelligent Financial Life.

Putting a new conversation on the table

How do we think about the future of financial advice and integrating this connective intelligent need that people have? So think about today. Today, you have your daily expenditures, investing, and financial components, and you have your future ones that you're thinking about long term. 

What Intelligent Financial Life is saying is, ‘We really have to bring that together – it has to be hyper personalized, hyper connected, so people can make those connections between the daily and the future, and really feel comfortable and secure in their intelligent financial life.’ 

And that's a new concept. Traditionally in the industry we’ve talked about the long term things we need to do: retirement, insurance, and health; and then the daily: which was savings, going on vacation, things like that. We weren't really connecting those dots. And that's really what we're seeing today that people are craving.

Connecting the dots

Money is technology these days. Our CEO often talks about how we're accessing it in different ways. But what we're finding is that human connection, whether it's in advice, suggestions, or intelligence, is so vital. So it's not an either-or, it's: ‘How do we take the digital and the human together?’

Three types of people in the world

The personas were designed to do a couple things. One, showcase where people were in their lives, so we looked at different generations – Gen Z, Millennial, Baby Boomers. And secondly, that for each of those people, no matter where they are in their lives, there's a complexity to what an intelligent financial life might mean for them, and so we're trying to depict that in a creative way. And most importantly, at the end of the day, this is about your advisor being the hero to help you understand how you navigate all this complexity. 

So there's three personas. We got Mike, and he's what I call our Gen Z. He’s making his money as a social media influencer. He is interested in crypto, really loves technology and the digital side of stocks and investing. 

Contrast him with Jess, who is a small business owner, so she's acquiring her wealth in her business. She's also selling online, so she's got e-commerce. Social responsibilities are really important to her, so ESG and investing. And she just bought her building, so she’s wondering, ‘How do I take credit? How do I actually invest there?’

And then contrast that with the most traditional of our persona, Scott. He's probably a Baby Boomer, (he might not want to be told that), he's probably 60, and he's made his money traditionally: worked his way up as a salesperson and now owns dealerships. He is very into philanthropy and how he’s going to leave his mark long term. He has the traditional luxury goods that you might play with, like a boat. 

What we were trying to showcase is that no matter where you are in this life on this journey, having an intelligent, connected life is really important, and Envestnet provides a combination of intelligence, technology, and solutions so that the financial professional can be a hero to their clients.

Measuring success

We've had really incredible results. I've done similar campaigns at a couple of places in my past career, and this campaign has really resonated off the charts. We 20x’ed traffic to the site, getting people to to be interested; it was not just returning visitors who knew Envestnet, but a huge amount of new unique visitors. 70,000 folks, in less than three months, said, ‘I want to learn more about The Intelligent Financial Life and the ecosystem’. That really told us we hit on a topic which is resonating with people today, and they want to know more of what this means for their clients. 

I candidly think, Rebecca, that it was a new way to talk about the changing world. We're melding our daily lives and our work lives and our future lives. I think it was incredibly timely, and it really resonated with the changing dynamics of the financial services industry overall, and how we're going to have to service clients in the future.

Financial advisors as heros

We've got some research coming out in the next couple months about The Intelligent Financial Life, and what people want from that. One of the things we're learning is indeed about that human connection, so people are turning to their advisor (and if they don't yet have an advisor, they’re talking to friends and family).The financial wellness factor is so personal for people, and they are wanting to learn more. We all learn digitally now, all of us are very adaptive now, but we do also want to check in with somebody who's an expert, who can help guide us along that path. And that's really where we see this human and the digital coming together. That's been just really wonderful reinforcement for the advice and where wealth planning and wealth tech is heading in the future.

The toolbox

The easiest way to describe the Envestnet Financial Wellness ecosystem is in three parts. It's a combination of intelligence and data, and those can be insights. We have a tool called Insight Engine, which offers recommendations to tell your client about where they are and looking at their needs and investments in their portfolio. 

So how do we have the data and intelligence behind the scenes to help the advisor? On the technology front, we have a very dynamic platform that has the insights in it as well as proposals, and allows them to see all the tools and where someone is going. It's really a snapshot of the day. 

And then on the third side is this enormous amount of solutions – there are hundreds of them. We have a variety of exchanges that work across insurance, credit, trust, retirement, all things that might come into play for an individual as they're thinking about their future, including sustainability and ESG investing.

Duality in both messaging and channels

This is probably the first time for many CMOs figuring out how to launch a campaign in the middle of a pandemic, where everybody is at home and their life is at home, both personal and professional. So the digital was really important, and we did all the traditional places you would think; LinkedIn is really important for B2B. We actually used a little bit of Reddit in this one, which was a bit of a test. We were looking at where we could find our target segment. In this case, we were reaching out to financial advisors in this first phase of the campaign, and making sure that we were in front of them. So of course, we were on YouTube. We were testing across all these different platforms digitally on what was resonating. 

We additionally partnered with our sales organization to figure out, ‘If we're doing traditional account based marketing, as well as email, can we actually use this conversation to spark more interest?’ – and we did see the efficacy and the interest, just with email and more traditional forms actually rose with that. 

And then the last thing, Rebecca, which was an interesting one: even though we were in a pandemic, we did want to test out of home and digital to see if people were out; we did that in the Financial District in New York City, and got comments from people who said, ‘Oh, my gosh, I saw this in taxis’ or ‘I saw this out and about.’ So it was an opportunity to see if people were out. 

And we used radio, which was another thought about how people were traveling around, even if they weren't going into an office. So I would say in the first three months, huge results, obviously with traffic back to the site. But it truly was a combination of testing, in some cases, a variety of different media channels. 

Fail or fly

Boy, this is such a vital conversation for every CMO. We're all being asked those questions, ‘What's performance marketing?’ or ‘What's the ROI?’ or ‘What's the impact?’.

So I would say two things. One, because this was a new effort for the company, and we were building awareness and reintroducing the narrative of the Envestnet brand; numbers of unique visitors, traffic, how much people were interested in this conversation, and the sentiments are all really important to the awareness level. And we certainly found those. 

But for the business, the most important thing is, ‘Do people want to know more?’ And ‘how is this going to help us from a demand-gen perspective?’ And while this campaign was not about leads, or demand generation, I was leaning into the 70,000 people who said they want to learn more, so that I could retarget them again with additional information.

Now we have even more benchmarks. Because we kicked this off for the first time, we're able to looking back and ask, ‘Which one of these vehicles is more impactful, more important, more efficient, as we go forward? How does search work? What are people looking up after they see this?’ So I'm really excited, because this was the first time ever to now have a lot of benchmarks that we can use as we go further in the campaign.

Delivering on the promise

Now going forward, we've created this interest, and now we have to keep talking about it and give it more detail. The need to move very, very quickly from ‘Love this conversation, now give me even more detail’ was probably faster than I expected. I expected we'd have more time on just the awareness side. 

So then that means as we're going into this next year, how do we continue this conversation? We have an Advisor Summit on May 11 and 12th; this will be a couple thousand advisors, and they're going to expect even more detail on the ecosystem, and how we’re providing this intelligent, connected financial life. So we have to continue to connect the dots on the solutions and offerings that we have. 

To do that, we’ll be embarking on redesigning our website. I think that'll help us overall. We had a campaign site, but we had not redesigned the whole dot com. And so that's going to be an area for us to reinforce this promise that's out there. 

Importantly, we spent time having a conversation internally first and saying, ‘Hey, here's a campaign that we have, how do we leverage the 4,000 people of Envestnet to be our ambassadors?’ At the end of the day, I firmly believe they are the most effective marketing tool that we have, and will continue to support that and really invest in, our people to tell our story.

What’s in a name?

It's pretty simple. Envestnet is committed, or vested, in the connections that power and enhance an intelligent financial life. And we do this through our ecosystem. So the “Fully Vested” name was one that we thought telegraphed very quickly that commitment that we’re invested. It’s a little bit of a double entendre in the financial world. So it's been a real galvanizing tagline, if you will, both internally and externally. 

A traditional industry in a new media landscape

I think the financial services industry has an opportunity to really take hold of being innovative in the digital space, and think outside the box. You've seen the rise of fintechs in the last couple years, and they're doing what might be perceived as innovative or provocative, in very different techniques. I think that large financial players and brands have the opportunity and the latitude to do some really innovative things. 

I'm really encouraged about brands out there that are looking at things like TikTok and how they're using video. You're really going to see this financial industry take the world by storm in the next couple of years, because they're going to have to. Financial wellness is so important to each of us individually. We certainly have compliance challenges, and these are sensitive topics, but I think this is an opportunity to be authentic and innovative in a space that's begging for it in marketing.

Finally – what gets you excited about work every day?

I'm lucky at the end of the day. I have a phrase that I have said for years, ‘Brand equals business’, and that has always meant to me that you have to have your brand promise connected to business. It's one of the reasons I was so excited to join Envestnet. I really believe in this vision of The Intelligent Financial Life, and a business strategy of having an ecosystem that enables that is such rich territory for the brand to tell that story and that narrative. 

So what gets me out of bed are companies, initiatives, and opportunities where the brand is really going to impact, plays a role, and equals the business. That's what we're doing at Envestnet, and that's what keeps me going each and every day. As you said, I've been in this business a long time, and those are the most exciting opportunities. And frankly, having a CEO, a president, and an executive team that really believes that is true as well. And that is for me one of the most vital success factors in marketing.

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