The Challenge:

GE is a company that regularly delivers a strong performance for its long-term,
committed investors, and it has built a robust internal capacity to engage them.
Historically, this program focused primarily on institutional investors, but retail
investors require more dedicated targeting, communication, and engagement
to understand the retail base, build a strong foundation for engagement, and
expand the program to communicate with targeted audiences.

GE needed to understand how to best engage and grow its retail investor base,
and whether a sustained, long-term campaign to deepen those relationships
would yield any real return. But, with very little knowledge about this investor
group, they weren’t quite sure where to begin.

Our Work:

In 2015, Precision signed on with GE to conduct a pilot program to build and
deepen its understanding of and relationships with existing retail investors and
target prospective audiences of likely and persuadable investors.

We kicked things off by building a data infrastructure to understand who the existing retail investors were, including demographic information like age, gender, and ethnicity, and behavioral information like home ownership, magazine readership, and Internet usage. With these data, our data and analytics team was able to build three predictive models that helped us identify three new audiences with a high likelihood of investing in GE:

  1. Investors who were likely to own individual stocks (other than GE)
    and who looked like current GE investors
  2. Investors who were likely to own individual stock but who did not
    look like GE investors
  3. Younger investors who were likely to own individual stocks and look
    like current GE investors.

With our target audiences identified, we created a multi-faceted engagement
campaign that leveraged GE platforms, direct online and offline communication channels, traditional media outlets, and paid advertising and acquisition capabilities.

Specifically, we built and executed a Twitter advertising campaign designed to
test message frames, which could be leveraged across channels, in addition to
driving email acquisition. Through structured creative testing, we were able to determine which message frames resonated most strongly with the target audience segments, while gathering email addresses for follow-up communications.

We targeted current GE retail investors, millennial retail investors, and a broader general retail investor audience. In addition to growing the investor relations email list, the campaign provided robust learnings on how best to communicate with these audiences, and will serve as a definitive guide for the types of content GE should produce in the future.

Meanwhile, our digital team optimized email and website engagement throughout the pilot program by using techniques we developed and honed during both Obama Presidential campaigns and implementing sophisticated A/B testing for the first time at GE, leading to large increases in email performance. As part of this work, we developed new, mobile-friendly email templates to increase accessibility, and set up a welcome series to onboard new email subscribers into the program. We onboarded tens of thousands of new email addresses using a rigorous testing process to maximize the number of subscribers who remained engaged on the newsletter list. We also worked with the GE team to prioritize organic email acquisition by retooling their website and incorporating email acquisition into offline and online events.

Finally, we enhanced existing retail investors’ profiles by deepening the number of data points on each investor through overlaying relevant data sets and directly surveying them to better understand how they wanted to communicate with GE in the future. The survey, the first of its kind GE has conducted with this audience, revealed that consumers who hear about GE are more likely to invest—particularly if the content emphasizes attributes like the GE Store and the stock’s dividend—and that the more they hear, the more favorably they view the company. This work helped the GE team improve not just what they were communicating but how they were communicating with an ever-growing list of existing investors and potential future investors.

The Bottom Line:

We partnered with the GE team to improve their retail investor communications program and grow their investor base. In the end, this campaign became part of a larger effort to help the team change the culture of communication at GE—extending it beyond traditional channels of investor communication to a more effective and cost-efficient data-driven approach that uses distinct messaging to move targeted audiences via regular online and offline engagement.