Principal Funds Trades Spray-and-Pray for Real Campaign Measurement

Principal Funds Client Success Story

“This is the first time we can actually prove the success of a digital campaign. No more spray and pray and sending out emails or whatever and not measuring success; now we have measurement. It’s a totally new way of thinking for our department. ”

Nathan Eshe | Principal Funds

The Overview

Principal marketers wanted to build client life stage profiles, but had to convince internal skeptics that the measurement tools they would use worked. Webtrends Analytics helped them create data reports with personality, winning over a numbers-shy crowd.

The Challenge

Clients trust more than $235.3 billion* with Principal Funds. They invest in the company’s mutual funds, durable annuities and other non-insured assets.

It’s a highly-regulated industry that discourages change and tinkering. So Principal usually finds itself in the position of late adopter. The company needs proven solutions, and has an appropriate “show me” approach to technology. But the money doesn’t flow in on faith alone, and Principal is always looking for ways to create more value for clients. For that it needed data. Principal Funds knew the personal and professional lives of its financial advisor clients overlapped, and wanted to target them during relevant times in their lives. Had clients recently divorced or were they widowers? Did they just have children? Did they post about car problems on Facebook and were car shopping?

With the answers to those questions, along with data like assets under management and preferred contact methods, Principal Funds could apply advanced segmentation and reach out to clients with precision pitches. But first the group needed proof it would work.

“We knew we needed to do more third-party marketing and use our data more effectively”, said Nathan Eshe, eMarketer at Principal Funds. “So we began marketing in different magazines and financial newsletters, and had to prove the value of marketing. Then we took the engagement data, gathered psycho-graphic data, began the beginning stages of a creating online engagement personas.”

The Solution

Eshe’s team got more people using Webtrends Analytics to measure their e-mail and other media efforts, and showed them how the data could be used to tell a story.

“We took number-based metrics and applied personality and activity characteristics so our math- challenged marketing colleagues could really understand them and make sure their campaigns were successful,” he said. “It’s taken about two years for everyone to come around and really want to add a success measurement to our efforts, but the results are very clear.”

“This is the first time we can actually prove the success of a digital campaign,” he continued. “No more spray and pray and sending out emails or creating digital assets and not measuring success; now we have measurement. It’s a totally new way of thinking for our department.”

The Results

Now that everyone is onboard, Principal Funds is moving ahead quickly with its segmentation project. The company is breaking down its major client profiles into personas for one-to-one marketing.

Principal is also finding new uses for Analytics. It has started to tie web activity tracking to its CRM system, so staff will know what’s been on clients’ minds when speaking with them — and what solutions to offer.

Eshe says the company has embraced a livelier approach to data measurement and is looking forward to doing more. “We plan to create spaces and follow different websites and profiles and things like that and make it more graphic and more interactive. This will ultimately make it easier for our marketers. I really see the traditional mountain graphs and multi-tabbed spreadsheets as supporting documents to the info graphic feel of Analytics 10.”


*As of March 31, 2011