Targeted Musings on Financial Marketing

ETF Launch Day Missteps That Issuers Should Avoid

21 Sep 2020

Launch day for an ETF is an exciting time, the culmination of possibly years of research, lining up service providers, waiting for regulatory approval, product design, seeking out funding, and more. It’s also an absolutely critical moment in the marketing lifecycle of an ETF, representing a make-or-break opportunity for ETF issuers to present their new product to the public, form relationships with members of the media, and ultimately boost assets under management, the goal of all ETFs.

Launch day may also be the most newsworthy event that occurs with an ETF for some time—possibly ever. While public relations efforts can certainly generate additional coverage for an ETF, these PR campaigns typically shift focus to positioning spokespeople as experts once the ETF launch’s coverage has faded; it’s unlikely for an article focused solely on featuring an ETF to roll out, barring an incredibly relevant development in the news cycle.

But that’s just the beginning. Smart ETF issuers will have all of their ducks in a row for launch day, and will avoid the following launch day missteps:


Not testing the data feed

It isn’t sexy, and it hardly falls under the marketing category, but the best-laid marketing and PR plans in the world will fall to pieces if an ETF cannot begin trading on launch day. Which means a functional website data feed—a regulatory requirement. What else can we say? Test, test, then test again. You don’t want your website data feed failing on your ETF’s big day and spoiling all of your marketing plans.


A barebones ETF website

Launch day is when your ETF is likely to receive some of the greatest amount of coverage and investor interest for a good long while, until it can be slotted into the evolving news cycle by an effective PR campaign. This means your ETF website better be primed and ready to go, with a wide variety of content suitable for investors of a broad range of sophistication levels and attention spans, including animated videos, ETF detail pages with rich content and expertly-crafted copy that properly draws out the fund’s value propositions, attractively and easy-to-navigate menus (that properly display on all devices, especially smartphones), whitepapers, and more. Unfortunately, in the real world, investors do judge books by their covers. Investors confronted with an unattractive, difficult-to-navigate ETF website are unlikely to make an allocation, much less if the website is lacking additional information about the fund.

Be sure to see our guide on 3 Ways ETF Issuers can Utilize Animated Videos


No Exclusive Story Lined Up

The ETF marketplace has grown more competitive, which means there is increased competition for media coverage as well. Although there are no guarantees, the best way to help ensure better coverage on your ETF’s launch day is to line up an exclusive with a prestigious publication ahead of time. It’s best to begin shopping your story around to a few possible publications one to two weeks ahead of time. Although the ETF trade publications may pick up your ETF launch story, there’s no guarantee it will and in a top publication without lining up an exclusive.


The bottom line

Launch day is one of the most important days in an ETF’s lifecycle. By avoiding these key launch day mistakes, your ETF will be well-positioned for success, and gathering AUM.