How CBOE Educated Investors With 'Faces' Campaign

Reached Its B-to-B Audience Using a Variety of Content

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CBOE's 'Faces' campaign
CBOE's 'Faces' campaign

The Chicago Board Options Exchange, an options trading company, was faced with a challenge last year: educating its target audience of investors about CBOE products they weren't familiar with and weren't trading.

"As the market changes, so do the needs, wants and sensibilities of the target audience," said Ted Kohnen, CMO at SteinIAS, which has been CBOE's agency of record for more than three years. As part of its ongoing engagement, SteinIAS is charged with doing research among CBOE's target audience of institutional and retail investors to find out what their investing needs are.

CBOE was established in 1973 and provides trading platforms for equity, index and exchange-traded fund (EFT) options. It also provides a Volatility Index (VIX), which is a barometer of investor sentiment and market volatility, and a VIX Options trading product. Last year, CBOE had operating revenue of $617 million, up 8.0% over the previous year.

"Through our research, one of the things we found was that awareness, consideration and actual trading of CBOE proprietary products -- specifically its proprietary S&P 500 (SPX) and Volatility Index options -- were showing growth, but there was also a segment of the trader population that was interested in these products but hadn't traded them yet," Mr. Kohnen said.

Stephanie Klein, CMO at CBOE, said the company wanted to create a campaign that would help its audience understand more of its products.

"From institutional investors to advisors, there was a general sense that even if they were trading (CBOE products), there was more they could be doing, and there was a barrier because they lacked the knowledge. Education is really the key to unlocking opportunities," she said.

So SteinIAS created an integrated campaign called "Faces," including print and online ads, featuring images of faces and posing questions to the investor audience.

"We were really coming at it from the customer lens," Ms. Klein said. "We wanted to put this in a language that made sense to investors."

The ads, which ran in financial publications including Barron's and Bloomberg Markets, posed questions such as "Ever wonder why…VIX trading volume is nearly 2X higher than last year?" and "Ever wonder how…to take advantage of near-term volatility?"

The ads drove users to a landing page, where they could learn more about CBOE investment products through various content, including online videos, webinars, quick-reference guides and blogs.

Since the campaign launched in the fourth quarter, it has resulted in high levels of engagement with the target audience.

Visitors to the landing page spent an average of over two minutes on the site; 80% of video viewers watched 100% of the video on the landing page; and 67% of landing page visitors, after engaging with content, went on to explore more content on the main CBOE website.

In addition, a Starch Advertising Research survey commissioned by Bloomberg found that 81% of readers took an action after seeing the ad, such as visiting the CBOE website.

Here are some lessons about what made the campaign successful:

1. Use different types of content. "You have to start with good content," Ms. Klein said. "You have to provide the right tools for the right people at the right time. People need to be served digestible information, but if they want to drill deeper and learn more, they can."

2. Keep it fresh. "We kept rolling out new content, new videos, new webinars and new questions," Mr. Kohnen said. As the campaign progressed, the agency tracked the most popular content and what users were interacting with. "As the campaign went on, the click-through-rate actually went up," he said. "We not only sustained interest but we increased interest."

3. Use customer insight. "Grounding this campaign in really good insights from the target was critical," Ms. Klein said. "They were hungry for education."

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