Understanding how to best utilize technology and the digital space can be transformational for your practice. Despite our heavy dependence on the internet for almost everything today, most independent advisors still don’t understand the digital space as it relates to their practice. Especially when you consider that baby boomers, particularly the high net worth, are extremely active online, a need for a digital revival can be critical in dramatically increasing client acquisition and revenue. Sitting on the sidelines of the digital world should not be an option for successful independent advisors in the digitally dependent world of today.
In the end, clients are closed one at a time. Financial advisors are often so busy that marketing efforts become more of an afterthought. However, with relatively little effort, our advisors have consistently been able to close one or two new leads per week, and one or two new cases per month thanks to the utilization of some simple digital strategies. In fact, it’s not unusual to directly add $1-million per month in investable assets seamlessly via a thoughtful digital campaign.
Here are three manageable, measurable steps that every independent advisor should embrace to get ahead in the digital game:
Your Store Front
Your website is usually not the first exposure that prospects have to your firm. They’ll visit your site to size you up after they have been referred to you, or they might visit your site after they’ve attended a meeting or seminar. In either case, your website and social media are ways that prospects make their decisions.
Normally, people will consider multiple advisors before making their decision. They’ll chose from the independent advisor across town, wire houses, big firms, small firms and everything in between. It’s a big decision that can take a few months to a few years. Your website and social media can keep you relevant during the vetting process and help prospective clients to get to know, understand, and remember your brand.
Remember that people buy emotionally and justify logically—your digital presence helps you with both. Knowing that a prospect compares your site to four competitors (likely more) during the selection process, will yours stand out above the rest?
Pick the three biggest local independent competitors and three active wire houses in your market and visit their sites and social media pages. How comfortable would you feel if a prospect compared you with those competitor’s websites? Not all prospects make their decision on this basis, but plenty of high-net-worth and digitally savvy prospects will.
Let’s be clear: a good digital presence alone won’t lasso in new prospects, but it will help raise your closing percentage with new ones. If a solid digital presence tips the scales in your favor over other advisories for only two or three people per year, what would it be worth to you?
The New Mailer
Why spend thousands a month on a snail mail database to attract leads when you can get larger, better vetted email lists for less money? You can even send prospects messages multiple times per week to increase the interaction with your brand and the likelihood of a response.
The design of the digital “landing page”, or offer, is affordable and reusable. It can be sent to people with the asset levels and in the geographic areas that you’d prefer to meet with. The offer can be an automatic submit form to schedule a meeting, a white paper, or a message to simply call your office.
A well-produced e-Blast can have a much higher response rate than snail mail, and success can be tracked instantly. According to Constant Contact, the average open rate for content from financial advisors is about 16% and the click-through rate is about 10%. So, this means that when a 10,000 person list is deployed, about 1,600 people open the email, and about 160 click-through.
Compare that to a snail mail benchmark of about 1% (Inc. Magazine) where 100,000 mailers, on average, would yield a return of 100 and for a much higher cost.
To put this in meaningful terms, in the example with 160 click-throughs, we typically expect a 10% conversion rate to calls/appointments (or 16) appointments that may have never occurred otherwise.
Use Your Own Database
It takes time and money for an independent advisor to generate a prospect database. Look at your prospect list as seedlings; it takes a lot of work to plant the seeds, but it takes even more to nurture them until they grow. Most independent advisors spend a lot of time gathering and planting leads, but don’t spend enough time or have the patience to nurture them. The result—a lot of dead seeds. It becomes frustrating for the advisor and the process of the “bad farmer” continues.
Take the time to generate thoughtful emails to your entire client base—this is economies of scale at its best. Spend time to ensure they receive a consistent message with meaningful content. It begins with a compelling subject line and a simple and concise message that can provide a solution to a problem with a strong call to action.
Regardless of whether your prospects fill out a submit form or call, you can easily track their engagement levels to find out which of your current prospects are interacting with your brand the most, and be able to follow up with them in the appropriate manner.
Generally speaking, we see about a 30% open rate and a 15% click through rate. So, for every 1 of the current 1,000 prospects that receive your email, about 300 will open it and 45 will click through.
In real time we can see the names of the leads that click through to your site and the pages they visit. This allows our advisors to reach out to those who are most engaged in an optimally timely manner, helping to ensure a higher probability that these prospects remain interested and become clients.
It can be overwhelming to explore all of the elements that can be applied when it comes to the digital world. There’s no need to be overly ambitious. We believe that the best and most practical use of an interactive presence is as much about overall prospect and current client engagement as it is about prospect acquisition. By applying these three simple steps, you’ll not only legitimize your digital presence and widen your prospect reach, but you’ll optimize your marketing efforts in a way that brings you closer to servicing the needs of your ideal client base and those who have the most to gain from your services.
John Capuano is Co-Founder of Advisory Fusion and Lone Beacon Media. Advisory Fusion is a boutique financial marketing services company that helps independent advisors generate more leads through efficiency and write more business with the industry’s best products and services. Lone Beacon Media is a sales and marketing company dedicated to the independent financial advisory industry with offices in Boston and Denver