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What is Holding Advisor Organizations Back from Implementing a Martech Strategy?

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The Business Case for Transforming Your Advisor Marketing. Part 2 Research Phase BannerInternet of Things
In a previous post, I wrote about how the high demand for individualization across investment advisors websites put many firms in a difficult situation to manage these expectations without fragmenting their visual brand. This was primarily due to the lack of available technology (at that time) and it caused firms to meet the demand by implementing one-off customization programs. For many firms this created a fragmentation of the visual aspects of their brand and was thus faced with the challenge of reigning it all back in but to their credit, they attempted to solve a digital experience problem for their advisors. Firms that did not move in this direction, resulted in a very templated (or what many of my clients call “cookie cutter”) representations of their advisors’ businesses. This is still the pervasive model used by the wealth management industry today and many firms are still trying to grapple with the best way to deliver a superior digital experience as cost is no longer the main decision factor.
So why is it, that many large firms are not leaping into the realm of modern marketing technology for their advisors’ websites? It seems obvious that any business considering a strong digital presence would first want to establish a strong online and differentiated brand right? Well, as it turns out, it’s not that obvious and there are a number of very legitimate concerns that we’ve not only experienced ourselves but also concerns that our clients have voiced directly to us.

 

Change Management

This is likely a word you are very familiar with and depending on your risk profile, you are either in love with this word or you quite simply hate it. For larger firms, however, it’s not as simple as hating or loving the word. There is a true cost to change and it’s a very large commitment because it implies a longer-term strategy to get to a particular destination. With the wealth management industry as competitive as it is and with all the disruptive technology in place, many firms not only consider the potential attrition that may occur as a result of a failed change but they equally feel the pressure (well, really banking as a whole) to make a change.
Technology change, particularly when it comes to the technology that can make you appear trustworthy or incompetent, requires users to adopt behavioural changes and develop new routines in order to maximize the use of the technology. Everyone from the advisors, to the support, to compliance officers all have to adapt to this change and ensure that they are all playing their part to support the new ecosystem brought forward by new technology.
The top change management concerns I’ve heard consistently generally fall into three categories:
  1. Compliance: Will our advisors publish something that will hurt our brand or themselves? Is our compliance department prepared to handle this new workload?
  2. Advisors: How will we train and empower our sales force to reap the benefits of these new marketing routines? How quickly will advisors adopt this technology?
  3. Software: Can we slowly introduce features into the field? Does your software stay stagnant or does it update and evolve over time?
  4. Team: Are our teams structured or capable of supporting this new digital marketing paradigm? What’s our long-term support strategy?
  5. Implementation: How are we going to move all of this content from one CMS to another without major disruption?

 

Return On Spend

 

In any good business, ROI is a key driver that helps decide the priorities for key initiatives and whether they should be done. Many CMOs face the ongoing question from their executive stakeholders about the ROI of a campaign or the investment of some marketing technology. The reality though is that marketing ROI from a new technology you’ve never deployed into the field before can be difficult to measure.

 

Traditionally, firms will treat marketing technology spend as more of a cost centre rather than a revenue or profit centre. That is to say, that purchase decisions are heavily weighted on the cost of the software and the implementation of the software rather than the potential revenue impact it will make once it is adopted and in use. While I haven’t performed any special research around this topic, I suspect this is happening because the technology that was previously deployed simply did not have a measurement framework wrapped around it so there was no way to determine the impact of the older technology – no matter how little or much it may have done.

 

Advisor Marketing Strategy and Vision

 

When firms eventually decide they need to replace old advisor website technology, it is usually performed at a time when the technology has reached end of life (end of life technology is typically defined as the point in time in which a software vendor will no longer support the old technology) or when the firm realizes that it cannot fulfill their corporate goals with the existing technology. Without a clear view of the future state of their advisor marketing portfolio, the projects surrounding these two scenarios are typically centered around technology replacement as opposed to a replace and grow.

 

Firms that have a grasp on their longer-term advisor marketing strategy tend to be better prepared for post-project growth of the program where they have an understanding of what questions to ask and prioritize increasing the adoption of the technology rather than supporting the technology – this is a new and interesting shift in behaviour. The teams built around these programs have traditionally been very focused on doing things for the advisor rather than empowering the advisor to perform some of the key tasks on their own. Why? Because they know that once they have active adoption, they have a platform to accelerate their strategy so it’s no surprise the firms in this category will also deploy the technology at a greater speed, meaning they will open it up to their users as quickly as possible and actively manage the change.

 

 

Deploying new marketing technology to a high demand population isn’t something for everyone to do but it is something everyone will eventually need to do to remain competitive. Ultimately, it comes down to more of the cultural and process aspects of the firm. How easy is it to introduce change and is your firm prepared to manage that change? Do you have a strong data-driven decision making process? Have you considered what your advisor marketing program will look like in 5 years between the teams that support it, to the content that’s generated from it, to how your advisors will participate and drive their own success?

 

These are just some of the key questions we’ve been helping our clients answer and perhaps are questions you might want to ask yourselves if you’re considering the next phase of your advisor marketing evolution.

Good Customer Service Just Isn’t Enough Anymore

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The Business Case for Transforming Your Advisor Marketing. Part 2 Research Phase Banner

Five Stars Rating. People are holding stars over the heads.

Today, more than ever financial advisors need to provide exceptional service to their clients. This is how advisors can have high retention and get referrals for new business. When clients feel they can trust their advisor, they are more likely to feel they are taken care of and refer friends and family. Clients need to feel they are more than a number and that the financial advisor genuinely cares about the well being of their family. So how can an advisor provide exceptional service to their clients? Is providing exceptional service enough?

Take The Time To Care

When meeting with a client, attentively listen to what is going on in their life. Know how many kids a client has and what ages they are, their interests. Know if there are significant life events taking place. Take the time to either mail or email to wish someone well, or congratulate them on a significant life event like the birth of a grandchild or a big promotion or a birthday.

This time and extra effort it takes to have amazing notes on each client and take action can pay off 10 fold if a client feels they an advisor truly cares and pays attention to the details and events of clients lives.

Consider What Truly Differentiates Your Service

By proactively setting up a time to review goals and current portfolio, clients will feel they are being looked after. Goals and objectives often change so it’s important to review goals and a client’s portfolio

According to a recent survey, 76% responded that the ability to understand client needs and objectives is the number one factor that advisors claim as their differentiator. The second highest response was differentiating on client service but what exactly does that mean. Is this something that would set an advisor apart from other advisors or is this a basic expectation.

Consider what is truly unique about your advisor service? It seems that the key to true differentiating is either to provide a more specialized and unique service or to provide a service to a very specific clientele. Each generation will value and place importance on different specializations so having an understanding their investor profile and how they want to communicate is something that can’t be ignored.

Consistent Email Touchpoints

As much as advisors would love to take a personalized approach to speaking to clients, sometimes there isn’t enough time to effectively have that personalized connection with each and every client.

Email is a way to provide that consistent touch point without the manual effort of calling someone or emailing clients individually. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email can result in a 4300% return on investment.

Effective email builds a relationship with your audience through compelling relevant content that encourages engagement and sharing,  intriguing subject lines, and a distinctive voice which helps to bring out a unique individual personality. With increasing amounts of data available through email marketing tools and platforms, advisors can effectively segment their list to provide relevant content that is important to their audience.

There are many programs and tools available to help make email marketing something that’s easy to implement and effective. Our platform, Digital Agent, has a built-in email marketing capability that allows advisors to create compliant email newsletters and send to prospects and clients in a way that it is integrated into blog and website content.

Consider what is one thing advisors can different today that would improve the way they service their clients? Creating a service model that would differentiate from other advisors is not something that is recommended but is crucial for success and high retention.

Five Digital Marketing Trends for Organizations with Advisors To Take Advantage

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The Business Case for Transforming Your Advisor Marketing. Part 2 Research Phase BannerYoung and creative start-up team discussing ideas in board room. Group of multi ethnic people during business meeting.

What customers want, how customers think, and how customers interact is changing – constantly. Every year we see the rise and fall of certain platforms, trends and memes that explode, and changes in customer preferences that force the evolution of marketing channels, strategies, and tactics. These conditions and our new awareness of buyer journeys are creating new marketing opportunities where advisor networks can deliver breadth and depth to head office marketing programs.

New tech and new trends will keep you on your toes. It can be easy for some opportunities to slip past, and it’s sometimes hard to predict exactly what trends will manifest in the near future.

So to help prepare for the changes to come in 2018, we’ve put together a list of the top digital marketing trends to keep an eye on.

Advisor Blogging

Blogging is a great way to strengthen digital presence by developing and distributing content that will help customers find your brands. Advisors who blog receive 97% more leads to their websites. Organizations need to develop strategies to train, incent and create regular blogging growth within their advisor community. Doing so will increase customer engagement and drive business growth in a unique way. Whether starting to produce a blog or long-time blogger, there are some tweaks that should make to blogging strategies in 2018.

  • A lot of people with small to medium-sized businesses think they need to match the blogging frequencies of big brands. Unless you have a team of dedicated content developers to produce and promote content all day long, this just isn’t feasible. Instead, choose a frequency that allows for creating high-quality content on a consistent basis. After all, it’s high-quality content that’s going to help you stand out among your competitors, not the number of content pieces that gets published.
  • Engagement on blogs used to mean getting readers to leave comments. However, now that social media is a world of its own, comments on blog posts have declined. They’ve been replaced by shares, likes, and follows. Add social share and social follow buttons on your blog that makes it easy to share.

Advisor Content Distribution Network  

Content Marketing has become widespread and there is a lot of noise that customers will need to cut through before they find your content. This shouldn’t discourage you from producing and publishing high-quality content. Instead, make sure your content distribution strategy is performing to get the best possible results on your content. Accessing an advisor network to distribute content can create both greater reach and ability to integrate content testing and data-driven strategies for customer engagement

  • Old post can be repurposed into a variety of content such as podcasts,  infographics,  short videos, ect. Video sees great metrics. For example, one-third of online activity is spent watching video and generates 1200% more shares than text and images. This allows for a refresh of all content without having to always come up with something new. Additionally, these formats are easily consumable and easily shareable on many different channels – such as email and social media, as well as infographic and video sites.
  • Share content with your email list. These people have already shown an interest and have given you access to their inbox. Utilize this to present the high-quality content to them. As this content meets their needs, they will become more engaged customers. Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts.

Brand Personification

There is a lack of connection between brands and customers because head offices have limited ability to connect in a human way. And, social networks illustrate a model of human connection that organizations should aspire to. Corporations with distributed service and sales organizations like advisors have a built-in advantage because that extended human channel can create warmer connections with customers.  In financial services, customers don’t want to be limited to a 100% transactional relationship. Sensitive and higher value transactions require a more human engagement and a strong sense of trust. When you connect customers to your people your brand is warmer more likely to engage with..

Aligning your brand persona with key customer contacts ensures that more of your content and engagement models build more personal client engagement. Furthermore strategically automating the human component to personalized engagements such as email will add a warmer touch and better results in building connections with customers.

Advanced Find and Advisor Search Criteria

A find an advisor search model is an opportunity for organizations to support multiple stages of a buyer’s journey, but assuming that customers only want location and contact information bypasses some of these stages.  As customers progress their research into financial products and services they will look for specialists and local advisors. Reducing friction in their research process by providing flexible search capability across a diverse set of criteria will reduce abandonment and increase engagement. Organizations need to think carefully about buyer journeys and so customers can find what they’re looking for easily and quickly. Examples include retirement and estate planning specialists along with insurance, small business, and family trusts.

You have created high-quality content that creates a personal connection between the brand and the customer, but all the work in building these personal relationships may be a waste if customers are not given every opportunity to contact advisors. Some financial organizations offer limited search ability to find an advisor. Implementing advanced search criteria will allow customers to connect with advisors very quickly and not require them to jump through hoops to find what they need.

Personalization

Getting customers the right content specifically designed for them is a challenge for any organization and even more so for large organizations. So in addition to automating content delivery by client selection, organizations with advisors can access a personalization model that has much more awareness of micro-segments and specific needs of customers in their local markets. Examples of this personalization strategy is both the advisor micro-sites and email campaigns.  

With individual micro-sites, advisors can provide to their customers with highly targeted content. Empowering field agents to create their own content will result in content that meets the needs of the hyperlocalized customers. Email campaigns are another marketing program that advisors can action with great success. As customers prefer personalized messaging; a mass email from a faceless enterprise does not meet the desires of the customers. When advisors contact the customers directly, there is a person behind the email and customers recognize that. This means that customers will be more receptive to the messaging and will feel that the content is personalized for them.

4 Tools to Transform Your Advisor Lead Generation

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The Business Case for Transforming Your Advisor Marketing. Part 2 Research Phase Banner

Marketing Platform Lead generation funnel

 

The buying process has changed. In the old world, Marketing found a list of customers through lists, email blasts, and mass advertising and passed the list on to Sales. Today, buyers can do their own research online and can find a variety of resources through search, social media, and other online channels. Customers can learn a great deal before even speaking to a salesperson. Organizations need to make sure they establish and build that digital relationship. What tools might a financial advisor use for lead generation and lead nurturing?

Inbound Marketing Platforms

There exists a variety of 3rd party marketing platforms that can be used to help your lead generation efforts. Two of those platforms are Hubspot and Marketo. These platforms are designed to create a workflow and buyers journey around your leads. These platforms must be integrated with existing systems, such as a website, email, social media, etc. Then any leads generated can be imported and nurtured through both marketing and sales initiatives. These platforms allow you to monitor the entire process from start to finish and identify weak spots in your customer experience.

Your Own Enterprise Platform

It may be possible that an enterprise has their own platform to manage their lead generation efforts. The concern with this is the cost, the staff, the maintenance, and the training that the enterprise will need to provide to the advisors. A potential issue with an owned platform outside of the cost is integration and implementation. The platform is not likely going to integrate well with email and websites. Due to its lack of integration, it will demand of advisors to manually input the lead data into the system. The concern with manual input is the question of will it be utilized or will the extra steps lead to low adoption. Furthermore, when advisors manually input lead information, this opens the door for human error.

Doing It Themselves

A poorly adopted platform or a lack of any lead generation platform will require the financial advisors to do the lead management and generation on their own. This could be done in an email platform such as Gmail or Outlook, or even in a Spreadsheet document. Lead generation increases the potential of human error, both in the entry of the contact information but as well as contacting clients with wrong information or forgetting to contact them at all. Furthermore, while this is being managed by the advisors, the enterprise is being left in the dark as to what is happening and if advisors are generating and converting leads.

Another component of advisors handling their marketing autonomously is creating their own website. Each advisor will turn to different tools from Wix or GoDaddy, to hiring a developer to create the site. Regardless of the method, each site will not resemble brand standards, will not be integrated with a lead management system, and cannot be overseen at the enterprise level

Digital Agent – The Compliant Advisor Marketing Platform

The Digital Agent platform brings in some of the best features and excludes the pitfalls but creating a fully integrated marketing platform. It empowers financial advisors to create personal localized campaigns while remaining compliant with regulations and brand standards. When advisors are actively creating marketing content, it allows enterprise marketers to expand their reach and the field can grow leads at a fraction of the cost. The Digital Agent platform is implemented and monitored at the enterprise level. This allows for mass utilization, reducing human error, while still give the control for the enterprise.

Lead generation and nurturing has evolved, and it is crucial to give your financial advisors the proper tools to bring in and manage leads through the customer journey. A platform that allows for complete integration meets those objectives of lead generation while also reducing the possibility for error or blind spots caused by financial advisors having to juggle too many tools.