[There has been a quantum leap in the art and science behind client and prospect engagement in financial services. The need for heightened customer connection during the pandemic has accelerated the deployment of advanced digital marketing tools, analytics, and an enhanced digital media presence. These new tools challenge us to strategically re-think and creatively reconfigure our traditional marketing strategies and approaches.
Adding fuel to this are research studies that have pointed out an insidious procedural problem - lead management and engagement. Looking deeper at the issues uncovers and quantifies the nature and size of the problem. Advisors are losing meaningful income as research shows that approximately 50% of leads are being wasted due to advisors not following up properly. This has necessitated new innovative approaches in such areas as influence marketing and lead management.
To explore and discuss this area more fully, we reached out to Institute members Luke Acree and Joshua Stike of ReminderMedia - a unique relationship marketing firm and client nurturing specialist that recently launched their Digital Marketing Platform for financial professionals. We asked them to share with us their research and how they responded to industry challenges by strategically designing tools and processes geared to meaningfully engage clients and prospects beyond traditional marketing approaches.]
Hortz: How do you define the concept of customer engagement? Why do many in the industry go about it the wrong way?
Acree: Too many business owners are transaction-focused versus being relationship-focused. This is why many clients change financial advisors even though they did a great job; why a large percentage of spouses move advisors once the other has died. Engagement with a customer or prospect that transcends a transactional approach shifts to relationships.
That is why we created our digital platform offering. It gives a way for the financial advisor to move beyond just technical communication and include lifestyle-based content and approach in their client touchpoints. When the advisor focuses on connecting on a relationship level, they end up retaining more business and ultimately create raving fans which will refer them business.
We purposefully designed our digital marketing platform to be lifestyle focused. If you can connect with someone on an emotional level, they are way more likely to move you into the “like” and “trust” category faster. Think about it like going out to coffee with someone in a business setting. You do not just go to talk business; it is to get to know that client better. Yet so many advisors do not apply that to their marketing. Rather than getting to know your clients on a personal level, they pitch business and information, features, and benefits. It would be the same thing to take a client out to lunch just to pitch them products or throw stats at them.
Hortz: Can you share what research and facts you uncovered that helped guide you in designing your engagement strategies?
Stike: According to Conversica, sales and marketing professionals agree that 50% of their lead generation budget is wasted on leads that are never contacted and 41% cite the reason is because the leads are too hard to reach. The reality is that most financial advisors do not have the time, resources, or pay-off to spend time calling Internet leads all day. That is why we created an automated touchpoint system that not only delivers the highest quality package—showcasing the quality of your brand—but does it for you—from creating the carefully honed content to regularly delivering the touchpoints. By consistently nurturing these leads that are being wasted, you will build stronger connections and higher levels of trust when the prospect is ready to engage.
In our own research on the value of ongoing quality engagement, we found through our third-party surveys directly of readers of American Lifestyle magazine – one of our signature advisor branded engagement tools - that 76% of people are more likely to do business with the professional again because they send them the magazine. In addition, 58% of people have referred their professional because of the magazine in the last 12 months. And when looking at what content people enjoyed most, 81% favorited the recipes.
We employed that same strategy when creating our digital marketing platform—leveraging the content that people ENJOY receiving with all of the branding that lets them know YOU’RE the one that sent it to them. This triggers the reciprocity effect and recipients feel compelled to return the favor.
Hortz: What are the components of your Digital Marketing Platform and what part does each play in engaging the client or prospect?
Acree: Our digital marketing platform includes a personalized, branded digital magazine that is emailed to clients every month, a local events email newsletter with the highest quality local and virtual events, and a library of social media posts that are personalized with your contact information and lead form.
The problem with most social media and email marketing is it is either not very high quality, too much work to manage, or it is too inconsistent. We take all of that on for our clients. We create the content, we design the emails and social media posts, and we send it for our clients on the schedule they select. It’s a digital marketing platform that is completely automated and curated without having to sacrifice the quality for a reasonable monthly price.
Hortz: How exactly do you determine and handpick the local content, companies, and events to target specific customers?
Stike: Local events are collected from event providers like Eventbrite and Facebook, among hundreds of others. Each event is run through an algorithm that predicts the highest quality and most relevant events. We then have a local presence in hundreds of markets across the country hand-selecting the best of the best—the local gems. Low-quality pictures are replaced with high-quality options, the copy is reviewed for accuracy, and events are rejected that do not meet the standards.
Hortz: How exactly does an automated, integrated, digital approach helps an advisor or agent out-position their competitors?
Acree: Since according to Accenture’s research, a large majority (77%) of CEOs said they will be fundamentally changing how their companies interact with customers and prospects as a priority to drive business growth, it becomes imperative that we all up to our marketing and engagement strategies.
To stand out from your competitors, we believe that your marketing has to be F.I.T., meaning it has to connect FREQUENTLY with your clients, it has to deliver IMPACT so you stand out from all of the other marketing everybody sees, and it has to brand YOU as the advisor your clients can TRUST. With up to 66 elegant, automated, touchpoints, you will hit all three of these with our digital marketing platform.
We invite you with this link to explore a sample of our client engagement magazine or see a demo of the digital platform we discussed above.
The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and best practices to drive and facilitate their next-generation growth, differentiation, and unique client/community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors - Pershing, NASDAQ, Ultimus Fund Solutions, Fidelity, Voya Financial, and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines).