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  • Home>Practice Management>Technology>How Marketing Automation Can Accelerate Client Growth

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    How Marketing Automation Can Accelerate Client Growth

    New online marketing platforms allow advisors to identify website visitors, deliver information specific to their interests, and convert prospects to clients.

    Bill Winterberg, 11/10/2011

    The cornerstone of nearly every financial advisory firm's marketing plan is a comprehensive website. Advisors can spend anywhere from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars to establish an Internet presence with their website, with the purpose of providing online resources for clients and prospects alike.

    Despite investments made to establish and maintain a website, many advisors fail to measure how effective their website really is in attracting traffic and ultimately converting visitors to clients. A new category of software platforms has emerged, collectively known as marketing automation, to help anyone with a website (advisors included) improve the process of identifying, qualifying, and delivering targeted marketing to website visitors.

    One marketing automation platform designed with financial advisors in mind is Capture Track Convert from the Frisco, Texas-based company of the same name. Capture Track Convert partners Zachary Hedges and D. Bruce Johnston recently walked me through a demonstration of their platform.

    For several years, I've been guiding advisors to use website monitoring tools such as Google Analytics, a free web-based utility that generates reports on a variety of website traffic metrics. (I highlighted the tool in a post last year: Measure Your Website's Impact.) While it records information on search keywords used to find a website and most frequently visited pages, Google Analytics data is anonymous, so there's no way to associate that information with real people.

    Marketing automation platforms like Capture Track Convert address that drawback by associating anonymous data collected with identifying information volunteered by website visitors, typically through an opt-in newsletter sign up or whitepaper request form. Like Google Analytics, marketing automation platforms record anonymous website statistics, such as a user's IP address, web browser used, and specific pages viewed. Once a website visitor offers up her name and e-mail address, her information can then be associated with her browsing history on the advisor's website.

    To illustrate Capture Track Convert's capabilities, let's consider an example using a prospect named Susan. Susan is the director of public relations for a Fortune 500 company in the advisor's area. She's dissatisfied with her current broker's lack of knowledge regarding tax planning surrounding deferred compensation and incentive stock options, so she searches for potential advisors on the Internet. Via Google search for stock option planning, she arrives on one local advisor's website where Capture Track Convert is active. She finds several updates related to stock option planning posted on the website, and after reading them, Susan signs up to download the advisor's free report on stock option planning opportunities by providing her name and e-mail address.

    With Susan's identifiable information recorded, Capture Track Convert begins to flex its muscles. Capture Track Convert indicates Susan's potential to become a client by assigning a value to her profile called a Lead Score. The Lead Score is based on a variety of activities, including the number of times Susan visited the website, what pages she read, whitepapers she downloaded, and so forth. The Lead Score can be further customized using an extensive number of parameters, allowing advisors to assign high scores for activities of particular interest, like downloading the firm's Form ADV Part II.

    For each prospect in the system, Capture Track Convert also includes an action menu to view the prospect's contact details, perform a Google search using the prospect's name, or search for the prospect's profile on LinkedIn. By quickly discovering Susan's profile on LinkedIn, the advisor can now identify the company where she works, her title, and determine whether the firm may already have clients who work at Susan's company.

    Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.