As we continue to consider how advisers and planners can develop marketing strategies, last month I looked at the importance of setting SMART marketing goals.

    Of course, once the goal has been set, the next logical step is to understand the progress that has been made towards achieving it.

    To do that you need to know certain key numbers, which will help you understand both the distance between where you are and where you need to be, and the areas on which your marketing efforts should be focused.

    Unfortunately, experience tells us that far too few advice firms (somewhat ironically given the belief many have in evidence-based investing) collect the data required to make evidence-based marketing decisions.

    Those who do make the effort see the benefits when the time comes to develop a marketing strategy and plan. Decisions can be based on the data rather than guesses, hunches or gut feeling, allowing resources to be more carefully focused.

    For example, we’ve recently produced a marketing strategy for a firm which collected a significant amount of data. Analysing that data showed us their conversion rate (new enquiry to client) was below one in five. However, when they met with a potential client they formally engaged nine out of 10.

    That showed us clearly where the problem lay; in the quality of new enquiries and the early stages of the engagement/ onboarding process. That information has allowed us to more carefully focus their resources, something which wouldn’t have been possible without the data.  

    Another client we worked with had impressive website numbers; with higher than average visitor numbers and impressive visitor engagement. However, the number of people who took the leap from reading his blogs to getting in touch for advice was minuscule.

    Again, because we had his website data via Google Analytics, and his monitoring of the source of new enquiries, it was easy for us to pinpoint where the problems lay and take steps to rectify the issue.

    For your data to be truly useful we need to remember there are three key elements to the process:

    1) Deciding on the data you will collect

    Developing a new marketing strategy and plan may not be at the top of your to-do list right now. But collecting data, which will be invaluable in the future, should be.

    Producing data retrospectively is difficult and is rarely as accurate as when it's recorded there and then. Furthermore, even if developing a new strategy is a priority right now, the data will allow you to analyse the return on investment your existing marketing activities are delivering.

    For a business whose marketing goals will ultimately include the acquisition of new clients, I’d recommend collecting the following data as a minimum:

    • Date of enquiry
    • Source of the new enquiry
    • If applicable, the name of the client who referred the prospect to you
    • For multi-adviser/ planner firms, the name of the person the enquiry was allocated to
    • The outcome of the enquiry; did they become a client? If not, why not?
    • Did the enquiry match your target client profile?
    • If applicable, the initial fee paid by the client plus an assumption for future fees
    • The number of clients disengaging with your firm and the reason why

    That might seem like relatively a short list, and it is. But it’s still more than many firms currently record. It’s also better to start with relatively modest ambitions and ensure the data is accurately recorded than to shoot for the stars only to fall short.

    2) Agreeing how it will be collected

    The collection of this data should be a clearly documented part of your client engagement/ onboarding process. However, we need to go further.

    Business owners should make it clear to the members of their team tasked with collecting the data why it is so important. The knowledge that the data (which, let’s face it, is sometimes difficult to collect) will be used in making important business decisions will hopefully spur them on to collecting the data with greater enthusiasm and accuracy.

    To complement the information collected from potential clients there will naturally be other data, specific to existing marketing activities, which should also be collected.

    That might include your website, social media channels (both paid and organic), directory usage, newsletters, seminars etc. Most of which is available from the dashboards associated with such tools. Having said that, I’m constantly amazed by the number of advisers and planners who don’t have Google Analytics set up on their website.

    3) Interpreting the data 

    Collecting the data is in many respects the easy part. It now needs to be analysed and used as the basis for decisions.

    Exactly how you do that will depend on your specific business and marketing goals. However, where your goal is new client acquisition your data will allow you to understand every step of the process, from whether you are generating enquiries from people who match your target profile, right the way through to engagement levels and client retention.

    As I said earlier, even if developing a new marketing strategy isn’t high on your agenda right now, starting to collect data should be. The information will be available when you need it and is invaluable right now for monitoring return on investment.

    So, now’s the perfect time to agree on the data you will collect, the process for doing so and who will do it. You will be glad you made the effort when the time comes to use it.

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