Digital tools made available to advisors over the past decade have revolutionized practice marketing, operations and client communications. For advisors at every level — from captive agents to independent operators — a well-honed digital strategy is essential to client recruitment and retention, as well as internal productivity and organization.
Adopting a few digital best practices and initiatives has propelled my practice’s growth. I’ve added a larger volume of clients and streamlined the internal management process to keep pace with the workload.
Curate a personal digital presence to build social proof. Clients want to partner with a professional they trust. In the digital age, advisors who provide social proof, or a digital presence verifying a positive reputation, are more likely to attract clients. People want to know who they’re getting into business with, and the lack of an online persona is a red flag for most. Leveraging your online platforms to establish trust and accountability will help attract and retain clients. It also results in less of a hands-on management system since you’re not constantly trying to prove yourself.
Every advisor — even captive agents and contractors — should create a digital presence they own and control. Not only does an independent website create a unique identity and competitive edge, it gives clients a central hub for communication. Although many agencies provide a web page for advisors to personalize, I recommend a branded, personal URL.
Owned sites offer a cohesive brand and location for the duration of a career and bring an added layer of professionalism. Hosting companies support email through the URL, which enables advisors to use their name as their business email, rather than another brand or a generic email address (such as gmail).
The site should include high-quality photos, a description of services, and links to social profiles and client testimonials. Links to active profiles on LinkedIn and business review platforms such as Yelp or the Better Business Bureau also help clients learn more about your personality, your track record and others’ impressions of you. Like word-of-mouth marketing, testimonials on these sites reinforce your brand and trustworthiness. A presence on these high-traffic sites will also boost search engine results when clients search for financial professionals in their area.
Digitize client management processes. Each of your clients and contacts has a lifetime value to you as an advisor. Points of contact and projects shouldn’t be singular, but should evolve into a greater, long-term relationship. I’m perpetually inspired by one of the most noted salesmen, Joe Gerard, who attributed a record-breaking career to his relationships with clients. In 15 years, he sold more than 13,000 cars after making regular, personalized touch points. Each holiday season, he sent thousands of handwritten holiday cards — not that you need to go that far.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can automate the client outreach process and alleviate logistical stress. Most programs lend themselves well to segmenting clients into unique categories, scheduling messages and automation. Whatever the content strategy of your email campaigns, make an effort to connect with each client at least once every quarter.
Because client data is rich, it’s possible to target messaging to unique groups, rather than blanketing an entire client roster with one broad message. Programs also can help automate emails for important policy milestones, key birthdays or anniversaries.
Upgrade newsletters to boost engagement. Emails that stand out in crowded inboxes will boost engagement and readership, and deepen the overall connection with your clients. To create a more impactful communication, consider including more media-rich materials such as stylized graphics, videos and tailored content in your emails. Craft messages that share information or unique concerns that are relevant to your clients’ demographic. Content that is engaging or highly relevant will not only boost engagement, it likely will be forwarded to others and saved for future reference.
If you’re not a master of these tech tools, it’s easy to access someone who is. Freelance workers can assist in setting up CRM systems and in creating emails, digital assets and collateral. Networks for freelancers, like Upwork, can help identify specialists to complement the skills gap on your team.