Like never before, the information economy has brought power to the customer. If a consumer is looking for information, they can turn to their smartphone, computer, or a countless number of digitally connected resources to instantly get information on what they’re trying to buy, fix, or accomplish.
This digital revolution is no more evident and impactful than for financial advisors, who must now translate their real-world authority online to reach their next new clients who are searching their mobile device for answers. The rapid adoption of Internet technology by baby boomers and high net worth investors entering retirement age has created unprecedented opportunity and has leveled the playing field for all advisors.
According to the 2014 Pew Research Center Internet Project Survey, fifty-eight percent of all adults have a smartphone. Even more telling is the changing focus of all US Internet usage from the desktop to mobile. According to a study by comScore, in January of 2014 Americans spent 46.6 percent of their total Internet time with mobile apps, versus 45.1 percent who accessed the Internet via a desktop computer.
With this increasing mobile acceptance and growing audience comes great opportunity. Financial advisors need to have a plan to reach this digitally connected audience, and they need to provide themselves with all the necessary tools and information to cut through the clutter and sell their products and services. While this is a great challenge for advisors, it’s one that has to be met head-on.
What does this mean for the person in charge of marketing for your firm? It means that while we are in an increasingly competitive environment, it’s one that can be successfully managed if you have a plan and systems in place to help take your firm to the top.
There are many reasons why the challenge of marketing has become more difficult, including a host of new channels as well as many more options and opportunities for distraction. But it doesn’t mean that any of these opportunities should automatically be avoided. Consumers have more information and nearly all their answers at their fingertips—and it’s your job to find those fingertips.
In addition to finding the consumer in this congested marketplace, and reaching them with the proper message, there are numerous new opportunities that all of this evolving technology has provided. The audience and communities created by social media channels allow marketers the chance to reach their potential customers in their own neighborhoods. Marketers today can now search for and find leads in a variety of new ways that were not available a few years ago. This changing of the guard, and the opportunities that come with it, is happening at a rapid pace. Therefore it’s up to the marketer to keep track of all that is going on.
One of the primary benefits of digital marketing is its ability to construct a cost-effective approach to building an audience and attracting leads. However, without the proper system and processes in place, the exact opposite can occur. An organization can waste a great deal of time, money, and opportunity cost trying to put together a scattered or fragmented digital marketing plan, with limited or diminishing returns.
However, when executed properly, digital marketing can allow for the scale and growth that is necessary for financial advisors to transform their organizations. The importance of a properly developed program within the digital realm is that it can allow independent financial advisors to compete with an organization of any size.
The reality is that while small and medium-sized advisors must continue to compete with larger firms, the playing field has been leveled. Many of the tools and advantages that a large organization typically could enjoy because of greater resources are muted in the digital realm. This technological and resource equality presents many opportunities for small and medium-sized advisors to grow like never before.
A question that I often receive when meeting with businesses is what is a realistic timeframe for an organization to see results with digital marketing programs. As you might expect, the answer to that question can be tricky, because it depends upon multiple variables and lots of different internal and external factors.
However, a balance can be achieved between the efforts put forth within a digital marketing campaign and the fruits of this labor that directly reflect how well the program is put together. This means that a better organized, more thought-out, more defined program is likely to bring about much more widespread, impactful and faster results.
So how does digital marketing fit within your business? The reality is digital marketing is now just marketing. Your email marketing, your social media marketing, your paid digital advertising, and your search engine optimization are now all components of your traditional marketing program and should be managed as such. A new and constantly changing skill set is required to be able to manage these components; however they must interact with the rest of your marketing program. Having a digital marketing campaign on its own island will negate many of the benefits that a solid digital/offline combination program can produce.