Data-Driven Marketing Breaks through the Online Crowd

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It is tough for advisors to be heard and it takes more than a platform to rise above the noise. With 90% of businesses marketing online today, the solution is to use data-driven marketing to break-through the crowd.

In a blog post, Getting New Clients by Building a Narrowcasting Platform on Your Financial Advisor Website, Michael Kitces posed a challenge to advisors. In the post he stated, “Yet the challenge is that in today’s increasingly crowded landscape, where more and more financial advisors are offering remarkably similar services to the same target clientele, it’s harder and harder just to get noticed amongst the crowd in the first place.” His solution to this problem was based on Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, where Hyatt argues that you must build your own platform in order to stop marketing on the same, overcrowded stage as everyone else. But it takes more than a platform to solve this problem.

Hyatt and Kitces were correct when they said that you need a platform for your firm – your website, social media profiles, podcast, etc. However, this is a must-have foundational element in your marketing plan. Just like you need the foundation for a house in order for it to stand, you need a digital platform in order to execute strategies to reach your target audience.

In the past, we have not had access to data to know the needs and wants of the individuals we were targeting. We would make decisions based on our personal preferences and what we thought was best. Today, many affordable tools give us the insight to make more accurate decisions. A data-driven marketer would never implement a campaign without first researching the idea and testing it. His or her decisions would be based on what his target audience tells him, not on his own opinion.

To become a data-driven marketer, you must first change your mindset. There is not one guaranteed solution that works every time – trust me, I have searched extensively for it. It is all about having the patience to test, analyze and optimize every marketing tactic, whether it’s your website, email campaigns or social media. Also, you must change how you measure marketing. Yes, the ultimate goal is to get a lead or close a new client, but that is not how you should measure the effectiveness of your marketing tactic. Each tactic should be measured by whether or not you learned something about your target audience that got you one step closer to reaching them. For instance, did you test an email campaign and find out that 9am Tuesday morning had the most opens for your audience? The fact that you figured out the most optimal time to reach your target audience via email means that you had a successful campaign.

Let’s say you are an advisor ready to build a new website. You could take the standard approach and spend two to three months building a beautiful website that you love and will stay almost the same for the next three to five years. The data-driven approach would be to get a simple website up quickly with only the essentials and then let your website users tell you what they want. You would need to set-up tools like CrazyEgg to track where users view, scroll and click and Google Analytics to follow the trends of your website traffic, such as what pages people view and for how long. This would take an ongoing monitoring, analyzing and optimizing of your website. However, you will be closer to reaching your target audience than the approach based on your personal opinion.

Another instance could be that you have your website up, but you do not have enough people viewing it. You should have at least 2,000 viewers a month with 10% converting by requesting a meeting or signing up for your newsletter. I would recommend testing social media ads to build awareness of your firm. Most advisors are going after the older generation, so Facebook ads are perfect. Most people would think all they need to do is run one or two ads and see what happens. A data-driven marketer would test at least five different ads for each of the different media (i.e. mobile, desktop) for 10 days with $25 limit each. At the end of the 10 days, he or she would see which ads didn’t perform well. He or she would go a step further and test the best performing ads by switching out copy and images. This optimization would result in reaching more of the audience.