What’s Your Referral Conversion Rate?

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If you are like most successful advisers, most of your new asset growth comes from referrals, either from existing clients or from your professional network. If you have been building a book of business for more than five years, chances are that a significant portion of your new growth will come from satisfied clients and centers of influence.

What is a Referral Conversion Rate, and Why Does it Matter?
In most cases you will only know of the referrals that actually reach out to you. The reality is that some people are often “on the fence” when it comes to connecting with an adviser to whom they’ve been referred, and may not do it at all. So if you’ve been contacted by ten referrals in the past month, it’s possible that there were several more that never followed up.

Why Are You Missing Out?
According to research conducted by Deloitte Consulting, 73 percent of US respondents report that they conduct online research before making offline decisions. Furthermore, in a report published by PwC, one in three US consumers are influenced by social media in their purchases. At GuideVine, an online platform that provides education about financial planning topics and matches consumers with right-fit financial advisers, we have collected data on thousands of consumers who are looking for financial advisers, and our experience is consistent with much of the industry research: consumers are doing their homework before reaching out to advisers. When it comes to high-end professional services, consumers tend to frequent multiple online sources to form a preliminary opinion as to whether it makes sense to connect with, in this case, the financial adviser.Khalid Usmani 3

Typically, someone looking for an adviser will leverage his personal network for references, maybe receiving two or more names.  The next step is probably a simple Google search to learn more. Based on the results, it’s likely the individual would visit the adviser’s website, view his LinkedIn profile, find press mentions and view any other sites/platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) where the adviser and his firm have a presence.

How can You Ensure Your Referrals Become Prospects?
The key to ensuring that you are well positioned is to have a strong, comprehensive digital footprint that not only informs, but also elicits actions from referrals. Perhaps you have an updated website, but does it have clear calls to action? Is your LinkedIn profile up-to-date? Maybe you created it three years ago – have you checked recently to be sure that the information is still accurate and includes a professional  (current) profile picture? Did you create a verified Google listing for your office so that your location can be easily found using Google Maps? Does the verbiage you use across multiple digital platforms reinforce your brand and your firm’s core principles? While there are a myriad of steps you can take when it comes to building your digital footprint, it is important to get the basics right, so that the referrals that are “on the fence” feel comfortable engaging with you.

Investing in Digital Presence Leads to Growth
According to a recent study conducted by American Century Investments, 43 percent of advisers that have used new digital marketing methods (e.g., social media) have been able to attribute a direct return on investment. Not only are advisers benefiting from net new client assets, but many have reported increased engagement and share of wallet from existing clients as they felt more connected and engaged with the adviser through the content shared via new digital marketing initiatives.

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What’s After Mastering the Basics?
One word: content. Having a website or a LinkedIn profile with a basic description about your firm is table stakes. In order to differentiate yourself from the pack, you and your firm need to thoughtfully review your content strategy to drive engagement (learn more about content strategy from this video). One powerful way to create engaging content is to have a compelling video introduction about yourself and the services you can offer prospective clients.

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Videos are proven to be extremely effective in communicating information and spurring action. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, according to the 3M Corporation. Forty-six percent of users take some sort of action after viewing an ad, according to the Online Publishers Association. According to Forester Research, it is 50 times easier to achieve a page one ranking on Google with a video.  Furthermore, videos can be easily shared across multiple mediums including websites, LinkedIn profiles, email marketing campaigns and more.

Over the past several years, my team and I have worked with hundreds of advisers on strengthening their digital footprint and have developed thousands of videos that have been viewed millions of times. In order to ensure your firm is on a path of consistent, sustainable growth, you must diversify your marketing approach and improve your existing practices to align with new technology and consumer preferences. Since referrals may be your largest driver of growth, it is essential that you protect and grow this asset.

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Khalid Usmani
Head of Advisor Success
New York, N.Y.

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