Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Our New Client Dashboard Is An Advisor’s Client Portal

Since January, we have been developing a new client portal for advisors.

The new client portal is built into AdvisorVault, which is used by hundreds of RIAs. AdvisorVault is a highly customized version of Microsoft SharePoint explicitly designed to meet the needs of financial advice professionals.

We are replacing traditional Windows Explorer folders used to navigate vaults with a Windows 8 and Apple design aesthetic — a major leap forward in the look of our client vaults. More important than the look, however, are new data feeds into AdvisorVault of popular performance reporting, financial planning and CRM apps used by RIAs. The data feeds transform your client vaults into a client portal — a single place for UHNWIs to go to manage their wealth in collaboration with a financial professional.

Client Dashboard Is An Advisor’s Client Portal

Data fed by your CRM, planning, and portfolio accounting apps show up as “Web parts” or “widgets” in a client dashboard. Settings for which widgets are displayed in your client dashboards, and where, are controlled by you.

One widget fed by your portfolio reporting app will display a client’s asset allocation by asset class (utilizing asset classes you’ve set in your portfolio management software (PMS) system). Another widget displays total returns. Point is, an app can feed multiple widgets.

At the end of October, we will enable widgets displaying data from portfolio reporting apps — PortfolioCenter, Advent, AdvisorsAssistant, and AssetBook, followed by Albridge two- to four-weeks later.

At the end of November, you’ll be able to display a widget showing a client’s MoneyGuide Pro “Plan Confidence Meter” along with a net worth bar chart.

Financial Advisor Client Portals

At the end of December comes the widget most special: You’ll be able to display a list of tasks (activities) in Redtail CRM that will populate widgets in your client dashboard. From Redtail, you’ll share clients’ to-dos. They automatically feed client dashboards. No uploads or imports needed — it’s a Web service using Redtail’s application programming interface.

Advisors can assign clients tasks, like, “Please send me your 1099,” or, “Please fill in this risk profile.” In the widget, tasks assigned clients are listed as “incomplete” until the client responds, at which time you use your Redtail CRM to mark the task as “Completed.” Anytime you add, comment on or complete a task in Redtail, the client is emailed a link to the update in his portal. The portal is displayed in HTML5, making it viewable on any device.

You can display “Completed” tasks in a client’s dashboard. That’s incredibly powerful! Listing all of the tasks you completed for the client in the last year presents a clear statement of the value you provide to each client.

Assigning clients tasks and tracking them in their personal portal is a new, highly transparent way of practicing for financial professionals.

In the first quarter of 2015, widgets will let you display Advisor Products videos and articles in client portals, feeding clients with financial ideas consistent with best practices articulated by thought leaders. The potential to educate clients and prospects continually is an exciting and humbling goal we share with you.

 

We’re Boosting Advisor Email Campaign Open Rates By 100%

The integration of Advisor Products content with Constant Contact is boosting advisor email campaign open rates by nearly 100% over the average advisor’s open rate, according to data from users.

Advisor Products integrates Constant Contact’s email marketing tools and analytics into financial advisor websites, and the first users of the integrated app provided their email “key performance indicators,” which are tracked in Constant Contact.

Advisors using Advisor Products with Constant Contact are experiencing an open rate nearly double that of the average financial advisor using Contact Contact, as summarized below.

 

Constant Contact publishes email KPIs for 38 types of small businesses, including financial advisors.

 

Average advisor using Constant Contact has a 15.56% open rate. Our integrated app is getting nearly double that.

 

Email KPIs are universally accepted metrics of effectiveness of email marketing.  Email KPIs are a familiar concept to investment advisors because  they are akin to the benchmarks advisors use to measure investment performance and put it in proper context.

While I am pleased that Advisor Products content drives much higher email KPIs than the average advisor, Advisor Products is engaged in a long-term strategic effort to leverage Constant Contact to help financial professionals educate investors to market to them. As Constant Contact begins to coach users of advisor websites by Advisor Products about how to refine their contact list, and as Advisor Products aligns content  to optimize advisor’s outreach to clients and prospects, you can expect improvements on these very promising early figures.

Keep in mind, it’s all about content. Ideas do matter. Advisor Products content for UHNWIs is derived from presentations made by thought leaders at weekly continuing professional education webinars produced since 2008 by Advisors4Advisors.

Our content for UHNWIs is derived from presentations made by thought leaders at the Advisors4Advisors continuing professional education webinars.

 

Financial Advisor Communications System bundles Constant Contact’s unique abilities to engage you with Advisor Products unique abilities in content marketing.

 

 

View a six-minute video about the Advisor Products-Constant Contact integration.

 

 

After Working Together For Months, Constant Contact And Advisor Products Announce Strategic Partnership

In mid-February 2014, Tim McNamara, who heads sales at Constant Contact, the world leader in online marketing, called Steve Gordonson, a partner in Advisor Products. Since then, we’ve worked intensely with the leadership team at Constant Contact, including Alec Stern, the sole co-founder of Constant Contact still working at the company.  The partnership establishes a way for advisors to get email campaign open rates nearly 100% higher than the average financial advisor using Constant Contact.

Constant-Contact-Financial-Advisor-Communications-System

Advisor Products turns professional education content from Advisors4Advisors into email newsletters, enabling optimal use of Constant Contact for list management and analytics.

Tim had spent five years in business development and operations at  Schwab and then 10 years as an advisor at UBS, Morgan Stanley and Wachovia.  He’s been an internet entrepreneur, having built the nation’s first online divorce platform. A year ago, Tim became the head of business development for North America and Latin America at Constant Contact.

Tim had been a reader of my column in advisor trade publications since the mid-1990s. During our first phone call, Tim said he had been a “raving fan” of mine for years. Tim had stumbled into Advisor Products integration with Constant Contact and was impressed. When he tracked down its source, he was thrilled to learn it was me.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

The head of business development for the largest email marketing tools company on the planet understood what Advisor Products is doing to help financial professionals reach UHNWIs and he valued it. Tim showed it to Alec, who confirmed that Advisor Products’ integration with Constant Contact was as seamless as he had ever seen, and he said that our content struck exactly the right tone and message for engaging UHNWIs. These guys got it!

AdvisorProducts-Constant-Contact-Press-release

 

Since that first phone call in February, Advisor Products and Constant Contact have worked intensively together. On July 1, we signed a multi-year strategic partnership that is a big win for us both and, more importantly, a win for advisors.

Advisor Products has bundled Constant Contact into its advisor websites. Constant Contact comes with Financial Advisor Communications System.

The integrated system gives you the strengths and unique abilities of both companies: Constant Contact’s ability engages you, to make you use your email newsletter. Advisor Products unique abilities in creating content for UHNWIs derived from thought leadership continuing professional education about wealth management. The result is measured by comparing your email key performance Indicators versus the average advisor using Constant Contact.

Constant Contact coaches are calling Advisor Products clients to be sure you know about all of our exciting news and be sure you know how to use all the tools and analytics as well as the benefits of Advisor Products content marketing system for advisor websites. .

The joint press release makes it all official, but we are well on the way toward providing financial advisors a best-in-class content marketing system that includes a client portal integrated with the best apps used by advisors.

 

Email Marketing KPIs For Financial Adivisors

Email marketing is the most effective marketing tool available to financial advisors but not all email marketing platforms perform the same. Fortunately, performance measurement of the efficacy of email marketing platforms comes down to a few well-defined key performance indicators—email open-rates, click-throughs, delivery rates, and adoption of campaign-tracking technology.

Aberdeen Group, an independent research firm, in an April 2011 Research Brief, evaluated major email campaign platforms based on email marketing KPIs including:

  • Email open-rates
  • Click-through rate
  • Delivery rate
  • Adoption rate

Aberdeen research is  respected. It studies the experience of practitioners across industries to produce “fact-based analysis based on a proprietary framework independent of outside influence.” Its process identifies “Best-In-Class” providers. In email campaigns, Constant Contact is best in class, according to Aberdeen’s study. Aberdeen’s authoritative study of email marketing KPIs ­— summarized below — is instructive to financial advisors, especially Advisor Products users currently being contacted about upgrading to our powerful new platform, which integrates seamlessly with Constant Contact for email campaigns.

“Constant Contact users demonstrate better results than users of other email solutions in several key performance indicators that are critical in measuring email marketing effectiveness,” according to Aberdeen, “with 36% (open rate) and 60% (click through rate) better marketing activity rates.”

Of the 600 executives surveyed in Aberdeen’s study of email campaign software, 286 were companies with fewer than 100 employees. Here are highlights of Aberdeen’s study of the performance of email campaign platforms over a one-year period:

 

  • Email open-rates of Constant Contact users improved by 5.6% versus 3.1% for users of other email marketing systems.
  • Click through rates of Constant Contact users improved by 5.4% versus 2.2% for users of other email marketing systems.
  • Delivery rates of Constant Contact users improved by 7.4% versus 4.1% for users of other email marketing systems.
  • Revenue generated by Constant Contact users 5.8% more revenue over the one year period versus 2.1% for users of other email marketing systems.
  • Constant Contact users were 38% more likely to have a process for updating their database by removing opt-outs
  • Adoption of technology to track, measure, and report on email marketing activities is 77% higher among Constant Contact users.

That last bullet is most significant. Adoption of analytics for tracking the effectiveness of email campaigns was 77% higher among CTCT users than the average user of the other email marketing platforms, according to Aberdeen. The report concluded that companies that develop a formal process for tracking analytics outperform those that do not, specifically, by generating 32% higher growth in revenue from email campaigns.

Advisor Products is working with senior leadership at Constant Contact to engage financial professionals in conducting measurable email campaigns. Advisor Products now bundles Constant Contact into its content marketing solution for advisors, the Financial Advisor Communication System.

How To Increase RIA AUM Using Email Newsletters

Email newsletters are enjoying a renaissance and remain the most effective marketing tool available to financial advisors.

“Email newsletters, an old-school artifact of the web that was supposed to die along with dial-up connections, are not only still around, but very much on the march,” says media columnist David Carr in  The New York Times. “Bloomberg, Fast Company, The New York Times, Politico and many other news organizations are finding that they can grab attention — and readers — in the inbox.”

According to Carr, readers drowning in the flood of information on the Internet yearn for organized information to bring order to the chaos. “At a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, email newsletters — some free, some not — help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to,” Carr says.

So I am pleased that Constant Contact, the world leader in email marketing, has partnered with Advisor Products. As a result of this partnership, advisors are able to conduct educational email marketing campaigns with content that UHNWIs actually value. While Advisor Products has had an email newsletter since September 2001, integrating Constant Contact is a game-changer for our users.

Trey Byrnes
Inverness Financial Group

Our email newsletter content combined with Constant Contact’s technology, templates, analytics and personal coaching gives our users new marketing capabilities to attract new assets and communicate with clients regularly.

Here, in his own words, is the story of Trey Byrnes, CPA-turned-wealth manager and the founder of Inverness Financial Group of Newburyport, Mass. Since late 2008, Byrnes has been sending contacts a branded newsletter created by Advisor Products, and he shares his experience of those five years. Keep in mind, he’s not yet benefited from the Constant Contact integration.

I go to my website and sign a couple of people up for my email newsletter every month – referral sources and prospects.  About 10 of the approximately 140 people I signed up to receive the newsletter over the last five years became clients. Many are people I barely know. This is the best marketing tool I have ever used.

This quarter, someone became a client who I met five years ago and added to the email newsletter list way back then. It’s a $1 million client if it all works out over the next few months. She sold a piece of real estate in early June. She had been receiving my email newsletter every Friday afternoon since I added her to the subscriber list five years ago. She called me two weeks before the closing, scheduled an appointment, and signed up as an advisory client shortly thereafter.  I never had a single conversation with her in that five-year period other than sending her the weekly email. She lives in another state.

Earlier this year, a local prospect signed up for the newsletter.  After receiving the newsletter for about three months, he called and set up an appointment.  At our first meeting, he decided to become an advisory client and transferred $400,000 in assets.   He also mentioned the effectiveness of our newsletter.

How do I explain the success of this email newsletter? It’s just a touch, a weekly touch on Fridays. But people love it. To the best of my knowledge, fewer than 15 people unsubscribed in five years — and most of those were people changing their email addresses. That’s unheard of! Everyone gets so many emails every day, but people love the market recap grid at the top of the email, the weekly news coverage and concise presentation.

Clients don’t realize the email newsletter is automated. So I get emails asking me why I am at the office late on a Friday night. It’s an amazing tool to remind people I am here.  It has also proven to be a very easy way for subscribers to make a referral by simply forwarding the newsletter to a friend or colleague that might be interested in my services.

It will be interesting with constant contact because I will be able to see which articles each person reads.

I’ve hired consultants for marketing, and I’ve done mailings, and I even led a series of webinars a few years ago, but nothing I’ve ever done has been as effective as the Advisor Products weekly email newsletter.

Advisor Products is so far ahead of everyone else in the space.  I was with AdvisorsSquare before API and was disappointed.  While my BD at the time was promoting other vendors, I switched to API anyway.  It is more expensive, but for me it has been worth every penny.  After comparing products over the years, I feel API is a in whole different league than its competition.

An Update On The Financial Advisor Communications System

The entire Advisor Products team is working hard to achieve an ambitious set of goals that will transform the way financial advisors communicate.

Here’s an update on our work at Advisor Products in launching the Financial Advisor Communications System:

Clients First. We’ve launched a campaign to upgrade subscribers to the new Advisor Products platform for advisor websites. Before marketing Financial Advisor Communication System anywhere else, we are calling all of our clients to tell them about the Financial Advisor Communications System. Actually, our new and generous strategic partner, Constant Contact, is calling Advisor Products’ clients.  In the calls, you’ll learn about a limited-time offer of $1,000 savings on an upgrade to this new platform for advisor websites. If you are a current subscriber to the Advisor Products email newsletter service, please expect a call from a Constant Contact coach. Your coach is responsible for making you use the integrated Constant Contact-Advisor Products system for working with UHNWIs. You will be trained on how to use Advisor Products articles, videos, calls to action, and status updates with your clients, prospects, and referrals sources while leveraging Constant Contact’s powerful email marketing technology and analytics and enabling you to conduct measurable marketing campaigns that are sure to raise AUM over the long haul.  Embedded below is a video about the upgrade offer. Please let me know if you want to be contacted.

Eureka! I’ve come to understand clearly only lately that every 100 people you connect with represents “X% of annual growth in AUM” at an RIA. How much exactly is “X” worth?  It depends on whether you ever see the contact, whether you complement Advisor Products content with your own blog posts, and how well you personally connect with people. Anecdotally, we know from users that the system works very well over the long term. With Constant Contact;s, we are working to improve the efficacy in measurable ways. I’m looking for the optimal way to track AUM of our users. Let me know if you have an idea.

What is FACS? Financial Advisor Communications System is a scalable content marketing system based on the proposition that people do care about content. Clients and prospects—your social media connections and email subscribers—need authoritative, informative, and easy-to-consume wealth management news, and they don’t care whether their advisors writes it or not. Since our content is based on ideas from Robert Keebler, Fritz Meyer, and other leading thinkers who speak at the Advisors4Advisors weekly professional education webinar series, our content is packed with important ideas for UHNWIs.

Campaign Basics. Each campaign is comprised of: (1) tweets that link your social network connections to (2) an article on your website, and (3) allow them to sign up for your email newsletter. Once signed up, you begin a long-term conversation with each contact using FACS.

Great “Canned” Content. While “canned” content has been derided by marketing consultants in the financial advisor trade press and by competitors selling advisor websites, these individuals are wrong and misstating facts. Canned content, which is a pejorative way of describing the educational content for UHWNIs that Advisor Products provides, can accomplish the same goals as paying a writer by the hour to interview you and write up your financial wisdom as a blog post, but at a fraction of the cost and with more authoritative information.

Constant Contact-Advisor Products Partnership. Advisor Products recently signed a strategic partnership agreement with Constant Contact. CTCT has not formally announced the partnership.  It is  publicly held  and it must comply with Reg FD. That does not preclude me from telling you what’s happening at Advisor Products. CTCT  is going to help me train advisors on best practices in email marketing. CTCT is telling me that Advisor Products knows content marketing for financial advisors better than anyone, and they want to help more advisors utilize my content with CTCT’s email marketing technology, training, and personal coaching program. While I am a pimple on the “tookis” of CTCT, it’s a dream come to true for me to have validation from the best email marketing company on the planet.

Financial Advisor CTAs. In marketing jargon, FACS adds “calls to action” (CTAs) to advisor websites. A CTA is a graphic. It invites visitors to your website — your social connections, email-newsletter subscribers, and other people who come to your website as a result of a search — to view a video, but requiring an email address to subscribe.

How FACS Generates AUM. A page is created on your website to subscribe to your e-newsletter. You add new potential clients and referral sources to your subscriber list as needed, and anyone visiting your site can also subscribe. You manage your contact list in Constant Contact and can track everything they’ve ever clicked on that you’ve sent them. Since subscribers can unsubscribe anytime, only people in tune with your message stay. It’s a self selecting process. These leads might take years to close. It’s wise to think of them as long-term relationships. Assuming you made a good first impression on someone when you met them — at a cocktail party, local event, or that someone was referred by a friend. Eventually, these fleeting contacts become clients, sometimes years after they first started receiving your email newsletter, simply because you have provided them with years of financial insights. With Constant Contact coaches guiding you toward best practices in distributing Advisor Products content for UHNWIs, this simple program will grow your RIA’s AUM and can be augmented with your own original SEO blog content make to even more powerful.

Using FACS With Constant Contact. FACS enables financial advisors to conduct content marketing campaigns, send weekly market updates automatically, and conduct social campaigns. The image directly above shows how call-to-action graphics (CTAs) can be placed on a site. Every page of your site prominently features a banner linked to a video with ideas for UHNWIs. The uncommon knowledge conveyed makes contacts value your informational touches. While Advisor Products has offered an email newsletter since September 2001, it did not enable advisors to manage their list as effectively and its analytics did not allow for reports showing you who opened which emails. By bundling Constant Contact we are able to harness its power for engaging users. You will use this system. With Constant Coaches exhorting you to implement email marketing best practices in distributing Advisor Products content for UHNWIs, you will grow AUM.

Nut and Bolts. When you use our system to post a 140-character status update, it gets displayed on your profile for all your connections to see on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. When a person in your social network wants to know more about a topic in your status update, they click on the link in the update. That takes them to an article on your website with more information (and sometimes a short video) about the topic mentioned in your 140-character update. Off to the side or on the bottom of most pages of your website page are banner ads that we insert and that are updated automatically inviting visitors to your website get even more information about the very topic that brought them to your website. It could be a “Retirement Income Report” based on research by Craig Israelsen or Manish Malhotra, or Wade Pfau, or it could be an estate planning update based on Bob Keebler educational content about taxation of UHNWIs, or the monthly assessment of corporate earnings and LEIs by economist Fritz Meyer. Point is, it is great content that smart people with money value. So they subscribe to your email newsletter and eventually, one day, a group of these individuals become clients. How many? That depends largely on you and your effort to reach out to them periodically to complement our effort on your behalf.

 

New Financial Advisor Marketing Campaign: Potential Threats To The Bull Market

Advisor Products is about to launch a new email campaign on our financial advisor communication system (FACS).

The campaign implements a reliable Internet marketing technique to provide financial advisors with a marketing funnel. Anecdotally, we know it will increase RIA AUM.

The goal of every campaign is to get people to sign up for your email newsletter.

This campaign is about potential threats to the five-year bull market run.

If you want to know more about FACS, here’s my most recent update on our progress.

Generating Leads From Advisor Websites

Credibility-building financial content integrated with an inbound marketing module — that’s what advisors need to generate leads, highly-targeted social networking and content marketing campaigns. We do that.

We have a scalable content marketing system based on the proposition that people do care about content. Here’s the story behind the story (like you really care):
In the throes of the financial crisis in October 2008, I hosted a webinar and a few hundred advisors showed up. I received inspiring messages of thanks that motivated me to keep doing webinars weekly. It’s been over five years now.
The webinars begot Advisors4Advisors, which now provides professional education credit to CFPs, ChFCs, CIMAs, CIMCs, CPAs, CPWAs, EAs and other financial professionals online and 24/7.
A4A is part of a wave of disruptive technology transforming professional associations and bodies certifying professionals of all kinds. When the history of the 21st century is written, this will be recalled as a period in which the Web disrupted American institutions, forcing them to reinvent themselves.
Point is, financial advisor websites fed by Advisor Products content database get FINRA-reviewed articles derived from the Advisors4Advisors professional education series. The videos, status updates, graphics that we feed into advisor websites are based on ideas derived from the A4A professional education series. It’s a system.
At three-minutes and 17 seconds, the video above is the longest of  18 tutorials we’ve posted about our new platform. Please let me know what you think.

Sensible Social Marketing For Advisors

You don’t need a lot of content. You just need great content.
Crappy content abounds. No one needs more of it. Just make what you say meaningful!
I’ve been focused on doing the “heavy lifting” by creating the content about tax, investing, and technical aspects of wealth management that advisors can provide to UHNWIs. I do the heavy lifting, and you do the easier work —— tweeting pictures of your kids’ graduation or your grandson’s birthday party.
We’ve got it pretty well nailed now. Finally.

Wake Up! And Upgrade Your Advisor Products Website By May 31 To Save $1,600

Please take advantage of this limited-time offer to upgrade your Advisor Products website by May 31. You’ll get a $1,000 discount on developing your website on Financial Advisor Marketing Dashboard, which is Advisor Products’ next-generation version of BackOffice. FAMD integrates with Constant Contact and MaiChimp.

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