How better lead conversion solves the growth problem for advice providers

A fundamental problem facing financial advice firms today is growth. But what would you say if I told you the solution was right on your doorstep?

Let’s take a step back and acknowledge that many firms in the financial advice industry have done very well with traditional and digital marketing, driving traffic to their websites. Unfortunately, that’s where many prospects run into a wall: firms typically have very poor strategies for converting this traffic into actual new business, which negatively impacts growth and wastes marketing dollars.

Growth at these firms is driven by either bringing new clients and households into the firm, or getting a greater share of wallet from existing clients. Many firms have focused on bringing in new clients and households, to the point where several large institutions give their wealth advisors bonuses based primarily on the number of new households they bring in. That, to me, speaks to the depths of the challenges that these firms are having with growth.

An even bigger challenge occurs when firms attract a potential referral or new lead. Almost always, that new lead will want to Google the advisor or firm to learn more about them, before reaching out. It doesn’t matter if the customer heard about your firm thanks to a friend or relative, seminar, cold-call or digital marketing – when they arrive on your website, what do they find? More often than not, new leads are confronted with a form on your page asking for their contact information, which they fill out and hope that someone will contact them in the next 24 hours.

This is a terrible way to kick off the customer experience and consumers hate it because it removes their sense of control. Investing can be a difficult topic already and they want to feel in charge of who they’re talking to and to whom they’re going to give their personal financial information. A standard form on a web page combined with the inherent blandness of the typical corporate bios of wealth advisors are contributing factors to the massive “bounces”, drop-offs and poor conversion rates on many advisory firm websites, which only perpetuates the cycle of spending more in marketing dollars to gain more website traffic and, hopefully, more new households.

Huge benefits from small conversion rate improvements

At GuideVine, we’ve focused on improving website conversions by offering a superior online customer experience. What we found is that generic advisor bios and ‘Contact Us’ forms do not encourage prospective clients to meet with a professional or learn more about a firm, much less invest their time and wealth. What prospects are trying to understand is: Why should they work with a specific advisor at your firm? What about that advisor makes your firm the right choice to understand their needs and goals?

We’ve developed and refined a sophisticated advisor digital matching platform that gives control to your prospects and helps them find the right advisor on your website. What we’ve learned from deploying this tool over the past several years on GuideVine.com is that when prospects are empowered to take control of their advisor search process it leads to more highly motivated and better educated prospects that follow through. And this means much higher conversion rates than many advisory firms are getting from their existing leads.

We compared our conversion rates on GuideVine.com with data from a top-10 RIA. The RIA has a two-stage “contact us” form that collects basic information and thanks the prospect, while in the background, their information is passed on to a financial advisor or a prospect outreach group that contacts the prospect. We jointly analyzed, with the RIA, replacing that flow with prospect-driven “self-service” process, coupled with a consultative Concierge service, using GuideVine’s Enterprise-level digital matching platform.

The top-10 RIA gets 190,000 unique visits per month on their website, of which 785 click the “Meet Advisor” button. Of those, only 506 prospects complete the form and then only 136 of those people actually follow through and meet the advisor. Applying their data to the conversion process on GuideVine.com, we can convert the same amount of monthly traffic into 919 prospects meeting with advisors. That’s 783 more meetings – almost 7 times more – with the same amount of website traffic!

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Based on this RIA’s data, with an average client size of $250,000, a 1% fee and 1 of 3 engaged leads becoming a client, that’s 261 more clients per month and over $650,000 in additional monthly revenue. Even if the average client size is lower and less than 1 in 3 of these advisor meetings can be closed, the additional revenue is significant.

Personalizing your prospect’s experience

So what drives this improvement? Based on our experience at GuideVine.com and directly asking thousands of the prospects that used the service, it boils down to one thing. Offering a consumer-centric advisor search and matching process, which leads to higher engagement and conversion. Instead of being confronted with a one-dimensional form or sorting through dozens of advisor profiles, consumers can clarify their priorities and are presented with a personalized list of advisors that are matched to their needs. And they’ve maintained control of the entire purchasing decision. From there, relevant, compelling content, videos of the advisors and other educational tools helps build a connection to an advisor and leads to action.

While you may lose some prospects along the way, those who complete this process on your website tend to be much more highly qualified because the process met their needs and answered the key questions: Why should I work with you? What makes you the right professional to understand my needs and help me achieve my goals?

Answering those questions in a guided process driven by your prospects is the key to increasing your firm’s website conversation and growth.

Raghav Sharma