Do you practice evidence based marketing?

01/06/17Do you practice evidence based marketing?

Over the past few months we’ve worked with an increasing number of financial planners. They make great clients; their business has usually gone through a period of significant change, during which they have spent time honing their client proposition. Consequently, they are usually (although not always) confident of their offering.

I love chatting to planners. Their enthusiasm for what they do is infectious and they really do change lives. But there’s often a dichotomy between the approach they take to working with clients, for example evidence based investing, and their marketing.

Given the love many planners have for following the evidence, it makes me wonder why some fail to base their marketing decisions on the available information. That means important decisions are made based on gut feel and mis-conception.

Take three statements I regularly hear repeated:

  • “We need to explain what a pension (ISA / investment etc) is on our website.”
  • “Unbiased won’t / doesn’t work for me.”
  • “My clients aren’t on Facebook.”

Sure, there are times when it might make sense to explain what a pension is on your website (I can’t think of many but never say never), when Unbiased won’t work for you (you must be in a very small niche if it won’t and your profile is poor if it doesn’t) or your clients aren’t on Facebook (highly unlikely).

But that’s not really important. My point is more fundamental: have these statements been made after an analysis of the available evidence, or, are they based of gut feel and misconception?

Follow the evidence

Marketing is crucial to every business; at least those which want to attract and retain clients. So why aren’t some advisers making decisions based on the available evidence?

It’s not as if there isn’t plenty available.

From Google Analytics, providing invaluable insights into the performance of your website, to the management information offered by Unbiased and VouchedFor, or the data provided by Google and Facebook on the ads you might run. Hell, even Twitter will tell you which were your most popular tweets. There’s more evidence of what works, and equally importantly, what doesn’t, than you can throw a stick at.

In fact, it’s often a problem filtering out the noise to find those valuable data you can act on.

It’s clear that the information is out there, so let’s then consider a couple of other possibilities:

Knowledge gap: Many advisers and planners don’t realise there is so much management information freely available. Our research shows that fewer than 50% of advisers use Google Analytics on a regular basis.

A lack of time: The day-to-day demands on advisers and planners are immense. It’s only natural that marketing is often relegated down the to-do-list. The result is the same as the knowledge gap though; decisions continue to be made on gut feel and misconception.

Failure to act on the information: Having access to the information is only a third of the story; it then needs to be interpreted correctly, followed by appropriate action.

Evidence = fewer costly mistakes

There’s no doubt that following the evidence can help you reduce waste and avoid missed opportunities.

Take Google Adwords.

Back at Investment Sense, from around 2012 – 2014, we spent a significant amount of money on Google Adwords. By studying the evidence we were able to reduce the cost of each enquiry. For example, we noticed that conversion rates of our online form fell dramatically between the hours of 9.00 and 10.00 am and 2.00 – 3.00 pm; why? That always remained something of a mystery, but there was no escaping the evidence. What did we do? Simple, we turned the campaigns off during those hours. It made no sense to waste budget during those hours, so we focussed on times which the evidence showed us were more productive.

Fast forward to 2017 and a test Facebook campaign we ran on behalf of a client. The information it gave us is invaluable in making decision for the larger campaign we intent to run.

Looking at the evidence helps us take advantage of opportunities we might otherwise have missed.

Unbiased is a great example. It’s tempting to listen to the negative publicity and decide it won’t or doesn’t work. In reality, our evidence shows that it works, producing between seven and 10 new enquiries every quarter; depending on your sector. Exact results vary, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it works.

The message this week?

Simple.

Marketing is too important, creating clients of the future while using up valuable resources and budget, not to base your decisions on the available evidence.

Next time you find yourself saying: “(fill in the blank) won’t work” or “my clients don’t use (fill in the blank)” take a step back and challenge yourself; or get someone to do it for you. It’ll lead to better decisions and more opportunities taken.

And on that note, I’m delighted that Chris Budd, financial planner, author and podcaster, has written a guest blog for us on the difficulty of challenging yourself. It’s a great piece, that I can highly recommend. You can read it by clicking the link below.

Guest blog: Why we are unable to challenge our own assumptions

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