2.5 Million Emails, 14,299 Advisor Marketing Campaigns, and One Inescapable Truth

An exclusive peek at what marketing machines are doing, who they are targeting and how.

(Illustration by RIA Intel)

(Illustration by RIA Intel)

Marketing is not a singular event. It’s an ongoing process involving a symphony of actions. And Robert Sofia, as much as anyone, knows when financial advisors are in tune or are hitting a bum note.

Sofia is the cofounder and CEO of Snappy Kraken, a digital marketing platform that advisors use to manage email, advertising, and other efforts directed at clients and prospects. After a one-time fee of $489, advisors pay $227 per month to get access to the platform, fresh monthly content to use in marketing campaigns, and assurance that Snappy Kraken won’t sell its service to a competing advisor in the local area.

The company, founded in 2016, declined to share how many advisors use the service but said its business more than quadrupled last year.

And as the platform has grown, Snappy Kraken has collected a treasure trove of valuable data that has been private, until now.

Using 9.3 million data points, including well over 2.5 million emails from 14,299 advisor marketing campaigns, Snappy Kraken is publishing its first-ever report on its findings and RIA Intel got an exclusive sneak peek.

There is no shortage of consultants, blogs, and reports that focus on advisor marketing. Advisors have shown a willingness to experiment, and some marketing efforts are paying handsomely. The fastest-growing RIAs are much better at it and growing at nearly twice the rate of their peers, according to Charles Schwab’s 2019 RIA Benchmarking Study that surveys more than 1,300 RIAs.

But Sofia argues that estimations, observations from “talking heads,” and a reliance on self-reporting misses the mark. Snappy Kraken’s report includes actual performance and insights, it states. The company confidently declared its first-ever report on it “the most comprehensive report & data analysis ever conducted on advisor-specific digital marketing.”

So, what does this report tell advisors that others haven’t?

Most of the takeaways didn’t surprise Sofia, who has been observing while compiling data over the last two years. Not surprising, and perhaps self-servingly, the most successful marketers are actually using Snappy Kraken’s platform and giving themselves more opportunities to engage clients and prospects.

“The people that are getting better results from marketing are doing more marketing,” he said.

The top quartile of users logged into the software at least weekly, ran an average of 18 email campaigns per year (compared to an average of six), and were active across multiple social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

As a result, the top quartile of marketers have email lists with nearly three times as many recipients, funneled more prospects to their website, and generated more than twice as many leads (15.8 per campaign).

Snappy Kraken did not include specifically how much more time the best marketers are spending on their campaigns. They are clearly spending more than the average user, but how much more is not entirely clear, Sofia said.

The marketers with the most success also posted more personal information to social media and were outspoken about having a family and it being a priority of theirs, which was interesting to Sofia. “The fact that they are supplementing the activity with personal interests, is that one of the things making them more effective? Or is that just a side effect of them spending more time on it?”

Still, tweeting about one’s family is not the most effective way to generate new business as an advisor.

Email was by far the primary driver of traffic to advisor websites and, consequently, lead generation. An overwhelming 69% of the traffic generated by 14,299 Snappy Kraken campaigns came from emails, followed my social media ads (17%) and organic social media (16%). Out of all the traffic generated by social media, 67% came from Facebook, 26% from LinkedIn and only 7% from Twitter, according to the report.

To Sofia, the lopsidedness toward email is a good thing because he admits it is even more effective than he realized before working on the report. Conversions (defined as a visitor who provides their contact information in exchange for something, like a document about retirement) are 19.2% for email, compared to 4.9% for social media ads and 4.1% for simple posts on social media.

“A source of traffic is one thing but then what that traffic does is an entirely different thing. You could make an argument that this is the most important data point. This was a big surprise to me,” Sofia said.

Advisors shouldn’t just spam their contacts with emails though. The content of the emails matter – the report includes analysis of the most successful subject lines and topics – and websites must be built to capture contact information. If a would-be prospect never becomes a lead that an advisor can reach out to, they’re worth nothing.

As the report shows, one or two email campaigns won’t cut it either. For marketing to work, advisors need to create things and get their brand in front of people continuously, like any other company, Sofia said.

“You’d think, by this point in time, companies like Coca-Cola wouldn’t have to market anymore. Marketing is not if you build it, they will come.”

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