This fast track guide for independent financial advisors and insurance agents covers how you can shift your client acquisition to be more digital and referral-based to align with 2021 consumer preferences.

The marketing environment has shifted dramatically. Consumers are less trusting of people and brands than ever before, while the noise of information about people and brands is higher than ever before. Today, people buy based on credibility and trust. Advisors and agents have to adapt by first being referable, then by having a reliable system to be proactive in their referral process.

What is Digital Referral Marketing?

Digital referral marketing applies the key behaviors needed for referral success and leverages technology to execute them. In the old world, advisors and agents had to do this manually by having skillful conversations with relationships about referrals. This often fails for a myriad of reasons centered around human nature. In the new world, it’s easier for agents and advisors to ask for referrals, for relationships to refer, and for referrals to engage, thanks to technology-driven processes.

What are the Key Behaviors Needed for Referral Success?

Under any referral process, these principles must be incorporated:

  1. Relationships must be asked for referrals consistently
  2. Relationships must be motivated to refer
  3. Relationships must have an easy path to refer
  4. Referrals must be compelled to take action
  5. There must be an easy path for the referral to engage

How do I Know if My Agency/Practice is Ready for Digital Referral Marketing?

Investing in digital referral marketing implies that you are already up to speed in a few key areas:

Established Relationship Bases

Advisors and agents who have little to no relationships are not in a favorable position to leverage the benefits of Digital Referral Marketing. Relationship bases typically consist of clients, personal network and centers of influence. Anyone that you’ve developed trust and rapport with can generally be a strong source of referrals.

Being Referable

It’s imperative that you have a history of serving your clients and relationships well. The strength of your relationship is the number one motivator for your relationships to refer. Simple actions like showing up on time, saying please and thank you, and doing what you say will separate you from your competition and influence your refer-ability.

Investing in Your Business

Growing your practice or agency requires investment and time to mature. There is no silver bullet. Being referral-based is a long-term game. If you have not made investments in your growth in the past, Digital Referral Marketing is likely not for you.

What if I Already Get Referrals?

Most advisors and agents only see the tip of the iceberg within their referral generation. They think because they receive referrals already, that’s the best they are going to get. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

If you’re already getting referrals, it means you are referable and likely have massive upside to drive more referrals. Digital Referral Marketing magnifies existing word-of-mouth referral processes by lowering the friction for everyone involved. It even magnifies skillful, in-person referral processes by adding a digital avenue for relationships to refer.

What are the Digital Referral Strategies used by High Growth Advisors & Agents today?

Leverage Multiple Communication Channels

While preferences among relationship bases can vary, data suggests that email and text are the strongest communication channels. When emailing or texting a trusted relationship, open and engagement rates tend to double or triple based on national averages. The key is to be consistent with your referral messaging through these communication channels.

Blend Different Types of CTA’s

Direct and indirect CTA’s will prompt relationships and referrals to engage with you. Ensuring that you have a mix of each will prevent messages from going stale while remaining action-oriented.

Do the “Referral Work” for them

Relationships have to do a lot of work to refer you. They have to figure out what to say, how to say it, and then go out and do it. This often gets prevents relationships from referring. Have a template prepared for relationships to be able to send seamlessly. This template can also be used for talking points when the relationship communicates with the referral about you.

Creatively Engage Referrals

Referrals need to be compelled to have a conversation with you. While following up often seems to be the appropriate next step, you risk low interest from the referral. A thought-provoking quiz or personalized video can leave a strong first impression on a newly referred potential client. This leads to high interest right out of the gate.

Wrapping Up

Digital Referral Marketing shifts advisors and agents away from high cost, low conversion cold marketing methods and allows them to replicate their best clients.

Consider evaluating a tool like ReferMe IQ™ to cover this potentially explosive area of your agency/practice.

You can learn about the system by going through a 15 min live demo here.

Post author: Nick Velardi