LPL Financial is perhaps the largest U.S. company that you have never heard of.
In fact, LPL Financial is the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer and grows its business by recruiting financial advisors looking to develop their own independent practice. When LPL Financial partnered with us to manage its recruiting business, we were faced with a significant challenge – lead volume was facing a double-digit decline compared with the previous year. Not only did we need to find a way to make up for the deficit in leads, we needed to do it quickly and with a flat budget.
Although LPL Financial had already committed to a media plan, we set out to implement online and offline tests and more rigorous reporting and performance evaluation that would enable us to optimize the plan for the rest of the year. The marketing channels included were print, direct mail, email, display, search and webinars. Each individual placement was linked to a unique landing page where a lead would complete several form fields to redeem an offer such as a white paper or webinar.
The main objective of the recruiting effort was to meet or exceed lead volume from the previous year on a flat budget.
All marketing communications featured unique URLs and phone numbers, so we were able to track responses and attribute them to the appropriate media placements. We used this marketing data to evaluate performance across and within channels, and implemented changes in print, direct mail, email, display and search. We not only identified the most efficient channels, but the variables that had the greatest impact on performance within each channel. We took what we learned in one channel and applied it to other areas.
To optimize our creative messaging on a daily basis, performance of each placement within each marketing channel is now managed through a customized content management system, which is integrated with a customized marketing database. This enables us not only to keep track of the performance of all marketing initiatives, but also to have an individual view of each lead, how they engage with the brand through marketing efforts and how they migrate through the recruitment pipeline.
A new offer-based strategy was implemented for display optimization. Ad units were separated into categories based on the offer they promoted. A viewer would be served an ad unit with an offer that was dependent upon their reaction to the previous ad unit served. The number of categories and offers served was optimized for each site on the media plan.
After facing a significant deficit in lead volume through the first half of the year, we ended the year with a 24% year-over-year increase in total leads specifically generated through our marketing efforts – a testament to the power of integrated marketing optimization and a relentless commitment to tracking, measurement and continuous improvement.