In my experience, IFA marketing is somewhat behind the times.

Marketing in general used to be considered more of an art; whilst today, it is arguably viewed now as more of a science. In other words, good marketers are increasingly using data from marketing campaigns (e.g. email shots) to improve their tactics; producing better results without significant increases in marketing investment.

IFA marketing, however, in my view often barely even qualifies as an art. Harsh? Perhaps. But true in my estimation.

Marketing, as an art, is able to almost intuitively grasp which methods best engage their target audiences; without necessarily needing to justify these approaches through use of analytic data. IFA marketing, on the other hand, often fails to acquire this intuition. As a result, many IFAs I speak to have a “scatter gun” approach to their marketing.

For instance, I speak to numerous IFAs who perhaps send an e-shot here and there, or who maybe publish the odd advert occasionally in a local publication. The (often unspoken) hope of these IFAs is that one of these things will “just work,” and seems to typically emanate from an urgent sense that they should be doing something. Put simply: activity, even if frantic and unfocussed, is often deemed better than doing nothing at all.

This isn’t to say that all IFA marketing is conducted like this. There are some financial firms that do IFA marketing very well.

When we’ve worked with such firms, we’ve found that introducing SMART targets to their IFA marketing has been a significant contributor to their marketing success.

This is how it works with CreativeAdviser. Prior to running a marketing campaign (e.g. an e-shot to a subscriber list), we put goals in place together with our IFA client which are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This allows the success, or failure, of each marketing tactic or campaign to be clearly assessed once the results come back.

As you might already have noticed, our process follows the scientific approach to marketing I described at the beginning of this post. It is a relatively straightforward approach, and is a cost-effective way of putting your IFA marketing ahead of the competition (many of whom simply aren’t doing this).

Briefly, here’s how you can refine your current marketing tactics using the SMART process; identifying the successful campaigns to improve, as well as the ineffective ones to discard:

1. Set Specific Goals

Suppose you want to send out an e-newsletter to your list of prospect subscribers. What are you looking to achieve?

You could just have: “Generate more enquiries” as a goal, but that would be quite vague. Instead, try getting mathematical.

For instance, if you have 2,000 subscribers on your list, then one goal could be: “Achieve a 5% open rate on the campaign.” (I.e. Aim to have 100 of those 2,000 subscribers actually open the message you send).

Another goal could then be: “Have 10% of these email openers fill in the contact form, and submit an enquiry.”

2. Ensure Goals are Measurable

The examples given above are clearly measurable. How will you know if 100 people open the email you sent? By using a tool like MailChimp, you can easily find that out.

How will you know if 10 people fill out the contact form? Hopefully, you will have someone receiving the form submissions; who is able to track when these were submitted, and by whom.

3. Make Sure They’re Achievable

Here, you need to figure out whether the goal is actually attainable.

For instance, is it realistic to expect 100% of your 2,000 subscribers to open the email you send? Probably not. Are 500 contact form submissions really possible? Unlikely.

So you need to have realistic expectations of the kind of results you will see. However, on the other hand, it’s important not to set the bar too low. For example, aiming to get just 10 out of your 2000 recipients to open your message is almost certainly achievable (unless you write something really off-putting in the email subject line!).

Have realistic expectations, but set the bar in such a way that it presents a challenge; stretching your IFA marketing team to maximise their efforts and perform.

4. Are Your Goals Relevant?

Quite simply, do your goals actually achieve anything meaningful in light of your overall business and marketing objectives?

For instance, the following is technically a very specific, measurable and achievable goal: “Eat 5 Cadburys mini eggs in the next 10 minutes.” However, it’s hardly relevant! (although it is delicious).

This is of course an extreme example. But you’d be amazed how many IFAs I speak to who seem convinced that a particular marketing tactic is worthwhile, when actually it’s a waste of time, resources and effort.

Here’s an example. I recently spoke to an IFA who had bought an email marketing list not too long ago from a lead generation company. He was told that the people on the list had expressed an interest in receiving the services of a financial advisor. As a specialist in mortgage advice, therefore, his aim was to send an e-shot to these individuals; promoting his mortgage advice services.

However, hardly anyone responded to his campaign. It turned out that the overwhelming majority of people on his list were looking for pensions advice, and so perceived his email as irrelevant to their needs.

5. Keep Your Campaign Time-bound

Finally, and simply, put a time bracket on whatever it is you’re doing.

To take the email campaign example outlined in point 1, you could simply adapt the goal slightly: “Achieve a 5% open rate on the campaign within 48 hours of sending the email.” The second goal could also be developed to: “Have 10% of email openers fill in the contact form, and submit an enquiry within 5 working days.”

Having deadlines such as these assist your IFA marketing by focussing your team’s efforts; preventing the campaign from being overtaken by other business activities and commitments.


Once your SMART-based IFA marketing campaign is complete, it’s time to assess the results. Did 100 of the subscribers open the email? Did 10 people fill in and submit the enquiry form?

Say for argument’s sake that 200 people actually opened the email, but only 2 people then filled out the form. Why did this happen? Time to hypothesise.

Maybe the email subject line was so intriguing that it resulted in a higher open rate than expected? On the other hand, maybe there were also were too many fields on the contact form, so the readers were then put off after they opened your message? Perhaps the call to action within the email wasn’t clear or prominent enough? Were any images or text not displaying correctly, causing confusion or a perceived lack of quality/spam?

If you happen to have 2000 other subscribers on your list, then you can put these hypotheses to the test. Run the exact same campaign again, only this time use a contact form containing fewer fields. After the results come back, analyse the data. Did more people fill out the form? If so, perhaps that was the original problem.

You might even want to run these sorts of IFA marketing campaigns concurrently, performing an A/B split. In other words, send out the email with the longer form to 1,000 out of the 2,000 subscribers, and send out the email with the short form to the other 1,000.

All of the above does take time, and you might benefit from ongoing guidance. Perhaps you’re also simply too busy to put the time and effort into this, as much as you may want to. If so, please do get in touch. That’s why CreativeAdviser exists, after all.

philAs the Marketing Coordinator at CreativeAdviser, Phil is responsible for devising marketing strategies for his clients, generating engaging and informative content, and ensuring brand consistency across all of CreativeAdviser’s communications. Phil has a passion for digital marketing and a borderline-unhealthy addiction to Google analytics. 

In his spare time, Phil can be found powerlifting at his local gym, watching action movies, or playing acoustic guitar at open mic nights.

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