Ok so it’s not about the cheapest leads. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, you need a catchy headline!
Let’s ask a better question: Which directory offers the best return on investment?
Over the past few months both have changed their charging structure. So let’s start there.
In October, Unbiased launched two new subscription levels, although advisers with an existing ‘Enhanced’, now known as ‘Classic’ membership, can continue this at a cost of £39 + VAT per month.
The new subscription options are ‘Lite’ and ‘Plus’:
The ‘Basic’ option, which I’ll ignore in this article, is still available and allows advisers to create a profile for free. However, in search results preference will be given to ‘Lite’, ‘Plus’ and existing ‘Classic’ subscribers.
The ‘Lite’ subscription gives advisers a range of tools, including an enquiry management system and performance statistics, plus entry in the main search directory.
For the extra £30 per month ‘Plus’ subscribers will also get:
- A free enquiry: The first enquiry each month is free
- Call tracking: A bespoke telephone number to monitor all enquiries generated through Unbiased to help monitor return on investment
- Access to the Bluebook: This allows advisers to respond to journalists’ requests for comment, opinion and case studies
- Additional contact options for clients: This allows an adviser to show all their contact details, including email address and telephone number
The entry level is a ‘Basic’ listing, which again I’ll ignore for now, other than to make the comment that this still allows advisers to gather recommendations and obtain an adviser rating.
Two further levels of subscription, ‘Professional Lite’ and ‘Professional’ are available, unsurprisingly, these receive preference in the search results over a ‘Basic’ listing. Both have a set monthly fee with additional lead costs, dependent on the minimum level of wealth the adviser is prepared to consider.
Both the ‘Professional’ and ‘Professional Lite’ options allow the adviser to:
- Build a full profile: Including adviser ratings and feedback
- Qualify for refund protection: If the enquiry meets one of eight criteria the cost will be recredited
- Access Live Review Score: Allowing advisers to add their Vouchedfor review score to their own website
- Top Rated Adviser: The chance to be featured in the national press as a ‘Top Rated Adviser’
Advisers who upgrade to ‘Professional’ are given some additional peace of mind through the ‘Money Back Guarantee’. This allows, subject to certain criteria, including being moved back onto a ‘Basic’ listing, dissatisfied advisers to get the cost of up to five enquiries refunded.
So which is best?
Let’s start by looking at cost.
Assuming Unbiased and Vouchedfor produce enquires of equal quality, which costs less per lead?
To try and keep the playing field level, I have assumed the adviser sets their Vouchedfor account to receiving enquiries with ‘any investable level of wealth’. This could of course be refined to different levels, with a consequential impact on the cost per lead.
Much depends on the number of enquiries required.
Lead requirement – one per month
Unbiased: ‘Plus’ will cost £59 per month with the first lead for free; the Lite option would be the same cost, i.e. £29 subscription charge plus £30 for the lead. It therefore seems sensible to benefit from the additional features of the ‘Plus’ option.
Vouchedfor: ‘Professional Lite’ will meet the lead requirement and cost £45 per month.
Winner: Vouchedfor, just, by £14 per month
Lead requirement – two per month
Unbiased: ‘Plus’, cost will be £89 per month; the first lead is free, the second would cost £30 on top of the £59 monthly fee.
Vouchedfor: The ‘Professional Lite’ option wouldn’t produce enough enquiries, therefore the ‘Professional’ option is needed. The total cost would be £123 per month; £39 for each lead plus the subscription cost of £45.
Winner: Unbiased, although, again, the differential is relatively small at £34
Lead requirement – three per month
Generating three new enquiries per month from either directory could be seen as ambitious, however, who knows what’s possible with a carefully built profile?
Unbiased: Again, ‘Plus’ is the cheapest of the two options, giving a total cost of £119; £30 per lead (remember, the first lead is free) plus £59 subscription fee
Vouchedfor: The ‘Professional’ option would be required with a total cost of £162; £39 per lead plus £45 for the monthly subscription.
Winner: Unbiased, by £43 per month
It’s worth noting that the Unbiased prices assume at least one free enquiry is generated per month. Unbiased themselves suggest an adviser will receive, on average, 10 enquiries per year, therefore some months may pass without the adviser benefiting from the free enquiry included in the ‘Plus’ subscription.
Which option offers the return on investment?
Although it is an interesting comparison, focusing too heavily on cost is dangerous, return on investment is of far greater importance.
There are just too many variables to say for definite which of the two directories will provide you with the best return.
It’s also important to factor in the additional features and benefits to any analysis:
- Unbiased offers the incredibly valuable Blue Book, a new management system, and call tracking
- Vouchedfor have their excellent rating system, some nifty tools to showcase advisers and they regularly promote their ‘Top Rated Advisers’ in the national press.
In conclusion, I’m a big fan of both Unbiased and Vouchedfor. If I were setting up an IFA practice, with a need to acquire new clients, I would trial both options and monitor over a period of at least six months which provided the best return on investment.
I would have the mind-set that I need take the rough with the smooth during the trial period and work hard to create an effective profile, which I would update regularly and monitor the results, to see which works best.
I have written two articles to help you create better profiles on both directories: