I recently started a discussion in this column on the use of technology as a prospecting tool. After more research, I have some interesting insights to pass on. My research has been with several advisors who use online marketing to capture prospects’ information. I’ll give you the overview here. The details of how to get everything done are beyond this article’s capabilities, but I’ll do my best.

First, we will only be addressing online marketing without addressing social media. That’s actually a different subject with different dynamics. The advisors I interviewed were spending anywhere from $250 per month to $10,000 per month advertising online. They used basically the same methods and experienced results that correspond to the amount spent.

The method uses a capture of IP addresses that have searched for a particular keyword or phrase. Let’s say that keyword is “annuity,” for example. Each person (IP address) who searches the word “annuity” is tagged. The advertiser who sells annuities can now automatically place an ad on every online activity for that IP address. Now you know why you see auto ads when you searched for your last car. An advertiser can place tens of thousands of such ads for hundreds of prospective buyers for as little as $250 per month. When the prospect clicks on the annuity ad, it takes them to a landing page offering information like a book or report on annuities. The landing page could just offer information on a specific product — advertiser’s choice. The prospect will give contact information in exchange for the report, book or other information.

Here comes the hard part. How do you take the new information and turn that into a face-to-face appointment? That hasn’t been totally solved by the advisors I interviewed.

People who search online for products or information like the idea of having space between them and salespeople. They have a high resistance to personal contact. The transition is difficult, but no more difficult than the way it was 30 years ago when cold calling worked. This is an advanced form of cold calling. It takes persistent follow-up by phone or mail. These are only “information interested” prospects. The follow-up is not a slam-dunk. They are not ready to buy. They may not even be ready to carry a conversation further. Remember, they are inquiring online. They probably found more details elsewhere and even found the answers to their curiosity and questions.

Once you have the contact information, follow-up phone calls will be necessary. These calls must be very tender and you can’t be in a hurry to get an appointment. If the prospect is interested in more information, you may need to send the additional information by mail or email. If you go straight for the appointment, you will probably lose them. It’s best to allow them to ask, “What’s next.”

Let’s say your offer isn’t a product, but a concept, such as Social Security planning. A concept may require several phone discussions. You may want to consider an online “Go to Meeting.” I use join.me and it works well. An online meeting with phone discussion can be handled with a Power Point presentation or just showing prospects spreadsheets and diagrams. Some concepts have reports. You can walk them through that report online to make sure they understand the details. You can also discuss illustrations for annuities, life insurance or even other investments as allowed by regulators.

The wild success stories of Amazon, eBay, and other online stores do not necessarily translate to online success for an individual practitioner. There are extra steps to take as an individual practitioner. Nobody ever said this business is easy, just worth the effort.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, research and guidance are essential to success in prospecting. This method is more complicated, but that separates the real producers from the also-rans.

Remember that there isn’t a magic bullet to any prospecting method, just magic processes, processes require effort.

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