Even embracing ubiquitous tools only loosely related to the marketing process, like adopting Google Analytics, positively impacted firm growth.

While most large firms, nearly 69 percent, reported using Google Analytics, 90 percent of the fastest-growing firms use Google Analytics.

“By itself, Google Analytics isn’t something that should directly impact AUM growth, but that would seem to hold true for most of these marketing technologies,” Norden says. “The correlation is there, though. We wanted to include it because it’s something that people are familiar with and it’s a good benchmarking tool – as it turns out, the firms that use web analytics are also growing more quickly.”

Fast-growing RIAs are also more likely to use “enhanced analytics” that track website activity more deeply than Google’s offerings, according to Freewheel’s data.

Norden said that the data set suggests that faster-growing RIAs take their websites more seriously. A “marketing grade” by Cambridge, Mass.-based software developer Hubspot that Norden used as part of his scoring rated websites on their use of search engine optimization, mobile responsiveness and cybersecurity protections.

“That grade was significantly higher among fast-growing RIAs and asset managers,” Norden says. “That makes some sense, because if you think about how people are doing business right now, it’s moving towards mobile and it’s certainly already online.”

The marketing grade also uncovered a consistent element among smaller, fast-growing firms: a sleek, up-to-date website.

“These smaller firms are building exquisite websites," Norden says. "They don’t necessarily incorporate all of the fancy things that a large company website would, but their attention to detail is commendable. That effort shows up in their marketing grade score, which reflects site performance. This is an element that many large and mid-sized firms aren’t accounting for,”

Overall, Norden notes that 50 percent or fewer RIAs had adopted software in most categories of technology, offering advisors an opportunity to differentiate themselves from their peers by embracing digital marketing tools.

“Marketing technology and asset growth go hand in hand, as it turns out,” Norden says. “The best way to expand into new business initiatives is to create new technological resources to usher people through the process.”