Key Point Summary
- Our day-to-day lives are now unimaginable without the internet. It is the connection point for billions of people globally. Financial advisors should learn to embrace digital marketing strategies to stay relevant.
- Your digital marketing efforts need to align with what you’re trying to accomplish as a financial advisor. There are many strategic pathways you may wander down upon your marketing journey, with some leading to nothing but dead ends. Whether it be content marketing, search engine marketing, SEO, social media marketing, or retargeting – the effectiveness of these chosen pathways depends on your desired outcome.
- Throwing money at social media ads isn’t a strategy… far from it! Your digital presence will only grow and provide you with ideal clients if you follow a process to build awareness, find ways to get your audience to consider you through engagement and prompt them to decide to become your client.
- Without a strategy and a proper process, digital marketing can be much like the Wild West – an aspect of your business that you will not likely see the return on investment you seek.
Digital marketing, online presence, internet advertising – whatever you call it, marketing yourself and your business online is a big deal in the present age. After all, internet usage had more than doubled over the past decade even before the pandemic-fuelled digitalization of the world went into hyperdrive.
Our day-to-day lives are now unimaginable without the internet. It is the connection point between billions of people globally and a core pillar of the modern information society. This shift to the virtual space has massively affected how people procure services and interact with businesses. Financial advisors should turn to digital marketing strategies to beef up their existing marketing efforts, not as a “nice to have”, but as a “must-have” that is core to their business.
Have you adapted to digital yet? Whether you’re still stuck in the dark ages, or simply need the inside scoop on the online marketing of financial services, you’ve come to the right place.
What Is Digital Marketing?
At its core Marketing is about connecting with your audience in the right space and at the right time to make an impression on them. Today, that means needing to meet them on their own turf, where they spend the majority of their time – the internet. So, digital marketing is any form of marketing that exists online and facilitates the same exchange of information between a business and their audience.
The Process Of Defining One’s Ideal Client
If you don’t have a very tailored picture of your ideal client yet, it’s something you’ll need to figure out. Not knowing WHO to market your services to renders the rest of your strategy useless. You are essentially a ship without a rudder, lost in a digital swamp, that could be taxing not only on your time but on your wallet too. Don’t spend a dollar (Rand, Pound, Euro, etc) on digital marketing if you haven’t identified your ideal client yet.
So how does one define one’s ideal client? Start with you. Who are you? What are your hopes, dreams, goals, passions, hobbies, interests, philosophies, etc? Your ideal client will be a reflection of you. Combine this with evaluating which clients are currently your favorite and why. Explore whether you have a group of unified clients by a common characteristic; for instance, they work for the same company, within the same industry, or possess a particular investment need. These groups who share values, goals, traits, or behaviors and the clients who you genuinely enjoy serving would be your potential Ideal Client Types.
Next, you will need to identify the known and possibly unknown needs of your ideal client type. They will have specific concerns and requirements that are known and can be articulated. What are they? There could also be unknown needs that are harder to communicate but are no less real. Match a solution to their needs.
The main reason a prospective client will choose to work with you is that they trust you. This trust is based upon shared values and a common understanding of each other. Once this is established than their belief in your services and the value of your solutions will become very important.
First, you must attract people to your tribe and build trust with them, then the solutions you can provide for their needs and concerns – known and unknown – of your ideal client types will become very important. This can all be done via digital marketing.
Most ideal client types will have pre-established relationships with other trusted advisors such as attorneys and accountants. Identifying these other trusted advisors and centers of influence associated with your prospective clients can not only connect you with other valued professionals but enable you to form a wealth management network that can best serve your ideal client type.
Given the unique characteristics of your ideal client types and their particular needs, they will respond to specific marketing messages and campaigns, ones that show you KNOW THEM and SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE. You will need to create marketing messages and campaigns for each ideal client type and broadcast these to connect with your ideal clients.
Social Media and Email Marketing Best Practices
Social media marketing for financial advisors requires a healthy dose of strategy and creativity. With the power to grow your brand awareness exponentially, social media makes it easy to spread the word about your mission, morals, and journey as an advisor. Not utilizing the social mediums at your disposal represents a missed opportunity to increase traffic to your website and promote your services to potential ideal clients.
Email marketing is still well and truly alive despite rumours of its gradual loss of relevance each year. It’s estimated there will be 4.1 billion email users by the end of 2021 — yes, that’s billion with a “B.”
Defining the audience is the first step before embarking on any successful campaign planning. We also need to establish where in the sales funnel your target currently finds themselves. What is the goal – to acquire ideal clients, retain your current clients or win back former clients?
The message you send out will be most effective when adapted to different targeted audiences. Segmenting your audience makes a world of difference. It makes your message more pertinent and specific to those to whom you are marketing.
Using Accurate Data
A successful data-driven campaign is only as good as the accuracy and integrity of the data allows it to be. In a single year, between 20-30% of email addresses diminish in usage. Cleansing data of errors or adding other relevant information, such as a physical address, phone numbers, or social handles, can help make data more precisely targeted and, ultimately, more responsive.
Get your message out to your target audience on a variety of platforms. Use social media pages and email campaigns that lead to content, such as landing pages or fill forms to download case studies or ebooks.
The modern marketplace has diversified, and it is now rare for a customer to adopt your services after interacting with you or your business through just one channel. On average, clients communicate with a brand through four touch points during the acquisition process. Lead generation for financial advisors has changed, and omnichannel marketing by design addresses these modern customer trends – giving them a consistent experience from start to finish.
(Relevant) Content is King!
No matter which channel you use to distribute your content, make sure it is relevant to the target audience, compelling, easy to read, credible, and accurate. Content creation such as email campaigns, website landing pages, blog posts, webinars, and eBooks can all help your social endeavors. Be original – of all the financial advisor marketing strategies this one is probably the most important. Original content makes you look good online and having higher credibility usually leads to more business and better clients.
Don’t outsource your content at all in the early stages, do it all yourself. Yes, this will take time and effort but you will get better at it and it will get easier and faster to produce. Doing it yourself will also help you refine your voice online. Remember, people, connect with other people. Let your genuine voice attract people and help them get to know you. Eventually you can start to outsource a lot of your digital marketing tasks, but content should always be driven by you with your final edit and approval for before it goes live.
A published eMarketer research report from June 2020 cited that the average adult in the U.S. was spending an additional 23 minutes per day on their smartphones, which they attributed to the pandemic. So, we know where your clients are; they’re online. It only makes sense (and dollars) to pursue consumers where they spend their time.
Measuring Performance Using Analytics
Data analysis allows you to see which platforms were successful in getting the targeted message across to consumers, which allows you to focus your efforts on proven strategies rather than a shot in the dark. Successful data-driven digital marketing campaigns can bring compelling creatives with precisely the right audience and result in the perfect trifecta: An increase in sales, as well as ROI; and increased brand awareness.
For example, I can track down to the penny what it costs me to get people to engage with my content and furthermore know exactly what it costs to get people to download an eBook of mine, etc. Once we know these things, we can scale our digital marketing efforts quickly, only being restricted by our budget and bandwidth in working with new clients. By the way, running a virtual or semi-virtual practice means you can drastically reduce your overhead from things that are not revenue producing and reallocate some of it into digital marketing to grow that much faster.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is now an integral sphere of digital marketing for financial advisors. The position of your financial advisory services on search engine result pages (SERPs) has the potential to be the difference between your company’s failure to grow or unlocking a steady stream of new clients.
Part of thriving online is an SEO strategy that is essential to helping you reach the first page of the SERPs, ideally ranking at the summit of this page. Keep in mind there are approximately 70,000 searches conducted on Google every single second. Yes, you heard me right, that’s every single second!
The first five links listed on the SERPs dominate the traffic receiving more than two-thirds of all clicks. Furthermore, 91% of those browsing the web do not click through to the second page of the search results. The goal as a financial advisor is to have your firm appear on the initial page, with an emphasis on the first five listings.
There are a lot of technical components to strong SEO and it’s a moving target so trying to do this yourself, other than some very basic tactics will be an exercise in futility. For example, I teach advisors how to set up a variety of SEO components with their websites and how to structure a blog post in my Virtual Advisor System, but the ongoing management of these really should be done by experts that do it full time. Hiring a digital marketing team, even for just a couple of hours a month can help ensure you are staying on top of your SEO game.
I like to think of content as the rocket ship of good marketing, promotion being propulsion to that rocket. Without promotion, your content is going nowhere. Amazingly written articles and blog posts don’t count for a lot if your audience isn’t reading them. You need to be actively promoting your blog content using organic channels.
You can have the best cheeseburger in town but if no one knows about it does it really exist?
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the best marketing channels to generate web traffic. It compliments SEO and content marketing and gets your brand to the very top of Google, and other major search engine players, if you play your SEM cards right.
SEM can be a conversion driver for marketing campaigns of all types. This is due to paid ads often linking to conversion-focused landing pages or sales pages that move web traffic through the sales funnel. Paid ads rather than organic results typically link to landing pages. As such, SEO can support brand awareness and top-of-funnel activity, while paid ads can focus on a specific goal and end-of-funnel conversions.
While SEM is considered a bottom-funnel marketing channel, it can also tremendously boost top-of-mind brand awareness. According to a Google case study, search ads can increase brand awareness by 80%.
Remarketing forms part of the final phase of the funnel, which is all about client acquisition. Once you have someone who has already decided they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you then retargeting becomes a very effective strategy to get them to hire you.
Familiarity and awareness are key ingredients to this strategy. If someone hasn’t already engaged with you, they’re probably not going to do business with you just because you have decided to broadcast a digital advertisement. In the context of social media channels, this could mean running paid ads to put your offering in front of those people who already follow you on LinkedIn or Facebook. This is how to get clients as a financial advisor in a digitally social world.
Client Journey Funnel
Life is a journey, and so is the marketing of financial services. Let’s look at the client’s journey – the path a potential client wanders from being a target audience to awareness, consideration, and making a decision. Much like any other venture, a sales funnel has a conclusion – a final conversion. This can’t take place until your target audience has been converted through each stage. What are the conversion goals in the three main stages of every prospect’s journey?
1). It all starts with awareness which is the first stage of the customer journey. During this stage, clients realize their problems and try to define their pain points. This is when they discover you and your services – while searching for solutions to their pain points. It then becomes vital to provide your targeted audience with more information about your firm and services in a calm and educational way.
Lay down the sales pitch approach, no pitch-slapping here! It’s dated and insincere. The less promotional your content is, the better – the person is not loyal to your brand yet, so it’s easy to scare off a potential client by being pushy. This stage should rely heavily on shareable, optimized, educational content that helps your potential customer not sells to them.
2). Consideration is the second stage of the buyer’s journey and the step at which your prospective client is a little more familiar with you and your services. They begin evaluating their problem, its urgency, how it can be solved, and whether it really needs to be solved now. Your goal here is to show them how their problem can be solved, how beneficial it will be for them and how you and your services can bring them financial peace of mind. Also, don’t be afraid to show them how superior you are to your competitors; if there’s ever a time to flex, it’s now! At the consideration stage, 60% of potential clients want to get in touch; make sure you have the answers to their questions and know how to soothe their pain points. Use the content in the form of free webinars, case studies, eBooks, sample financial plans, etc. to convert people from consideration to the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.
3). The final stage is where a decision is made – also known as the conversion stage of the buyer’s journey. Here your potential customer makes a research-based decision on you and your services. The goal is to help them make a favorable decision and finally become your client. That’s when the conversion takes place. By this stage, a target individual has become loyal to you, and you should use this to educate less and promote more – this is your time to shine. As financial advisors, the content you should be using to encourage conversions is expert advice along with cost estimates of your services.
The Client Acquisition Process
The lifeblood of all traditional and virtual financial advisors is growth in the number and net worth of ideal clients they serve. Often advisors have blinders on, being so focused on these goals that they pay little attention to the actual process, time, and costs involved in acquiring new clients.
They know they need more clients but with blinders on, they tend to go the quick route of prospecting like a pirate with a cold spray-and-pray approach. Not only is this not scalable, but it is also life-sucking.
Two concepts that advisors should pay close attention to are: client acquisition cost and client acquisition time. The first measures an advisor’s acquisition costs associated with converting or winning a new client over, while the second measures the time frame of a lead to become a new client. Both are essential to keep an eye on when building and running an efficient advisory practice.
The key to these metrics is proper tracking, and the key to proper tracking is a great customer relationship management system. The primary function of a great CRM system is to obtain accurate data. See how this is coming full circle, as we incorporate the same principles here as we did in our social media and email marketing best practices? Successful advisors should leverage the power of their CRM system, creating useful pipeline reports and analyzing the information they provide to understand and track cost and time metrics. By doing so, you are adding some science to the art of client acquisition!
CRMs can and do take many forms so whichever you use you will want to be able to track things like how often potential clients are opening and reading your emails, downloading eBooks, interacting with your content, what channels they are coming in from, and so on. A good CRM will let you track all of this as well as help you automate your marketing, especially when it comes to email campaigns.
The Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors Kitchen Sink
Yes, I just threw the kitchen sink at you! There are a ton of nuggets in here that you can use today, without the help of anyone else.
Take this overview of the tools available to you to build a marketing arsenal of your own. Find what works for both you and the clients you wish to attract. After all, your ideal client’s preference and needs will differ from those of other advisors and, as such, should be approached uniquely. Once you find practices suitable for your target audience, follow the process of acquiring them as a client by unleashing your inner digital guru to conquer the ever-changing advisory space.
Test, learn, test more, learn, keep going.
If all this seems overwhelming to you, well it is! There is a lot here. Digital Marketing is an art & science. You can learn the basics quickly and even do some of it yourself indefinitely but at some point, you must decide, are you an advisor or a digital marketing expert? If you are an advisor then look to hire an expert that can do all of the heavy liftings as you continue to guide and direct them.
Where do you go from here? Well, it depends on what you have done thus far. Advisors are at all different stages with their digital marketing.
If you are just starting out then do the basics; get your ideal client crystalized, set up your website and social media accounts, start producing basic free content to get comfortable and see what is resonating with your viewers.
If you are more advanced then consider hiring a team to help you. Consider advanced paid strategies to drive potential clients to your digital assets like eBooks and webinars.
Most important of all, just get started. Don’t over-analyze.
“70% and out the door” is a quote I love and can be applied to a lot of things including your digital marketing efforts.
Not sure where to start? Send me a note and ask.
Thanks a ton for reading!