How to Succeed Online: The Ultimate Digital Marketing Checklist for Advisors

1) Be optimized for mobile

Digital traffic on smartphones and tablets has now exceeded desktops. Give your clients a consistent experience no matter what device they are using.

2) Create a great value proposition

Make yourself stand out from the competition by creating a unique value proposition that resonates with your target audience and highlights your key client benefits.

3) Market through Social Media

Get active on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Ensure your social newsfeed is visible on your website so your prospects and clients can stay up-to-date. Social media is a perfect way to keep your clients and prospects engaged.

4) Present engaging imagery

The images on your website should resonate with your target audience while representing your brand.  Ensure your photography relates to your audience and reflects who you are.

5) Be dynamic with your website

Websites that are continually updated not only keep visitors coming back, they help make sure your website appears at the top of search results.  Updating your site with newsworthy topics, blogs, and articles show that you are on top of your game.

6) Create polls, events & community outreach

Polls are quick questions on your website designed to get feedback engage your audiences. Posting polls, inviting prospects to events or demonstrating participation in your community not only keeps you in touch but helps you to gain additional insight into their needs.

7) Capture Leads

Every website should have the ability to capture prospect contact information. The goal of your website is to create sales and generate more business. Effective Calls-to-Actions direct visitors to a contact form, a newsletter subscription, webinars or a consultation.

8) Create content

Small businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors, and 126% higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses*. . Blogging helps you to connect and engage with prospects and establish yourself as an expert in the industry

*”12 Mind-Blowing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know,”MartaKagan

9) Optimize for Google

Ensuring Google and other search engines can find you is critical to helping prospects find your website. Step one is understanding the target keywords that your audience searches for. Then create content that includes these keywords including Meta tags that tell the search engines what your website is all about.

10) Promote yourself with email and e-newsletters

Email marketing is not only a very inexpensive method of communicating it is also a perfect way to stay “top of mind” with your prospects and clients.

What is a Web Portal and Why Should you Care?


This post was authored by Martin Yan and originally appeared here on


That’s a question we get often when we tell people what we do.

Answers can range anywhere from a quick pitch like “a tool that allows people to build their websites” to something more specific like “a framework for integrating information, people and processes across organizational boundaries.” (Thanks, Wikipedia)

Though true, those answers don’t always address the questions people are asking. Namely, how can a portal help me serve my customers?

Since the modern shopping experience mostly resides within the Internet, it is very crucial to have a strong web presence. With a public site often times serving as the main source of knowledge about your brand, portals could function as a means of first discovery that connects the right people to the right content.

But why a portal, and not some other development tool or platform?

Portals are special in the sense that they offer a fine-tuned content delivery system. Depending on the type of user that arrives on your site, you can create unique channels with images, text and other site functions that are relevant to that specific user.

So, let’s say you were a fashion company. With a proper portal system, a female shopper and a male employee, upon logging in, would find particular content that is useful to them—this is essentially the boiled-down idea of personalization.

We will see more utility for the portal as it continues to evolve in both form and function. Portals aren’t just systems of record anymore, as they are now being used as systems of engagement to reach different target groups across various channels. This is why we believe portals are poised to become the most personal way to help businesses connect with their customers, employees and partners.


The Key to Creating Highly Sharable Content

This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.


There has been an abundance of research on social media but until recently we’ve not had a comprehensive way of understanding why people share content online and how to use that knowledge to create highly sharable content.

Now we do. The New York Times‘ Insights Group worked with Latitude Research to conduct a three-phase study to fill this knowledge gap. In their The Psychology of Sharing, they reveal groundbreaking research that will help marketers understand the motivational factors and get their content shared.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers discovered that sharing is all about relationships. Key motivations hinge on:

  • Bringing valuable and entertaining content to others
  • Defining ourselves to others
  • Growing and nourishing relationships
  • Getting the word out about causes and brands we care about

Sharing is not new; it’s human nature. We still share things when it’s relevant – now we just share online.

Use Content to Define Yourself to Your Audience

Just look at what’s been happening across the globe with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Why has this social media campaign worked so well? It may be in some cases that the people participating actually care about the cause or that they embrace charitable endeavors in general; but many may surmise that business professionals are participating to define themselves and their brands to others. Even the choice of who is challenged to participate is telling and can be a part of the participant’s strategy.

Check out these clips – the “social capital” strategy should be evident:

Going Viral: Lessons Learned from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

For a sense of how online sharing can accelerate the dissemination of a self-defining message, consider this: Livestrong launched its yellow bracelet cancer-awareness campaign in 2004 and it took them one year to raise $50 million. On August 29, 2014, the ALS Association announced that donations topped $100 million in the past month.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a fundraising phenomenon,” said Robert M. Wyrick, Managing Member of Houston-based MFA Capital Partners, a boutique advisory firm specializing in hedged-risk investment management, tax strategies and distribution planning for corporate employees.

“Those who elect to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads, show that they have a fun and gutsy side. They may or may not be all that into the charitable side of things—but they define themselves by stepping into the challenge from a business buddy, who is actually defining himself or herself by the people they nominate, and by everybody doing this in a very public way.”

Tailor Your Content for Optimal Sharing

When creating content it’s important to be mindful of what the motivation of your audience is likely to be. Questions to ask during the planning process include:

  • How does this add value for our audience?
  • How will this help or entertain them?
  • Why will they share it?

Studies show that people share things that have an emotional pull. So, when you create content, try to appeal to the desire to connect as humans. Try to inspire, illuminate or amuse. Telling stories and using video seems to work well in the digital world. Keep the message simple and embed a sense of urgency to spark sharing.

“We can’t just sit in a room and brainstorm creative ideas to try and hook people,” said Jacob H. Gold, a third-generation wealth manager and a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner. “The best emotive, sharable content is derived when a firm continually examines its core values and mission, then figure out if there’s an interesting or catchy campaign around it.

Social Media Compliance Guidelines for Financial Advisors

This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.


Do you know how to think through and manage endorsements and comments on websites and pages under your control?

One piece of SEC guidance that got a big cheer from Financial Advisors and industry social media advocates is that “community” or “fan” pages — if established by an independent third-party to gather community or public sentiment — do not violate the testimonial rule. That just makes sense: if the Advisor has no control over the commentary and posts on the discussion forum, how could he or she be held liable for any comments about services and/or products provided?

For an in-depth look at what Financial Advisors can and can’t do on third-party review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Wallet Hub and GuideVine, click here: Making Sense of the SEC’s Third-Party Review Site Rules

What is important to remember is this: where the Advisor can control the comments, he or she should take great pains not to allow any type of forbidden endorsement or testimonial to occur.

So when thinking about LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and other website pages you can control, here are some areas to consider.


LinkedIn’s “endorsements” feature on an Advisor’s profile page IS in control of the Advisor. In addition, the endorsement feature provides only positive feedback. With these factors in mind, and because LinkedIn members have the discretion to accept or deny any endorsement, many compliance experts recommend that Advisors turn off this feature. If you and your compliance officer determine that turning off the endorsements feature is a good idea, log in to LinkedIn and click “edit Profile” then “edit Skills and Expertise”. If you already have endorsements on your LinkedIn profile, rather than deleting them, it might be best to simply “Hide” them (who knows – you might not be with the same firm in the future and could potentially show them at some point).

One financial services digital media expert provides some interesting food for thought on her Wired Advisor blog:

“It is my opinion that the social proof gained from showcasing LinkedIn endorsements from your connections on your profile is important, especially since you generally can’t publish recommendations or testimonials,” says Stephanie Sammons, founder of “Also, specific clients and prospects are not identified here. It also should be noted that in the SEC policy update, they no longer view non-investment related commentary to be deemed as a testimonial. Therefore it sounds like you can potentially showcase recommendations that relate to community service or religious affiliation (these were the two examples given by the SEC in the update).”

“Given that the term ‘endorsement’ doesn’t actually indicate within the context of the LinkedIn profile a specific testimonial or recommendation, I believe they are very similar to a collection of Facebook fan page ‘likes’. There are no clients or prospects being singled out through these LinkedIn endorsements. This is mentioned in the SEC update as something that would be a violation of the testimonial rule,” Sammons continues.

“These are aggregate endorsements of your skills from any and all of your LinkedIn connections. With this in mind, I would advise that your list of skills remain very general in nature as they relate to your services such as ‘financial planning’, ‘retirement planning’.  None of your skills listed should indicate or point toward performance results,” she concludes.


Similar to endorsements, LinkedIn’s “recommendations” feature is something a LinkedIn member can control. An Advisor has the ability to accept or deny those types of testimonial comments, most of which are usually independently volunteered.

On LinkedIn (as well as blogs and community forums where the Advisor can turn off the comments feature), most compliance officers typically encourage the Advisor to stay on the safe side and decline to publish (or hide) any comments that could be deemed a testimonial. Many say is it not worth risking any debate as to whether or not the Advisor allowed all comments — both positive and negative – to be seen on the site. Although Sammons observations above do seem to make sense: there may be some gray area if (1) specific clients and prospects are not identified (2) the comments are not investment related. So check with your compliance office or outside legal counsel to get their advice.

On Facebook pages that an Advisory firm controls, many compliance officers are asking Advisors to turn off the Star Ratings feature. To do that, go to the “About” page and find “Page Info” then “Address / Edit”. Deselect “Show map, check-ins and star ratings.”

Some additional pointers:

  • Non-investment related commentary, such as comments on religious affiliation, personal character, or community involvement, are not a violation of the rule, so it is up to you and your compliance officer to determine where to draw the line.
  • On an Advisor’s social media page or profile, there should not be distinctions between who is a client and who are friends or other connections — so be careful not to have a Twitter list or a Facebook photo album called “clients”. There should be no implication that the contacts/friends have experienced favorable results from the Advisor’s services.
  • While the SEC guidance does say that interactive posts made on social sites do not need to be pre-approved, some more conservative firms hold to the requirement that all content on social media needs to be pre-approved before it is published.
  • Map out your social media strategy — both from a compliance aspect, as well as a “voice” and “editorial” standpoint before stepping in to the social media waters. Social media and online forums are a great way to “be discoverable” and advance worthwhile causes and educational information. Having a written strategy in place is the best way to go. It will keep you on track if you are doing your own social media and becomes especially important if you ever hand the reins to a marketing manager or social media director.


Its not just a compliance issue though. Commenting on blogs or photos or Facebook articles is an opportunity for anyone with a good or bad opinion to express those thoughts freely. Many who post do not even consider the reputational consequences of their posts, but smart Financial Advisors and service professional know that every word they post on social media sites can either tear down or build up reputational capital.

Smart Advisors will think twice before posting content on any site, especially when they have had a drink, are tired, stressed or experiencing a sense of exhilaration (any of these situations could skew one’s otherwise judgment). It is important to show some personality from time to time, but doing it in a thoughtful “brand essence” way will pay dividends down the road. For more on “voice”, “authenticity” and “brand essence,” read Finding Your Voice Online and Building Your Brand as a Financial Advisor Today.

What if you feel you’ve been slandered online? While not every site will remove upsetting comments, Facebook may be open to removing egregious content. Facebook page owners can report violations to Facebook’s administrative team using Facebook’s “Report a Violation” page. Read more on eHow