Financial Advisors: Driving Website Traffic and Improving Search Engine Rankings

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The topics and questions from this series of articles are derived from our survey on blog topics. What topics would you like us to cover in future blogs, webinars, and eBooks? Fill out this quick survey and we will generate content to answer your questions. Thank you to all of those who have participated.

Question:

“Ideally when someone Googles for an Advisor in my area, I want my website at the top of the search.  What can I do to get my website to show/drive traffic to it?” 

Answer:

You don’t have complete control over where and how your website shows up in search engines, but you do have a lot more power and control than you might think. Improving your Search Engine Ranking and website traffic is a process that occurs from consistent effort applied over a longer period of time.

So, let’s dissect this question into 2 parts:

  1. How can I make my website at the top of the search?
  2. How can I drive more traffic to my website?

There’s a lot that you can do to help improve your website’s chances of showing at the top of search. The higher your website is in search engine rankings, the more traffic you will get to your website.

Google My Business

A starting point is to increase your local ranking through Google My Business. Google My Business is a Google service that connects individuals, who are searching online, with businesses in their neighbourhood. It helps you get your business hours, phone number, and directions on Google Search and Maps.

You should also start by “Googling” your business. Do you see search results that look like the image below? Below is a search for “Veriday”. With this example, you can see 3 benefits of simply being listed on Google My Business – Veriday’s address, interactive map, listing information, and directions when you “send to my phone”.  Google/customer reviews are also front and centre.

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It is very important to claim and optimize your Google My Business page.  As you know, 89 percent of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions. Google My Business is a critical component to ensuring your business shows up when people are searching for the products and services you offer. On top of helping your search engine rankings, your Google My Business Page show prospects your:

  • Location
  • Contact details
  • Business hours
  • Directions
  • Photos of your office
  • Other photos that you may want to upload to Google that show off your business or your people
  • Customer Reviews

For more information on Google My Business, check out our previous post here.

Click here to get started on setting up your Google My Business page.

Blogging

Blogging is perhaps the most effective way to increase your organic website traffic. Search engines, such as Google, are ranking websites that are continuously updated with fresh, new, and useful content, higher on the list of results. Google’s goal is to provide the best search results for their customers and have determined that websites with more frequently updated, relevant content are more appealing and important to searchers. When Google “crawlers” come to audit your website to see if anything has changed, they report their findings back to Google. In addition, the crawlers are looking for relevant content. For example: A financial advisor website, with fresh and unique financial advice blogs, will have a better chance of ranking higher in search engines.

81% online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (BlogHer). Blogging is one of the most effective ways to provide value to prospects and clients by answering questions they may have in a helpful and targeted way.

Additionally, every positive experience that a user has with your website, or with an interesting ‘share-able’ blog, increases the likelihood of them returning and referring people, driving more traffic to your website.

Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

There is plenty you can do to boost search engine traffic to your website at no cost except your time. Below are some techniques to get you started on increasing your search engine ranking and driving traffic to your website:

  1. Is your website mobile optimized?

40% of people will choose another result if the first one they land on is not mobile friendly (Sweor). With mobile users exceeding desktop users, having a responsive Advisor website has never been more important. On top of that, Google’s algorithm gives an additional search engine-ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites in the mobile search results.  The image below shows a website in search results that is deemed mobile-friendly.

Mobile Friendly in Search Engines

Digital Agent users – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. All of your websites are 100% mobile friendly aka “responsive”.

     2. Back-links

A backlink is a hyperlink that links from someone else’s web page, back to your website. Back-links are important for Google to determine the popularity or importance of your website. Remember, Google tries its best to rank websites in accordance with its relevance and importance to the searcher. How many people visit and ‘recommend’ your site with a back-link is one way to determine how popular your website is.

An easy way to create back-links is to ask partners to link to your site in return for you linking to their website. For example, links from recommended lawyers, mortgage brokers, real-estate agents, are not only relevant to your business but they improve your importance in the search engine world.

    3. Use Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Meta descriptions provide a concise preview of a website page’s content when it appears on search engine results page. Below is an example of a title with a Meta description under it.

Meta descriptions must be short, unique and relevant. It’s better to have a custom Meta description that instils curiosity in your audience and convinces them to click on your website in their search results. Try to include relevant keywords (the words you think your prospects are searching for) in both your Meta description and your title tag with each page of your website (including each blog you post).

  4. Research Relevant Keywords

What are people searching for when they are looking for your services? Use keywords on your website that are specific to your product or service. Over time, Google will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject which will help boost your content and website in search engine rankings. However, ensure you are using your keywords appropriately and don’t overuse them as Google can penalize you for “keyword stuffing”.

Are you an Advisor in the Toronto region? If that’s the case, you should try to use relevant keywords (such as “Financial Advisor in Toronto Region”) in your titles, Meta descriptions, ALT tags and so on.

  5. Optimize your ALT tags for Images

Research shows that coloured visuals increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Hubspot). It is also important to include alternative text tags, also known as ALT tags, so that Google can better understand the information on your site. “A picture tells a thousand words” is true, but Google cannot understand what the photos are about without ALT tags.

Social Media

Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ etc. All of these networks help to expand your reach, get your name, business and website address out there on the Internet. Sharing your website content and blog posts through social media accounts, like Twitter and LinkedIn, is a great way to push out your content, while driving traffic back to your website.

Advisors: Ramp up your Lead Generation with an eBook

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Consumers no longer want to be sold to, but rather educated. Considering that 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to you, one of the best ways to build trust and credibility is through content marketing. As a Financial Advisor, there are many benefits to creating engaging content including building trust with prospects, getting noticed online, improving your search engine ranking, and many more.

Is an eBook part of your content marketing strategy? In this article we will discuss why eBooks are one of the most effective content marketing techniques. Try not to think of an eBook as a 100-page novel that you’re publishing online, but rather a digital resource that your audience will value while further establishing your expertise in the financial industry. So, why should you write an eBook?

It’s a great lead generation strategy

Followed by whitepapers, webinars and case studies, eBooks rank fourth in the list of types of content used to make B2B purchasing decisions (Curata). eBooks are considered to be high-value pieces of content since they are usually an in-depth look into a topic. With a higher perceived value, your audience will be more willing to provide you with their contact information in exchange for access to your eBook. This is a win-win situation for lead generation; your prospects will receive something valuable and in return, your contact list will grow.

It boosts your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)             

Search engines love websites that are constantly being updated with unique and fresh content. This means that Google will send crawlers to your website more frequently, helping you rank higher for keywords that you are targeting. As a result, this will help increase your website visibility and attract more prospects to your website. Another aspect that helps boost your search engine ranking and increase visibility is through new and return visitors to your website. If your audience feels that your website is a great source for valuable information, they are more likely to return for more. With a higher number of visits – your search engine ranking will improve.

Effectively repurposes your content

Content repurposing involves taking your existing content and adapting it to a new content angle or format. Incorporating this into your content marketing strategy is a great way to get more mileage out of your content. eBooks are a great way to repurpose your content because you can compile existing blogs that fall under the same topic. For example, we have repurposed some of our blogs to create the following eBook: How Financial Advisors can use Content Marketing to Boost Website Traffic. And, best of all is that eBooks can go anywhere. You can post them on social media, and other websites, as well as use them in your email marketing efforts. Your audience will appreciate having different ways to read your eBook.

Promotes thought-leadership

As Bill Gates once said, “Content is King.” Without unique and fresh content, your Advisor website will blend in with the crowd. A great way to differentiate your business and establish thought leadership is by writing an eBook. Creating a quality eBook helps to cement you as a thought-leader and establishes authority in your field. An eBook demonstrates to your target audience that you have a depth of knowledge to share on specific topics in your industry.

There are many different strategies you can implement to expand the reach of your eBook. Here are a few different ways to market your eBook, as well as a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Put it on the homepage of your website or blog
  • Build popularity and awareness through link building, social media and email marketing
  • Use CTAs throughout your website that lead to your eBook landing page. Try A/B testing to see which CTAs are more effective.
  • Make sure to collect the names and emails of people downloading your eBook

eBooks are a great way to boost your SEO, connect with prospects, generate leads, and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Writing an eBook can be very time consuming, but a great way to start is to organize your ideas and start writing smaller blog posts that you can eventually repurpose and compile into an eBook.

 

Financial Advisors: Using Niche Marketing to Grow your Business

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As more people obtain their CFP certification, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Advisors to prove their value over competitors.

It used to be common for small businesses to market themselves as a “one-stop shop.”   This made sense when it was difficult to access a range of Financial Advisors. However, with the arrival of the Internet and powerful search engines, as well as the vast amounts of content available online, this has all changed. Now, trying to be a “one stop shop” offers much less competitive advantage in the overcrowded online market.

Many Advisors believe that by being a generalist, they are able to reach more people, which will lead to more potential clients. The reality is, it is difficult to sell everything to everyone, and even more difficult when you are trying to do it online. If you cast too wide of a net online, you won’t catch many fish at all. The challenge with a general audience is that your online messaging can become very generic and as a result, less persuasive and engaging.

So, you want to grow your business online, and build a more effective online presence? Why is defining your niche market one of the first things you need to do?

Niche Marketing

First off, what is niche marketing?  According to Business Dictionary, “niche marketing is concentrating marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Niches do not ‘exist’ but are ‘created’ by identifying needs, wants, and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by other firms, and developing and delivering services to satisfy them. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond.

The objective of niche marketing is to become the expert and go-to for that service and audience, and develop a reputation as the preferred Financial Advisor for that market. Niche Advisors become specialists with expertise in solving particular problems for a particular set of people with similar challenges. And because prospects see niche businesses as specialists, they are often more willing to pay a premium price for what they will perceive as being a higher level of expertise than generic Advisors.

In the digital age, is it no longer safe to be a generalist.

You only have a split second, if you’re lucky, to catch a prospects eye when they are rifling through their Google search results. In a world where you are competing with thousands (even millions) of websites, the last thing you want to do is get buried because your content is generic, and similar to all of the other Advisors marketing themselves online. Ask yourself, with so many Advisors and so much content online, why should a prospect do business with you over another Advisor that they have come across in Google searches?

Build your online presence around your niche market.

These days, the only way to grab someone’s attention is by providing them with something that is relevant and provides value. Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin by saying everybody is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus your online efforts, keywords and content on a specific group of people, and what their specific needs and challenges are. You’ll quickly develop a deep understanding of what’s important to them, the ins-and-outs of their financial affairs, their problems and opportunities. From there, you will know exactly what content to create and share with your digital network; crafting valuable content that is specifically targeted towards their buyer journey and the challenges they are facing.

The best way to ensure that your website content is valuable is to make sure it fits the criteria of informative, interesting and relevant. If your content is informative, it will either answer a question often asked by your niche market, or provide valuable insights related to your niche market. If your content is interesting, it is written in a way that makes your niche market want to read it. If your content is relevant, then it relates to the lives, challenges, work, or interests of your niche market. In order for your niche website to stand out and rank higher than the others, you’re going to need great niche centered content that is informative, interesting and valuable to readers and potential customers

Targeting keywords and content that align with your target audience’s search queries will also help in your Search Engine Optimization efforts; helping you to rank higher in your specialized niche market.

Winning the “Micro-Moments” in Financial Services Marketing

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“The old days of predictable, periodic media sessions have been replaced by numerous short bursts of digital activity throughout the day.” Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP of ads and commerce at Google.

This, is what Google has recently called “micro-moments”, a term coined in 2015 that you can expect to become more fully realized across all digital media in 2016.

What exactly is a “micro-moment?” According to Google, Micro-moments are moments when consumers act on a need; to learn something, discover something, and do something. A micro-moment is a window of opportunity when your audiences want to know or do something; where decisions are being made and preferences shaped. In short, they are open windows of “in the moment” opportunities when someone searches for something top-of-mind using the closest device to them. Think about these scenarios as “I want” or “I need” moments, when the consumers want to know something right then and there.

Micro-Moments (1)

 Image by Google:  Img source

What does this mean for Financial Service Marketers?

Did you know that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less? 40% of consumers will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. This is just one way that a consumer’s micro moment can be won or lost.

Financial Institutions and Advisors battle for clients, and dollars are won (or lost) in these micro-moments. In fact, Google reports that consumers are often more loyal to their need in the moment than a particular brand or product. They are attracted to the brands that satisfy their needs in those “micro-moments”. The significance of these micro-moments to financial service marketers is that they will be able to leverage them to be there when their prospects or clients need them.

Every time a prospects needs or wants something, it is an opportunity for you to provide and be more then just an Advisor. How can Financial Services compete for those micro moments?

To start, identify your prospects and clients’ buyer journeys, and identify those “micro-moments” that matter most. Where do prospects want to find information about financial services? Where do they want to learn about saving and retirement? How can you help them save money or spend more effectively? How can you be more helpful online in the moment? What content can you deliver to engage them in a meaningful way?

It comes down to showing your prospects and clients that you can help in their daily lives, and not just when they are present in your office for a meeting. To win micro-moments, understand your prospects intent, and then provide them with the most relevant, useful and high quality information that addresses their need in the moment.  The strongest brands will capitalize on these micro moments and evolve to match these moments with valuable content.

Advisors: How to Engage Early Stage Prospects

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It is safe to say that the buyer’s journey has changed. Customers now conduct most of their own research, and engage with more online content to support their decisions. However, in today’s self-educated world, we know that the online information pool is vast and buyers are picking and choosing content to support their decisions and requirements.

Most people who visit your website for the first time, no matter how well-optimized it is, won’t buy or engage with you. In fact, 96% of first time website visitors are not ready to buy in their journey.   So, what are they doing and what does this mean for you? Ask yourself, do you have enough valuable content that can benefit your visitor even if they never become a client?

According to Google…

‘’Our research has shown that, on average, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. That means for nearly two thirds of the buying process, you customers are out in the ether: forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirement lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from you.”

Sales material is not what early stage buyers are looking for when they come across your website.   Most of your website visitors come to learn, not to be “salesmanned”. Early stage buyers are not looking for why they should work with you over your competitors. They are trying to give a name to their problem, consider what options exist, and be as educated as possible before moving forward.

What does this mean for Advisors?

As a result of the new buyer’s journey, Advisors need to become teachers and thought leaders that educate their audience and earn their trust.  Some of the most successful Advisors are using content marketing to engage with prospects by delivering information that makes the buyer more intelligent. The Financial Advisors who have achieved success through digital marketing are using content marketing to provide their visitor with valuable content, without selling anything, that will benefit the visitor even if they never become a client.  Below, is a fantastic chart, courtesy of Hubspot, that outlines the different buyer stages, and characteristics of each stage of the journey.

The Buyer Journey

 

Advisor’s content should speak to their target audience in the midst of the learning journey outlined in the chart above. From awareness, to consideration to decision, position your website around content that addresses the problems, questions, challenges and information gaps at each stage; the goal being to seamlessly educate across the entire customer journey. Buyers are ultimately going to do business with people who have educated them and earned their trust. However, in a world where consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages a day, it is not enough to just teach; you have to teach well.

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Quick tip: A quick and easy way to come up with helpful topics to write about is to write down all of the questions that you get asked on a regular basis from clients. Each question can be put in to a blog post to help provide solutions and answers to questions that prospects are searching for online.

 

Guide to Content Marketing

Introduction to Content Marketing for Financial Advisors

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Marketing has evolved tremendously in the past decade – and more importantly the way we market to people has changed. Today’s consumers make purchasing decisions based on research they do on their own, reading online reviews, and through trust that is built overtime with an organization.

We are now in the age of “Googling”. This means that people are turning to search engines, like Google, to find the answers to their questions. Considering that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (imFORZA), having the ability to answer a prospects question online could help you seal the deal when the time comes. After all, 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to a sales associate (Pardot).

With content so readily available to consumers, one of the best ways to build trust and credibility is through content marketing. So, what is content marketing and how can you start your content marketing journey?

Well, first off…

What is content marketing?

By dictionary definition, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 

Content marketing aims to educate and inform your audience without selling your product or service – a form of uninterrupted marketing. Consistently creating content that is relevant, informative and provides value to your audience will help attract new clients to your business as it positions you as a thought leader and builds a sense of trust between you and a prospect. Content marketing is one of the most important marketing strategies you can implement for your business. It helps you to build trust with your audience, connect and engage with prospects, and strengthens your Search Engine Optimization, all while further establishing yourself as an expert in the Financial Services industry.

Content creation

There are a variety of different formats of content that you can create to attract a wider audience of prospects. By creating content in different formats and promoting through different channels, the chance of others finding, reading and referring back to your content increases.

To make things easy, start with one idea and decide which medium would be the most appropriate way to share it. Would the information be better interpreted as a blog post, an infographic, a video?

Why content marketing?

Content marketing is a means to help solve, educate and inform your audience on problems they may be facing. By providing prospects and clients with readily available information online, you’re able to build a more trusting and valuable relationship with them. This is one of the most inexpensive and effective forms of inbound marketing. According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.

If you think back to a problem you may have encountered, or a question that came up such as, “How do I stain my porch?” or “What are the best restaurants in Toronto?”, Did you search for an answer online? Just as you turned to the Internet to find answers, many people do the same for topics related to the Financial Services industry. Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300% (imFORZA). By including content marketing in your digital marketing strategy, your business has the potential to be a 24/7 online hub for individuals looking for financial advice.

Getting started
To get started on your content marketing journey, here are some things you can do:

  • Find an area that you can be an expert in and use content marketing as a means to answer your target audience’s questions, and solve their challenges.
  • Make a list of blog post ideas – kind of like an extensive FAQ, or relevant topics that would be of interest to your audience
  • Create a content calendar – this will help keep you organized throughout the process
  • Decide on the types of content you want to create
  • Make your current content more socially shareable
  • Learn to optimize your content and boost your SEO to amplify your organic reach
  • Use eNewsletters to push out and repurpose your content

 

For a more in-depth guide to content marketing, try downloading our eBook: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing

Blogging Like It’s Nobody’s Business

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What is Blogging?

Blogging is the act of adding new material to or the regular updating of a blog. A blog is a collection of articles that provide helpful valuable educational and remarkable content to your target audience.

You might be thinking, “it sounds like a lot of work” but there are many benefits to creating a blogging strategy that will benefit advisors and their business.

What’s the difference between a blog and a website?

As an advisor, if you’re thinking “I have a website, why do I need a blog?” They are often mistaken for the same thing when they are not. Blogs are updated more frequently whereas the rest of your website is static content that is not updated often. This could be basic content about you and your business’s products and services. 

Blogging Benefits

1. More traffic & New Visitors

Blogs that are consistently updated often see up to 55% more website traffic than those that don’t. Blogs that are updated often also help with Google rankings as the crawlings see a new blog post as fresh new content. 

Before/After Blogging

This advisor started blogging on October 1st, 2014. As you can see, after they began blogging, the traffic going to their website increased, both organically and in total. In addition, there were many new users that started visiting their website after they started blogging.

2. Delivering an Experience

Marketing is not what it used to be where it was constant one-way communication. Now, it’s about creating advocates for your product or service. It’s about creating an experience online that will make your audience want to come back. If your audience feels they are getting valuable, relevant content on topics that matter to them they’ll have a great experience with your content and want to read more of your content.

Social media changed that entire game. With social media, your audience can engage and interact with your content. Engaging in blogging is a strategy to extend your experience to a communication medium where your audience lives.

3. Develop Authority and Trust With Your Audience

Being an authority helps to establish trust, develop credibility as a thought leader in your industry. By writing blog content advisors can position themselves as experts in their particular specialty. Your target audience wants to read content that is relevant to them by someone that is reputable and knows what they are talking about.

Components of a Blog Post

1.Page title: Keyword focused page title

2.Page URL: A url that has the important keywords of your blog post will help with SEO

3.Blog titleCaptivating, eye-catching title to make your audience want to click and read your article. There are some free tools you can use to check the quality of your blog title.

Veriday Blog

4. Description: The description is what will be displayed in search results when your blog post comes up.

Veriday Blog

5.Content: Writing content that has keywords is important for getting your blog post to rank on Google. Keyword research can be done using the Keyword Planner tool.

6. Call to Action: Having a call to action at the end of each blog post is crucial in moving prospects through the buyer’s journey. This could be Contact, Download, Sign Up. By completing an action, the prospect is telling you they are interested and want to learn more. 

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

Pitfall #1 – Expecting Overnight Success

Success in blogging takes time but people who commit to a consistent blogging strategy will see results over time.

Pitfall #2 – Forgetting to tell your audience about your writing

Just because a new blog has written, that doesn’t mean people will automatically read it. It’s up to you to tell your audience about your new blog post. This could be posting it on social media channels and including the blog post in an email newsletter. It’s a good idea to always look for new ways to promote new blog content to get it in front of new people.

Pitfall #3 – Missing Conversion Mechanisms

When it comes to blogging or any marketing activity, your ultimate goal would be to get new clients and new business right? Be sure to include a call to action to convert your blog readers into actual leads. You want to be always trying to move prospects through your sales funnel.

Pitfall#4 – Creating Content that is off topic

It’s important to know your target audience and write content that is relevant and important to them. The blog content should relate to the title of the blog post so people know what to expect when they’re reading.

Pitfall #5- Trying to Create the Perfect Post

If you’re new to blogging, it can be easy to get caught up in making the perfect blog post. There are thousands of blog posts on how to make the perfect blog post but having a completed live blog post is always a better approach.

Our eBook, The Financial & Insurance Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing, can help financial advisors get discovered online quickly and easily, check it out to take the next steps in your content marketing journey!

Blogging: Content Marketing

5 Types of Content to Boost your Advisor Website Traffic

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According to Marketo, “Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers and makes the company easy to be found.”  

There are many ways to boost traffic to your website and better engage your audience. But, which form of inbound marketing is the best? The answer varies from business to business. In a day and age where people prefer to be educated rather than sold, content creation is the key to connecting and engaging your audience, and further boosting traffic to your Advisor website.

Here are 5 different types of content you should start (or continue) to create for your website to help boost your traffic and engage your audience:

  1. Infographics

Researchers found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Xerox). Infographics are a great way to share information with your audience in a simplified and visually appealing way. To get started, check out some free infographic templates, provided Venngage (sign up required).

  1. Videos

51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI (Adobe). Whether it is an informational video describing the difference between an RRSP and a TFSA or a welcome video introducing yourself to your online audience, there are many easy ways to incorporate video into your Financial Advisor website.

  1. Webinars

According to Entrepreneurs Forum, hosting a webinar creates several benefits for your business including:

  • Develops authority and trust with prospects and clients
  • Raises brand awareness by providing users an uninterrupted way to advertise your business
  • Grows your contact list
  • Generates qualified leads
  • Shows off your brand’s personality – something that isn’t as easily done through the written word

Webinars are a powerful tool for interacting and connecting with prospects and clients. Hosting a webinar allows your audience to get to know you, as a Financial Advisor, on a much deeper level than they would if they were to only read website content.

  1. eBooks

eBooks are a great way to compile your existing blog content and dive deeper into a specific topic. For example, we have compiled some of our existing blog content into an eBook: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing. eBooks have a higher perceived value to your readers who will be more willing to give you their contact information in exchange for access to your eBook. Readers are more likely to feel like this was a fair exchange as you supply them with instant access to a valuable piece of content that they are interested in.

  1. Blogs

 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (BlogHer). Blogging is one of the best ways to have a conversation with your audience by answering questions they may have in a non-intrusive manner. Research some of the questions that your audience has, or what information they enjoy reading and use that to your advantage by writing about it.  Over time, this will help you build valuable, trusted relationships with prospects and clients.

There is a wide range of content that you can create to better engage, inform, and connect with prospects, clients and industry leaders. Some other examples of different types of content are:

  • Newsletters
  • Memes
  • Reviews
  • How-to-guides
  • Case studies
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews
  • Slideshares
  • Social Media
  • Opinion pieces

Aside from the clear benefits mentioned from creating a variety of content for your audience, doing this will also help to improve your SEO and search engine rankings. If you feel like continuously creating content is a big time commitment, remember that you can always repurpose your current content in order to get the most mileage out of all of your content writing efforts.

Advisors: Why The New SEO Is Actually All About Content Marketing

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In part 1 of this series, we looked briefly at an overview of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) used to be versus what Search Engine Optimization is now. One thing that we know for sure is that what used to work, doesn’t work anymore. One of the biggest game changers in SEO over the years has been content marketing.

The old SEO was largely focused on researching your target keywords and then building an SEO campaign around those focused keywords. It was understood that search crawlers looked for keywords in website content, and that it was most effective to use those keywords in titles, meta-descriptions and the first 100 words of an article. Content was created and those targeted keywords were inserted in all the right places. If you were an Advisor that was early to market, and there wasn’t a lot of competition around your keywords, chances are you would see some success.  Traditional SEO focused more on trying to rank high using target keywords and less on trying to fulfill the needs and requirements of the people using these keywords to make searches.

SEO used to be a strategy that was fairly easy to take advantage of. It didn’t take a rocket science to trick Google into ranking a poorly put together website high on their search results page.

But then…

Online competition increased, consumer awareness improved, and out went the days of a keyword focused SEO strategy.

Unlike old SEO strategies, the new SEO puts focus on value, quality, and engagement. Keyword research has become far less important than good content marketing and content creation. Today’s SEO is in large part a combination of creating and sharing great content. It has become about communicating with your current and future customers without trying to promote your Advisor services, a method of helping your prospects by teaching instead of directly selling. The idea is that if you are creating valuable content focused on questions and topics that are relevant to your business, and your client’s and prospect’s interests and challenges, your content should naturally contain the keywords for which you want to rank.

Google is now looking for more active engagement with your site’s content. This is why unique and valuable content is more effective than ever. High quality content offers Advisor’s clients and prospects unique and applicable information that they can engage with, like and share. If more people are referring and sharing your content, you have a better chance of getting ranked higher in search engines than if you were to solely target the ‘’right’’ keywords.  Additionally, creating high quality and unique traffic helps to drive more traffic to your website, drives client engagement and leads, and has a long-term effect for your web presence.

So, what are three of the most important things Advisors should be doing to get help drive traffic to their website?

  • A dynamic website – Search engines love websites that are constantly being updated with unique and fresh content.  When content is constantly updated that means that your website is always changing.  When Google spiders come to audit your site to see if anything has changed, they report their findings back to Google; they report back whether your website is of high quality (or not) as a result of whether it is constantly updated with new, unique, and quality content. A dynamic and constantly changing website is good for you because this not only means that Google will send spiders to your website more often, it also means that your website has a better chance of ranking for your targeted keywords.
  • Blog, blog blog! The new SEO is all about great content.  New content builds trust and keeps your visitors engaged and coming back. Your blog articles should be focused on quality and share-ability.
  • Be Active on Social Media! Social activity allows you to build links and engagement (likes, shares, tweets etc.) around your website content.
    • Infographics, E-books, Guides, Webinars, How-tos, Case Studies, Interviews, Research and Original Data, Reviews…are all great ways to share information and insights.

Today, SEO is in large part a byproduct of excellent and unique content. By taking time to invest in sharing and creating high quality content, you can educate your clients and prospects, and build a credible, industry-leading business in the process.

I think this is a win-win that we can all agree on.

Guide to Content Marketing

 

How is Content Marketing Changing Buyer Behaviour?

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How is content marketing changing buyer behaviour?  In fact, content marketing is not changing buyer behaviour.

A brief history of Content Marketing

The truth is, content marketing has been around for a long time. It all began back in the late 1800s.  In 1895, John Deere started publishing a magazine called, “The Furrow”. The purpose of this magazine was to become a resource for his customers, and educate farmers on how to better manage their crops to become more fruitful business owners. John Deere published this magazine for the purpose of educating his target audience, not selling. By providing this magazine to farmers, John Deere wanted to become a thought leader and used content marketing to align farming with his expertise and brand. Clearly, this venture has been very successful for John Deere, which begs the question; was John Deere the original content marketer?

Traditional Marketing Vs. Content Marketing

If content marketing is not changing buyer behaviour, then what is? It is the distribution and accessibility of content that is effectively changing buyer behaviour.  The evolution of content marketing and the way it is distributed and accessed is changing the ground rules in marketing and sales. Traditional examples of content marketing which include direct sales, static websites, print advertising, brochures, press releases, catalogues, branded magazines, direct mail, radio, and more, are phasing their way out.

Traditional content marketing saw a gradual evolution from traditional content (hard copy) to digital and social content marketing. The evolution of content marketing has eliminated geographic constraints as consumers can now read and learn about anything online, and on their mobile devices, regardless of their location. ‘’Googling’’ has become one of the most popular words in the English language allowing online consumers to quickly and efficiently search for any topic under the sun- in less than one minute.

In 1993, we saw the birth of the e-book, which paved the way for corporations to create content and publish it to a wide audience. In 1998, blogging became popular and it wasn’t long until bloggers opinions and insights were regarded credible enough to make the news. In 2003, we started to get social with MySpace, which was soon surpassed by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Digital and social content marketing also includes content such as case studies, white papers, blogs, e-books, Infographics, Webinars, Podcasts, Google + and more.

What does the evolution of Content Marketing tell us? 

The emergence and growth of digital and social content marketing means buyers are being bombarded with content and information overload on a daily basis. So, what can we take away from the evolution of content marketing, and the content overload trend, and how does this relate to Advisors in the Financial Services industry? First, let’s look at some statistics that speak to the accessibility of content, and the importance of the new form of content marketing:

  • 92% start with a search engine when looking for a particular product or solution. (Cremarc, 2015)
  • 60% of the sales journey is completed before a customer makes contact with a sales person. (Hubspot, 2015)
  • 61% have an open mind when searching online. They do not know whom they will purchase from.(Cremarc, 2015)
  • 50% of buyers create a short-list before they get to the stage of engaging a sales person.(Cremarc, 2015)

The evolution of content marketing has taught us the importance of having an established online presence and content marketing strategy. Advisors can no longer differentiate by service, price, and performance. In a world where the majority of the sales journey is complete before a consumer speaks to a sales person, people are choosing to do business with you because of your specialized and unique thought leadership, that should be easily accessible online.  So, how can Advisors cut through the content overload?

  • Advisors need to create content that is unique, valuable, and of high quality, instead of promotional.
  • Advisors need to create content that is for the consumer, rather than for promoting the business.
  • Content needs to offer the consumer something that is new and valuuable to them.  Advisors’  content should help to solve their questions and challenges, and help do their homework for them.
  • Content should evoke conversations and make people want to share it.
  • Advisors need to use their content to become thought-leaders.
  • Create content that targets prospects at different phases of the buyers journey.

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Where do you think the future of content marketing will take us?

Guide to Content Marketing