Financial Advisors: Things to Look Out For When Hiring an SEO Firm

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When using search engines, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results (Search Engine Journal).  As a Financial Advisor, the higher your search engine ranking, the more traffic your website will receive. So yes, you want to be on that first page – but how do you get there? You can get there by improving your search engine optimization (SEO).

Some Financial Advisors hire companies that specialize in SEO and see tremendous results. Although, just like anything you invest in, you want to make sure it’s worth the money. There are many SEO firms that focus on getting quick cash without delivering long-term SEO benefits for their clients, and others that tend to focus on making false promises. Here are some things to consider when hiring an SEO firm:

Ask for current and past clients.            

Just like reading customer reviews before buying a new phone, you should find out other clients’ experiences when looking into working with an SEO firm. Find out how successful the SEO firm’s past work has been by asking them to provide you a list of past clients. Read customer reviews, testimonials and case studies. The last thing you want is to blindly commit to a big contract.

How experienced are they?

SEO is a fast-changing industry. You want to hire an expert who is able to adapt to changes and is knowledgeable about the latest developments and trends in SEO. Keep in mind that you should look for quality in their experience and how successful they have been rather than focus on how long they have been in the industry.

Does their website have good content?

Think of it this way: You want to ensure your prospects and clients that you are a knowledgeable and up to date as a Financial Advisor. You do this through content marketing; by writing about topics that are relevant to your industry. Just the same, you want to make sure that the SEO firm you hire is knowledgeable and current in their field.

Establish communication

Paying someone to optimize your website without having any real gains (conversions, new leads, new clients, etc) is as good as nothing.  There are many questions you should be asking to establish better communication throughout the process like:

  • What areas will you focus on to improve my websites’ SEO?
  • How often will I be updated with analytics and your progress?
  • How will you improve our search engine rankings?
  • Will you inform me on all changes you make to my website?

You want to always be on the same page as your consultant and the best time to do that is before you agree to any contracts.

Are they making you unrealistic promises?

One way to set apart an SEO salesmen from a legitimate SEO expert is what promises they are making to you. Many SEO salesmen tell prospects that with their work, your website will rank #1 on search engines. Rankings alone are a bad metric for overall performance. It’s more important that the search results drive relevant visitors that take a desired action – such as signing up for a mailing list or making a purchase – once they land on your page.  Making these kinds of statements are fishy. This could mean that the SEO firm may be using illegitimate ways to get you to #1 such as Black Hat SEO techniques.

What happens post-contract?

Who maintains ownership, of the optimized web content that you paid the consultant to provide, once your contract is up? Make sure to come to an agreement with the SEO firm that once you part ways, they will not remove any of the content they have added, modified, or optimized on your behalf.

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If you choose to hire an SEO firm to better optimize your website, be sure that it is legitimate.  A bad or inexperienced SEO firm can have a negative impact, in the long run, on your business’ online presence and search engine rankings.

10 Tips to Successfully Optimize your Financial Advisor Website: Part 1

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Investopedia, Fidelity, Investment Quorum and Streamline Financial Services. What do these financial advisory sites have in common? A strong optimization and lead generation strategy.

As a Financial Advisor, you want your website to be optimized for search engines so that you can be easily found by prospects. The last thing you want is to spend hours on end creating website content only for it to go unnoticed.

Here are 10 ways to optimize your website’s content using SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

  1. Add Call-to–Actions (CTAs)

A CTA is a button, link, or text that can be used to collect important information from prospects and aid in converting them into warm leads or clients. Some effective CTA’s include:

  • Sign up for our monthly newsletter
  • Free Consultation
  • Download This eBook

CTAs aim to push your prospects to share their information with you. This way, you are able to directly communicate with them. For better results, make sure your CTA stands out. Quicksprout does a great job with this with their large and colourful buttons below:

CTA example from Quicksprout

  1. Use Headlines

Headlines are your attention grabber. If your headlines are ordinary and don’t spark curiosity, then it is likely that traffic may be steered away, right to another Advisor website. The key is to use adjectives, numbers, and make bold statements. “10 reasons to retire right now.”

  1. Use a Meta Description

Headlines grab your audience’s attention while meta descriptions give your prospects more insights into what your webpage is all about. They provide a concise preview of a website page’s content, and are used on search engine result pages.

Meta descriptions must be short, unique and relevant. It is beneficial to include custom meta descriptions that instills curiosity in your audience, convincing them to click on your website in their search results.

 Meta Description Example - Digital Agent

  1. Choose Keywords wisely

As a Financial Advisor, using relevant keywords is vital to driving your target audience to your website. These keywords should not be general, broad, misleading or overused. You should use specific keywords, and use them in as many ways as possible, when relevant.  Some great areas to use your keywords would be:

  • Title tags
  • Sub-headers
  • Links
  • Alternate texts (images)
  • Content

The use of relevant keywords can assist in increasing Google’s ranking when they assess your website. Use keywords appropriately and don’t overuse them as Google may penalize you for “keyword stuffing,” which may decrease your ranking.  Keyword stuffing refers to when websites cram as many words as possible into a webpage’s text without intent to provide useful information to the reader.

   5. Optimize Images by using ALT tags

Researchers found that coloured visuals increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Xerox). Using images will enhance a viewer’s experience on your website and make your pages look more appealing. With this in mind, it is vital to include alternative text tags, also known as an ALT tag. These tags are used on images with no links to provide information about the image when a viewer hovers their cursor over it. The tags help increase your SEO, overall search ranking and makes your website more accessible.

As Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s Web spam team once said, “SEO is like a resume. You polish it so you have your best foot forward.

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For more ways to optimize your Financial Advisor website for search engines, check out part 2 of the series.

“Call Me, Maybe?”: Why Clients Leave Their Financial Advisors

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This post was authored by Khalid Usmani and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

Given the high levels of market volatility, most financial advisors are getting more calls from their clients on how their investments are performing. But if you are the one receiving the calls, and not the one making them, then you are already behind. The best advisors follow a well-defined communication strategy with clients and stay ahead of the story.

History Is The Best Teacher

Following the initial surge of client departures in 2008, one out of four high net worth clients pulled their assets from their existing financial advisor and another third did so in the following two years. What was driving this behavior? A major reason why clients left their advisors then, and continue to do so now, is poor communication. While investment performance is always important, it isn’t the only thing clients care about. The Oechsli report, “The New World Adviser,” [note: email registration required] found that clients with $250 thousand to $10 million in investments were often more concerned about clear, timely communication and quick problem resolution than about investment performance.

Get Ahead of The Story

You should always be communicating with your clients – good times or bad. Many financial advisors make the mistake of avoiding clients during the challenging times, but sticking your head in the sand won’t make things better. Aside from sending information on how your firm is handling the market volatility, as an advisor, being responsive to any questions is critical. Nearly two-thirds of high net worth clients surveyed indicated they would leave an advisor who didn’t return their call in a timely manner. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Ad-hoc Messaging vs. A Defined Communications Strategy

For financial advisors, effective client communication is as much about using the right communication channels as it is anything else. If you don’t have a well-defined client communications strategy in place you are increasing the risk of client dissatisfaction. Ad-hoc communications can easily fall short or even through the cracks. Communications guided by a deliberate strategy, rather than by circumstances, are much more likely to produce the desired results. Here are five critical elements around which to create your strategy:

  1. Communicate through multiple channels with your clients. With communication, more is better – not necessarily in terms of volume, but in terms of effectively connecting with your clients through the best channel at the right time.
  2. Ask your clients about their communication preferences. This should be done at the outset, in person. If not, you should conduct a detailed survey asking your clients how and when they would like to receive information – offering a full range of options.
  3. Segment your client base by service level. Your CRM system should allow you to add profile markers indicating the type, timing frequency and channel preference for communications. Your CRM system should also be able to automate the workflow of client communications.
  4. Focus on education. Clients want to feel smart about their finances and investments. Offering opportunities to gain knowledge through an e-newsletter, social media postings, a blog, or a webcast is a form of communication that clients appreciate. It also creates more opportunity for client interaction. If you’ve segmented your client base, you can target them with more relevant information.
  5. Create and communicate service standards in a written agreement. Much of the dissatisfaction with client communications comes from not knowing what to expect. A written agreement will set the expectations for response times and contact frequency.

Finally, there is no substitute for personalized communication. This is a critical part of any advisor-client relationship. Depending on your client’s communication preference (e.g., email, phone, social media), sending them a quick, individual message can build a stronger relationship as well as provide you an easy way to address any concerns. The cumulative effect of consistent, meaningful contact with your clients creates a layer of security making them feel appreciated and that you are looking out for their interests, good times and bad.

Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2

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Is it time to upgrade your website? As discussed in Part 1 of this series, it is impossible to ignore the fact that most people “Google” almost everything. In fact, according to Nextopia, 86% of Baby Boomers and 90% of Millennials routinely research products online. For Financial Advisors, a professional and relevant website is becoming so critical to their business that it cannot be ignored. A website not only helps keep Investment Advisors in touch with their clients but will be necessary to gain and service new clients in the future.

So where do you start? You might be feeling that this will take time and may even be a little painful. The best way to begin is to take the steps to have all the aspects of your website well thought out so that it tells a cohesive story about you and your business.  Here are things you should consider before you begin in order to make the process more constructive and maybe even pain free.

  1. Carve out some time to work on this. Book some uninterrupted time in your calendar to go plan out what your site will look like and what you want your visitors to “feel” when they come to your site.
  2. Take a look at your competitors’ websites. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take note of what you like and what grabs your attention. It is also important to note what you don’t like or what makes you lose interest. These negatives can be great in helping you avoid some of the pitfalls of a poor website design.
  3. Create your BRAND. This is very important! Your website is a reflection of you, how you do business and what your strengths and values are. Start by asking yourself these questions:
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you like most about your business?
  • What do your clients like about you?
  • What are your business values?
  • How would you like to appear to others?
  1. Create a tagline. Taglines are like slogans or mini mission statements that can succinctly describe who you are and what you stand for. Once you have determined your BRAND, you can work at developing a tagline which can be displayed prominently on your website. Just to be clear, this is not a value proposition but a short, catchy phrase which reflects you and your business.
  2. Create your topics. Topics will be represented in different pages on your website or links found in the navigation bar at the top of your page. Take a look at other sites to get an idea of what you might want to include for example, “About Us” and “Products and Services”. It is important, however, that you make sure that you have at least one topic that reflects what makes you unique.
  3. Create your text. Good text is the backbone of your website. This is also where many websites get it wrong. A long, rambling essay is not going to attract the attention of your website visitors. Define what you want to get across about your business, use clear and friendly language, be concise, and be direct. Let them know, in an obvious way, why they should do business with you. Calls-to-Action are important to encourage your visitors to interact with your website.
  4. Use professional photos. Your visitors want to see a photo of you and your team. Much like house buyers looking at houses online will only consider those which have photos, most people will likely not show interest in your site if there are no pictures. Try to get several different poses of you and your team, including some that seem more spontaneous.
  5. Add interest by using stock photos. One of the most important things to take into consideration when designing your website is how users think. Think about how you navigate websites when you are online. Most users want instant gratification and a website which gives them interesting and credible information fast. They scan, not read, a website which means you have to grab their attention immediately in order for them to remain interested. You can do this by adding pictures to complement your text. Stock photos are a good way of making your point in an instant.
  6. Consider ways to keep your website fresh. Keeping your website fresh and updated has probably not been your number one priority and may seem like too much work. However, consider this, updating can result in more traffic to your site, allows you to deliver information in a timely fashion and to more individuals and lets you repeat your BRAND and uniqueness to visitors. On the other hand, not updating your website may create a negative opinion. There are many ways to keep your site updated by blogging, creating newsletters, market updates, and demonstrating community involvement. How you do it will probably depend on your firm and what support they provide.

 

Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at marielle.demers@sympatico.ca or 416 540 5158

Read how Brandon Silbermann, from Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd., used Digital Agent by Veriday to create a digital branding platform for his company.

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Reprinted with permission from Investment Executive.  

Brandon Silbermann’s digital branding initiative was powered by Digital Agent by Veriday.

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If the new way of doing business for financial advisors is at the intersection of the latest digital marketing technology and good, old-fashioned client service, Brandon Silbermann might just be the advisor of the future.

A typical day for Silbermann might include updating his practice’s website, checking his LinkedIn account and driving to a client’s farm to discuss his or her financial plan.

Silbermann, 25, is an advisor with Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont., which is affiliated with Oakville, Ont.-based Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc. He officially joined the investment industry full-time in 2013 after graduating from the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, from which he obtained an honours bachelor of commerce degree in finance.

But back in 2013, Silbermann already was familiar with financial advisory work, having been involved in his school’s co-operative education program, through which he was mentored by Don Stockman, advisor and founder of Stockman Financial.

Silbermann now is an advisor with that practice with his own book of business, consisting of $22 million in assets under management. He is licensed to sell mutual funds, which are offered through Manulife Securities, and insurance products, through Kitchener, Ont.-based Financial Horizons Inc.

Silbermann has learned many lessons from Stockman, who has been an advisor for more than 30 years in the Waterloo region. These lessons include key steps in maintaining strong relationships with clients. “Don always told me to do the right thing,” Silbermann says. “Take good care of the client. Make sure you see them face to face.”

Silbermann brought to the established practice some special knowledge that is characteristic of his age group. He took on the large task of creating an online brand for the practice, which did not have a website prior to Silbermann joining the firm.

This digital branding initiative included creating a website with the help of a third-party digital-marketing company that works with Manulife. The Stockman Financial website would allow Stockman and Silbermann to communicate their skills and experience to families and small-business owners, such as farmers and skilled tradespeople in the construction industry, who are an important part of Stockman Financial’s niche.

“We have three or four generations of some [client] families,” Silbermann says. But the firm needed a way to communicate its expertise to other clients and prospects: not only an online presence, but one that stays up to date.

Silbermann ensures that the website’s functionality fits the ways in which people use technology. “The majority of web searches are done through smartphones,” he says, his empty hands gesturing as if scrolling through a smartphone screen. “So, it was critical for us to have something that is mobile-compatible so that people could see it – so it looked nice on their phones and was easily searchable.”

Silbermann is active on LinkedIn, connecting with other professionals on that social media network. He does not network through Facebook or Twitter, but he is planning to join Manulife’s social media program for advisors, which will guide Silbermann in using Twitter in a compliant manner.

Silbermann’s digital strategy seems to be working just fine. He added three new clients through his use of LinkedIn in 2015.

Silbermann does not spend much time pursuing prospects online, aside from sending out LinkedIn invitations to connect with other professionals. He finds that fellow LinkedIn users will check out his profile, then ask him questions through that social-media network. But those conversations do not remain online for long, as Silbermann’s strategy is to meet prospects in person as soon as possible.

“As much as the world is digital,” Silbermann says, “you need to put a face to a name, especially in a business that is as private and important as money.”

That principle has Silbermann convinced that robo-advisory services, which are becoming increasingly well known, are not a serious competitor. These online services cannot provide that human connection that is important to both Silbermann and Stockman, the latter of whom always emphasizes the importance of seeing clients in person, even if that means driving to the farmhouse of a client who lives outside of the immediate Waterloo area.

“Being able to be there with these people, their farming families and companies, generates a whole other level of trust, integrity and rapport,” Silbermann says. “It does not concern me how the industry is changing.”

Silbermann also is confident that his age is not an obstacle in attracting new clients. The keys, he says, are to associate yourself with a successful brand, then develop a positive relationship with individuals who can speak on your behalf. The affiliation with Manulife, which has a visible presence in the Waterloo region, and to Stockman work to Silbermann’s benefit. Once he builds trust with young clients, he can appeal to their parents.

Silbermann’s office acts as a showcase for his clients’ skills. The flooring, which looks like reclaimed barnwood and is symbolic of Waterloo’s farming tradition, was installed by a client. A painting of bright yellow construction machinery set against a skyline of tall buildings, created by a client’s son, was commissioned by Silbermann; the painting represents the type of hard-working individuals who make up an important part of Silbermann’s client base.

Silbermann also speaks to university students about entrepreneurship on his own time. One of his goals is to help his alma mater grow its investment club. He is an avid reader of books on business, technology and foreign policy. He also is working toward a certified financial planner designation.

BUILD TRUST WITH YOUR CLIENTS

Millennial-generation financial advisors should consider both traditional and digital methods to establish a strong rapport with clients and prospects, according to Brandon Silbermann, an advisor with Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont. Silbermann offers the following tips to help young advisors get off to a good start:

1. Develop a mobile-friendly website

A strong online brand can help you connect with prospects and show what they can expect regarding your skills and the services you would provide as their advisor. Because a growing proportion of online searches are conducted on mobile devices, your content must be easily viewed on smartphones and tablets.

2. Be honest

Taking a direct approach with clients about fees, products and other issues will help young advisors build trust with clients of all ages, Silbermann says.

3. Connect with established brands

Joining a large firm with a positive reputation or the practice of an experienced and trusted senior advisor can help you build trust.

Working with a known entity also provides instant credibility, says Silbermann: “It helps you get over the initial hurdles of being a younger person in the industry and managing money professionally.”

4. Build a network of mentors

Consider the type of business you want to run in the future and look for professionals in various industries who fit your vision. Silbermann has four mentors, each works in heavy construction, group benefits or portfolio management. And don’t be nervous about approaching established professionals. “If you have a good connection with them, they will share a lot about how they got to where they are.”

© 2016 Investment Executive. All rights reserved.

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This post was authored by Tessie Sanci and originally appeared here on Investment Executive

Why you NEED a professional website! | Part 1

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Recently, I have been looking for a new dentist, someone who practices closer to where we live, in order to avoid the stress of the Toronto commute. Some friends graciously provided me with the names of dentists in our area. You might not be surprised to learn that the first thing I did was “google” them. What might be surprising is that the professionalism and look of each of their websites influenced me more than I expected. I became annoyed at those who did not bother to have a website and was pleasantly surprised by those who took the time to set up a professional website to convey their business practices.

As a Financial Advisor, it is important for you too to communicate your business practices and to do so in a professional manner. One of the best ways to do this is through your website. While most Financial Advisors have websites, a large majority of them do not make it a priority to upgrade them in order to use them as a communication, marketing or prospecting tool. So take the time to look at your website to see if it is a reflection of you and if it is something you are proud to have your clients and prospects “Google”.

Here are the reasons why my clients tell me they have not made their websites a priority:

1)              “I don’t know where to start.” One of the most important aspects of a good website is to have it be a reflection of you, your uniqueness and your strengths. Discovering what you want to communicate about your business takes a little time and consideration but it is well worth it as it can become the cornerstone of every aspect of your business. Start at the beginning and write down what your clients should know about you.

2)              “I don’t have time to do that.” Most of the time, I find that it is not time that is the issue but priority. Make it a priority and carve out time to work on it.

3)              “It costs too much.” Some Financial Advisors’ firms provide access to a web platform and to a department that can upgrade their website at no cost. If your firm does not provide free access, the cost of a website has come down significantly. In addition, the return on investment of a website is so high it has now become simply “the cost of doing business”.

 

So, why should you have a professional website?

1)              Don’t ignore the fact that everybody “Googles”. It’s just a fact. Your audiences are Googling everything from menus, store hours to product reviews. You want potential clients to find you online and you want to make the best first impression.

2)              The Baby Boomers are redeeming assets and the next generations are investing. Finding clients who want to invest and grow their money is a must for your business. The Echo Boomers and Generation X’s and Y’s are reliant on social media and the Internet for information. It would be safe to say that a website will be the minimum necessity for your business in the years to come.

3)              You will gain credibility. Executed properly, a professional website will not only create a great impression of you and your business, but will give you more credibility. In this very competitive environment, credibility and confidence can make the difference between a client and a prospect.

4)              You can build relationships. Yes, it’s true. If you would like to see a good example of this, take a look at Coca Cola’s website. Their primary goal is to create a “feeling” and build relationships. You can do this by adding “non-financial” information such as community involvement, charitable endeavours, local events, and relevant trending topics.

5)              You will save time and money. Although it is true that there will be a cross section of your clients who will NOT go to your website for information, the trend will be towards more and more individuals accessing it to gain insight. Providing information to your clients and prospects takes time and your time is money. A website is up and running 24-7.

6)              You will improve your client servicing. There are most likely some types of questions that your clients often ask you… Or facts that they always want to have access to. Your website can provide these facts and can also answer FAQs as a value-add.

7)              You can use your website as a quarterback to your other social media accounts. The financial industry is slower to broadly adopt social media due to compliance and logistic issues. However, because many people are now using social media as a source of news and information, more wealth firms are starting to encourage their Advisors to sign-up to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Once on social media, Advisors can direct traffic to their websites for more information.

Next time: What You Need To Think About Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2

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About The Author

Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at marielle.demers@sympatico.ca or 416 540 5158.

Financial Services Trends to Watch in 2016: #FinTech & Robo-Advisor Disruption

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It is safe to say that the FinTech revolution is happening.

FinTech, put simply, is financial technology. It refers to the technology that is becoming increasingly important in the world of financial services, and is beginning to disrupt the way businesses operate. FinTech can include everything from mobile banking to modern compliance to digital investment advisory.

According to Accenture, global investment in financial services technology ventures has more than tripled during the last five years – from under $930 million in 2008 to more than 2.97 billion in 2013. The number of investments in FinTech is increasing year-over-year at an unbelievable rate. The growth of investment in FinTech signifies how technology and the Internet are changing the nature of financial services. From the ways that people pay their bills, to the way they use the Internet to invest their money.

So, what are some of the things that FinTech can accomplish for the general public?

  • Educate consumers to make smarter financial decisions
  • Digital investment advisory
  • Mobile payment
  • Provide compliance assistance
  • Enhance online shopping experience
  • Offer new avenues for loans
  • Speed payments
  • Investment management
  • Bank Technology
  • Protect assets from fraud
  • Crowd funding
  • Trading

In this article, we will focus on digital investment advisory, and what this means for traditional financial service institutions and advisory firms.

What does the #FinTech disruption mean for Financial Advisors?

The rise of FinTech is particularly significant for traditional financial services brands. We are seeing a rise of new companies offering technology-based programs that provide a complete suite of financial services and investment advice – also known as robo-advisors. This has lead to many questioning, why pay to see a Financial Advisor when you can get financial advice online for a fraction of the price?  And, why not question it? These platforms offer many sophisticated tools at a third or less of the price of a Financial Advisor.

Financial Institutions and Advisors need to ask themselves, what is in it for the client? Where can a Financial Advisor make the customer experience and human touch worth going with a traditional Advisor over a robo-advisor? With the #FinTech disruption in full swing, the online presence of Financial Enterprises and their Advisors has never been so important.

One of the best ways for traditional financial service companies to beat the robo-advisors is through developing an effective online presence and client experience.

The Future Investors

Almost 80 million Millennials will stand to inherit $30 trillion in personal wealth and grow their earnings in the coming years. Financial institutions and Advisors who have embraced the digital revolution will be the ones to thrive, and this is evident in research conducted by Fidelity. Fidelity’s research confirms that emerging affluent investors are nearly twice as likely as millionaires to find a new Financial Advisor through Internet research and more likely than millionaires to find a new Advisor through social media.

Fidelity’s research also finds that 58 percent of emerging affluent investors have a significantly more positive impression of Financial Advisors who have a good website (key word here is good.  There are many Advisor websites out there that are as non engaging as a business card). Thirty-eight percent of those investors follow their Advisor on social media sites and 30 percent say they are more likely to relate to a Financial Advisor who has a social media presence.

If the Financial Enterprise does not enable the Advisory firms to have an online presence in order to communicate with clients and prospects, the financial institution risks making their Advisors irrelevant because they are not connecting with the next generation of investors. An active and compliant online presence for Advisors is the human and real life touch that sets them apart from the robo-advisors: the ability to educate, interact and engage with prospects and clients.

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Financial service institutions have traditionally been slow to embrace digital marketing trends. In a regulated industry, it is important to make compliance and legal a part of your digital and social media teams so you have approval from the beginning of campaigns. But, the time has come for Financial Institutions to stop using compliance and regulations as an excuse to grow their brand and Advisors’ businesses.

2016 Business Growth for Financial Advisors

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

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As Financial Advisors, we start another New Year full of possibility and hope. Most of us have probably already hit the ground running, focusing on accomplishing great things. We can increase our chances of success and growth, by setting our objectives and creating measurable goals to develop a robust plan that attracts the right clients and brings in new business.

Here are some of the objectives many top Financial Advisors have included in their 2016 marketing plan:

  • Visibility: Raise profile through sponsored events and other visibility tactics on a local (or regional) level
  • Awareness: Build share of mind with the right people through targeted communications
  • Credibility: Enhance reputation by consistently being seen in credible media outlets as a subject matter expert and financial professional
  • Thought Leadership: Build thought leadership status through publication of unique insights and forward-thinking concepts
  • Digital Presence: Improve search engine ranking and become more discoverable through social media use and a strong online presence

Goals, of course, should be specific and measurable. Look at the table below. Which set of goals do you think are easier to plan for, track progress against and achieve?

Vague Goals Specific and Measurable Goals
  • Host more events
  • Host two lunch-and-learns, six affinity dinners and two client appreciation events in 2016, generating a total of thirty new high-value prospective clients, resulting in ten new clients and $10 million in AUM
  • Grow my team
  • Attract two new people to the firm, younger professionals who have the potential to become partners over time, and start grooming them as part of the succession plan, through visibility in national industry trade publications and local business community (also work with a matching / recruiting service and explore opportunities at colleges with financial planning programs)
  • Expand social media activity
  • Establish a company Facebook page to supplement our company LinkedIn page, adding one new post per week to each while staying true to the social media guidelines suggested by our marketing consultant
  • Improve website effectiveness
  • Increase website traffic by 50%, drawing a total of 2,000 unique visitors per month to the home page, with 200 of those visitors watching our signature video and 100 per month entering their basic information before being allowed to download our special report and going into our automatic six-touch nurture campaign

 

REMEMBER THE 3 M’s

Aside from creating a tactical list of marketing activities, it can be helpful to take a step back and revisit the 3 M’s: your Market, your Message, and your Mediums. It’s always good practice to have a clear sense of these areas as it can help drive how you approach each of your marketing activities.

Your Market – Everything you do should center on your target market (and it’s okay to have 2-3 of them). Who are you targeting and why? Develop an Ideal Client Profile for each market segment and be specific – where do these people congregate, where do they get their news and information, who do they trust or distrust, what commonalities do they have, what keeps them up at night? Share your Ideal Client Profile with strategic partners and internal stakeholders. Post it where you and your team will see it on a daily basis.

Your Message – Revisit your value proposition and refine key messages. Have you added a robo advisor-component or another new service offering? How does it help people, who is it good for, why did you add this new element or option? Have you added staff or new capabilities? Why is this important? If you could only say one thing about your company’s value in a clear, concise sentence, what would it be – would it be short enough to be a 140 character tweet and memorable enough that others could repeat it without racking their brains? Once your have your primary value statement figured out, think hard about the top three benefits your clients enjoy as a result of working with you; those three benefits can form the three pillars of your positioning statement.

Your Mediums – What tactics and methodologies will you use to bring your message to your ideal target market(s)? Perhaps this is the year you step into a leadership role or begin writing that book (which can open all sorts of new doors and opportunities). Event marketing is almost always fruitful if a thoughtful approach is used to create the right mix – people, content, setting, purpose and tone. Relationship marketing could include a client survey to unearth hidden attitudes, assets and referrals. Credibility marketing might include appearing on television and radio stations then sharing those clips via your website, email and social media communications. Content marketing could hinge on writing a blog once or twice a month, which you’d publish on a company-branded site and buzz up on social media, mention in speeches, etc. Once you have generated a list of potential activities and tactics, prioritize what you will actually do based on the potential return-on-investment and swing your budget in that direction.

With robo advisors, eAdvisors, and other competitors nipping at your heels, there’s no time to waste. Hammer out a marketing plan while remembering the 3 M’s – you’ll be glad you did.

Advisors: You’re Losing Clients by Ignoring This Critical Website Mistake

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Financial Advisors:  What do you want your website to accomplish? What is the primary goal for your website visitors? How are you directing your visitors to accomplish these goals? If the goal of your website is to create sales and get more business, then it is important that your website has effective Call to Actions, otherwise known as CTAs. A CTA is a button or link that you place on your website to drive prospective customers to become leads by filling out a form on a landing page.

One of the most costly mistakes that we see on Financial Advisors websites is in their CTA, or lack thereof. Without a call to action, your website cannot generate leads like it is intended to do. You could write the most compelling website copy, and it wouldn’t amount to anything if a call to action wasn’t clearly defined to capture that prospects information. A clear call to action will help to increase your profits by maximizing conversions and improving user experience. In effect, it is the next stage of your sales cycle.

An effective CTA provides:

  • Focus to your site
  • A way to measure your sites success
  • Direction to your visitors

As an Advisor, you can present your services and start a conversation with people who need your help.  Use calls to action to direct visitors to a contact form, a newsletter subscription, or other call to actions such as:

  • Download an E-book
  • Make an appointment
  • Free consultation
  • Interactive Tools
  • Webinars

A call to action provides your visitor with direction and a number of different progression points. CTAs must be logical and related to the content on the page. For example, let’s say you have a CTA that asks your visitor to, “Schedule an assessment of their RRSP investment mix”. What’s a logical path to that call to action? It could be, 1) Visitor enters by searching for some tips on effectively saving for retirement, 2) Visitor likes the article and decides to look at what your practice does with respect to Retirement Savings advice and 3) Visitor sees your call to action to schedule an assessment, clicks on it and submits their contact information (first name, last name, email, etc.). Think about what your calls to action will be and plan out the path for how you want your prospects to get there.

Not many people pick up the phone these days after visiting a businesses’ website. This is why it is far better to have a softer call to action that allows you to communicate with your prospects on a regular basis.

Guide to Content Marketing

21 Inbound Marketing Strategies to Accelerate Business Growth

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Inbound Marketing Strategies? What is inbound marketing? The Internet has given us a new way to reach our customers. It is called Inbound Marketing, and if your business isn’t doing it, you need to get on the Inbound Marketing bandwagon. Inbound Marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your business in today’s digital centric world.

Inbound Marketing is the intersection of SEO, valuable content, and social media. The Inbound Marketing concept stipulates that you can attract your target audience and prospects by creating and providing interesting and quality content on your website or social networks.

But, how does Inbound work? And what do Advisors need to do to create a successful Inbound Marketing strategy?

Check out the data driven Infographic below, courtesy of Eliv8, for 21 essential strategies to help grow your business with Inbound Marketing.

21 Inbound Marketing Strategies to Accelerate Business Growth

Inbound marketing