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Digital marketing for financial advisors is finally coming of age. There are fewer and fewer financial advisors and wealth management firms out there that don’t recognize the need to step up their online marketing game. But many times, that’s where it stops. The majority of advisors simply don’t know where to start, what to do, how much to invest, or who to trust.

Where to start with digital marketing for financial advisors

Most advisors recognized that they need a financial advisor website a long time ago. And many are waking up to the idea that they can’t just ‘mail-it-in,’ so-to-speak. In my experience, when it comes to wealth management websites, there are three stages of maturity:

  1. “I need a website”
  2. “I need a good website”
  3. “I need a lead-generating website”

Stage one is usually a DIY affair using the lower-level offerings of productized financial advisor website specialists like Emerald, FMGSuite, or Advisor Websites. The content is put together in the advisor, or perhaps an intern’s, spare time. Much like folks who do their own financial planning, results here vary, but advisors often come out of the experience less-than-pleased with the results. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling. Sometimes they visit other financial advisor websites, and get a touch of “website-envy.” But regardless of the cause, this feeling of doubt around the firm’s website usually moves the advisor into phase two

These days, the reality is that the way consumers shop for and buy products and services has permeated even the rather slow-to-adopt world of wealth management marketing.

Many advisors first look to the product companies mentioned above for service offerings like design and copywriting because they’re a familiar entity. But in my experience, this tends to lead to a less-than-desirable outcome because, as I’ve written before, product companies are typically bad at services (and vice-versa). It’s only at this point that a firm might engage someone who specializes in digital marketing for financial advisors. This is often the phase in which a consultant or agency can have the most impact because there’s a foundation in place and the advisor typically has formed an opinion on what they do and do not want. It’s also the point at which conversations about moving the site from ‘brochureware,’ to lead generator start to happen.

These days, the reality is that the way consumers shop for and buy products and services has permeated even the rather slow-to-adopt world of wealth management marketing. These changes necessitate that advisors view their websites as one of many touchpoints along an individual’s journey from stranger, to lead, to client and advocate. In practical terms, that means optimizing the website to rank for important search terms like “financial advisor near me,” developing content that helps attract, engage, and improve the perception of the firm’s brand, as well as providing opportunities and incentives for visitors to becomes leads.

What to do

So let’s say you’ve engaged an expert in digital marketing for financial advisors, and your website hits all the high-points listed above. While properly optimized content will likely increase traffic, it won’t drive the volume that you need to build a consistent pipeline of leads. For that, we’ll need to look to sources external to the website. Things like:

  1. Local SEO
  2. Paid Search
  3. Organic and paid social media

None of these need to be big dollar activities. Local SEO for financial advisors mostly involves ensuring that your listings in local directories are complete and consistent. Google and Yelp reviews are also great ways to up your local search game. Just like national or international SEO, the goal here is to show up high up on the search engine results page (SERP). Unlike non-local search, you’re aiming for the “four-pack,” (pictured below) which is a feature only available for local search queries. Online financial advisor reviews also consider prominently into your local search ranking.

digital marketing for financial advisors 4 pack

Local directories are worth expanding on here because the’re good for SEO and traffic drivers in their own right. If you conduct a search for “financial advisor near me” chances are, the result just below the four-pack is Yelp, and if you click on that link, you’ll see a list of local advisors. While Yelp lists businesses for free, the most prominent positions go to the firms that pay-to-play.

While all search engines offer search ads, Google accounts for the vast majority of search queries, so that’s where you want to be. These are the search results marked as ads that usually show up above the organic (non-paid) results. These ads, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, are priced just that way. The advertiser enters an amount they’re willing to pay per click (aka, a bid) and Google shows the ads of the highest bidder (there’s a bit more to this, but that’s the gist). PPC bids for financial advisor related terms can run between $15 and $30, but you’re unlikely to burn a ton of budget because the number of searches that happen in a given area (search volume) tends to be pretty low, and you’ll typically only receive a click 1 percent if the time your ad shows up.

I think most advisors “get” organic social media at this point because it’s ubiquitous. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it’s all about engagement (followers and likes) and sharing. What wealth management professionals don’t get, however, is that the sites – especially Facebook – limit the visibility of your posts because they want you to buy ads. Has Facebook ever asked if you want to “boost” a post? There you have it. but this isn’t all bad. The social networks allow advisors to target users by location, demographics, and interests, making paid social another viable traffic driving activity.

How much to invest in digital marketing for financial advisors

This is perhaps the most simple part of the discussion. A client told me yesterday that he’s gotten five clients from Google searches in the last six months. I then asked him what the average lifetime value of a client is, to which he replied “about $250k.” So, during those six months, he spent an average of $500 per month with me. You’re financial professions, so you probably already know that’s an ROI of 423X. Point being, your spending should all come down to ROI, whether it’s invested in financial advisor digital marketing or refrigerator magnets.

Who to trust

Digital marketing consultants and agencies are a lot like mechanics – or financial advisors for that matter. People go to them (you) mostly because they don’t know what they’re doing, and that creates a condition lovingly called information asymmetry – and information asymmetry roughly translates into  “it’s pretty easy to get screwed,” and possibly without knowing it, Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet here – and it’s really no different for digital marketing for financial advisors as it is for plumbers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Read reviews and testimonials – and don’t take them at face value. Make sure “Mary P”. is a real client and not just a stock headshot.”
  2. Check LinkedIn. How much experience does the individual in-question have? How long have they been in business?
  3. Beware of “guarantees.” In my experience, guaranteed results are a red flag for churn and burn providers. Nothing in digital marketing is guaranteed. The environment is fast-moving and fluid. Challenge anyone who tells you differently.
  4. Read, watch, and listen to as much stuff (like this) as you can
  5. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion, whether you’re considering a vendor, or actively working with them.
  6.  Trust your gut. You probably know that one already, but it’s always with repeating

Conclusion

My hope is that the financial advisors who read this can see themselves somewhere along this continuum, and can see themselves progressing to the next step. I’ve seen digital marketing achieve impressive results for the wealth management firms that commit to investing in it. Ready to go? Please contact me for a free digital marketing evaluation.

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