Internet Marketing for Financial Advisors can seem pretty complicated if you’re just getting into it, but like eating an elephant, it’s not so hard if you take it a bite at a time. I’ve put together the list below, in order from basic to more advanced tactics, outlining in detail the steps advisors can take to dominate their competition online.
1. Claim and complete our Google My Business Profile.
As discussed in a previous post, “SEO for financial advisors is a local game” the vast majority of advisors draw most of their client-base from their immediate area, and without a Google MyBusiness profile, you’re going to have trouble showing up in the top search results for terms like “financial advisor near me,” or “financial planner in (insert location). Even if you’re not so concerned about ranking for these “non-branded” terms, you want people to find you, your location, and your contact info easily when they search for branded terms.
2. Submit your site to local direct to local directories, and make sure that the listings are complete and consistent.
Google My Business is by far not the only local directory. There are more than 50 local directories that you want to be listed in. Some, like Yelp!, Yahoo, and MapQuest; you’re likely familiar with. Many you’ve probably never heard of, but search engines use directory data from all of them in ranking algorithms, and some provide data to other services like vehicle navigation systems.
Not only do you need to be present in these directories, but your information should also be complete and consistent because search engines won’t rank you as well when it’s not. Another benefit of having a presence in directories is that some of them – Yelp! in particular – rank well for local searches. So even if you’re not achieving top ranking, you’re one click away from being discovered by a prospect.
Given the pure scale of the undertaking, it isn’t something you want to do manually. Luckily, there are services, like ours, that submit to over 70 directories and monitor them for consistency (yes, they can change over time due to forces that aren’t necessarily under your control – but they can also be corrected with a system like ours).
3. Optimize your site for local search.
Is it clear to search engines and visitors where your business is located? It ought to be. The baseline on-site local optimization is to include your address and contact information on every page of your website. You will typically see this at the bottom of every page in an area called the footer.
I would also recommend having a dedicated page for each of your offices and make sure that every page has a link to it. This can be achieved through a main (top) navigation item called “location(s),” or in the footer. Make sure that all of the right contact information is on the page, in the same format that it appears on Google My Business and directories – and it doesn’t hurt to include an embedded Google map and even directions from major thoroughfares.
4. Claim and complete your Facebook business page, and invite your friends, family, prospects, and clients to ‘like’ it, then post regularly.
While your website and Google My Business, should be your highest priorities, Facebook is a close third – not necessarily for search ranking, but because it’s a great way to leverage your existing client base, prospects, and personal social network to increase brand exposure, and get referrals.
You shouldn’t just claim it and just let it sit. Make sure that you fill out all the sections, and post to it at least once a week. Original content – such as from your blog – is best, but curated third-party content is OK too. Bonus points if you boost your original content posts. Boosting is the practice of paying Facebook to expand the reach of your posts.
The little-known secret about Facebook is that most of your followers won’t see your posts unless you boost them. Limiting organic (non-paid) reach is Facebook’s way of ‘encouraging’ you to buy advertising from them. But it’s not all bad, boosting generally only costs a few dollars per day, and you can target users by location, relationship to your followers, demographics, and other attributes, like interests.
5. Make sure your site looks good on all devices and loads fast.
Both of these attributes figure highly into Google’s ranking algorithm because if searches return difficult-to-use, slow-loading sites, it doesn’t reflect well on them. But that’s not the only reason you want to check off these boxes. A user’s experience on your website reflects directly on your brand.
Think of your site as your online office. You wouldn’t invite your prospects and clients to an ugly, run-down office, would you? The best way to determine how you’re doing is to use Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly tests.
For ongoing monitoring of these factors, and a bunch of other SEO-related attributes, you’ll want to set up Google search console as well. It can get a bit technical, so you might want to consult an expert to set up and manage it, or if you’re the DIY-type, have them show you around the application.
6. Claim and complete your LinkedIn business profile.
Being a business site, you might think that LinkedIn would be a higher priority for internet marketing for financial advisors than Facebook. The reason it’s not is pretty simple: it’s a b2b (business-to-business) site, and advisory firms are mostly b2c (business-to-consumer) operations.
That doesn’t mean that LinkedIn isn’t important. It can be great for prospecting and recruiting, and you want to make sure that your firm puts its best foot forward in that regard. You can also run targeted ads on LinkedIn, which are similar, but often more costly than Facebook ads.
7. Start a blog and post original content regularly.
Google loves original content – emphasis on the original. There are lots of internet marketing for financial advisors providers that want to sell you “canned,” content that’s already been through regulatory review. While that sounds great, the fact that thousands of your competitors have the same exact posts on their site makes it useless from an SEO and branding point-of-view.
I know you’ve got lots of other things to do, but posting original content to your site will return dividends in traffic and leads – especially if you do the SEO legwork of identifying high volume, low competition keywords, and targeting those keywords in your posts.
Admittedly, doing the SEO work, and the writing is a lot to ask of an advisor who has their primary job to do, but there are services, like ours, that do the work for you, while allowing you and your regulatory folks to review and approve the copy, then post the article to your blog under your name. It isn’t as cheap as buying canned content, but your ROI will be orders of magnitude higher.
How often should you post? The sweet spot is once a week, and your posts should be 500 words or more. Again, there’s a lot of SEO stuff that can be done to help your content rank higher, but unless you have the time and desire to become well-versed in it, I would recommend getting some help.
8. Set up an automatic, blog-fed email newsletter.
This is an easy-button thing that I’m surprised more people don’t know about. When you set up a blog on most platforms, you can set it to send out emails to a list of recipients every time a new article is posted, or at an interval such as monthly or weekly. You can even give users the choice of how often they want to receive updates.
This is an awesome time-saving feature that’s well worth the effort. Once you have it all set up, you will want to include calls-to-action and signup forms throughout your site, and promote it on social media, you’re email signature, and even the back of your business cards.
9. Use calls to action (CTAs) throughout your site and all of your marketing materials.
A call to action is a button, link, or image inviting your audience to take action. Think “sign up for a free financial assessment today!” or, per above, “receive weekly financial news and tips in your inbox weekly!” This might seem obvious, but most internet marketing for financial advisors is geared toward providing information rather than capturing leads.
10. Use offers to entice visitors to convert to leads.
These offers can be the free assessment I mentioned above or something like the checklist I’m providing here. In this case, I’m choosing not to ask for your email in exchange for the checklist, but if I did, it would be an example of this approach.
As mentioned above, you don’t see a lot of this in internet marketing for financial advisors, because the ‘brochure’ orientation that most firms take. But that makes focusing your online presence on lead generation all the more effective because there’s no “offer-fatigue” among prospects. These offers can be quizzes, calculators, or eBooks – and if you need help producing them, just ask.
11. Establish a YouTube channel and post original video to your site.
This one is like blogging, just in a different form. The content should be original if you want it to work. It’s also like blogging in other ways.
Guess what the second largest search engine (by search volume) is? Bing or Yahoo!? Nope. It’s YouTube – which happens to be owned by Google. So you can bet that Google likes sites that have YouTube videos embedded in them. And like blogging, the more you post, the more value you’ll get.
Beyond the SEO impact, video is more engaging and easier to digest than print, and it’s able to convey concepts and emotions better than any other medium. We’ve worked on some beautiful firm intro videos, as well as explainers. But they need not achieve this level of production value. Selfy videos can work quite well if the content is on-point.
12. Integrate your CRM with your website.
This is more advanced than the other items, and you’ll probably need help here, but there’s a ton of power and efficiency gained in doing it.
Imagine if your newsletter signups and contact form submissions automatically appeared in Redtail or Salesforce.
What if all of your leads’ online interactions, including source and date of first contact, social media interactions, and email opens/clicks, were part of their contact record? What if you could receive alerts when a contact’s online activity indicated that they were a warm lead?
This is called a closed-loop system – it’s the holy grail of digital marketing, and It’s all possible via marketing automation platforms like HubSpot (which we happen to partner with).
13. Measure and optimize
There’s a saying: “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
None of the things mentioned above are “one-and-done” activities. They must be measured and adjusted over time, just like the investment accounts you manage.
In the same vein, the insights derived from incoming data can only be achieved with the right mix of tools, and an experienced, capable professional sitting in front of the computer.
The first step for most people in analyzing the effectiveness of internet marketing for financial advisors is Google Analytics. Coupled with reporting from the various social media sites and/or the tools you use to manage them, as well as the email marketing platform you use, you can get a picture of what’s working and what isn’t. From there it’s just a matter of experimenting, then scaling up the things that work, and eliminating/altering the things that don’t.
The next step in analytics maturity is to tie it all together with a system like HubSpot. When you do that, all of the data in the disparate systems I mentioned are combined and fed to your CRM. Admittedly this is a lot for work, and likely will require either a dedicated or part-time resource to derive maximum benefit – but if you’re ready to take it to the next level, that’s what we’re here for.