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Desperately seeking digital marketing
Kelly Spors, 05/21/2019
Digital marketing is growing up — and your client base may be able to grow along with it.
In a sea of advisors with an online presence, it's no longer enough to have a nice website and a LinkedIn page. By keeping up with how prospective clients use the internet to find financial information and engage with professionals, you can tailor your digital marketing to capture their attention.
Many consumers today do extensive online research before they reach out to an advisor via phone or email, says Mike Byrnes, a Kingston, Massachusetts-based marketing consultant for financial advisors. For example, a prospective client may start by looking for background information or tips on particular financial topics they need help with. That content may lead to the names of advisors who specialize in those issues. From there, prospects might read online business reviews to find out which advisors are highly regarded. Finally — after all that research — they may call or email the advisor.
“Today, the decision over whether someone wants to work with a particular advisor is made almost completely virtually," Byrnes says. “So, by the time they make contact with that advisor, their decision is 90% made — the advisor just has to not screw it up."
What that means: Advisors need to approach their marketing from the vantage point of today's online research-focused consumer. Here are Byrnes's recommendations for how advisors can better engage through digital means.
Tailor your website to voice-activated searching
With more people using voice-powered assistants such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri, a fast-growing share of online searches are done by voice. According to Gartner, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be conducted via voice by 2020..1
Voice searches tend to be more detailed and are often presented as questions, Byrnes says. For example, instead of typing “Chicago financial advisor" into Google, someone might instead ask their smart speaker, “Who is a financial advisor in Chicago who specializes in planning for college?"
Advisors should consider having a “frequently asked questions" section on their website, since it's an easy way to answer commonly searched questions. “Your website needs to be optimized to those long-tail voice searches," Byrnes says. “The challenge, of course, is figuring out what those long-tail searches will be." If you're not comfortable conducting your own research through Google Keyword Planner or another tool, an SEO consultant can help.
Engage through video
Video is still a vastly untapped opportunity for many advisors. Thanks to smart TVs, search engines and social media sites with algorithms that boost exposure to videos, more people are getting financial information from videos.
Advisors should look to produce videos that demonstrate their expertise, Byrnes says. For example, an advisor who targets millennials may want to post videos on relevant topics, like financial planning for growing families.
That hints at a larger point, he adds: It can be helpful from a digital-marketing perspective for advisors — especially independent ones — to have a niche, whether that's serving a particular age group, certain types of professionals or an income bracket. An advisor can then create targeted online content around that niche.
Videos can be short (think 30 seconds) or long (think 30 minutes), but their length should align with the likely attention span of the target audience on that particular topic, Byrnes adds. Videos tend to rank lower on search engines if too many people stop watching before the end.
Once videos are produced, they need to be posted and distributed in a way that people will find and watch them. Starting a YouTube channel and then creating a carousel of videos that play continuously can increase viewership, he says.
Offer “freemium" content
Once someone comes to your website, how do you keep them engaged? You can generate leads by creating in-depth educational content, such as an e-book, webinar or long-form video, and asking people to provide their email address in exchange for receiving it. From there, you can send education-focused newsletters or reach out individually to continue the conversation.
One idea Byrnes likes is to email a personalized, introductory video message that you can create using your cellphone or laptop camera, and easily edit with an online video tool. A quick video can simply say you're available to help them with any questions they have on financial topics.
What's more, “you can track it and know if the person opened the email and played it," Byrnes adds. “So it's very valuable from a prospecting perspective."
Have a sharing and measuring strategy
The secret to becoming successful with online content is just as much about how you distribute it as how you create it. Advisors should consider creating a consistent strategy for where various online content, such as videos, gets shared — and then track which tactics garner the most views and responses. Likewise, analytics tools like Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture can measure the effectiveness and reach of content so that the strategy can be adjusted to maximize performance.
When it comes to distribution, think more broadly than just your site and your own social channels. Some advisors find the best way to get the word out and gain credibility is to contribute articles to other sources, such as financial publications that have a much larger reach than their own website. Beyond their own sites, many financial sites and publications have big social media followings where they distribute their content.
The power of writing for a third party extends beyond those who read it — a byline can contribute to your credibility. Byrnes adds, “To say you wrote for a publication that people recognize the name of can be a powerful way to attract new clients."
1 “Gartner Predicts a Virtual World of Exponential Change," Gartner, Oct. 8, 2016. (Found here: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-predicts-a-virtual-world-of-exponential-change/)
Mike Byrnes and TD Ameritrade are separate and unaffiliated and not responsible for each other's services or policies.
Content provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be advice for any firm.
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