How Financial Advisors Can Build Credibility and Trust on the Internet
While many aspects of financial advisor marketing have changed thanks to the internet and other breakthroughs in technology, there are a few constants that remain unchanged. Perhaps the biggest is the first impression that causes investors to contact some financial advisors for interviews and ignore others.
Pre-digital age, financial advisor reputation was primarily passed around by word of mouth. If a client was happy about their experience, they may tell friends, family, and associates. The same may also be true for negative experiences, often on a greater scale. Human nature hasn’t changed – people still want to share their experiences (good and bad).
However, the way information is shared has changed dramatically. Information can be shared with anyone on the Internet at the same time. The experience of others is invaluable when consumers select financial advisors who will influence or control their financial decisions. More importantly, this information may help them avoid making a serious mistake with their money.
What they see on the Internet before they visit your website is critical.
Read this article to learn more about managing your online financial advisor reputation.
Check Your Financial Firm’s Current Online Presence
You can’t know where you need to improve your online reputation if you don’t know where you currently stand. Before you do anything else, we recommend conducting online searches for yourself and your financial advisor firm.
You may consider your personal online reputation separate from the online reputation of your firm, but investors may not see it that way. They are researching the firm and the professionals who work there. This makes sense because it is the professionals at the firm who will be managing their money.
It is even harder to separate firms and professionals when the business has the advisor’s name on the front door. Even without that, it’s nearly impossible to consider one without the other. The professionals are the firm. So, what do consumers see when they use the Internet to conduct their due diligence?
One way to determine the answer is to put yourself in the shoes of the consumers and be as objective as possible. This is not a beauty contest. It is a rational way to learn more about the firms and professionals who will impact the investment of their assets.
Are there any potential red flags or negative information that you weren’t expecting? Perhaps you aren't seeing much of anything when searching for information about your business, which in some cases can be more discouraging for consumers. Some reputation management experts argue that having no search results is the worst outcome for you and consumers. What you want is information that establishes you as an expert in your field.
Depending on what consumers see when they search for information online, your presence provides “social proof” that your business not only exists but offers a glimpse into the information that helps them determine if there is a fit.
Once fit is determined then the next issue is competitiveness. That is, what they see online about your firm has to be competitive with the other firms they are looking at.
Don’t Worry About Negative Reviews – But be Aware of Them
While financial advisors cannot respond to these reviews, there are benefits to knowing they exist. For example, if a potential client brings up something they saw online, you aren’t caught off guard and can address any concerns they may have after reading that review.
Negative reviews are inevitable. For example, a consumer hires you at the top of the market and proceeds to experience double digit losses. This consumer blames you for the losses even though they could have been worse without your help.
The best strategy for counteracting negative reviews is to “bury” them with positive reviews from current clients. While you can’t ask someone to leave you a positive review, you can point them in the direction of how to leave you a review. If you consistently deliver the kind of service that results in competitive results for your clients, positive reviews will be forthcoming.
Monitor Your Online Reputation
There are many companies and platforms that offer services that notify you when your personal or business name appears online. Google even offers a free service known as Google Alerts. These alerts can be reduced down to a very granular level or they can be as broad as the term “financial advisor.”
While broad terms aren’t recommended because you will be wading through irrelevant alerts for most of your workday, the former isn’t necessarily the most effective option either. While it may be tempting to set a very specific Google Alerts, you may be missing out on the other times your business or name ends up in online reviews.
It will likely take some tweaking to find the right balance of specific alert terms. And Google Alerts can be used for a myriad of purposes, not limited to your reputation management. Many businesses use Google Alerts to monitor what their competitors are doing and what others are saying about them online as well.
Along the lines of reputation monitoring, it’s important to know the difference between reputation monitoring and reputation management. Namely, because there are some companies out there who will offer to maintain your Internet reputation and present your financial advisor firm in the most positive way.
Often, this is accomplished by practices that Google frowns upon, such as leaving volumes of fake positive reviews to cover up a few negative reviews. This can backfire when Google determines the reviews are misinformation and anyone who cares about their online reputation does not want to be targeted by Google.
Bottom line: With the right knowledge and tools, you don’t need someone who offers a quick fix. Reputations are major business and personal assets. It takes time to build them or repair them if that is the case for your financial advisor firm.
Keep Your Business Information Updated
Once you have a handle on where your online financial advisor reputation stands, the key to rebuilding or maintaining a positive online reputation is to maintain that online presence. By keeping your business information updated, both on your website and on other sites online, you’re showing Google that you are a legitimate business and are taking an active interest in your online presence.
This includes Google My Business and social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. When Google finds conflicting or outdated information, it gives your business a lower search ranking.
Consistently Provide Quality Content
In addition to accurate information, Google is always looking for new content that provides high-quality information for search terms that consumers enter in search bars. Voice search is also becoming more important. The term content covers every type of information you produce and publish online, from social media posts to videos, blog articles, pillar pages, white papers, eBooks, and even the pages of your website.
In the past, Google rewarded advisors for volumes of content. Now quality matters more than volume. Google can track how many consumers actually opened and read your content.,
Because Google associates relevancy with timeliness, it should be new content or recently repurposed content. The value of old, out-of-date content declines over time. To be successful, there is a certain amount of pressure to produce new and updated content on a consistent basis.
In fact, even information that is written as evergreen should be reformatted and republished regularly to show Google that there are recent updates. While also helping SEO, creating and sharing high-quality financial advisor content on a regular basis will go a long way toward creating and maintaining a winning online financial advisor reputation.