Every financial advisor (firm) in America has a website. They would be conspicuous if they did not have one. Smaller financial advisors tend to rent their websites for a nominal monthly fee. These sites function a lot like online sales brochures. Bigger financial advisors have custom sites that convey their unique messages in formats that keep visitors on their websites longer.
Small and big financial advisors have the same digital marketing goals for their websites:
- Deliver the information that investors are seeking when they use the Internet to find and research financial advisors
- Describe characteristics that differentiate them from other firms
- Produce contacts for their CRM systems
- Produce leads for their financial advisors
Less than 20% of the firms we have surveyed say their websites meet all four criteria. What are the issues that impact the productivity of financial advisor websites and more importantly what can they do about them?
We believe a high percentage of financial advisors make five common mistakes that impact their digital marketing results.
Visibility & Traffic
While every financial advisor firm has a website, every firm does not have an effective strategy for producing traffic to the site. It takes Internet visibility to produce website traffic. And, since most advisors target particular types of investors, they want particular types of traffic (retirees, business owners, professionals) visiting their websites.
Financial advisors can use three primary digital marketing strategies that will produce visibility and traffic:
- Content marketing (blog articles)
- Social media marketing
- Local SEO
Financial advisors can also use paid advertising (Google, Facebook) to buy instant visibility.
The Power of Google
Google rules the digital marketing roost because it controls 72% of all search traffic and its algorithms determine who appears on page one of its search results.
How powerful is Google? Fail to follow its rules and your website could be invisible – that is, it is buried so deep no one will find it.
However, when you look at the process from Google’s perspective it makes perfect sense:
- Google wants to be the best source on the Internet for information
- Google wants its users to have a positive experience
- Google can identify the “best sources” of information
- Google rewards those sources with higher visibility
Two key words are “best sources”. Google has several rules that impact the visibility of content that is produced by financial advisors. Failure to follow the rules will have a negative impact on advisors’ digital marketing results.
Rule number one is all content must be original. A high percentage of advisors download content from libraries. Google has seen this content hundreds or thousands of times so there is no SEO value.
Rule number two is blog content should be connected to pillar pages on financial advisor websites. Pillar pages establish advisors’ authority for specific keywords and topics.
Rule number three is the readability factor. People must actually open and read the advisors’ content. Why would Google give advisors’ SEO points for content that no one opens and reads?
Rule number four is the length of the articles. Google will provide more visibility for longer articles – 1,000 words plus. We assume Google has this preference because longer articles contain more content than shorter articles.
Website Conversion Rates
At the end of day, the primary role of financial advisor websites is to convert visitors into contacts and leads.
A contact is an investor who is seeking information – about the firm, about a financial topic. By definition a contact is not ready to interview financial advisors. However, they are gathering information for a reason. Perhaps they are retiring in six months and are using the Internet to research financial advisors in their communities. Contacts end up on financial advisor drip lists so they can stay in touch.
A lead is someone who is actively seeking a financial advisor. They are using the Internet to find and research advisors before they contact them.
Leads are better than contacts because they have an immediate need.
There should be functionality on financial advisor websites that is designed to accommodate both types of visitors.
Advisors should be tracking their website’s conversion rates. Some of the key metrics for monthly reviews include:
- Number of visitors
- Average duration of the visits (interest)
- Number of page views (engagement)
- Number of leads
- Number of contacts
For example, a financial advisor website has 1,000 visitors per month. All industries have an average conversion rate of 2.35%. The top 25% of websites are converting at a rate of 5.31% and the top 10% are converting at rates of 11.45% or higher. When financial advisor websites are converting at these rates, they are producing 20 to more than 100 leads and contacts per month.
The Free Offer
Financial advisor websites are missing the boat if their websites do not contain one or more free offers. This strategy may produce contacts who are seeking information, but contacts become future leads and clients.
This digital marketing strategy is based on an exchange of information. For example, financial advisors provide a free eBook in exchange for the visitors’ contact information.
This digital marketing strategy is not as simple as just producing a generic eBook and hoping investors will register to get it.
Advisors will not know what information the potential contacts are seeking when they visit their websites. It could be information about the firm or a financial topic. Since websites are loaded with information about the firm the eBook should be about a common financial pain point. The goal of this strategy is to get investors to register to view the solution.
Another type of eBook can be about the firm. It contains a description of key reasons why contacts should become leads when they are ready to start interviewing firms. This eBook is a brief summary of highlights that makes it easier for investors to recall why they liked the firm in the first place. This eBook can also be included with drip emails.
Financial Advisor Videos
There are numerous benefits when financial advisors add video to their digital marketing strategies.
There are several types of video that serve different purposes. For example:
- Founders welcome visitors to advisor websites
- CIOs describe a firm’s investment principles
- A firm produces a library of short videos
- Seminars are replaced with online webinars
The simple fact is a high percentage of investors prefer to view videos versus read substantial amounts of text. This preference will keep them on financial advisor websites longer, which also helps the Google rankings of the advisors’ websites.
Video is also an excellent way to communicate information that reflects a firm’s personality, style, and core beliefs. This type of information may be what causes investors to contact particular advisors and exit the websites of other financial advisors without contacting them.
It pays to remember, there are two primary types of investors using the Internet to find financial advisors and both of them are going to be cautious. First, are investors who are replacing financial advisors, due dissatisfaction or relocation. They will be particularly cautious if they had a bad experience with a previous advisor. Second, are the first-time users. They will want to know more about advisors before they interview them.
Video is a great way to help overcome any reluctance investors will have about contacting particular advisors.