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How to Select the Right Inbound Marketing Agency for Your RIA

Editor's note: This blog article was originally published in 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Originally published August 2, 2016, updated October 23, 2020

Want to grow your RIA's digital footprint? Then it's time to consider hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency to help you develop and implement a digital marketing strategy that will increase your online visibility and produce more visitors for your website.  

What is Inbound Marketing?

Haven't heard of "Inbound" Marketing for Financial Advisors? While "Inbound" has been around for several years, it has been mainly used by large product and service companies. Most RIAs have been slow to adopt this type of marketing for three reasons:

  • They have relied on old "Outbound" Marketing strategies to initiate contact with investors. For example: Telemarketing, direct mail, print advertising, networking, and seminars.
  • They had non-productive websites so they assumed Inbound Marketing would not work for them.

In 2020, Covid-19 became a game-changer when it made most Outbound Marketing tactics obsolete and made Inbound Marketing a necessity for firms that wanted to increase their clientele.

Investors’ rising use of the Internet is also a major game changer by increasing the numbers of investors using the web to find, research, and contact financial advisors. This opens the door to Inbound Marketing strategies that help advisors accelerate the growth of their firms.

At its foundation, Inbound Marketing means investors initiate contact with financial advisors. They have to be able to find advisors on the Internet to make this happen. And, what they see on the Internet has to drive them to financial advisor websites. It is the role of the websites to convert more visitors into qualified leads.  

It stands to reason, Inbound Marketing for financial advisors is not an easy process. Financial advisors must produce compelling content that resonates with their ideal types of clients. They must become subject matter experts on a variety of financial topics. And, they must produce a consistent flow of high-quality content that investors actually open and read

Generating traffic to financial advisor websites is only half the battle. As you already know, websites still have to convince visitors to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact data to become a lead.

Where to Start?

Let’s assume your financial advisor firm is thinking about hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency to help market the firm over the Internet. That's great, but you still have to select the right agency that delivers the greatest amount of value for the lowest overall expense.

There are thousands of agencies that say they can help financial advisors achieve their goals. As you might imagine, this can be an undocumented claim that is part of an elaborate sales pitch. It starts with telling you what you want to hear - you will get page one visibility on Google for keywords that are used by your ideal types of clients.

You need a more objective approach for selecting an agency that can actually produce the results you are seeking. The following are a few tips that will help you select the best Inbound Marketing Agency for your RIA.

Generalist or Industry Specific Agency?

You need a team of professionals (the Agency) that has the specialized skills that are required to develop and execute a sophisticated Inbound Marketing strategy for your firm. But, not just any team. You need a team that has a lot of experience marketing RIAs to investors over the Internet. Therefore the ideal agency will have a long history of providing Inbound Marketing services to RIAs.

The right agency will know how to reach investors, produce traffic for your website, develop websites that convert traffic into prospects, and be in compliance with all regulatory requirements. 

You should not select an agency that is going through its learning curve with your money. 

Who Does the Work?

Hiring an agency doesn't mean they do all of the work. For instance, you may have someone on your team who likes to write personal finance articles on a regular basis.  Part of your arrangement with the agency could be that you supply the content while the agency does the upfront keyword research, title development, editing, search engine optimization, and socialization for you.

Or, if you or your team aren't inclined to write, then you can outsource the entire content marketing and social media processes to an experienced agency of specialized professionals. 

Knowing who will do the work is an important step when you select an agency.

In a lot of respects, the right Inbound Marketing Agency becomes the digital marketing department of your firm. Your staff and agency professionals work together to produce the results you are seeking. 

Happy Medium

There's no relatively easy right or wrong answer about how much work an agency should produce for you each month. Some agencies believe that more content is better while others focus on a limited amount of very tailored, hi-value content.  Balancing how much work (blog articles, social media posts, free offers, landing pages, email campaigns) an agency produces each month should be based on your goals and marketing budget. 

The key is high quality, relevant content that will resonate with your ideal clients (also called personas). You don't score any Google points (Internet visibility) if you produce high volume content that no one opens and reads.

You and the agency should work very closely together to ensure that each piece of content being produced for your site is in line with your ideal types of clients' needs, issues, concerns, and pain points. The bottom line is the content produced by the agency should increase the number of visitors to your site and the number of visitors who submit their contact data to you.

Wrapping Up

Just like choosing the right advisor is critical for your clients' financial success, choosing the right Inbound Marketing Agency is critical for your RIA's future growth. It is possible to waste substantial amounts of time and money if you choose the wrong agency. If you select the right agency, it will be a good fit for your RIA, it will understand your business, and it will produce positive ROI for your firm.

It stands to reason the Internet will have a major impact on the future growth of your firm. You will need the right agency to take advantage of this unique marketing opportunity.

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