Too many financial advisors select digital marketing agencies for the wrong reasons. They believe they have selected agencies that produce their visibility online, and lead generation websites.
However, the agencies are mass marketing services to thousands of independent RIAs that do not produce the marketing results that the advisors are seeking.
The content in this article will help financial advisors make better decisions when they select digital marketing agencies that provide website, SEO, and SEM services. The end result should result in you better connecting with your target audience.
We recommend the advisors ask the following 11 questions.
- How long have you provided digital marketing for financial advisors?
- Is your marketing agency staffed with employees or independent contractors?
- Do any of your staff have financial industry experience?
- What marketing services do you provide to financial advisors?
- Does the marketing agency produce original work that has SEO value?
- Can I expect your digital marketing strategies to produce leads for my firm?
- Are you mass marketing your services to financial advisors?
- How long does it take to start seeing results?
- How are you compensated for your marketing services?
- Can I see examples of your work?
- Do you have references I can talk to?
Let's describe the top 11 questions financial advisors should ask digital marketing agencies.
How long have you provided marketing services to financial advisors?
Investors assume experienced financial advisors will produce better results than inexperienced financial advisors. They also assume longevity equates to a level of success that allows financial advisors to stay in business.
The same can be said for digital agencies that provide Internet marketing services to financial advisors. The longer they are in business, the higher the probability they have produced positive results for their clients in the past.
A verbal answer may not be good enough. Marketing agencies are not regulated like financial advisors. If the agency says they have five years of experience, ask to talk to current clients that have used their services for five years.
Is your marketing agency staffed with employees or independent contractors?
More successful agencies are staffed with employees versus independent contractors. Why is this important? The agency has more control over the quality of work produced by employees versus independent contractors.
This includes the professional staff who produced your custom lead generation website, the professionals who are writing your blog posts, and the experts who are producing your social media posts.
Employees may also be a less expensive alternative. That's because you are not paying for the independent contractor writer and the firm's overhead that manages the writer's productivity and the quality of the writer's work.
Do any of your staff have financial industry experience?
This is one of the more important questions advisors should ask agencies that provide marketing services to firms in the financial service industry.
You should be asking the following questions to determine their financial industry experience:
- Does the agency speak your language?
- Are they familiar with financial industry regulations?
- Do they understand financial topics?
- Are they set up to work with your compliance officer?
- Do they produce content marketing that meets your standards?
You should not underestimate the complexity of providing marketing services in the financial services industry. Reaching investors is one of the toughest vertical markets in the digital age. They have to find you online, and that must result in them visiting your website. What they see on your website has to convince them to submit their contact information, so they become a prospective client.
What marketing services do you provide to financial advisors?
Is a firm that builds websites a digital marketing agency? Websites are your digital marketing storefront. This is where investors go to find the information they are seeking, learn more about your firm, and initiate contact if they want to schedule interviews.
However, websites do not generate their own traffic. It takes online visibility to produce traffic for websites that convert visitors into qualified leads. There are two ways to produce this traffic for financial advisor websites:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The ideal digital marketing agency for financial advisors will provide website services and SEO/SEM services that produce traffic for the websites. One without the other will not get the job done. Search engine results are crucial for long-term success.
Does the marketing agency produce original work that has SEO value?
Google determines the visibility of financial advisor content in its search engine. Do the blog content and pillar pages produced for financial advisors appear on page one or ten? Since 98% of investors do not scroll past page 2, visibility on page 10 is not worth much because it does not produce traffic for financial advisor websites.
You want content that produces visibility online. Google requires high-quality, original content that other financial advisors will not duplicate. Content that multiple financial advisors share does not have any SEO value.
Are you mass marketing your services to financial advisors?
Some digital marketing agencies mass-market their services to thousands of financial advisors. Other agencies provide marketing services to a limited number of financial advisors.
Knowing the difference between the two is important, so you have realistic expectations. Mass market solutions provide websites. But they do not produce the traffic that websites need to produce qualified leads for financial advisors.
Your expectation should be driven by the types of services that the digital marketing agency delivers. Mass market agencies deliver lower-cost services. Agencies that deliver custom marketing services will be more expensive. Some marketing agencies deliver both.
How long does it take to start seeing results?
This can be a touchy subject. Some digital marketing agencies do not want to be judged based on their results. They deliver websites to financial advisors who need websites.
However, they do not say their websites will produce results for financial advisors. They are filling the advisers' need for websites.
On the other hand, digital marketing agencies provide websites and SEO/SEM services that produce website traffic. So, a reasonable question would be, how long will it take to start seeing results produced by my website?
There is no simple answer to this question. A lot of variables impact the results that are being produced by your SEO, SEM, and website efforts.
For example, how visible is your current website on the Internet? This has a substantial impact on potential clients for your firm. The less visible you are online, the longer it takes to start producing leads.
How are you compensated for your marketing services?
Financial advisor marketing agencies are compensated with hourly or fixed fees for their advice and services. Most advisors prefer fixed fees, so they know what they are paying each month in advance.
In most cases, the fixed fees are retainers billed at the beginning of each month. Some fees are bundled together, while other fees are billed separately.
In general, fixed fees represent the number of hours of work that the digital marketing agency will complete each month. For example, If it takes 100 hours to build a custom lead generation website and you are paying for 25 hours per month, the project will take four months to complete.
Can I see examples of your work?
Every digital marketing agency should be able to provide live examples of their work. You should focus on the following information that impacts the quality of financial advisor websites:
- Naming conventions, branding, and logos
- Intuitive navigation
- Key content that investors are seeking
- A Resource Center for blog articles, pillar pages, and other educational content for investors
- Free offers that produce additional leads
Do you have references I can talk to?
References are a two-edged sword. On the one hand, no digital marketing agency will provide you with bad references. The references will be selected because they provide positive feedback about the agency's services.
On the other hand, references can provide valuable information if you ask the right questions:
- How long have you used the agency's services?
- How long did it take to see results?
- How good is the quality of the leads?
- What would you do differently?
- Has the agency produced a positive ROI?