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What is Inbound Marketing for Financial Advisors and RIAs?

Inbound marketing is the digital marketing process that produces Internet visibility and traffic for financial advisor websites. Then it is the role of the website to convert visitors into qualified leads for the firms’ financial advice and services.

FYI, inbound marketing and digital marketing are relatively interchangeable terms.

Inbound marketing generates leads for financial advisors. This means investors initiate contact with advisors with telephone calls, emails, or registrations for free offers (eBook, webinar). This is the exact opposite of outbound marketing tactics that require financial advisors to initiate contact with investors using telemarketing, direct mail, and other strategies.

Financial advisors who own their brands and websites prefer inbound marketing results because it greatly reduces the amount of rejection that they experience when they market financial services - a waste of time and money. It is very difficult to reach investors who do not want to be reached. Rejection rates can approach 100%.


Lead Generation Websites 

At the core of any inbound marketing strategy is a website that is designed to convert traffic into qualified leads. This is a one-time opportunity when investors visit financial advisor websites seeking professional services or information.

Unfortunately, too many financial advisors have websites simply because their competitors have websites. They did not want to appear to be conspicuous by not having a website. 

Consequently, they may have selected cheap mass produced websites that deliver similar information, but the sites were not designed to produce qualified leads for their services. Therefore, they did not believe their websites and inbound marketing could produce a steady flow of new leads for their firms. 

That is unfortunate, but this philosophy is gradually changing as more financial advisors adopt virtual marketing tactics that rely on the Internet for new leads, prospects, and clients. Robos and other types of virtual marketeers are accelerating the pace of change.

In addition, websites are becoming more sophisticated with marketing tools that convince visitors (investors) to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact information. 

This willingness to submit contact data is based on what the visitor is looking for: 

  • Specific information about a particular financial advisor
  • General information about financial advisors
  • Information about specific financial topics 

A high-quality website that is designed to convert visitors into leads will deliver information about a particular financial advisor firm in an investor-friendly format. No registration is required to obtain this information. 

General information about financial advisors or personal finance topics may be presented as a free offer – for example, an eBook or webinar. Registration is required to obtain this information. Once the visitor submits their contact data, they are considered an active lead for follow-up and nurturing. 



The principal role of Inbound Marketing is the production of relevant traffic for websites. A keyword is relevant because a high percentage of financial advisors specialize in working with particular types of clients. There is a big difference between firms that focus on baby boomers and those that focus on millennials.

It stands to reason, many financial advisor websites are designed to appeal to particular types of clients based on their content and graphics. For example, an advisor website that caters to pre-retirees should display content that is written for this demographic. The site should also display graphics for that type of prospective client. This website traffic strategy produces the right types of leads for financial advisors. 

There are several Internet strategies that Digital Marketing Agencies use to produce traffic for financial advisor websites: 

  • Content Marketing (Blogging, free offers, email nurturing)
  • Social Networking
  • Local Search Engine Optimization
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • On-Page and Off-Page SEO 

Results require the right Inbound Marketing strategies, a consistent effort and time to produce a steady flow of new leads. That’s because the Internet is the most competitive marketplace on the planet. Thousands of financial advisor firms are competing for the same space and for the attention of investors who own or control substantial assets. 


Inbound Marketing for Financial Advisors

Here are some facts that financial advisors should understand to make the Internet a significant source of new revenue for their businesses. 

  • It takes Internet visibility to create website traffic
  • Your website and blog content has to create significant interest with your readers to be effective
  • Only relevant traffic (visitors) will become future clients
  • Websites must be able to convert traffic into prospects
  • Free offers are often times the best way to obtain contact data from your website visitors


Lead Generation

Most advisors who are contemplating making a commitment to digital marketing are thinking in terms of lead generation and the positive ROI that can be produced by this type of marketing.

There is a divergence in measuring the financial benefits of digital marketing. For example, one advisor will compare the economic value of one new client. For example, a $500,000 client at 1% produces $5,000 of revenue per year. If the advisor is paying $3,000 per month for digital marketing it would take approximately seven clients per year to cover the cost. Because this is recurring revenue the seven clients also cover the costs of all future years of digital marketing expenses or for as long as the firm retains the client.

But wait, the above calculation may be a little short-sighted. If there was no digital marketing there would be no clients. Therefore would it be more reasonable to calculate the economic value of a new client based on a firm’s average retention rate?

For example, if a firm’s average retention rate was seven years and the average revenue was $5,000 then one new client would offset the digital marketing expense for one year. And, this calculation does not allow for market appreciation, reinvested income, and new contributions from current clients.

One new client per year covers the cost of the digital marketing services. There are definitely two ways to look at ROI. Of course, the goal could be substantially more than that.


Building Brand Awareness

Digital marketing does not just produce leads for financial advisors. It is also a great way to increase brand awareness on the Internet. And, it is a lot less expensive compared to traditional advertising (TV, radio, print). The experts say it currently takes $250 million to build a brand from scratch in modern America.

Just imagine the benefits when investors use the Internet to find financial advisors in your community and your name is on page one of their search results. This type of visibility is priceless and it did not take millions of dollars to achieve. 


What About Market Research?

Sure a lot of investors use the Internet to find financial advisors. An even bigger number use the Internet to research advisors before they initiate any form of contact. In general, this means they will visit financial advisor websites and Google search their names. They are looking for positive information that would cause them to contact particular advisors or negative information that would cause them to avoid them.

This is more than online reputation management. It is meeting investor expectations when they use the Internet to learn more about advisors in general and particular advisors.

Consider this scenario. An investor is thinking about replacing a current financial advisor, but is not sure who to contact. They are going to be cautious in their selection process because they have already had a bad experience - the advisor they are terminating. A friend at their country club, someone they respect, is talking about his financial advisor. This investor makes a note of the advisor’s name.

The investor already has a name, so there is no lead generation. But, the investor definitely wants to learn more before initiating contact. This is the prudent next step that reduces the risk of making a mistake. The next steps are visiting the advisor’s website and Google searching the advisor’s name. This research could include the professional and the professional’s firm.

A lot of interesting information could be produced by the research. For example, the professional seems to have the credentials of a financial expert, but the professional’s firm is owned by a bank or an insurance company.

It stands to reason no prudent investor will select a financial advisor without conducting some amount of online research. It is fast, convenient and they can maintain their anonymity while they conduct their research.

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