Editor’s Note: Mike tackles an important subject as we recover from our holiday feasting. Just like those family dinners, we don’t go into them without some planning – especially those with guests with expectations! Using social media is an important component – but just that – one of several components of a strong digital marketing plan. Mike explores the right ways to get started. One of the more challenging areas is content creation; however, don’t let that be an obstacle keeping you from proceeding. Following Mike’s recipe for setting up your website and claiming your name online will get the wheels turning for you, and most importantly, set a strong foundation for your ongoing marketing plan.
I wish it were as easy as putting together a few social posts per week that lead to an inbox full of people looking to move their accounts to your firm. Create a LinkedIn profile and forget about prospecting, your phone will start ringing off the hook?
In financial services, social media has been a trending topic for years. It is at times mistakenly portrayed as the end all be all of an advisor’s online marketing strategy. It’s not.
Don’t get me wrong. At our firm, we invest in social media marketing and are big-time believers in the concept. But it has to be done right, consistently, and in a way that makes it a component of your overall marketing plan. Let’s take a look at a few things that you should be doing instead of posting blindly on social media 7 days a week.
Fix Up Your Website
Having a lot of marketing activity without a good website is akin to inviting a bunch of prospects to a seminar at a rundown building. At best, it doesn’t help your cause and it is much more likely to turn a prospect away or reduce the confidence of an existing client.
Take the time to invest in your website to make sure it is up to date and reflects the best technologies that the web has to offer, like responsive design for mobile support. Use appropriate images and headlines being sure you include call to actions to subscribe to email newsletters and connect with you and your content. A common oversight is not making your contact form and phone number highlighted on each page. And if you intend to cultivate your social media profiles, make certain those are listed. Lastly, don’t forget to add a social sharing capability to your site content.
Grab Those Other Local Properties
There is a lot of other free web real estate that you can grab to get your name in front of clients, and many of these do provide passive results. We are big proponents of sites like Yelp, Google+ Local, and Yahoo Local (to name a few), as you will get the following benefits:
- Incoming web links and citations to help your SEO
- Additional traffic who find these properties via searches on the web
- The ability to get reviews
- More local visibility for your brand
At the end of the day, these local listing sites provide advisors with an easy way to reap these benefits and can provide as much impact as social media, with much less of a time commitment.
Optimize Your Site For SEO – Especially Local Search
We always have to remind social media advocates that while social media definitely has its place, in most studies, organic search traffic outperforms from a conversion perspective. If someone is searching for “Financial Advisor in Atlanta Georgia,” then odds are they are pretty interested in taking some type of action.
Make sure that you take the proper amount of time on the front end to ensure that your site is optimized for search. This includes:
- Filling in your metadata with the pertinent keywords
- Making sure that the keywords that you would also like to be known for are used in your headlines, and sparingly around the site (especially your homepage)
- We know we are being redundant, but grab all of your local listings
- Make sure that all of the content on your site is unique (more on this in the next section)
- Publish a blog
As advisors, we would all love to have huge clients in exotic locations. However, for most of us, the majority of our clients and prospects are located in our backyard. So stop trying to rank well for “Financial Advisor” or “401k Rollover,” and start focusing on specific terms like your city and state. Also, with recent search engine updates, SEO is becoming more conversational, so don’t be afraid to optimize for phrases like “find an experienced Financial Advisor in Atlanta Georgia”.
Generate as Much Content as Humanly Possible
A large part of your marketing strategy will be derived from content, so the more genuine material you can generate, the better. As previously mentioned, make sure that you have a blog and post on it often. Don’t be afraid to develop whitepapers, checklists, podcasts, and videos; make these readily available to your visitors.
Content is a big contributor to almost every marketing strategy, as it can be used in so many different ways. Having more content gives you more chances to rank well in the search engines, gives you a constant arsenal of items to choose from for email blasts, and can establish you as a thought leader in the eyes of your visitors. It also comes in quite handy, as popular content tends to get shared by others on social media and can prove extremely beneficial in broadening your reach.
And please, don’t try to find a shortcut and buy content or copy and paste it from around the web. Make sure that your content is completely unique, as copying or using others content could result in SEO penalties with negative long term effects.
Bring it All Together Using Social Media
Now that you have put other marketing strategies into place, you will definitely benefit by integrating a social media strategy into your plan.
Make sure that you have a well-thought strategy, and decide which social networks are best suited for your target market. Remember, just because Facebook is the largest social network in the world doesn’t mean that you need to make it the cornerstone of your social strategy. If you are going after corporate 401k accounts, you should probably pay more attention to networks like LinkedIn.
Develop a content calendar in advance, and use tools to schedule your posts. There are a variety of them out there that are free to use such as at Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social. And when possible, try to incorporate imagery into your posts as well. Images tend to be eye-catching, and studies have shown that engagement increases with posts that contain some type of visual queues.
Yes, a comprehensive marketing plan can be a lot of work, especially on the front end. Like anything in life, most good things require effort to get results. However, there are things like building a website that require a tiny bit of effort in the future, but if set up correctly, it can function for years. Your SEO results, email campaigns, and your social media strategy will prove to be meaningful if you have a steady stream of content to support your efforts.
With your efforts, you can watch the results roll in, and even do some random social media “postings” and you may get some action.