Gone are the days when blogging meant sharing recipes, home tips and a collection of photos from a recent vacation. In the midst of social media, search engine optimization and other digital marketing tools, a remarkable blog can help a financial advisor establish him or herself as a thought leader and go-to financial resource. Not only are blogs ranked as the fifth most trusted source for online information, but businesses that produce consistent, quality blogs are 13 times more likely to receive positive returns on investments.
Blogging is a powerful marketing tool but intimidating for many when it comes to getting started. What exactly is the formula for creating an engaging, shareable blog post? Furthermore, what do these blog posts mean for the future of your digital imprint? This five-step roadmap will help you navigate a path toward a lead-generating blog post that engages your readers and inspires them to take action.
Choose a Specific and Focused Topic
The first thing you need to do is choose a topic for your post that is timely, relevant to your clients and something that you want people to talk about. If you’re struggling to come up with a topic, turn to the news for inspiration. Recent news could be a topic that is front-of-mind for clients that you can personalize specifically for your practice. Take, for example, the 2015 end-of-year budget law that eliminated the “file-and-suspend” strategy for Social Security. You could write a blog about how this change will affect couples, other Social Security claiming strategies, and end with an invitation to come into your office to discuss opportunities for maximizing Social Security benefits.
Another way to develop a salient, understandable topic for your blog post is to identify a problem that your clients are looking to solve and imagine what they would want to know in order to solve this problem. For example, do you have clients who want to retire in the next five years but aren’t sure how much money they will need? To answer this question in a blog post, you could share some of the key elements of retirement income planning, as well as how to determine how much you will need in retirement to maintain your current standard of living.
Make a Point
The meat of a successful blog post are the points, and whether they matter. The point you make in a blog post will be remarkable if readers are inspired to share it with their friends, family and social network. The shareable aspect is one of the main reasons why blogging can help your business. In fact, 54 percent more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing. In terms of your business, if one of your clients shares a blog with someone in their inner circle looking for a financial advisor, you have an opportunity to turn a stranger into a client.
So what does a good point look like? A strong, shareable blog answers the question, “So what?” It’s one thing to write about a topic, but it’s another to show your readers why that topic matters. If you want your post to be more than just paragraphs of words your prospects and clients skim, the point you’re making should matter to clients on some level. Otherwise, it will never gain traction.
Create a Compelling Headline
We all know the importance of a great first impression, and in the blogosphere a headline is just that—a chance for you to make a lasting impression on readers. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the post. The primary purpose of a headline is to encourage the reader to continue reading, and the “four u’s” can help you achieve this goal.
1.Unique. What does your blog post offer that the others don’t? Offer something new in your headline that your readers can’t find somewhere else.
2.Ultra-specific. Chances are, a reader will move on if your headline doesn’t directly address their question or provide them with the information they need. Specificity can also help tailor a blog post to your practice rather than providing general information that might direct readers elsewhere.
3.Urgency. Every post should convey a sense of urgency. Here’s an example: Compare the headlines “Are You Taking All The Necessary Steps To Save For Retirement?” and “How to Save for Retirement.” The first headline pushes a call to action from the very beginning. This may not always be an option when writing a post but when used correctly, it can improve your post’s publicity.
4.Useful. This idea goes back to problem-solving for your readers. Offer them something they need and they will keep reading.
Motivate to Take Action
After you’ve shared with your readers the key points of your post, it’s important to motivate them to take a step further. Think about the goal of your blog. Is it to establish yourself as a thought leader? Expand your network? Inspire prospects to take action and schedule a meeting with you?
Whatever your motives for blogging, incorporate them into your post. In the last paragraph, ask your readers to share your post on social media, email to a friend, or call your office to set up a complimentary consultation. Readers are typically passive without some type of motivation. Encourage them to take action.
Your work isn’t over once you hit “publish” on your blog post. Much of the value of blogging comes from the dialogue created and the relationship built between the author—you—and reader—your prospects and clients. Continuing to talk with your readers builds a sense of community and trust. After posting your blog, keep the conversation going. When clients come into the office, reference your latest blog post and ask if they’ve read it and if they had any questions.
Don’t forget to share your blog post on social media and through email. Along with a creative summary, link your blog post on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also send it to clients and prospects via email. Start with a brief introduction on why you wrote the blog and what you hope to share. Include the link to the blog post and encourage them to reach out to you if they have any questions.
Writing follow-up posts, or a series of posts on a specific topic, can drive traffic to both new and old posts. For example, you could write a four-piece series on four critical elements of special needs planning, such as coordinating state and federal funding, evaluating insurance needs, implementing a special needs trust, and establishing a comprehensive financial plan for the special needs family member.
Now is as good a time as any to get started blogging. As intimidating as it may seem, there are endless benefits. A cost-effective marketing investment, every post you publish is a long-term asset that helps build brand awareness and promote your services and practice. By committing yourself to writing just one blog each month, you can drive traffic to your website, increase your engagement with prospects and clients and demonstrate your expertise in financial services.