Financial advice has long been a people-focused industry, predicated on face-to-face interaction. Be it networking for prospects or meeting with clients in an office setting, most advisors have mastered the art of connecting in person, skillfully building their businesses around this talent. But in the world we live in today, it’s not the only tool an advisor should have in their back pocket. Our current reality of social distancing and virtual meetings shines a spotlight on the need for new ways to reach out and connect.
Without a working understanding of what digital marketing entails, advisors, no matter how good they are at their job, are at risk of being left in the dust. But taking the time to learn about the principles and benefits of digital marketing can help even the most personable advisors—most of whom are currently stuck at home unable to deploy these charms—find prospects in new, unexpected places.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing means leveraging available online tools and channels, from email to paid advertising and social media, to build your business. Advisors who engage in digital marketing efforts connect with current and prospective clients using search engines, social media, email and SEO.
While traditional marketing offers limited opportunity for feedback, digital marketing campaigns give you more insight into your target audience’s interests and behavior. You are able to see, in real time, who is opening emails, downloading content, watching videos and listening to podcasts. Using that information, you can tailor your content to better speak to your audience, connecting on topics that are important to them, instead of blindly sharing irrelevant information.
Digital marketing is made up of several distinct pieces that are most effective when deployed in tandem. For example, an advisory practice may create a central piece of content, such as a video, podcast or article, that is then amplified through ongoing email newsletters or discussion on social media. Additionally, effective digital marketing requires a deep understanding of your target demographic, enabling you to find new prospects who share similarities with your best clients. Elevate your thinking from: “I work with a lot of female clients” to: “I specialize in serving female entrepreneurs in the art community,” and you’ll find your niche.
What to Consider
While far more scalable than traditional marketing, digital marketing is not a volume game. Spamming prospects and clients with an onslaught of daily content can actually be detrimental. In order to be effective, digital marketing communications must be personal and genuine—so focus on what you want to talk about and deliver the kind of content you’re most comfortable creating.
If you are comfortable on video, that’s a great way to get out there. If you feel better off camera, think about podcasting. If you’re a writer, start a regular blog on your company website or put together a thoughtful, weekly newsletter for clients. Whatever your preferred medium, use it to showcase your personality and the service you provide to clients, and reinforce this message on social media.
Not All Social Media Is Created Equal
While social should be a key part of any digital marketing strategy, it’s essential to understand the unique benefits of each platform.
LinkedIn is great for business-related posts and content that’s relevant to business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals. You do not want to post to LinkedIn more than two or three times per week. In contrast, Twitter content can be posted with more frequency, because there is a near constant churn of new Tweets. The flip side of that is there’s a lot more noise to break through, so it can be difficult to build a reliable audience on Twitter.
Facebook is a great place to tell stories with lifestyle-themed content. While more than 75% of Americans between 18 and 49 years old use Facebook, people over 50 are the fastest-growing age demographic on the site, so take these facts into consideration when creating content for Facebook. Additionally, Instagram is growing in popularity in some circles. Content there revolves around visual and inspirational posts. But depending on your target demographic (for instance, corporate execs aren’t typically on Instagram—yet), it may not be as useful for advisors.
When you have a good piece of anchor content—be it a podcast, video or blog post—build a customized social media campaign across all social channels to support and amplify its message. A single post is easily missed, but content promoted eight or more times across multiple channels is more likely to be seen. Pair two to three emails with these posts, and you have a recipe for an effective digital marketing campaign.
Is It Working?
Digital marketing is not an instant solution, but ongoing, timely and well-executed “drip campaigns,” which consist of sending out a set of messages (usually emails) to prospects over time, have been known to create results. While a prospect is unlikely to act after just one email, continued communication with content that speaks to their interests can really make a difference.
You can think of “the buyer’s journey” as a trail of breadcrumbs: A prospect opens an email, which then leads to a social post, which leads them to download an article on a topic they find engaging and watch a video linked in the article. At that point, maybe they’re hooked, and they make a call to your office.
The fun thing about digital marketing? You can watch this journey every step of the way using Google Analytics, Heap, Snappy Kraken, HubSpot or other measurement tools, and the behavior of these prospects can help you see whether your sales funnel is actually working. If you see that lots of people are dropping out at certain points, you can make adjustments until you find a path that works for driving new business.
Give It a Shot
Communication and connection are at the heart of this business, and digital marketing helps advisors bolster these outcomes in new and exciting ways. Most advisors who build digital marketing campaigns quickly become evangelists for the practice, because of the way these tactics drive two-way communication. After all, no one likes talking into the void, and digital marketing can be extremely cost-effective while exponentially increasing your reach.
It’s a new digital world. Get your voice out there.
Meghan McCartan is executive director of marketing and leader of the Outsourced CMO initiative at Hightower.