Get Out There: Social Media

Social media is an excellent platform for creating engagement, both with the target audience and potential new customer groups, and also with existing customers. In today’s digital world it is important for businesses to stay connected with their audience and social media is an excellent tool to accomplish that. Engagement is not the only thing social media is good for though. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn also draw more traffic to your website. The simplest advice we can give you is to be active on the platforms where your audience hang out.

If it’s Twitter, then you need to join and start tweeting. If it is LinkedIn, you need to create a corporate profile (i.e. company page) and start being active in groups. The same goes for Facebook. Share blog posts and other content on LinkedIn and Facebook. Don’t forget to comment on others’ content. Go visit all the popular blogs you read and try to figure out what the authors are doing to maintain a large following. If you don’t really follow any, here’s a great list of blogs for financial advisor to follow. We recently published a white paper on social media and it includes several tactics you can use to grow your business online. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: Are You Marketing Your Advisory Business Efficiently Online?)

Sharing your own content is crucial, but it’s only when you share other people’s content that you’ll truly experience the reach of social media. Sharing content created by others will help build relationships with other businesses and individuals. In our industry, relationships go a long way, as we’re sure you’d agree. When you start sharing posts from a blog you follow, it will not go unnoticed by the blogger. This increases the chance that they also share your content with their followers.

The important thing is to achieve the right balance. We’d say that 50/50 is a good place to start. Use 50% of your time on your own branding and content distribution and 50% of the time to share other people’s content and engage in conversations. Slowly but surely you’ll find that you see better traffic trickling in, ultimately turning into more leads - given that you can capture them.

Be Visible: SEO

To optimize a website is an extremely important part of inbound marketing. In order to achieve good online visibility, you need to know how your prospects want to interact with your brand. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to create persuasive and educational content that solves the visitor’s problems and challenges. Almost five billion searches are done every single day just on Google. Five billion! If you cannot optimize your site for search engines like Google and Bing, you’ll miss a great opportunity to attract visitors to it. Here’s a tool for financial advisors wanting to get started with SEO.

That paragraph you just read used to summarize the most important aspect of SEO until recently. A couple months ago, Google released the Hummingbird update and things changed a bit. The fundamentals still apply, but content relevancy has a lot more weight when determining your rankings now. For instance, if people keep bouncing off of a page on your site, Google will think it’s not a helpful page and that’ll affect your rankings negatively. Similarly, if visitors move from article to article on your blog and spend time reading them, Google will reward you for it.

Capture Leads: Convert

Now that you’re getting some traffic to your site, the next step is to make sure you convert it to leads. To do this, you must obtain the visitor’s contact information so that you can follow him/her later. Therefore, you must offer something valuable in exchange for their contact information. These are so-called premium content, that is, content pieces like e-books, checklists, webinars, video lessons, white papers, etc. When giving your visitors quality content that is in line with their interests and needs, you are increasing their chances to engaging and connecting with you. As you try to capture and move leads through your sales funnel, you should be paying attention to these two areas:

Calls to action: A call to action (CTA) is a clickable item, link, button or graphic added to a site to encourage visitors to perform an action. It could be anything from downloading an e-book to scheduling an appointment with you. With a CTA on every page of the site, visitors can convert whenever they feel like it. CTA buttons are especially effective when used on the popular pages of a webpage to lead to more content or to encourage contact. We recommend that you have at least one CTA for each of your content pieces. A CTA button performs well at the bottom of blog posts to provide access to e-books or other premium content. When visitors click on a CTA button, they will arrive at a landing page. More on that later. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: 7 Critical Website Principles You Should Follow.)

Think through where in their journey the visitors are when they first lay eyes upon your CTA. Some of them may be further down than others as they enter the website, so you’d be in a better spot if you have premium content that is relevant to all phases of the said journey. Some content naturally leads to more information in the form of an e-book or a whitepaper, while other content could simply display a button that encourages to book an appointment.

Landing Pages: What are landing pages and what role do they have in inbound marketing? A landing page is a webpage created exclusively for converting visitors to leads - in other words, to encourage them to take another step in their journey towards becoming a client of yours. Most people stumble upon landing pages after clicking on a CTA button. On a landing page, they’re usually greeted with a form where they leave information in exchange for content or other offers (e.g., book an appointment, download an ebook, etc.). Good landing pages contribute to increased conversion. If the landing page is cluttered and the layout is subpar, visitors will leave without converting. Hubspot discussed the top performing landing pages to learn more. We at Advisor Websites also publish articles about conversion regularly. Take a look here to find out more.

Nurture Your Leads: Keep Providing Value

Lead nurturing is a process that ideally converts leads to clients. The purpose is to “warm up” the lead with more content in a dialog from the moment he/she showed interest until it is appropriate for you or your team to contact them with an offer. This Hubspot article says 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. A clear strategy for lead processing is therefore necessary to generate more better quality leads.The first step in a successful dialogue is to fill the sales chain with leads that have high potential to become customers. When you have captured a lead, such as someone signing up for your email list, it most likely is not possible to turn them into clients right away. You must “warm” them up until they’re ready.

There are several methods for lead nurturing, but in this article we’ll discuss the two major ones applicable for financial advisors. The first method is the use of marketing automation software, which ensures that lead nurturing happens automatically. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: 3 Examples of What a Great Advisor Website Looks Like.)

With a marketing automation system in place, you get the job done effectively with a dialogue. The system captures new leads and follows them up with 1:1 communication using e-mail, from initial inquiry until they become clients of yours. Marketing automation software makes it easy to set up automated workflows. An automated workflow helps you develop (mature) leads until they are warm enough, by sending them targeted emails with custom content - based on their former digital behavior. This makes it worthwhile for you or your team to spend time on the lead.

You’ll hear the occasional “email is dead” but it is still highly relevant as a marketing tool. Done correctly, this is the most targeted and cost-effective communication channel for your products and services. Remember to segment your email list - that is, divide it into different groups much like the personas we discussed earlier. This allows you to tailor your newsletter to the recipient group so that you send them content that is useful and relevant to them. This tactic provides a much higher conversion rate. When you segment your lists, you also get the opportunity to test the same message on different segments in your contact database, allowing you to tweak your tactics as you keep nurturing the leads.

As we’ve already been through, targeted emails with personalized content are a good way to process the leads until they are ready for sale/contract. An automated workflow makes the process simple and efficient. Typical email campaigns may include sending out a monthly newsletter, targeted emails that promote your premium content, or notifications about new posts on your blog, or emails in automated workflows that push the leads further down your funnel. Professional email marketing software, such as HubSpot, integrates email with all parts of your digital marketing. This allows you to automate the follow up of leads. Anyone who has downloaded an ebook may be offered another ebook after a certain period of time. You can read more here about how you as a financial advisor should be following up on leads.

Assess Your Efforts: Monitor Yourself

What makes inbound marketing a game changer in the way businesses are marketing is that the methodology covers the entire journey from stranger to customer - with all the most effective measures and tools along each and every contact point. With quality content, you attract the customers that are right for your business. Once you’ve given them the experience they expect and deserve, convert them to loyal clients who will gladly talk you up to their family and friends.

Keep looking into what the best practices in the industry look like and compare your efforts to those who are “nailing it.” If you’re not sure where to start, we have a self-assessment sheet you can download here. (For more from Advisor Websites, see: Websites: The Front Door to Your Advisory Practice.)

This article was written by Berk Dikmen and originally appeared on Advisor Websites.

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