2020 tips for digital marketing campaigns

Advisers need a coordinated digital strategy if they want to stand out from the competition

As financial advisers make their way back to work in the New Year, and a new decade, one resolution many may have is to improve marketing efforts to jumpstart growth.

Digital marketing is still the name of the game, but simply having a website and social media accounts just won’t cut it in 2020. If advisers want to stand out, they need to have a coordinated strategy across multiple media, including email, social and even video or podcasts.

InvestmentNews reached out to several marketing experts as well as some advisers who have found success with digital marketing to gather some helpful tips for firms looking to expand their digital footprints in 2020.

Most important is still the firm’s website, which remains a sort of base of operations for any digital strategy. But in 2020, it’s not enough to simply buy a domain name and throw up some text with your name, address and phone numbers.

“Consumers are expecting an Amazon or Spotify-like experience,” said Bill Finnegan, managing director of financial services marketing at technology firm Seismic. “Advisers, and the organizations they represent, need to be willing to make the investment in delivering this experience.”

For example, Victor Gaxiola, co-founder and head of marketing for TechGirl Financial, a hybrid firm affiliated with Cambridge Investment Research, said his firm has a responsive website to account for retail investors visiting from mobile devices.

Mr. Gaxiola also employs a search-engine optimization strategy to ensure every page of the website has data and keywords that increase its visibility on Google and works with a web developer to stay up to date on the latest updates to the search engine’s algorithm.

Advisers also should consider how SEO can help differentiate the firm, said Matt Nollman, director of digital marketing at LifeYield. He recommends advisers create a longer, more comprehensive “pillar page” that ties together content from across the page on a specific topic.

“This will help you attract the right audience with a message that resonates with them, rather than trying to engage the masses,” Mr. Nollman said.

Where a lot of advisers fall short is the value they provide to retail investors who visit their website, said Jud Mackrill, chief marketing officer at Carson Group. Mr. Mackrill recommends advisers study digital startups like Betterment and Wealthfront, which allows users to complete a digital form and receive some basic financial recommendations before they even create an account.

“That’s a great start, and advisers need to have something like that today,” he said. For example, Carson Group recently rolled out a Secure Act calculator to its advisers’ websites to provide more value to prospects.  

Advisers also need to start thinking about how content on their website works with voice searches, said Johnny Sandquist, CEO of Three Crowns Copywriting and Marketing. Rather than typing in single words, people tend to phrase voice searches in the form of questions. If advisers want their websites to turn up on a Siri or Alexa search, they need content that answers specific questions an investor might ask, Mr. Sandquist said.

Though social media got all the attention in the last decade, email isn’t dead. For marketing, email can still be the best channel for advisers, Mr. Nollman said.

He recommends advisers keep subject lines brief, use short and easily digestible sentences in the email body, and always include a call to action.

As for social media, too many advisers still just spam feeds with links, Mr. Mackrill said. Social media instead should be viewed as a platform to cultivate a personal brand and demonstrate the firm’s personality.

“I hope for this next year, that we stop creating noise and start creating something worthwhile … start having a personality,” Mr. Mackrill said.

Mr. Sandquist added that he is bullish on advisers using video for marketing, even though very few advisers currently do so. Production values don’t have to be high; anyone with an iPhone can record something authentic and relatable to put in an email or social media post.

“Video is the number one way for an adviser to build trust with a prospective client,” Mr. Sandquist said. “For the same reason that we feel like we know our favorite actors, video gives people a chance to feel like they know the adviser’s personality before they ever meet.”

Videos should be clear and concise with a predetermined goal in mind, such as getting a prospect to book a call after the video, Mr. Nollman said. Because smartphones make it so easy to record a video, advisers should consider personalizing them for each message.

“Simply mentioning someone’s name can go a long way,” Mr. Nollman said.

But none of this will matter unless advisers have a clearly defined marketing strategy to tie everything together, said April Rudin, founder and CEO of consulting firm The Rudin Group. Too many advisers think just recording a video or having a social media account is enough.

“It is not the sum total of doing or using these platforms but having a strategy about who your target client is and what you offer that can solve their pain points,” Ms. Rudin said.

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