Financial Advisor SEO & Social Media Marketing
By and large, the financial advisor business has mostly been referral-based. Unlike most other industries, someone can’t easily find advisor reviews on websites like Yelp. Just because that is the current landscape does not mean that will be the future landscape. All business is moving online.
That’s why Amazon scares the hell out of every brick and mortar retailer out there. The fact of the matter is there is a huge void online in the financial advisor industry. The first wave of advisors to shift their focus to internet marketing are going to cash in the most. Mark my words. Financial Advisor SEO & social media marketing are going to be an integral part of generating leads for all Financial Advisors in the future.
If your business is 100% referral based offline, you count on the kind words of your current customer base spreading to their friends and family by word of mouth. Almost all communications are done electronically in this era, that’s just the truth. The next wave of high net worth clients grew up communicating on Facebook, not on a landline phone. This approaching faster than you think.
For example, I was a freshman in college when Facebook was in it’s infancy and I’m almost 33 years old now! My Mom is almost 70 and she complains about how her best friend is always on her phone when they hang out, constantly scrolling through her news feed. The future of all business is online, so get with it or be prepared to get crushed by it.
What About FINRA and the SEC?
FINRA and the SEC have done an amazing job making it difficult for Financial Advisors to market online. Anyone who has had the pleasure of obtaining their FINRA Series 7 & 63 licenses like I have is probably aware of FINRA Rule 2210. Obviously you have to be careful what information you put out on your website & social media pages. There is definitely plenty of wiggle room though.
FINRA defines retail communication as any communication (written or electronic) that is distributed or made available to more than 25 retail investors within any 30 calendar-day period. A retail investor is any person other than an institutional investor. Regardless of whether the person has an account with the firm. The rule also stipulates that all retail communications must be approved by an appropriately qualified registered principal. Luckily there are exceptions to this stipulation.
The following retail communications are excluded from the filing requirements:
- Communications that refer to types of investments solely as a listing of the products or services offered by the firm.
- Retail communications that do not make any financial or investment recommendation or promote a product or service of the firm.
- Any reprint or excerpt of an article issued by a publisher that has not been materially altered in content. Except to comply with regulatory standards or correct errors and when the member has not commissioned the reprint and is not affiliated with the publisher.
- Retail communications that do no more than identify the member or offer a specific security at a stated price.
- General market commentaries or economic discussions that are not used for the purpose of promoting a product or service of the firm would be considered retail communications that do not make any financial or investment recommendation or otherwise promote a product or service of the member.
FINRA Acknowledges That Native Advertising Is The Future
In April of 2017 FINRA released Regulatory Notice 17-18 regarding Social Media & Digital Communications that expanded upon the Regulatory Notice 10-06 released in January of 2010. In the more recent notice FINRA acknowledges that Social Media Marketing is the wave of the future.
They cite an October 2015 study from the Pew Research Center that indicates that 65 percent of adults use social networking sites as compared to 7 percent in 2005. They also reference a Business Insider article which indicates that “Native Ads” will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021.
That article states that, “The rapid uptick in native’s share of display ad revenue can largely be attributed to the dominance of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter — which were early champions of native and rely almost entirely on native formats — as well as the introduction of new programmatic technologies that are making it easier for publishers and advertisers to scale native campaigns.” It’s not the wild west, there are obviously rules that apply. However the opportunity is there for those willing to go after it.
The Future is Online
When I was in highschool I knew a Financial Advisor (I won’t disclose the name) that had a genius old school marketing plan. He and his partner would teach a class on Retirement Planning at local community colleges. At the end of the course they would offer any of their students a free consultation.
This strategy is amazing in one specific way to me. They spent weeks demonstrating their value to their students. Building up their trust and becoming an authority in the eyes of their students. The value of their teachings far outweighed the monetary cost of the course itself. By giving away all this amazing knowledge for a bargain price, they were able to build that trust factor. Which created a perfect funnel ensuring people would actually show up to the free consultations. It also made it that much easier to convert that consultation into a client.
I urge you to implement the same strategy. Only instead of in a classroom, do it online. Don’t implement a sales strategy. Give away information with real value for free. Discuss market conditions all while abiding by FINRA rule 2210 of course. Build up trust with your audience online. In the process you will create a huge internet paper trail. Even better, you will never have to sell because you built a brand instead.
SEO & Social Media Marketing is Word of Mouth Marketing At Scale
A lot of old school advisors are pretty staunch in their stance that their business is word of mouth referral based. While I respect this opinion, I wholeheartedly disagree. What’s the real difference between being referral based offline and being referral based online? The internet has greatly enhanced and optimized communication and it’s a lot more efficient.
Think about how long it would take you to go to every friend you had and tell them something in person. Now think how much easier it would be to give them each a call or text. Now think how much more efficient posting a status to your facebook wall compared to any of that. The internet is just a way to create these same referrals people are already giving you, but creating that conversation online in a way that is much more efficient and can scale in a way that word of mouth will never be able to.
SEO allows you to drive targeted traffic to your website consistently over time. If you are a financial advisor who services a specific niche of clients, like medical professionals for example. Ranking your website number one for the keyword, “financial advisor for doctors” and other variations of that keyword would bring your website visitors from ideal clients consistently over long periods of time.
Another important aspect of creating an online presence for your financial advisory business is reputation management. If you do not set up profiles on all of the major platforms, what’s to stop someone else for doing that for you and then leaving you a bunch of negative reviews?
Having a robust online presence allows one to get out of front of these conversations and create a narrative that paints a positive picture of your brand and creates a pipeline of future client leads. It’s a lot better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to reputation management. A negative review can really hurt you, especially if you don’t know it exists.
Be the First Wave to Hit the Market
It is driving me crazy every single day thinking about how untapped the SEO & Digital Marketing space is to Financial Advisors. These are both long term strategies. There is no quick payoff, but just like any other great idea, the first ones to cash in always make the most.
In the near future, people are going to be able to research financial advisors like they research their next big purchase. Instead of asking a wealthy friend who manages their money, they will go online and ask their facebook friends. The advisors that embrace this and are the first to create an online presence on these platforms will quickly become an authority.
Think of the possibilities of no longer being limited to your geographic location when it comes to client prospecting. The internet is global, becoming an authority online helps you cast a much wider net than just being the authority in your local community. Quality leads are really hard to come by. The internet gives you the ability to scale these leads in a big way.
Financial Advisor SEO & Digital Marketing Strategies
Hopefully I’ve convinced you this is a viable strategy at this point. Let’s break down how it actually works and list actionable steps that you can take right now.
Financial Advisor SEO
Local SEO is going to be a crucial part of your strategy. While not all clients are going to need to be able and sit down with their financial advisor, let’s assume that most of them will. The search term “Financial Advisor + Your City” is going to be gold. There are a lot of factors that go into local seo. You’ll need to focus on being in the organic listings as well as the “Maps”.
To get the ball rolling you will need to set up Google My Business. From there build out as many citations as you can. Research what citations your competitors are utilizing and duplicate their efforts. Then start to develope a link building strategy by commenting on niche related blog posts. Commenting on these Blogs also helps doing outreach to get guest posts. Guest posts are a big part of the secret sauce for Financial Advisor SEO. You can also implement more advanced strategies like PBNs (Private Blog Network) or sniping broken links. You may want to outsource some of this to an expert as some of these strategies are complex and time consuming.
Create A Blog
Creating a blog is the key piece in generating authority online. It also feeds into every other aspect of building your online presence, from SEO to Social Media Marketing. Consistently creating blog content greatly enhances the SEO of your advisor website. It’s also great because it easily creates content that you can share across all of your social media platforms.
Roll out a blog post once at least once a week. Then simply share it across all of your social media pages. This creates a huge digital paper trail. Doing this consistently over the long term is not only a great way to communicate with existing clients, it can also create a long lasting pipeline to future clients as well.
Creating a profile on Investopedia can boost your online presence in several ways. Finding and answering questions posed by other investopedia users is great way to demonstrate your knowledge in a way that brings real value to people. Becoming an authority is a way to build up trust with your audience and potential clients. Commenting on these investopedia threads and creating your own posts are both great ways to generate backlinks to your website. Having backlinks from an industry relevant website like Investopedia will be a big boost to your local and global SEO.
Social Media Marketing
Once you have a blog that is consistently rolling out content on the latests financial trends and current market conditions, you will need to set up all your social media profiles. Every time you post a new article, tweet about it, share it on Facebook & LinkedIn. Through up an Instagram post, pin an infographic on Pinterest. If you’re an allstar, you will have a video element to your blog which you can then share on Youtube as well. Rinse and then repeat. Your blog is where your content lives, but social media is where you spread it to the masses. Social Media is also a great opportunity to interact with your peers and build connections.
The truth is this strategy is not for everyone. If you are an Advisor who’s completely content with the status quo, then this definitely isn’t for you. However, if you’re an Advisor that is still looking to grow your book of clients. If you have your eye on long term sustainable growth, then you can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity. The market is still wide open for financial advisors online. The next generation of wealth grew up on Twitter and Instagram and they are definitely in need of common sense financial advice. Grow your online presence, create authority, build trust and create a never ending stream of client leads.