Category Archives for "Business"

Getting the Most From Marketing Photos

The series The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing helps financial advisors understand how content marketing all works so they can establish themselves as a financial expert by properly utilizing financial content marketing strategies.

In part five, Keyword Phrase, of The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing I went into detail about one of the essential elements in creating content…

Now it’s time to go beyond text and look closely at why you should never skip adding a featured image.

Why Adding a Featured Image Matters

You might be wondering if you need to include images with your content or if text alone will be sufficient. The answer is you should always include at least one featured image with every article for both visual appeal and functional purposes.

Images not only bring your words to life by illustrating meaning, but they also serve to optimize your content for search engines and help your content stand out on social media platforms where you share it.

Search engine algorithms — the criteria used to reward or penalize content based on specific characteristics — are constantly changing. But in recent years, it has become clear that Google and other top search engines increasingly favor images, reportedly because images enhance the user experience.

In other words, people like pictures and search engines aim to return the results that people want. As the importance of visual search continues to expand, image inclusion and image SEO has become more essential than ever.

What is a Featured Image

A featured image is a photo or graphic that will show up in the preview of your post on social media sites such as Facebook and often as a thumbnail on your blog list. Its purpose is to represent the content of the post at a glance and serve as a preview, providing the audience with a sneak peek to determine whether or not they want to read the content.

The featured image adds visual interest to your article and helps set expectations for both content and tone by piquing a reader’s interest. Even more than an article’s subject matter or headline, the featured image has the potential to persuade or dissuade readers from actually opening and reading your content.

How to Choose the Best Featured Image for Your Financial Content

Your featured image should always be relevant and you should never use an image that is irrelevant yet eye-catching just to grab your reader’s attention. If a reader opens an article because of an interesting photo only to find content that has nothing to do with the image, they will click away quickly, which will hurt your SEO and your reputation.

It’s best to use original images whenever possible. You can certainly take your own photos. Most phones today have a quality camera, and you can easily capture a picture yourself of something associated with your article to use.

If taking your own photos is not a good option for you, you can use stock photos as well. One thing you must realize is that most stock images require a license to use, and if you use images without a license you are violating copyright laws and could be fined.

The best thing to do is to use a stock photo service For a nominal fee, you will then have the rights to a wide variety of images for social media posts and much more. Just make sure you understand the terms and restrictions of your license. There are many stock photo options that I have used and would recommend.

Stock Photo Resources for Financial Advisor Website Content:

Because your featured image will be what shows up when you share your content on social media, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, it can be beneficial to superimpose or overlay the title and add your logo or brand colors. Putting the title of the post itself on the image is a great strategy because it increases the clickability of the image itself. This can easily be done with a free tool like Canva.

Keep in mind, your featured image could also be a graphic or illustration rather than a photograph. You can hire a designer to create unique and original branded graphics, or for a DIY option, use a tool such as Canva or PicMonkey to create your own designs.

Tips for Optimizing Your Featured Image for Search Engines

Use the right file name

Google should be able to tell what your image is by what you name it, so it’s important not to use the default string of characters or untitled.jpg. Also, include a keyword phrase in your file name. For example, a good file name would be common-credit-score-mistakes.jpg.

Use Alt Tags

Alt tags are the words that are associated with the image. If the image cannot be displayed, the alt tag provides alternative information for the image when a user cannot view it. It also helps significantly with SEO so be sure to include at least one of your keywords in the alt tags as well. There are YouTube videos and articles out there that show you how to do this.

Use the correct resolution and size.

Lower-resolution images at 72 DPI (dots per inch) are appropriate for digital mediums such as websites and are usually the cheaper option as well.

Conclusion

As you can see, adding a featured image is an essential part of creating an effective financial advisor website content. The right featured image will attract your intended audience’s attention, enhance their reading experience, and boost your SEO. Always take the time to select an eye-catching image and optimize it for search engines.

Download a free copy of the Financial Advisor Content Marketing & Optimization Guide here.

 Sometimes content marketing can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help create and select the right content, optimize it so it is reaching the right people, and handle the scheduling to ensure it is as far-reaching as possible. Let us help you get a handle on the whole process by scheduling a discovery meeting today.

Ten Subject Line Tips to Get Your Emails Read

How do you compete with the electronic bombardment facing your clients and prospects and get your email to stand out?

Like most people, financial advisors send and receive emails constantly. It may be to (or from) an associate, a client, or a prospect. Those people are busy sending their own emails as well as receiving a slew of others every single day.

Creating an attention-grabbing subject line is a critical first step to getting your contact to open up your email. A creative subject line that will not only capture your reader’s attention but also make them curious enough about the content of your message to want to open and read it.

This is not only important in your regular interaction with clients but also essential when it comes to lead nurturing in your marketing campaigns. If you are not sure what this is or why it’s important, you can see my article, What is Lead Nurturing, or start at the beginning of the series, Marketing Funnels for Financial Advisors.

Email reaches potential clients, gets your information in front of them and builds the important “know, like, and trust” factor.

 

Ten proven subject lines and phrases.

 

“How can I help?”

There is a misconception that financial professionals are viewed as salespeople. In reality, they are advisors who help people with their financial lives. So, why not address that in the subject line of your email? People want to feel as though you are offering them help for something they need and are there because you have a genuine desire to make their stressful lives a little easier. By using this subject line you are letting your client or prospect know that you’re not trying to sell them on something but instead want to provide a service that can help them.

 

“I really enjoyed…”

Who doesn’t love a compliment every now and then? Using the subject line to pay your client or prospect a compliment not only lifts their mood, but also makes them more likely to open the email and respond to your message. Be as specific as you can when using this approach, but always be professional and appropriate.

 

“I’d like to get your thoughts on…”

The task asked of your client should be simple, such as asking their opinion on a short blog or to providing an answer to a quick question. This can be especially effective because it lets your client or prospect know that their thoughts matter and are important to you. It is also a great way to keep the conversation going and solicits future responses.

 

“Tomorrow”

This one simple word can have quite an impact as a subject line because it creates a sense of urgency. Your client or prospect will feel that there is a quickly approaching deadline that may need their attention today.

 

“Any questions, [name]?”

While it is never a good idea to use your own name in a subject line, I recommend using your recipient’s name. People enjoy seeing and hearing their own name, and using it in a subject line can be a great way to get their attention and a response in return. Also, this subject line lets your recipient know you’re available to help them.

 

“[Mutual connection] mentioned you to me…”

By referencing the name of a mutual connection you are far more likely to get your reader’s attention as well as a response. People feel more connected to you instantly if they can associate you with a trusted friend.

 

“Will you be attending [event]?”

Asking someone if they will be attending a certain event not only allows you to inform them about something they may not have previously known, but it also gives you an opportunity to know who might be going ahead of time so you can be prepared to meet them there.

 

“Saw this and thought of you”

Sometimes it is nice and beneficial to send an email with some helpful information, a relevant article, or just something enlightening to let the person know you are thinking of them. People don’t always want to be hassled with an email that requires action on their part.

 

“What would happen if…”

By using this subject line you are alerting your client or prospect to a potential unforeseen problem or solution. The curiosity of what it could be will inspire them to want to open your message and can be a great way to prompt them to respond with feedback of their own.

 

“Congratulations on…”

Bringing attention to promotions, job changes and other noteworthy events that happen in your clients’ lives is a highly effective way to spark reciprocated communication and have your email stand out among the many that they receive.

 

There are endless ways to be creative and develop an inspiring email subject line that will grab your reader’s attention. Keep the focus on providing help to your clients and always be honest about the content of your message. Nothing breaks trust and leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth like opening an email and realizing that it has nothing to do with what it said it did.

By following these simple tips, your emails will get read and you will be surprised by the response and return you get for your efforts.

If you want some help crafting your own creative subject lines in your next email marketing campaign feel free to reach out and see how Crystal Marketing Solutions can get you started.

Google’s Hidden Gems

Google dominates our online personal lives.  If you are not utilizing it in your financial advisory firm as well, you are missing out.  While there is a paid option for businesses called G Suite, there are also tons of free tools that you can use to keep your office running smoothly.

Advisors are constantly in communication with clients, other advisors, team members, and so many others that the need for seamless communication and collaboration is high on their priority list.  There is always an email to send or respond to, a document to read or approve and the never-ending responsibility of running an office – itself a daunting task.

There are a few free tools that I use in my business and always recommend to my clients when they are looking for a way to make their everyday tasks a little easier.

Gmail

Google is one of the most credible and well-known email platforms.

One of the main things I love is the large storage capacity. With Gmail, you never have to erase your email archives.  With the free version, you get 15 GB of storage and cloud-based accessibility. To upgrade to 100 GB it is $1.99/month, which is what I use. I did not need to do this in my first few years, but when I finally did need to upgrade storage, it was well worth it.

If you use the free version to set up an email account for your business, you get to choose your own email address that will follow the standard format of YourName@gmail.com. Keep it professional and keep it simple. Ideally, and what I recommend, is to go the paid route with Gmail, for $50 per user/per year and you can get your email set up on your web domain and create a customized email address (name@yourcompany.com).

Google Drive

Google Drive is another life-changing tool, not only for business but for personal use as well.  It is cloud-based storage, document management and file collaboration all in one.  It is secure and takes going paperless to a whole new level.  With Google Drive, you can store all of your documents, grant access to specific people, and determine what level of access they have.

With Google Drive also comes the use of Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms – all for free!

The most significant benefit to using these tools is that they automatically update as you work.  In the not-so-distant past when a team was working on a project together, there was always the string of emails and attachments and multiple versions of a document going back and forth as everyone provided input and feedback.  Now with Google’s business productivity tools you can create the document, share it, and set permissions.  All previous versions are saved for reference if they are ever needed.  You and your team can work on it, at the same time, with real-time comments and chat. Talk about true team collaboration!

With the free version you get 15 GB to store any file, but there are options to pay to expand your storage if your needs warrant more space.

Calendar

Almost everyone has moved to a digital calendar.  The one that comes free with Gmail has a few options worth mentioning.  You can sync and share events with team members.  You can even share entire calendars.  One of the best features is the ability to create multiple calendars within your main calendar view.  Let’s say you want to view your personal, work, kids’ schedules, team schedules, conference room usage and anything else. You can create separate calendars for each different need.  With a simple click in a checkbox, you can choose which ones you can see at any given time.

There is also a feature that allows you to add outside (or public) calendars by having access to the URL.  You will find anything from sports teams to local public events.  As long as they have made their calendar public and searchable you can add their calendar to your view.

Google Calendar also allows for seamless integration with Google Maps when adding locations to your appointments, reminder options and even has options to schedule, accept, and reject appointment invites all within your email. If your office is required to work with Outlook, no worries.  Google Calendar is fully compatible with Microsoft Outlook as well.

Google Hangouts

Managing a team can be hard on your email inbox, but it doesn’t have to be.  There are so many options available to limit the need for an email back and forth and to handle quick questions, comments, and updates.  One of those options is Google Hangouts.  It is a chat/messenger that is integrated within Gmail.  This tool works very much like the old AOL Messenger.  You can have conversations with one person or add a group chat.  There is even a video chat feature.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool to help you analyze your website traffic. Your website is the center of all of your online marketing efforts.  It helps to know some numbers so that you can track how you are doing. I went into more detail about the importance of tracking data in this article.

With Google Analytics you can view and track website visitors, where they came from, what they did while they are on your website, as well as useful information about each visitor.  Using this information helps you target your content to the people who are visiting your site the most and helps you see areas that are not getting as much traffic as they should.

Google My Business

I have done a completely separate blog on why you should “Google” your own business, but I will mention it again here.  It is so important to not only show up in searches but to do everything you can to ensure that the information that is showing up is correct and complete.  By using Google My Business you can verify your account, add photos and videos, and provide detailed business information like office hours, location specifics, and phone numbers.

This is where most of your potential clients are going to go to search for you for the first time. You want to make sure all of the information they find is correct.

Google Chrome and Extensions

If you are using Google platforms it is important that you are also using Google Chrome as your web browser.  There are instances where some applications created by one company don’t play nicely with software developed by someone else.  You may experience glitches and problems, so I always recommend using Google Chrome.

Chrome has a simple design that is very responsive and easy to navigate.  It is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. It is also one of the most secure browsers with constantly released updates to resolve security concerns and fix bugs.

Last, but surely not least, are the endless number of apps that you can install and use in conjunction with Chrome.  There is a dedicated store for installing applications/extensions.  Some are free and some you have to purchase, but they all work seamlessly within Google Chrome. Some of my favorites are LastPassClick&Clean, and Grammarly. These are all programs that I use daily for my business and having them integrated into my web browser makes my life that much easier.

Integrations

Google goes a step farther than just apps and extensions for Chrome. There are also integrations with your email.

Boomerang for Gmail is an integration that lets you write an email now and schedule it to be sent automatically at another time. It also has a great reminder system that allows you to move messages from your inbox and remind you to follow up at a later date.  It also can remind you if you sent an email to someone and you haven’t gotten a response – it will just move it back to your inbox and ask you if you want to follow up.  It’s like your very own personal assistant for your email.

Streak is an internal customer relationship management (CRM) system that works inside of Gmail. The thought behind this integration is that you are communicating with most of your contacts or clients within your email, so why not track your CRM data there as well. It can pull your Gmail conversations automatically into your CRM without you having to do any manual entry. It is also very simple to install, learn and use. This cuts down on training time or complex onboarding processes.

I have touched briefly on a few of the top reasons why I use Google platforms and I hope I have been able to introduce you to a few new tips and tools that you didn’t previously know.  If you have any questions or you think that Crystal Marketing Solutions could help you with your marketing needs, please feel free to reach out.

What You Need for a Successful Onboarding Process

In my previous article in this series, I provided the how-to of lead nurturing and the actionable steps and even a few checklists and templates to get you started.

Now it is time to move on to the process of converting these prospects into clients and the onboarding process.

One of the biggest mistakes a financial advisor can make is to ignore the importance of creating a complete and cohesive client onboarding process.

What is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding is the process of welcoming new clients into your business, addressing their questions and concerns, and ensuring they understand all of the services available to them.  It a continuation of the conversation they have already been having with you during the nurturing or referral processes.

One of the biggest mistakes some financial advisors make is to assume that the onboarding process is part of their typical customer service functions or that it is just filling out some paperwork and you are on your way.  This can lead to confused and frustrated clients – that won’t be clients for long.

This process is the vital first experience a client experiences as part of your business family and will affect the impression that they have for the rest of your partnership.  Make sure that everything you sold them during the nurturing process holds true.

Who is involved in the process?

As I have written about before, a lead is someone who is aware of your business through various sources, contacts, and interactions.  Through your lead-nurturing process, you have captured their information and continued to nurture the contact into a prospect.

When does the process begin?

The onboarding process begins as soon as one of those prospects reaches out and makes contact to get more information and/or set an appointment to find out more about your services.  They now become a prospective client.  This is what you have been working for!

Benefits of having a process in place

I am a big advocate for systems, processes, and templates.  They save so much time and they help ensure that things don’t get missed.

You will be able to make changes and enhance the experience so that each client is getting only your best.  It will also help you set expectations in the client/advisor relationship.  This makes life easier and less stressful for everyone involved.

The Phases of the Onboarding Process

Now that you understand the “who, when, and why” of a client onboarding process, how do you get started?

There are several steps and key meetings that are typically included during the onboarding process that are broken into two phases: prospective client (or future client or pre-client) and new client. For each phase I want to provide you with what types of meetings are usually scheduled and a few details about each.

Prospective Client Phase

This is the pre-client stage; before someone is an actual client. This is still part of the sales process and making sure that advisor/firm and the potential client are a good fit.

Initial contact

This is what starts it all. This is the email or phone call where you will set the date and time for an introductory meeting.

Introductory Meeting / Discovery Call

This is typically a free, no-obligation meeting to get acquainted.  It is an opportunity to learn more about the potential client and assess their needs.  It is also a good time to share how your firm operates. This will help determine if you are a good fit for one another.

  • Review their needs, goals, concerns, and aspirations
  • Why did they reach out to your firm
  • Have them tell you their story, what got them to where they are, and where do they want to go
  • Share your firm’s philosophy, team, and processes
  • Explain timelines and budget expectations
  • Be sure to provide them with any handouts or documents they will need to move forward, as well as a clear explanation of the next steps they will need to take.

Information Gathering

The information gathering meeting is where all of the details and scope of work will be determined.

  • Establish goals and desired outcomes
  • Determined communication preferences (email, phone, mail, online)
  • Complete a Client Questionnaire (if not already done so)
  • Be sure to provide them with any handouts or documents they will need to move forward, as well as a clear explanation of the next steps they will need to take.

Proposal of Services

This is the piece of the process where you show the potential client how you can help them meet their goals and reach their desired outcomes.

  • Definition of services
  • Explanation of fees

Plan Presentation / Solutions Meeting

  • Present proposal
  • Answer questions
  • Receive feedback
  • Discuss partnership details

New Client Phase

Once the decision has been made to move forward it is time to get to work with your new client. This is what you have been working towards since the beginning of the marketing funnel. This phase is not always a series of meetings and may vary depending on whether the partnership is for a package of services or for ongoing services.

Once the partnership details have been worked out and the agreement has been signed there are a few extras that show you are willing to go the extra mile.

  • Be sure to introduce the entire team if you have not already done so
  • Have a professional and complete welcome pack with firm information
  • Review expectations and next steps
  • Include a thank you card and/or a small welcome gift

Suggested Tools/Resources

The client onboarding process can take trial and error and time to perfect.  A big part of developing a successful customer onboarding process is having an effective workflow to develop and track each of the steps listed above. Once you get started and document what you are doing, how it is working, and review for improvements you will start to see your hard work pay off.

There are several tools you can have in place to help you with this process:

  • CRM
  • Calendar scheduling tool
    • Set appointments
    • Send automated reminders with key information
    • Thank you emails
    • Workflow in a CRM can also help with this for clients that may not use email
  • Templates
    • This will make sure you are not reinventing the wheel and starting from scratch each time.
    • Worksheet/Questionnaire
    • Proposals
    • Meeting agendas
    • Follow up standards
  • Thank you cards or gifts
    • Nothing beats adding a personal touch.

The next part of this series covers the engage portion of the marketing funnel and client satisfaction.  There is an incredible opportunity for future revenue with long-term clients, including long-term value, beneficiaries, and referrals.

What You Should Know Before Using Stock Images

Pretty pictures could cost you a pretty penny

Stock photos are a great way to enhance your firm’s brand, but beware before you just copy and paste whatever picture grabs your attention from Google images – it could cost you! We live in a visual world – motivated and inspired by what we see as by what we hear. Your firm is known not only by its logo, but through the collection of pictures and visual imagery you include on your website and your marketing material.

You can quickly lose a client or prospect’s attention if your imagery is underwhelming or obnoxious. Most advisors don’t have the time or the desire to take original photos every time they need them/

For this reason, stock photos and images are frequently used.

There are quite a few rules and regulations behind using stock images.  Most require that you license and purchase them from the owner before using them. There are several websites you can easily buy images from such as Getty Images and iStock.  The prices can range from free to well into the thousands.

Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before using any images:

What Are You Using the Stock Image For?

Before spending your money on a bunch of pictures that inspire you, be sure you know your intentions for those images.  What do you plan to use a particular photo for – website or print publication such as marketing brochures? Photos come in different resolutions and sizes, and while a low-resolution image will work fine on a website it will look like a blurry mess when printed on a brochure. Choose the appropriate size and resolution image for your intended project and needs.

How Long Do You Need the Images For?

License agreements on images often have an expiration date, or you may only have permission to use it for a specific purpose. For example, if you purchase an image to use for your website you might not be allowed to then use that same image for a marketing brochure. Also, you may only be permitted to use a photo for a specific amount of time. After the specified amount of time has been exceeded you’ll need to renew your license to continue using that image.

Financial advisors use their website and social media platforms to attract and obtain potential clients, as well as communicate information to current clients.  The visual appearance (i.e., the images) can make or break the firm’s image and first impression. Make sure that you are following all laws and regulations in regards to choosing and using images.  If you are unsure you can always reach out to a marketing professional, otherwise, that pretty picture may end up costing you a pretty penny!

Five Tips for Effective Public Relations

Let’s start off by defining public relations and why it is important to financial advisors.

Merriam Webster defines public relations as: the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution.

That’s important! Advisors work very hard to create a certain image for themselves and their firm. It doesn’t matter how good your services are if nobody knows you exist or you have a poor online reputation. From your tagline and logo, to your website content and even your social media posts, everything is carefully crafted with the consideration of how a potential client will perceive it.

Here are five tips to make sure your public relations reinforces the image you’ve worked so hard to maintain:

  1. Offer noteworthy news only: People pay attention to what interests them, not what interests you or your company. Press releases and announcements must be relevant and noteworthy to your audience. Publicity can quickly become spam if no one is interested in what you’re talking about. A new designation, associate promotion, charity involvement, or public event is newsworthy. A new wing in your office does not need to be published in the local paper (but could be great for you to share in a client newsletter).
  2. Include additional material: An announcement is great, but when was the last time anyone felt compelled to read through a long and wordy statement that didn’t have accompanying pictures or an interesting video? If you’re going to announce something, have appealing visual media to support it, especially if you’re doing it in print or on the internet. If it is hard to visualize what you’re talking about, make sure you help readers do so any way you can.
  3. Involve yourself: Communication isn’t just about talking at people and hoping they care – it’s about being a person that can also listen to others and be respected in return. Part of that is being present in the relevant community. Participate in events or involve yourself and your firm in community events. Most people will say that it’s a transparent effort to get on the good side of your clients. They’d be right, and it is a worthwhile effort that works.
  4. Know your contact: News is better promoted when more people are talking about it – so build a relationship with a journalist or editor at your local newspaper. If you keep going to them with noteworthy news, eventually they’ll start coming to you to check if there’s anything they can report.
  5. Track the results: Whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing it right, you will have results – positive and negative. After any press release or public relations campaign, check your numbers. If you have more people buying, “liking” you – or the opposite, then you’ll know whether or not to do that again or to call it an effective public relations strategy.

PR can be a bit tricky to execute, but with these five useful tips, you will ensure that your campaigns are productive and positive.

A Generational Gap in Digital Marketing?

Should financial advisors spend their digital marketing efforts on a specific generation?

The best way to promote your services through digital marketing –depends on who is your target market. That depends on the age range of the people you are trying to reach. Your choices can span from the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X to Millennials.

Can all generations be reached with the same message, through the same media?

Each generation has unique characteristics that shape the way they make decisions and how they spend their time and money. To create effective marketing campaigns it is important to understand the differences (and similarities) in how each generation prefers to receive digital content. You may be surprised by what you learn!

First, let’s look at a breakdown of the generations living in America today and some information that will help shape messages you use to reach them:

The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) grew up in a time of rationing and saving. They are patriotic and value morals and ethics. Seeing and understanding the history of a business or product is important to them, as they appreciate established brands.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are also referred to as the “Me Generation.” They hold the majority of the country’s wealth, which is partially because women of this generation started working outside the home in record numbers. Boomers respond well to marketing that focuses on what’s in it for them.

Generation X (born 1965-very early 1980s) reached adulthood in tough economic times, and many grew up in homes where both parents worked. As a result, they are more independent and focus less on loyalty. They are currently at an age where they are busy with their career, young families, and are looking for products and services that make things easier for them.

Millennials/Generation Y (early 1980s – early 2000s) are the children of the original Baby Boomers and are set to become one of the largest living generations. This generation is growing up with technology at their fingertips and is used to information coming at them from every direction. They value friendships, so word-of-mouth marketing is effective (think of a Facebook “like” of your financial advisory firm showing up on their newsfeed).

Now that you understand the breakdown of the generations and what motivates them, how do you reach them?

Putting information online is an extremely effective way to get your message seen by a broad audience. But where do you start? What are the most popular platforms for each group?

Surprisingly enough, all generations have similar preferences for types of content and how they receive information:

Blog posts

Across all generations, blog posts are the most consumed type of online content. A blog gives you the ability to provide relevant content to your clients and potential clients, driving them to your website and social media platforms.

You can vary the messaging in each blog post to reach different audiences, which allows you to keep everyone engaged. A blog post on creating a family budget may appeal to a Generation X client whereas a post on financial planning for long-term health care may appeal to a Baby Boomer. If you provide new content on a regular basis, you will consistently draw different audiences to your business.

Facebook and other social media platforms

Even though the motives for joining Facebook may be different for each group, Facebook adoption is still growing for all ages. Creating a company Facebook page is worth the effort as long as you are also willing to use it to connect with clients and prospects.

Someone from the Silent or Baby Boomer generation may join Facebook strictly to see and post pictures of grandchildren. But if you can connect with them, your updates are likely to be more visible to this group because they typically have fewer “friends” and less showing up in their newsfeed. This will keep your business name fresh in their mind.

Gen Xers research online and if you give them a solution that is quick and easy they will like it. Using Facebook to push your blog posts, relevant articles, or maybe information about a wealth management seminar you are hosting is a great way to reach these clients efficiently.

And finally, my reference above about Millennials putting a Facebook “like” in high regards is a great example of how businesses can earn recognition and familiarity with this age group. Perhaps this group may not have an immediate need for a financial advisor but when they do you are already their “friend”!

Email

Target email campaigns are the most effective way to reach a specific segment of your client base without overwhelming other groups with non-relevant information. Tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact simplify the process of sending out information electronically.

Once you have email addresses you can create separate lists based on age and any other demographic information you are tracking. You can utilize automated emails, personalization, and activity-trend analysis. By using email marketing, you can reach a specific group in a place that they are typically checking often – their email.

Marketing across many generations may still require different messages, but by using digital media you can reach each group successfully and inexpensively. The key is to keep the content fresh and ever-changing, targeting a new audience with the next bit of information you are providing.

The fascinating thing about digital marketing is that record numbers of people are proactively going online looking for information. All you need to do is provide them with what they need, or may need and just don’t know it yet!

If you are still unclear on what is the best way to reach your target market, the right content to provide, or the right platform to use, I can help. Please reach out and see how I can help you create a customized marketing strategy that is right for your financial advisory firm and your ideal client.

My Favorite Podcasts

Here is a list of some of the podcasts I enjoy in my not so ample free time. I tend to listen to these as part of my morning routine, driving, or part of my evening routine. It also helps the time go by faster when I am doing dreaded chores around the house like washing dishes or folding laundry. Feel free to check them out and share your favorites!

Finance

Becoming Referable

By Stephen Wershing
Becoming Referable is a bi-weekly podcast that will help you increase referrals. Each episode focuses on actionable ideas that you can use in your business – right away. Your hosts are referral and client engagement experts, Stephen Wershing and Julie Littlechild and, along with their guests, they’ll share current research, evidence-based strategies, and insights from experts from within financial services and beyond.

Financial Advisor Success

By Michael Kitces
The Financial Advisor Success podcast brings you real success stories and insights from the most successful financial advisors, and leading industry consultants, about how to take your advisory business to the next level. Get a glimpse of what it’s like behind the scenes building a successful advisory business, and how entrepreneurial advisors navigate the inevitable highs, and lows, of growing a firm. Whether you’re a new financial advisor trying to get started on the right foot, or an experienced advisor who’s hit a wall, we’re here to give you the insights and inspiration you need to break through and reach the level of success you want to achieve.

XYPN Radio

By Alan Moore and Michael Kitces
With an honest and forward-thinking perspective, host Alan Moore, various guests, and occasional co-host Michael Kitces, deliver insights and knowledge to advisors in the financial planning industry who want to build better businesses that serve Gen X and Gen Y clients. Through the expertise of leaders in the field and case studies from financial planners like you, the discovery of how you can serve your own generation to help them achieve their financial goals starts today

Business

 

The Accidental Creative

By Todd Henry
The Accidental Creative podcast shares how to build practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work. Host Todd Henry (author of the books The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, and Louder Than Words) interviews artists, authors, and business leaders, and offers tips for how to thrive in life and work.

The Productivityist Podcast

By Mike Vardy
Hosted by productivity strategist Mike Vardy, The Productivityist Podcast is a weekly show that discusses tips, tools, tactics, and tricks that are designed to help you take your productivity, time management, goals, to do lists, habits, and workflow to new heights – both at work and at home. If you’re looking to focus your efforts on getting the right things done and start living the good life, then this weekly conversational podcast – crafted in the tradition of Slate’s Working, Back to Work, and HBR IdeaCast – is for you.

Small Business Boss

By Maggie Patterson & Brittany Becher
Small Business Boss takes you behind-the-scenes of running a small business with a focus on fluff-free lessons to help you grow your own business and get paid. If you work with clients, this show will show you how to find, book and wow your clients, while tackling the big issues that come with running a business from money to hiring to productivity.

Faith

 

Be Still Be Free

By Sara, Monica, and Amber
Be still and know that He is God. And after you know Him, be free to BE. Fresh, honest and real life conversations about what it means to BE instead of DO. Be Still Be Free seeks to elevate the minds of women through inspiring words and refreshing truthfulness. (And lots of laughter and coffee.)

Focus on the Family

By Jim Daly and John Fuller
Focus on the Family is a half-hour daily dose of encouragement and advice for the family with Jim Daly and John Fuller. Focus on the Family began airing in 1977. It is now carried daily on 2,000 radio outlets in the United States and has become one of today’s most recognized Christian radio programs.

 

Family & Self

 

Happier

By Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is HAPPIER, and she wants you to be happier too. The #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before gets more personal than ever as she brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively, thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s cohost and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer living in Los Angeles, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully.

Marriage Is Funny

By Jessie Artigue & Gerard Brown
These are honest conversations from a married couple who is trying to figure it out like everybody else. The best recipe for a healthy marriage is the right mix of love + laughter, and we believe that talking things out and tight bear hugs fix [almost] everything. Join us on the journey and we’ll show you that there is humor in every mess.

Motivating Mom

By Lisa Druxman
Lisa Druxman is ready to motivate you! It is her passion to raise healthy moms so that they can raise healthy kids in a healthy world. Get out of overwhelm and get in to living your best life as a mom! Join us as we inspire you each week to eat clean, live fit and be happy! We will talk food, fitness, life balance and living with purpose and passion. Lisa will bring on a variety of guests and will answer your questions! This is a weekly podcast.

The Chalene Show

By Chalene Johnson
Tips, resources, interviews and practical steps to help you improve energy, balance, organization, health, fitness, relationships, focus, faith, and happiness. Each episode is designed to give you strategies and simple steps you can implement today to become a better, more balanced, happier version of yourself.

The James Altucher Show

By James Altucher
James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, investor, board member, and the writer of 11 books including the recent WSJ Bestseller, “Choose Yourself!” (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter). He has started and sold several companies for eight figure exits. He’s on the board of a billion revenue company, has written for The Financial Times, The New York Observer, and over a dozen popular websites for the past 15 years. He’s run several hedge funds, venture capital funds, and is a successful angel investor in technology, energy, and biotech. He has also lost all his money, made it back, lost it, made it back several times and openly discusses how he did it in his columns and books.

A Peek Inside the Process to Updating a Financial Adviser’s Website

Welcome to the New Window to LRPC

A financial adviser’s website serves as a tool to build trust and create relationships with clients and potential clients. Very rarely will a first time visitor turn into a client right away. They are going to use your website to find out more about you, what doing business with you is like, and to form an opinion about you and your services – before even meeting you.

This is why it is so important to make sure that your website is not only visually appealing, but also an accurate and engaging representation of you and your business.

The Situation

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) is a small Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm based in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, and for more than 30 years Robert C. Lawton has helped employers in Illinois and Wisconsin manage their 401k plan responsibilities.

The website was dated and in need of a refresh. While it contained some great content it was very text heavy and hard to navigate. There was room for improvement when it came to SEO (search engine optimization) and calls to action.

The Process – Brainstorming

Mr. Bob Lawton reached out to Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC (CMS) through the Consulting Package. He had been managing his own website and was somewhat marketing savvy. He knew that he needed help to make some changes, but wasn’t sure of exactly what and where to start.

Bob was receiving a significant amount of traffic to his website through his original, educational content, but was having a hard time generating leads. He did not have defined call to actions to get the audience’s attention and establish a relationship with the viewer. He had the basic email newsletter form and contact form but needed something more to encourage interaction and feedback from his audience. Through our conversations, it was found that a free download could be perfect to help him in this area.

He also knew he needed a more modern, less text heavy feel that would not overwhelm the viewer, but instead would allow them to navigate through the website with ease.

The Goals

Based on our initial meetings and his vision for the website we set the following goals:

  • Clear messaging and calls to action.
  • Build trust with visitors with the use of legible copy, lifestyle/genuine photography, and clear branding.
  • Stay true to the business and image while making the website more user/SEO friendly.
  • Still appeal to his current clients, while increasing his chance of reaching new clients.

The Work

The project began with the task of copying all of the content from the current site and organizing it into a user-friendly format. We wanted to offer a simple, clean, and unique design that is different from competitors. Clear messaging was also key, as it was important that visitors to the site knew what they were looking at as quickly as possible once they were on the page and didn’t have to go searching for information. This required simplifying the site map, an intentional layout of menu items, and strategic placement of resources. By using a familiar layout and menu items visitors will be able to more easily navigate the site to find the information they need.

On the home page specifically, we wanted to establish what makes him different. We included his 3 main differentiators and trust-building logos in the footer, including publications he had been featured in.  This immediately builds trust and verification that he is a thought leader in his industry.

We incorporated keyword rich titles, meta descriptions, and content on each page. Proper metadata sends clear signals to Google and other web crawlers to let them know what you are – and what searches you should show up in.

We stayed with the target of at least 2,000 words total per page. This is very good for both SEO as well as large and important purchase decisions. However, ample use of headlines, subheads, graphics, and interactive sections made the content easily digestible and easy to navigate.

We also included featured photos, title or sharing heading, and a brief description of each page for SEO/social sharing.  This ensures that when a link is shared through social media, such as Twitter, FaceBook, and even the latest version of Messages on iOS, that the previews will appear correctly with a description and the chosen image.  This makes sharing much easier, cleaner, and increases the chances that someone else will share your content as well.

Once the content was laid out we worked together to create clear calls to action to encourage site visitors to engage and spend time exploring the information that Mr. Lawton had to provide.  This included signing up for a newsletter and receiving a copy of a white paper he had written. Remember that free download we mentioned earlier?

Of course with any financial website we had to include legal disclosures, disclaimers, privacy policy, and copyright.  We reviewed each one and made sure they were included in the footer to not only provide the needed information but also provide consistency throughout the website.

The Outcome

With the creation of the clear calls to action and automated email responses, Mr. Lawton will no longer have to manage the process himself.  Nothing is missed and he is capturing the information he needs while engaging with his visitors. As one of the final steps, CMS assisted in the setup of Google Analytics so that he will be able to track his traffic and metrics and see how his numbers will improve over time.

With the creation of the clear calls to action and automated email responses, Mr. Lawton will no longer have to manage the process himself.  Nothing is missed and he is capturing the information he needs while engaging with his visitors. As one of the final steps, CMS assisted in the setup of Google Analytics so that he will be able to track his traffic and metrics and see how his numbers will improve over time.

The cleaner look and the clearer messaging will allow him to be able to promote his business in a way that more closely fits his perspective and will be more appealing to potential clients and site visitors.  This will alleviate the need to duplicate content on multiple pages, but still allow the visitor to link to and view useful additional information and resources. There is a possibility that current clients may even find resources now that they didn’t know were available.

The cleaner look and the clearer messaging will allow him to be able to promote his business in a way that more closely fits his perspective and will be more appealing to potential clients and site visitors.  This will alleviate the need to duplicate content on multiple pages, but still allow the visitor to link to and view useful additional information and resources. There is a possibility that current clients may even find resources now that they didn’t know were available.

Coming into this project Mr. Lawton was clear about who he was, who his ideal client was, and his vision for the appearance of his website.  He needed assistance in maximizing the potential of the site through SEO and the behind the scenes technical data that helps improve views.  By combining his vision with the expertise of Crystal Marketing Solutions for the technical aspects of the project, we were able to produce an amazing site that accomplished his goals while also making sure that he is gaining all of the benefits from his online presence.

If you think your website needs a refresh,  you are not sure why you are not getting conversions from your site, or you think that traffics seems a little slow, please reach out to me and I would love to see how Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC could help you maximize your online presence.

Four Marketing Metrics You Should Track

Almost all financial advisors know the importance of client satisfaction. It’s a way of gauging what they are doing right and where they could use improvement when it comes to managing their firm.  Most of them, however, have not thought about tracking other important data such as performance and marketing metrics.

Tracking this type of information can give a clearer picture of how a firm is doing not only with their business, but also with their marketing efforts.  When this data is compared to established benchmarks and objectives you can see whether there has been progress towards reaching marketing and business goals.  This valuable information can be used to help increase the effectiveness of marketing efforts, but you have to know where you started to know how far you have come.

Here is a list of important items I like to track for my clients:

  1. Client data

AUM, households, accounts, average household income, revenue

This type of information is probably the easiest to track and most advisors already have a system in place to collect the information – a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system.  If you do not currently have a CRM in place, you can read this article to get more detailed information on where to start.

This is the foundation for seeing if your financial advisory firm (book of business) is growing, and it is also vital to keeping tabs on how your business is doing.  You can use this information and compare it to other marketing metrics to find trends in what is working and what is not.  This data can also show you what your ideal client looks like and help you set up a target client profile. This is important to finding the right types of clients, not just increasing your numbers.

  1. Website data

Sources of website traffic, unique visitors, time spent on site, conversions, sales, bounce rate

Most websites have data tracking built in. If they do not there are many options available. One that is fairly comprehensive, as well as free, is Google Analytics.  But what do all of these terms mean and how do they help you grow your business?  Let me explain.

Key data to track

Sources – Where the website visitors coming from.  Are they clicking links from your articles, social media, advertisements, emails or search engines?  By seeing this information you can know what sources are most beneficial to bringing traffic to your website.

Most popular pages – Exactly what it says.  By tracking most popular pages, especially blogs, you will know that those hot topics are to focus on.

Other considerations

You can also use website metrics to see how many new/unique visitors you have compared to repeat visitors.

Behavior – How long are visitors staying on your site? What are they doing while there?

Conversions – Who is just looking around and who is taking action (using the contact us page or subscribe feature)? A financial advisor’s site is setup to generate leads, not to make a sale.  If the goal is to increase subscribers to your email list you can see who is taking this action from your website compared to emails or other outlets.

Bounce rate – Will let you know who is coming to your site and then leaving without spending any time or taking any action.  This may help you see where a source is not being as productive as it could be. Factors to consider include whether or not you are marketing to the wrong audience, or your website needs updating to become more user friendly.  You can read this article for more information about getting the most out of your website.

  1. Social media data

Followers, likes, and connections

By tracking your social media metrics you can get a better picture of how well you are using your social media platforms to make important connections with current and potential clients. You can use a simple spreadsheet to track this information, or use one of the many social media tracking tools available on the market.  Or, better yet, you could hire a marketing professional that has the tools and the know-how already in place. I am not going into great detail here because a majority of this information is easily accessible, but do know that it is imperative to be aware of the various ways to measure your success in the wide world of social media and how you can use this wealth information to your advantage.

Key data to track

Total Followers – Your audience. While you don’t want a massive following of people that are not paying attention to your content, it is still important to see an upward trend on a regular basis.

Other considerations

Likes/Share/Comments/Clicks – All indicators of engagement.  People are doing more than just reading or passing over your content.  Increases in these numbers are a good indicator of doing something right.  You can use it to continue to tailor your content to your audience.

It is important to watch your follower/following ratio. You want to engage people.  The more you get out there and interact with people and their content, the more likely they will be to reciprocate the action.  This isn’t as important early on, but it can help you develop into a thought leader in your industry.

  1. Emails

Opens and clicks

Time and effort go into creating emails; there should be some time and effort put into tracking what is happening once they are sent out.  If you use an email marketing service like MailChimp or Constant Contact, certain metrics are built into the reporting system. This takes the guess work out of the process. An email campaign goes beyond writing and sending an email to everyone in your address book. You want to be intentional with your communications, and the only way to know if it is working is to track what happens through it.

Key data to track

Opens – This means tracking the number of subscribers that are opening your emails. Are your emails being read or are they being sent straight to the trash bin? You need to work to keep your content relevant and avoid being “spammy.” You also want to make sure you are not getting filtered to the junk folder by using engaging but clear subject lines.  If your unengaged subscribers numbers become large it may be time to clean up the list or change the way you are approaching your email campaigns.

Clickthrough Rate – While knowing if someone opened your email can be useful, it can be more beneficial to know how many people actually clicked on the links provided in the email. By looking at your clickthrough rate you can see how many of your subscribers are reading your messages and taking action. This shows you the number of engaged and interested readers.

Other considerations

Bounce Rate – This number will show you how many of your emails were undeliverable. If this number gets high it is time to clean up your subscriber/email list to get a more accurate number of people receiving your emails.

Conversion Rate – If you have asked your readers to complete an action this number can show you the ratio of those that did so.  This too can show you the different success rates of various “calls to action.”

List Growth Rate – New subscribers in ratio to the number of unsubscribes. It is important to know that unsubscribes will happen, and it is okay.  It is just a good idea to keep an eye on and monitor whether or not the growth rate is rising.

Sharing/Following – Is your audience finding your information useful? Are they sharing it with other like-minded people? It is important to make sure you are making it as easy as possible to share your information.  If this number is low you may want to consider if any changes are needed.

Closing

There are so many ways that you can track the effectiveness and efficiency of your online marketing strategies. The key is not to get overwhelmed. It’s okay to start small, but start somewhere.  Financial advisors are moving more and more to online marketing as a means to gain new clients and increase client satisfaction. There is no way to know if this effort is successful if you are not tracking the correct information. It is important to begin to focus on the metrics of the business, not just the client.

If this sounds like something that would be beneficial to your financial advisory firm, but you don’t know where to start, please contact me. As a marketing professional, I have helped many clients set up and successfully track various business and marketing metrics. I can also help you draw the correlation between this data and your marketing goals. My goal is to help you reach your goals and grow your business.

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