Why digital is changing the way advisers do business

The quick pivot to digital

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the COVID-19 pandemic forced advisers to pivot and find new ways to take client engagement online. By April 2020, 87% of advisers were consulting over the phone, 80% were having online dialogue, 53% were talking to clients by video1.

While talking to clients via phone or video might be nothing new, 2020 brought about a need for advisers to put digital engagement front and centre.

The benefits of doing digital well

As a time-poor adviser, a good digital marketing strategy can do a lot of heavy lifting for you, keeping you top of mind with clients. By getting some fundamentals in place, you can save precious hours and open up new possibilities to service clients with a 'one to many' approach.

Doing digital well can help grow your practice. Top performing practices not only excel at attracting new clients, they are more likely to use digital methods of engagement with the clients2

To help you on the journey, we've created this digital marketing guide for financial advisers. 

Embrace the digital trend with
BT Panorama

  • ‘Embracing digital technology for better client engagement’ guide
  • Tips for streamlining client consent on BT Panorama
  • Key benefits of digital consent
  • How to use the digital consent workflow
  • Tools to help you engage your clients digitally
Call out

Tips and Strategies

The good news is, you don’t need to be into HTML coding or have a bottomless pit of money to create an attractive and functional website. But some basic knowledge will certainly help you decide what you do and don’t need. 
 

Your options for creating a website

Theme based websites

  • Website development companies build ready-to-go ‘website themes’ designed for specific types of businesses. Like templates, the themes are usually flexible and come with various colours and layouts. Imagery can be updated, and your branding can be applied fairly easily without having to use HTML. And if you get stuck, a freelance website developer can help you make the changes.

Customised websites

  • This option is better suited to you if you have a very specific vision of what you want your website to look like. Having a website customised for you is a much more costly option, but it does mean you can get exactly what you want. If you go down this path, you may need to pay a website agency or freelancers to design and build the site for you.

Finding freelancers

One thing to bear in mind when looking for a freelancer, is that they may be highly skilled in website design, but not in website development – and vice versa. If you’re going down the customised route, a website agency will have all the required skills in house. If you want to save money and use freelancers, for a better result you may need to find two separate freelancers – one for website design and then another for website build.

Before your website goes live

Registering a domain name

  • Your domain name is essentially your website address. It’s what people will type into a search engine to find your site, so it needs to be something that’s easy to remember and find. When choosing your domain name, you’ll have a few options, for example whether to choose ‘.com’ or ‘.com.au’. Once you’ve chosen a domain name that is available, you can register it through sites such as Crazy Domains, Netregistry or GoDaddy.

Finding a website hosting provider

  • Once your website is ready to go, it needs to be hosted somewhere in the cloud so that people can access it. Domain name registration and website hosting can often go hand in hand. For example, companies that offer bundles that include domain name and hosting options so bundling these together could save you some time and money.

Writing a compelling 'About' page

While your home page, services page and blog are key landing spots for your website visitors, the importance of your ‘About’ page is not to be underestimated.

It’s your chance to show your personality, build confidence with your audience and win them over. Below are some key things to include:

  • What you do and who you do it for

  • The main problem you solve for your customers

  • How long you've been a financial adviser - and why you became one

  • Photos of you (and your team if you have one)

  • Your point of difference - why do your clients love you?

  • Client testimonial videos or quotes – let your clients sell you

  • Share something personal about you – about your family or special interests you have.

Website Checklist

Design & layout

  • In line with your branding

  • Avoid clutter and use plenty of white space

  • Mobile-friendly

  • Easy to read fonts

  • Simple and easy to navigate

  • Compelling imagery: the less 'stock' like the better

  • Prominent call to-action on each page

  • Internal links to other relevant pages

  • Social media links

  • Email/newsletter sign up box

Content

  • Home page: State clearly who you are, who you help - and how

  • About page: make it relatable and personal with team photos and testimonials

  • Services page: clearly communicate your services

  • Use headlines to communicate a benefit and problem you can solve

  • Keep paragraphs short and to the point

  • Break up large blocks of content with subheadings and bullet points

  • ‘Human’ language, no corporate jargon

  • Client videos and testimonials

  • Blog: relevant, high quality content

2. Power up your email marketing

When email is the preferred channel for digital contact among advised clients4 getting your email strategy right is crucial. But a word of caution - the email inbox is a cluttered space and the average inbox has an average of 276 new or unread emails5, so your emails must offer plenty of value to your readers.

Male on phone

Tips and Strategies

If you're planning to send out marketing emails and newsletters to your client base, use these tips and strategies to help you keep some core principals front of mind: 
 

Key ingredients to a great newsletter

Getting noticed

  • Make sure your reader knows the email is from you - they're more likely to open it. Your subject line is just as important.

  • Make it personal by using their first name

  • List the hot topics covered in your newsletter

  • Ask a thoughtful question.

Being relevant

  • If you service clients across different life stages, you might consider segmenting your audience into two newsletters with more age relevant content

  • Or letting your audience self-select the content they are interested in.

Scannability

  • As humans, we tend to scan online content. When it comes to newsletters, your readers will quickly want to assess which content is interesting to them. Include headings in your newsletter and separate your content into chunks so that it’s easy to scan

  • Also keep your content short and sweet and include links to your website for further reading.

Design & layout

  • Keep the layout clean, orderly and simple – preferably in a single column format. The fonts should be standard and ‘email safe’ (no fancy fonts your audience can’t read). Your email template must be mobile responsive

  • Make sure your newsletter matches your branding and use striking imagery for maximum impact.

Frequency & timing

  • Monthly is the most common frequency for newsletters. Mornings typically attract a higher open rate7, but it’s best to do some testing and work out what day and time your audience prefers.

Deciding on newsletter content

If you find yourself staring at a blank page, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Answer common client questions – what do you get asked the most?

  • Articles you have published on your blog

  • Share client stories – humans have a natural curiosity to see what others are doing

  • Team updates – from your paraplanners to your admin staff

  • Interesting research you may have found

  • Useful articles or books you’ve read for a personal touch.

Or you can simply ask your clients what they want to know about. Creating an online survey with free and easy-to-use software such as SurveyMonkey is one way to go about it. Another option is to ask your audience on social media what topics they’re interested in.

3 tips on building your email list

You have your email marketing up and running, and now you want to grow your email list. Here are some simple, but effective strategies:

  • Invite sign ups - include a newsletter ‘sign up’ box on your website to capture the details of potential clients. Be careful not to ask for too much information upfront – first name and email should be enough until you get to know them better.

  • Ask existing clients to send your newsletters on to friends or family who might be interested - this is a great way to start engaging the sons or daughters of your clients.

  • Create a ‘high value’ resource that solves a pain point for your audience - this could be, for example, an e-guide or checklist. They will be more willing to provide their email address if they know they will get some value at the other end. Once you’ve created this resource, you can host it on your website and use it through your other channels too.

5 reasons why people switch off email

  • A comprehensive study of marketing emails and newsletters by Neilsen Norman Group8 found some common reasons why people switch off to emails they receive. Here are the five main culprits:

  • Emails are delivered too frequently – bombarding your audience with emails will only frustrate them and dilute the value you’re providing.

  • The content isn’t relevant to the audience – sending your audience content that means nothing to them may cause them to question how well you know them.

  • There is too much information – trying to cram in too much content could overwhelm your readers and reduce the chances of them reading it.

  • The content is low quality – avoid the trap of finding content to ‘fill’ your email or newsletter. It won’t serve you in the long term. Ensuring your content is well written, researched and informative will increase the chances of your audience engaging with your content.

  • The content is too salesy – as an adviser and trusted expert, you have a lot of knowledge to share. Putting education at the forefront of your emails will add more value and remind both existing and potential clients why they’re engaging with you in the first place.

Female reading

Tips and Strategies

There are no hard and fast rules as to how you should be splitting your time on social media. Just remember to limit the selling and be intentional about the time you do spend online. 

 

3 key areas to focus on

1. Brand building

  • Building your ‘likeability’ and relationship with your audience should be an important part of your social media strategy. With many other advisers to compete with, showing your human side and personality can really pay off.

2. Educating

  • Just as important is raising your credibility and building an online reputation as a go-to expert. By providing education and sharing useful insights, you can ‘show, not tell’ what value you bring.

3. Promotion

  • While you should limit the amount of ‘selling’ you do on social media to avoid disengaging your audience, you can create content that inspires your audience to get in touch with you. An inspiring client video, for example, can serve the dual purpose of uplifting your audience, while showing how you’ve helped turn around a client’s financial future.

Personal or Business profile?

Putting your professional foot forward

  • A business profile provides potential clients more opportunity to research and reassure themselves about your brand. In just a few minutes, they’ll be able to look at your customer reviews, see how you engage with your followers and get insights into you and your business.

Publishing content

  • A business profile gives you a platform to publish content. Your friends and family will have different reasons for connecting with you on social media, so keeping your personal and professional posts separate means you can engage clients and potential clients, without annoying everyone else.

Referral partnerships

  • It will be easier to ‘network’ online and build your referral partnerships with a professional looking business social media profile.

More tools and features

  • A social media presence for your business means you’ll get access to more tools and features. For example, some platforms, such as Facebook, will not allow you to promote posts or create ads without a business page.

A winning formula for businesses

1. Publish regularly - regularly publish relevant content that's useful, helpful, engaging, thought-provoking or entertaining

2. Get personal - take people behind-the-scenes of your brand, and show the 'whites of the eyes' of the owners of the business

3. Listen - listen to your audience and engage in conversation in a genuine, empathetic way.   

Getting creative with your posts

1. Ask a question - social media is designed for two-way interaction and asking your audience a question shows that you're interested in what they have to say. 

2. Create visual interest - posts with imagery perform better on social media and thinking outside the box will open up more variety to your posts.

3. Go behind the scenes - take photos of your team at the office or of your clients coming to see you. 

4. Share stories - about you and your team, or about your clients. Whether it be a client video, or a story about how proud you are about one of your clients, or sharing the success of a team member who has passed an exam. Your audience will appreciate you spreading positive news.

5. Trending topics - using trending topics or key calendar events to inspire your posts is a good way to come up with fresh ideas and topics. 

Male blue shirt reading ipad

Tips and Strategies

Taking your online engagement to the next level with video, webinars and podcasts. Follow these tips and strategies to get started.
 

Using video for one to one client engagement

  • Because video content is highly personal, it can keep you connected with existing clients while letting potential clients get to know the person (or people) behind your brand.
  • Video doesn’t have to be costly either. Where people used to expect highly polished video content, authentic and ‘real’ content is now more likely to hit the mark. Filming a video on your smart phone is acceptable, just as long as the sound quality and content itself is up to standard. 
  • If filming your own footage feels a bit daunting, you could search for a ‘green screen’ studio near you and batch film some videos for cost efficiency.

Thought starters for video content

Getting started with video is often the hardest taks. Testing the waters with one-to-one videos might help you build confidence on camera. Once you're feeling more comfortable with going 'public', there are some ideas:

  • Host a Q&A - ask your clients to send in their questions
  • Interview a client and their family members
  • Film short introductions to your team members
  • Behind the scenes footage from your office
  • Explaining a financial concept in simple terms. 

Going 'live' on camera

If you're thinking about giving Facebook Live a go, here are 5 tips:

  1. Make sure you have a strong internet connection
  2. Engage in real time - say hello, ask and answer questions
  3. Don't rush - Facebook prioritises video streams that are over 3 minutes long
  4. Give your audience plenty of warning when you'll be live
  5. Mix it up - try different settings and formats to keep your audience engaged. 

Creating two-way dialogue with webinars

Webinars are a great tool to share your expertise and create more two-way dialogue with your audience. For existing clients, providing this education is a nice ‘add-on’ to your existing service. And for potential clients, it’s an opportunity to get to know you and the value you can offer.

It’s no wonder that during 2020, some webinar providers reported a significant jump in viewings11.

Statistics also show that webinars with industry experts lead to a high engagement rate12 – which is great news for you as an adviser and financial expert.

Tips and tools for creating a good podcast

  • A strong concept or ‘angle’ for your podcast - this could be the way you deliver your content, or a specific niche you want to focus on. 
  • A catchy and memorable title – The Pineapple Project, She’s on the Money and The Money Café are great examples.
  • A format that’s practical and repeatable – be it an interview or answering your top client questions, once you’ve found a formula that works, work on mastering that first.
  • Recording software – some podcasters record using an iPhone and pair of headphones. But sound quality is crucial, so it’s worth investing in a good quality microphone. If you’re planning to present the show solo, you can record directly into editing software on your laptop, which makes editing nice and simple. If you need to accommodate multiple voices, you’ll need to invest in a portable recording solution. 
  • Editing software – once you’ve recorded your podcast, you’ll need to edit it to take out any bloopers or content that doesn’t add value. For easy-to-use editing software, try Audacity. Or, you can outsource the editing to someone else.
  • A place to host and publish your podcast – similar to finding a hosting provider for your website, you’ll need to do the same with your podcasts. And once you’ve done that, you’ll need to list your podcast with top directories such as Spotify to reach your potential listeners.

Case Study: Catapult Wealth

Tips for digital success:

  • Partnering with professionals pays off for the quality of your content
  • Make mistakes during recording to put guests at ease - it can be edited later
  • Don't try to make it perfect, you'll learn much more by experimenting.

Outcomes for the business:

  • Over 1,100 subscribers and three direct referrals within the year
  • A growing network of experts and inspiring people supporting further referrals
  • New opportunities to present to a live audience as an expert on succession planning.
Call out

Tips and Strategies

Whichever route you take, there are pros and cons to consider. It all depends on the capacity and confidence you have in getting the job done yourself.
 

Understanding the pros and cons

Taking a DIY approach will save you money and allow you to stay closer to your digital marketing activities. But it’s time intensive and can take a while to learn the ropes. On the other hand, outsourcing to experts will save you time and let you stay focused on your clients. But you’ll need to invest resources and some time getting an agency or freelancer up to speed.

Pros

Cons


DIY

  • Cost savings
  • More involved and connected
  • More control
  • Time intensive 
  • Lack of experience/knowledge


Outsourcing

  • Done by marketing experts
  • Time saving
  • Stay focused on your clients
  • Investment required
  • Time to on-board
  • Over reliance on provider

5 things to look for in an agency or freelancer

If you decide to enlist the help of experts, make sure you do plenty of due diligence first. Here are five things to look for when searching for an agency or freelancer to take on your digital marketing:

  1. Type of agency or freelancer – some providers offer a broad range of digital marketing services. Others may be niche and specialise in just social media or website design for example. Going niche may get you expertise in a certain area but looking for a more holistic service could make things more streamlined for you. 

  2. Genuine interest in helping your business – your first interactions with a potential provider will give you some indication as to the kind of service you can expect if you become a client. Any provider you’re considering giving business to should show a genuine interest in helping you achieve your business goals. 

  3. Generosity with their time in getting to know you – getting to know you and your business may take some time. Part of the introduction and proposal process is about getting to know what you and your business are about. Your values, your team and your ideas. 

  4. Expertise in financial services or working in a similar field – while you might not want to find a provider who has a long list of financial planning businesses as clients, someone who has experience in financial services – or a similar profession – is more likely to hit the ground running.

  5. Existing clients on their books – the number and quality of existing clients can tell you a lot about an agency or freelancer’s experience and track record. Don’t be shy in finding out who your potential provider is currently servicing. This will also help you weed out any potential conflicts of interest.

5 questions to ask before you hire outside help

Whether you opt for an agency or freelancer, there are two common charging models; a project-based fee or monthly retainer. A project-based fee is essentially a set fee for a one-off project. If, for example, you hire a website agency to design and build your website, it’s likely that they will quote a set fee for the project. For someone to manage your social media presence, a monthly retainer for an agreed scope of services would make more sense. Here are 5 questions to ask before you hire outside help:

1. What is your existing capacity?

2. What breadth of services do you offer?

3. How large or small is your team?

4. What activities would you recommend for a business like mine?

5. How do you charge for your services?

How to get the most out of your relationship

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line with a provider, there are steps you can take to make sure you get maximum value from the relationship:

  • Set clear objectives and expectations – your provider can’t read your mind. Clearly communicating what you want and expect will leave less room for misunderstanding. Think about what your priorities are, how you want them to spend their time and the non-negotiables you need delivering each month.
  • Spend time on-boarding – to make sure your digital marketing is an authentic reflection of you and your business, your agency or freelancer needs insight into your business, how you operate and how you want to show up online. 
  • Review progress monthly – a regular review process is crucial to ironing out any issues as they arise. Waiting until the end of the quarter may mean that you miss out on improvements or adjustments that could have generated better results for you. 
  • Be available when they need something – long delays in answering queries will only delay their performance. By making yourself available to provide answers or guidance, things will keep moving in the right direction.

Case Study: Crosbie Wealth

The Crosbie Wealth team had ambitions to build a distinctive, dynamic and trusted brand identity to match their three pillars: energy, performance and possibility. Director Mark Alexander knew they needed a less ad-hoc, more strategic approach to build an authentic brand by posting timely, relevant and high-value digital content to social media channels. Partnering with Brand Pool has enabled the business to develop a productive workflow, allowing their team to focus on servicing clients as well as communicate on social media in an effective and engaging way. Not only has this improved client relationships, they’re starting to see the rewards of increased brand awareness, with a surge in new prospect enquiries since they embarked on their journey to digital in 2019. 

Tips for digital success

  • Look for an agency that truly understands your organisational culture and values
  • Strategy comes first so you understand your goals and what you can realistically achieve. Then your workflow comes for those goals
  • Your agency can lead and provide resouces but your team need to commit to your digital strategy and goals too.

Engaging your clients online

A digital marketing guide for financial advisers

Throughout the guide you'll find practical resources and tools to help you make your day-to-day digital marketing activities more efficient.

Disclaimer

Information current as at June 2022.

The information contained in this publication provides an overview or summary only and should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to these factors before acting on it. This may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, the Westpac Group accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, nor does it endorse any such third party material. To the maximum extent permitted by law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this third party material. This communication has been prepared for use by advisers only. It must not be made available to any client and any information in it must not be communicated to any client.

1. https://support.wealtho2.com.au/hc/en-au/articles/900000516866-APR-2020-Providing-advice-from-home
2. https://www.bt.com.au/professional/knowledge-centre/business-resources/business-development/the-art-of-client-engagement.html
3. Adobe “The State of Content” Report
4. https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/media/press-releases/2020/07/four-fifths-consumers-prefer-digital-financial-services-covid-19-study-8-july-2020.html
5. Marketing email and newsletter design to increase conversion and loyalty, Nielsen Norman Group, 6th edition
6. https://www.superoffice.com/resources/guides/email-marketing-benchmark-report/thank-you
7. Marketing email and newsletter design to increase conversion and loyalty, Nielsen Norman Group, 6th edition
8. https://2k5zke3drtv7fuwec1mzuxgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Yellow_Social_Media_Report_2020_Consumer.pdf
9. Yellow Social Media Report, 2020
10. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-video-marketing-new-data
11. ON24 2020 Webinar benchmarks report
12. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2020/04/create-webinar-content/