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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In line with your branding
Avoid clutter and use plenty of white space
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It will be easier to ‘network’ online and build your referral partnerships with a professional looking business social media profile.
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.
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.
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.
Taking your online engagement to the next level with video, webinars and podcasts. Follow these tips and strategies to get started.
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:
If you're thinking about giving Facebook Live a go, here are 5 tips:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
3. Adobe “The State of Content” Report
5. Marketing email and newsletter design to increase conversion and loyalty, Nielsen Norman Group, 6th edition
7. Marketing email and newsletter design to increase conversion and loyalty, Nielsen Norman Group, 6th edition
9. Yellow Social Media Report, 2020
11. ON24 2020 Webinar benchmarks report