We work with over a dozen financial services companies.
They range from independent financial advisors with smaller assets under management (AUM) to large MGAs with 1000s of advisors in BC and Canada.
This article summarises the insights from our digital marketing campaigns such as:
- Building websites with modern branding & styling, purpose-built for lead generation with SEO best practices
- Driving traffic to websites from Google Ads in order to target specific keywords in target locations e.g. ‘critical illness insurance’ in Etobicoke, Ontario
- SEO, Content marketing & blog publishing to rank better for keywords and to establish advisors as thought leaders online
We’re going to split the best practices up into 3 areas:
Let’s dive in…
1. Set up your website for success (Web Design)
It’s important you build a website that looks nice and one that you’re proud to get visitors to and share with clients. If there’s any hesitation when you share your website, you’re in trouble. You need to be proud of it. Websites are a continuous work in progress so don’t worry if it’s not perfect but it must represent you and your company’s values and style.
Okay, so what are some key elements?
- Your branding has to make you stand out. There are probably over 100,000+ financial advisors in Canada. Why should people work with you? Your website is your chance to shine with authority and outline why you are the perfect fit for them. Use nicely designed logos, fonts, colours and call-outs to emphasize any awards you’ve won or books you’ve written. Establish yourself as the go-to-expert in your area.
- Niche it out. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. If you do insurance and investments, pick 6-12 main financial keywords to focus your service pages around e.g. for insurance, it could be life insurance, disability insurance, critical illness insurance… For investments, pick more general keywords people search for online such as financial advisor, financial planner, wealth management… Pick the key services that you have the best expertise in. You can always add more as you grow.
- Show reviews & authority on your website. Authority and trust is integral to any relationship with a financial advisor. Your website has to reflect this. Add your best Google Reviews to your homepage and throughout your site. If you don’t have any, ask your best clients to add them. Go to business.google.com, find your location and then look for the share review form link (see image below). If you don’t have a Google My Business account, it is vital you set one up for showing up in your local search rankings for your service keywords. You can optimize your account for your keywords and add all your info to your profile. You can even use it like a social media platform and publish news and articles there. It is hugely important for local SEO rankings and getting reviews is a must.
- Use videos and media to engage your audience. Videos are perfect for guests who want to get a feel for your personality or company but don’t want to spend hours reading. Make a short promo video and display it on your homepage. Audio content such as podcasts also enable people to consume your content and get to know you via different mediums.
- Set up your website with SEO best practices. We recommend WordPress as the best current solution for web development for financial advisors. Research shows for lead generation SEO, it is hands-down the best CMS (Content Management System) even if it comes with the caveat that you need ongoing maintenance and security. We have a geeky technical checklist of how to launch a WordPress site for SEO best practices for anyone interested.
- Add lots of clear CTAs (Call-to-Actions). How do clients connect with you? Many advisors are old school and prefer in-person meetings or phone calls. That’s fine but add virtual meetings as an option. It’s a must during COVID and super-convenient to connect over Zoom instead of getting stuck in traffic. Make it easy for people to reach you via phone if on mobile, or by email or have contact forms that pre-qualify leads and let you know if the inquiry is going to be a good fit. Think of your website as a tool to pre-qualify leads before meeting them. Ask pertinent questions. There’s no point wasting your or their time if it’s not a good fit.
- Add a request meeting system that syncs with your calendar (Outlook, Google or iCloud) and sends a Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams invite. Our favourite is Calendly as it’s so easy to set up and use and you can create all sorts of custom follow-ups when someone books or attends a meeting. It’s lovely. Many advisors use the calendar on their Microsoft Outlook. If so, use Microsoft Bookings to add a system to your website that syncs with your calendar. You have to have the upgraded Microsoft 365 Business Standard account (not Basic) to get this but if your office is heavy on Microsoft, it’s a good option and you can make nicely branded pages for the day/time selection. Use a client intake form to take things to the next level. Once a booking is confirmed, share a link to a much more detailed list of questions that helps you prepare for the meeting and offer analysis as to how you can help them.
- Think about a chatbot. Chatbots aren’t for everyone but for some advisors they work well depending on your availability and whether you’re interested in using bots to answer questions while you’re away. AI will make this a no-brainer in the future so starting the process sooner might not be a bad idea.
One of the websites we built was for Ana Martinho from Altamira Financial Solutions, a financial advisor in Etobicoke, Ontario. Notice how the site has very clear call-to-action buttons on the homepage such as email us, contact, phone number (that is prominent on the mobile version). It also has specific pages built for her main services available from the dropdown menus. As we work with Ana, we’re adding more branding and info such as the ‘as featured weekly on CHIN-FM’ callout. In the last month, we’ve added a book time with Ana meeting request system that is ‘sticky’ in that it always shows no matter where you are on the site in the bottom right hand corner. When someone books an event it syncs with her iCloud calendar.
2. Drive the right audience to your website & engage (Search Engine Marketing)
Each site has a different starting off point when it comes to SEO.
If your website has virtually no traffic and is quite a new domain (under 1 year old) or one with very low authority, you’re gonna need time to build up your rankings for your target keywords.
If you’re in a location where there’s not a ton of competition (definitely not Toronto or Vancouver), then you might get results quicker.
SEO is not magic.
It doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s hard work: creating content, optimizing it, building links, promoting blogs and doing it consistently and persistently. That’s what gets you organic traffic returns.
When you get it right, you do in effect get ‘free traffic’ from your main keywords.
The first HUB advisor we worked with who was based out of Victoria, BC, had huge success with SEO – his site was set up correctly for local SEO with maps embedded of his office location and keywords used on his different pages about his main services.
He was also a prolific writer of content and blogs… One blog about ‘What to look out for in a virtual financial advisor’ achieved great rankings BC-wide after COVID began. He was consistently getting 2-4 very high quality leads per month from this one article that enabled him to close a deal worth over 15k per year in commission. Not bad for a guide on how to select a virtual financial advisor. It took him about an hour to write the guide along with using SEO best practices.
If you’re worried about how to write blogs or wouldn’t know where to start, that’s what our online growth plan is for. We take away the pain points for you. (Check out this article – How & why to blog: strategy & tips for businesses)
You can just write the article on Word or a Google Doc, then send over to us 24/7 using our ticket system and we take care of the rest for you. We style it, optimize for keywords, add categories, tags, images and then publish it under your name. We’ll even promote it by creating posts on your selected social media channels. This is a new feature we’ve added to the growth plan in February 2021. (Check out this article – How to promote your blog post – 15 minute checklist with pro tips)
If you are starting out with little website traffic, Google Ads is a must.
So, here’s another caveat… Digital marketing is like investing… You need upfront capital and resources (time, staff) to get the most out of it and it’s a mid-to-long term mindset that will win out.
Here are some of our best tips for driving traffic to your site and engaging your target users:
- For each of your main services and keywords you want to rank for, build a dedicated landing page e.g. for life insurance and make it specific for your service and your target locations.
- Write blogs about your frequently asked questions and your selected 6-10 main financial service keywords.
- Utilize white label articles as a starting point for your blogs and then add your own expert take on the topic. HUB advisors should make use of the new service being rolled out. Work with us to repurpose articles with your own style and branding.
- After you publish a blog or a new landing page, don’t just expect traffic to flow in, promote it via email to interested parties and share it on social media – start a discussion around an interesting topic or question.
PRO TIP: Utilize your content across multiple channels. If you’re too busy to write, record a quick 5 minute vlog (video blog) that you can then use on your website as a video, get a transcript for a blog article, use the audio for a podcast, share it via email newsletters to relevant lists, market your video via YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even put a link to it on Pinterest and Google My Business. This way a 30-minute exercise to plan out a 5-minute blog about market updates or your take on a new investment fund can be utilized in a multi-channel approach. This will spread your message far and wide. This is how we help clients with our online growth plan… You can just publish the YouTube video and we’ll take care of the rest.
Here are some of the best tips for Google Ads: (from our co-founder and Director of Ads & Analytics, Ira Thomson)
- Organize your keyword strategy around searcher intent. Growing your Google Ads campaign into a revenue generating asset takes careful planning and regular maintenance. Keywords are at the heart of every Google Ads campaign, but unfortunately they’re often misunderstood, poorly configured and can lead to massive waste in budget. Building a great campaign begins with a hypothesis on which searches are the most relevant to your services – and this isn’t always obvious. We utilize specific keyword match types, negative keyword lists and rely on search volume, cost and competitor research to dial in ROI. For example, a search for ‘Wealth Management Advisor Near Me’ should take your prospective client on a very different journey than ‘Quick Travel Health Insurance Mexico Trip’ and your ads should never show up for irrelevant, vague or low converting keywords (have a look at your search term [NOT keyword] report in your Google Ads platform to analyze if your searches are relevant).
- Measure conversions. Arguably the most important configuration you can make when first setting up your campaign is to sync your Google Ads with your analytics platform and import conversion actions. Again, we see this often left out of campaigns or set up incorrectly. This is vital to your campaign success as you shouldn’t care too much about how many times your ad is seen or how many clicks your ad receives but about the actual leads and revenue value being generated for your business. Not knowing which campaign settings, bid strategies, search terms, ads, audiences, landing pages etc. are driving ROI is a massive blunder.
- Target efficiently. One of the best ways to rocket your campaign performance and ROI month-over-month is to change bid % and exclusively target high performing campaign segments. Google Ads will show you data for audience types (called affinity & in-market segments), demographics, device, time of day and more. If you know you get 3x ROI on the affinity audience segment “Avid Investors” for your financial advising services ad group and 5x ROI on the in-market segment of “Small Business Owners” for your supplementary health insurance products wouldn’t it be great to only target these?
- Test everything & always iterate. We are huge fans of testing what works. Here’s our process: We start with a hypothesis (working with a dozen financial services companies we have a pretty solid initial configuration). This is a campaign set up of a list of keywords, ad headlines and descriptions, ad extensions, bid strategy, ad schedule, landing page, audience target and more that we think will perform well for each given service. We then check in regularly and analyze performance for each of these segments (through the lens of leads, quality leads, cost per lead, and revenue). The poor performers get discarded, the strong performers remain and new iterations are added based on data we see. The more you test and iterate over time the faster you can grow your campaign into a reliable and predictable lead and revenue generating machine.
- Start with enough budget to test effectively. It’s pretty difficult to optimize a campaign at $300 per month compared with say, double that or even $1000. We have some clients spending a lot more than this but it just depends on your goals, resources, and capacity to take on business. The game with Google Ads is to get to your secret formula as soon as possible where you know what the average cost per lead is and you’ve gotten this down about as low as it can go for your location and keywords. To get to this point takes longer and is more difficult on a low monthly budget. We always advise to not go crazy and start off slowly but don’t be afraid to use a higher budget if you really want to drive ROI and new business.
3. Measure results & calculate ROI (Analytics)
There’s no point doing number 1 and 2 above if you don’t do 3.
It would be like trying to make informed guesses about which stock or mutual funds to invest in without looking at historical and current data.
To do digital marketing properly, you need to set up a measurement framework that tracks results on your website and enables you to calculate ROI on your campaigns. This is our speciality and how we differentiate ourselves from other agencies.
We set up conversion tracking and ROI calculators on your customized online growth report so that you can see what results are coming into your website and how it’s affecting your bottom line.
What’s the point of a nice shiny website if it doesn’t drive business, leads, engagement, traffic or better SEO rankings?
Our online growth report will feed in data from a variety of sources: Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search Console, Google My Business, Google search rankings for your keywords in your target areas and devices, as well as social media data.
We set it up in month one of your growth plan so we can benchmark and use it as our guide for calculating ROI, analyzing results, determining ad budgets and content strategy based on which blogs and landing pages are converting. We also use it to test new keywords and to track rankings.
Let us take you on a tour of a couple of the main sections of our online growth plan report:
- In the screenshot below, you’ll see our conversion calculator that calculates anticipated revenues that your website should be generating. Based on the 191 micro leads that entered our system around 40 of them are from are target locations, we can then calculate that the website should be generating approximately $37.5k in revenues and $450k in life-time value for this time period. This is based on an average revenue value of $1.25k and LTV of $15k with average lead conversion rate of 75%. If these numbers do not match up with what’s happening on the balance sheet, it is either because the inputs are wrong or the sales cycle is longer, i.e the leads are in the system but not converted. We review these figures on a monthly basis to ensure our calculator is generating accurate anticipated revenue and LTV values.
- In the screenshot below, you’ll see high level results of a Google Ads campaign for the month of January. This is a well-optimized campaign that is producing leads at a cost of under $40. Based on the inputs for average revenue values, LTV and conversion rate, the anticipated ROI of the campaign is very healthy at around 1000%.
These are just two sections of typically 6 pages of results.
We’ve carefully selected and customized pages based on the needs of each business owner.
Other pages show visual widgets for landing page comparisons to help with content strategy, SEO rankings’ tracking for your top 6 primary keywords in your target area, Google My Business data (e.g. how many calls and look-ups from Google Maps) as well as lots more information about your leads (demographics, locations etc.)
Our future vision is to plug in data from your CRM (customer relationship management) software. Each month we’re adding and improving our reporting.
What are some website strategies and tactics you’ve found useful for your financial services company? Share in the comments below.
Andrew Jackson lives on the North Shore and does SEO and digital marketing for a living. He is passionate about footy, DJing, craft beer, and of course, his family. He is married with 3 lovely daughters.