Financial Services Marketing Guide: 10 Strategies To Increase Leads and New Clients
Historically, the most reliable source of financial services leads and new clients has been referrals.
I’m not going to argue with you on that.
Yes, referrals are a huge source of new business for financial advisors and one of the better drivers of new leads. That’s why ONE of your marketing strategies should be referral and testimonial generation—but not your ONLY strategy.
I’ll tell you why.
Recent research from Deloitte found that modern FS consumers—especially millennials and Gen-X—prefer to do their own research when it comes to wealth management. To do it, they go to the same place the majority of the population goes when they need to research something: a search engine like Google.
Each month for the past year, FS consumers in the U.S. performed more than 700,000 online searches for wealth management and financial advisor-related keywords—including more than 90,000 U.S.-based searches for the term “financial advisor” alone:
In order to turn these searchers into new clients, your strategic financial services marketing plan must accomplish 10 things:
- Turn your website into a 24/7 sales representative
- Get noticed by search engines
- Invest in local SEO
- Build out your content portfolio
- Include video marketing campaigns
- Leverage social media
- Increase leads with email marketing
- Put some money behind it with PPC
- Continuously generate reviews
- Project your authority
By the end of this guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of the financial services digital landscape and a roadmap for generating massive amounts of leads and new clients from the web.
1. Turn Your Financial Services Website Into Your Biggest Marketing Asset
Your financial services website is arguably your number one marketing asset. All things should begin and end with your website. To do that, your website’s design, functionality, and user experience need to be on par with the best websites your potential clients have ever visited—no ifs, ands, or buts. If your website doesn’t “WOW” users, it may as well not exist. Currently, 82% of 18 to 24-year-old smartphone owners say they use mobile banking, and 46% of consumers use ONLY digital channels today for banking. This should be a wake-up call for your website’s capabilities and design
To accomplish this, your website needs to be five things:
Your Website Needs to Be FAST
Half of the online population (47%, to be exact) expects a website to load in 3 seconds or under. If it doesn’t, the user will click the “back” button.
About 80% of a page’s load time is spent downloading all the different elements, so the more files, plugins, and features your website has, the longer it takes to render.
It matters. A one-second delay in page load time results in:
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversions
How to Increase Page Speed
- Optimize and compress your images
- Combine your files to reduce the number of HTTP requests
- Enable website caching
- Avoid landing page redirects
Your Website Should Be FRICTIONLESS
What do we mean by frictionless? We mean you need to provide an amazing user experience (UX).
User experience includes the entire interaction someone has with a website, and 83% of consumers said a good website user experience is important when choosing a financial services company. This includes the pieces of content available, the colors, the layout, and how users are interacting with the company. People should leave your website feeling 100% satisfied.
First is your overall design. People are judgmental. Once your website loads, users form an opinion about it in 0.5 seconds. In fact, 75% of people have judged a company based on its website design.
Because this happens subconsciously, all visual aspects of your web pages need to be tailored to psychologically encourage trust, authority, and friendliness. That goes for colors, shapes, photos, text font, calls to action—if it’s visual, it needs to have a purpose.
Second is the way your website functions—it needs to be intuitive. If people have to search for hours to find something, it’s not frictionless. Be sure to have your contact information in the upper right-hand corner and easy-to-complete forms available. Navigation should be easy to find, and if you have enough pages, enable a site search feature.
Your Website Should Be Mobile-First
Your future clients expect your website to function perfectly on a mobile device—42% of all online financial searches happen on a mobile device, and 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If that’s not enough to convince you, Google also ranks mobile websites higher in the search engine results.
Mobile-Friendly vs. Mobile-First
When we talk about mobile-friendly websites, we mean that a website looks and functions great on any mobile device, like a smartphone or a tablet. A mobile-friendly website should be sized and coded for easy interaction on a mobile device, meaning:
- It’s easy to read the text (no squinting)
- It’s easy to navigate (buttons and links are large enough to be tapped with a finger)
- It’s pleasing to look at (the user experience is enjoyable)
The difference between mobile-friendly and mobile-first is this: mobile-first website are built to be consumed on a mobile device first, desktop second. You want your website to be mobile-first.
Your Website Should be Secure
When it comes to your website, security matters. Did you know 85% of consumers would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an unsecured connection? Or that 82% of people wouldn’t browse an unsecured website? Or how about the fact that 43% of cyber attacks target small business?
You can protect yourself and your consumers by making your website secure (or HTTPS instead of HTTP).
Making your website secure also helps you get found in search engines like Google. Google wants to ensure the best user experience for their customers, so understandably they don’t want to send searchers to insecure sites. Because of that, their ranking algorithm favors HTTPS sites. If your site isn’t secure, it could be getting outranked by similar sites that are.
Website Security Tips:
- Keep your computer safe – Encourage your employees to do the same.
- Use a great hosting company – You’re only as good as your hosting company.
- Avoid any software, theme, or plugin that’s self-described as “cheap” – You only want high-quality plugins and themes.
- Don’t download from unknown sources – Make sure your employees also follow this rule.
- Keep website up to date – The older the version, the more vulnerable it is to attacks.
- Use high-quality passwords – Use a password generator tool in order to always have secure passwords.
- Limit login attempts or implement a two-factor authentication – This strengthens the fence around your website.
- Set up an SSL encryption – This will keep sensitive information from being recorded.
- Block or limit access from certain IP addresses – Once an IP address has tried to hack your site, ban it.
- Always have back-ups – Make sure to back up your website often.
2. Get Noticed By Search Engines
We already established that there are more than 700,000 online searches for your services each month.
We also established that if you want to convert those searchers into new clients, you need to get on page one of search results.
You do that with search engine optimization (SEO).
What Is SEO for Financial Advisors?
Search engine optimization is the process of grooming your online presence so your website ranks higher in search engines for certain keywords. SEO for financial services is so valuable because it puts your practice in front of someone at the exact moment they’re searching for your services. That’s the reason SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to only 1.7% for outbound leads like print ads.
How it works is Google and other search engines crawl pages on the web, categorizing them and indexing them in what would be the universe’s biggest library. When you search for something, you’re putting in a request to the library. Google uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to decipher your search term and spit out web pages you’ll find useful.
Here’s where SEO comes in. Search crawlers speak a different language than we do—HTML. So, they need some extra help to determine what a web page is about so they can correctly index it.
SEO is arguably the most reliable and profitable financial services marketing tactic. But, before you ditch all your other advertising methods, understand that SEO is a lot like the stock market. You pick stocks—your keywords—based on information available at the time. Then, you wait for the returns, occasionally tweaking your strategy.
Similar to the stock market, results fluctuate—often due to factors like seasonal or yearly consumer behavior, Google algorithm tweaks, and advances in digital technology. That’s why we recommend diversifying your online marketing portfolio.
How to Get Noticed by Search Engines
While there are more than 200 factors that affect a page’s search rankings, the ones that matter the most are:
- Whether or not your website is secure (HTTPS vs. HTTP)
- Whether or not your website is mobile-friendly
- How fast web pages load on your site
- Whether a web page has the correct schema markup (a type of website code)
- The quality of your web pages’ content
- The length of your web pages’ content
- Presence of social signals that point back to your website
- Presence of quality backlinks that point back to your website
- Whether or not you have optimized images on your web pages
- Past user behavior for similar queries (Google’s RankBrain)
- The keywords, phrases, and topics you optimize for
3. Invest In Local SEO
Local SEO for financial services gets your company at the top of search results for a local service area. It’s different than normal SEO because of the emphasis on the local pack in Google’s search results. The local pack is the box of Google Map results in the search results page, under the paid ads, and above the organic search results.
The information in the local pack is pulled from your Google My Business Account, which is why your GMB account needs to be claimed and optimized for local SEO.
Make sure your business listing is completely filled out, including:
- Phone number
- Photos of your business
- Business category
- Business hours
- Specials, coupons, and updates (Google Posts)
Learn more about getting your website to the top of Google’s local listings »
4. Build Out Your Financial Content Portfolio
Traditional advertising and marketing campaigns don’t produce the results it once did. Today’s consumer has a library of information at their fingertips—easily accessible from their laptop or smartphone. Most consumers like to do their own research and have nothing BUT questions when they need financial services. Answer every single question they might have with helpful (and understandable) content with content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive client acquisition and business growth. According to Forbes, about 60% of Baby Boomers spend time reading blogs and online articles as a source of information and intrigue, and about 70% enjoy watching videos about products and services.
Content marketing is one of the most valuable investments you can make—it generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less
To sweeten the pot, 82% of customers have a more positive outlook on a company after reading custom content, and 70% of customers feel closer to a company after reading or watching their content.
High-Quality Content: More Important for Financial Services
There is no shortcut to successful content marketing. The better content you have, the higher you’ll rank, and the more leads you’ll get.
Types of Content Marketing
- News articles
- Social media updates
- Email newsletters
- White papers
- And more
Google looks at some websites and web pages with a higher level of scrutiny because of their potential to affect a person’s well-being and happiness. Thes pages are called YMYL, or Your Money, Your Life pages. Any web pages that have to do with financial advice or wealth management qualify as YMYL pages and are thus harder to rank well. This is especially true after an August 2018 Google algorithm update—dubbed the Google Medic update—that drastically affected the financial industry’s search rankings.
Here’s how Google defines quality content, as outlined by their Search Quality Guidelines:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines
- Don’t deceive your users
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field
Avoid the following techniques:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
- Abusing rich snippets markup
- Sending automated queries to Google
Follow good practices like these:
- Monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears
- Preventing and removing user-generated spam on your si
5. Include Video Marketing in Your Financial Services Marketing Campaigns
U.S. Internet users now spend an average of 15 hours each week with digital video. YouTube is also the second largest search engine, and 86% of viewers say they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new.
Since one minute of video is worth about 1.8 million words, it’s no wonder the best financial services companies are investing heavily in video marketing. About 97% of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their service, and 76% say it helped them increase sales.
To get started, we recommend including the following videos in your marketing plan:
- Competitor differentiators – What makes your financial services company stand out from your competitors?
- Guarantees – Strong guarantees can help turn a viewer into a customer. This can be as small as a guarantee that you will fight for their rights.
- Testimonials – In the past two years on YouTube, videos with “review” in the title had more than 50,000 years’ worth of watch time on mobile devices alone. Share your best testimonials to convince customers that you’re the company for them.
- Financial firm history – Personalize your brand and create authenticity by letting prospects in on your financial firm’s history.
- Video guides – The financial system is difficult to navigate, so make it easier by breaking down topics, regulations, and financial processes in a video format.
- How-to videos – Recent research from Google revealed how-to videos earn the most attention of any content category on YouTube. Create how-to videos on investing, planning, and saving money.
6. Leverage Social Media for Your Financial Services Company
The financial services industry has a bad reputation for consumer trust. Counter this assumption with your social media profiles. About 95% of millennials, 87% of Gen X’ers, and 70% of Baby Boomers think brands should have a Facebook page.
Honest, helpful social posts give potential clients a window into what goes on behind the scenes. As far as people know, you’re straight out of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Social media mitigates that. Post images that humanize your firm and content that piques your target audience’s interest.
7. Increase Leads with Email Marketing
Email marketing for financial services has, on average, a 4,400% return on investment (ROI), making it a highly effective way to generate and close more leads.
Opt-in email marketing is one of the best ways to stay in front of potential and existing clients—92% of U.S. adults use email
Content to Use in Your Email Marketing
- Videos and recent guides you’ve created
- Blog highlights with links to your posts
- Updates on recent changes in the law (and how they affect your target audience)
- New or recent hires, culture announcements
- Photos of your company’s pro bono work
- Highlights of recent cases, awards, and press
- Teasers for articles you’ve written on other websites
- Testimonials from former clients
- Upcoming webinars and events
8. Put Some Money Behind Your Marketing Efforts with PPC
We already covered that 97% of consumers go online to find local products and services. What you may not know is that 63% of online searchers say they click on paid ads, and 75% of people say paid ads make it easier to find the online information they’re looking for. Not only that, but the financial services industry also has the best average conversion rate for search ads at 7.19%
If you want to extend your brand and bolster your SEO efforts, we recommend adding in paid online advertising.
Types of Paid Online Advertising
- Display ad campaigns – Display ads show your ads to consumers while they’re browsing other relevant websites. You’ve likely seen display advertisements on popular news sites, weather sites, and even on smaller blogs you follow.
- Search ad campaigns – Paid search ads appear above the organic search results when people look for products and services you offer. You only pay when people click to your website or call your financial services firm. These are some of the most valuable ads you can use, and we highly recommend starting a paid search campaign.
- Remarketing campaigns – Remarketing (often called retargeting on social media advertising sites) is a feature that lets you show ads to people who have previously visited your website. You can tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google and search partner sites.
- Social media campaigns – The average social media user spends two hours on social media sites each day. However, thanks to most social media platforms’ algorithms, it’s nearly impossible for businesses to be noticed—unless you put money behind it. Choose campaigns for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Nextdoor.
- Video campaigns – Consumers are 27 times more likely to click through online video ads than standard banners, and companies which use video ads in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster year-over-year than those which don’t.
9. Continuously Generate Reviews
Everybody wants more money and they want a financial services company that will get it for them, so your perceived authority matters. This extends not only to your reviews and testimonials, but also having authority-builders on your website and on other relevant websites.
Referrals and recommendations have always been and will continue to be the best source of qualified leads. However, where it used to be these recommendations and referrals happened face-to-face, they’re now happening online via online testimonials and reviews and social media sites. If you want more financial leads, you’re going to have to have an incredible online review portfolio.
Ask current clients for testimonials, and be sure they’re visible on your home page.
10. Project Your Authority
Other than testimonials and referrals, you can build authority and trust right on your website.
Make sure your associations, affiliations, awards, and news mentions are front and center on your website. Create case studies. Produce amazing, designed financial guides that show off how well you know your stuff. Publish infographics that break down complicated topics. Shoot videos that show off your personality and industry prowess.
Ready for More Leads and New Clients? Contact Our Financial Services Marketing Agency Today!
If the above seems like too much for you to do on your own, you’re just like the hundreds of companies we’ve helped over the years. You need to focus on running your business—let us take care of your marketing.
We market your business as if it were our business—meaning we strive to truly understand your financial services, sales process, competitors, industry, and markets to effectively market you on the web, all while tracking and measurably justifying your investment in our online marketing services.
About The Author: Blue Corona's Editorial Staff is determined to help you increase your leads and sales, optimize your marketing costs, and differentiate your brand by passing on our tribal knowledge. The team vigilantly stays on top of the latest in digital marketing, bringing you the top insights with expert commentary. Want to see something on our blog you haven't seen yet? Shoot us an email and our marketing team will get to work.
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