The Ultimate Guide for Selecting the Best Inbound Marketing Agency
The Internet represents the next great marketing opportunity for financial advisor firms that figure out an effective strategy for making it a source of high-quality leads, prospects, and clients.
The front-end of the process is called Inbound Marketing because investors initiate contact when they use the Internet to find, research, and contact advisors. Websites are the backend of the process. They have the critical role of converting traffic into qualified leads.
Outbound Marketing, for example soliciting investors by telephone and email, is rapidly becoming obsolete due to Caller ID and spam filters. Perhaps it is a default solution, but Inbound Marketing is an advisory firm’s best source for a steady flow of new leads each month.
Rather than select financial advisors, who make unwanted solicitations, investors can use the Internet to control who they talk to about their need for planning, investment, and other types of financial advice and services. They are not limited to the advisors who solicit them by telephone, email, and direct mail.
The Internet represents a major business opportunity, but it is also extraordinarily competitive – every city has large numbers of financial advisors competing for page one visibility on Google for the limited number of keywords that are used by investors when they seek advisors on the Internet.
If you agree that Digital Marketing is your best alternative for producing new leads, prospects, and clients then the sooner you get started, the sooner you can establish your position (relative rank) on the Internet. Then the challenge will be to defend that position from other firms that want to displace you by ranking higher in the major search engines.
It can take seven or more specialized skill sets to produce digital market results that include Internet visibility, relevant website traffic, and a website that can convert traffic into qualified leads.
Only the largest financial service firms can afford to hire an in-house team that has all of this specialized knowledge. Even then they may have to outsource some of their requirements to agencies that can supplement their in-house resources. For example, a firm writes its own blog content but does not have social media experts inhouse or they want to add videos to their websites.
It is much less expensive to outsource your digital marketing requirements to an agency that specializes in your industry.
Plus, when you select a firm that can provide a complete array of digital marketing services, including website design, it is more accountable than a firm that provides partial services.
Just like investors use the Internet to find your financial advisor firm, you can use the Internet to find a marketing agency that specializes in your industry.
Conduct keyword searches in Google that are industry-specific. For example: Digital Marketing Agencies for Financial Advisors, Financial Advisor Websites.
Conduct Google searches for relevant content about the services you are seeking. If the content describes the services you need, contact the companies that produced the content.
If you are going to rely on referrals, make sure the referral source is using an agency that produces the type of results you are seeking.
Do not be too concerned about the location of the digital marketing agency. Many of them are virtual and have professionals who may be onshore and/or offshore.
Look for firms that provide all of the services you need to achieve your digital marketing goals. For example, websites do not produce their own traffic. Internet visibility produces website traffic.
Step one is to interview a few firms so you have a choice. Make sure they provide the digital marketing services you want to outsource to an agency that specializes in working with firms in your industry. Then narrow the candidates down to the ones you like the best and conduct follow-up interviews.
Don’t fall into the trap of picking a local digital marketing firm that has no experience working with financial advisors. It may seem like a convenient solution, but there is a good chance you will not achieve your goals if the firm does not know much about marketing financial advisors firms on the Internet.
Visit websites that have been developed by the various agencies. Pay particular attention to: Messaging on the home page, navigation, About Us, What We Do, Who We Serve, free offers, CTAs, and the user experience.
Ask about the technology that runs their websites and how it nurtures visitors and leads and converts them into prospects for your services. This technology is an important feature of any digital marketing system that is expected to not only produce leads but nurture them until they become prospects and clients.
Google search the firm’s visibility on the Internet. Use keywords that investors use when they are seeking financial advisors.
Ask to see data that documents the results that are experienced by the financial advisor firms that own the agency’s websites.
A critical best practice is a website that converts visitors into qualified leads. Most financial advisor websites function like online sales brochures. They have attractive graphics and deliver information, but they are not designed to produce leads. That takes a different type of website.
There is no reason to spend marketing dollars on traffic if the website cannot convert traffic into qualified leads.
A second, best practice is persona-based marketing. You want to reach your ideal types of clients on the Internet. For example, if an ideal client is a pre-retiree then you should be producing content that is read by pre-retirees. The content on your website should also target the same persona so they make an immediate connection when they visit your website.
A third best practice is to treat visitors to your website as one-time sales opportunities. You have seconds to make a strong first impression and three minutes or less to convince visitors to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact information. If they exit your site without disclosing their contact data, there is a small chance they will return at a later date.
A fourth best practice is time. It will take time to build the Internet visibility you need to produce significant traffic for your website. In general, this means you need page one rankings for several hundred keywords that drive the right types of traffic to your website.
A digital marketing agency that knows a lot about the different ways investors use the Internet when they are seeking financial advisors and information about financial advisors.
This knowledge is critical, so you reach the right investors on the Internet and convince them to visit your website.
The digital marketing agency should also know a lot about the ways financial advisors market their services to investors. This knowledge will help them develop differentiating characteristics that create the competitive advantage you need to be a major success on the Internet.
Many financial service firms employ marketing professionals, but they may not be digital marketing experts. If this describes your firm, you may want to outsource your digital marketing requirements to an agency that can provide the expertise you need to achieve your goals.
The Internet is so competitive you need experts doing this work for you. In fact, it is reasonable to say a marginal digital marketing effort is doomed to failure. A minimal effort is better than no effort, but it may achieve your goals for leads, prospects, and clients.
It is unfortunate, but there is no easy way to use digital marketing to create a major presence on the Internet, build substantial website traffic, and convert it into qualified leads.
There are seven questions you should ask the digital marketing agencies that you interview.
- How much experience do you have providing digital marketing services to financial advisor firms? In particular, firms that are fiduciaries and are compensated with fees (all or in part)?
- How many leads have you produced for RIA firms and professionals?
- What digital marketing services does your firm provide?
- Does your firm provide a comprehensive array of services that include Internet visibility, website traffic, and websites that convert traffic into qualified leads?
- Does your firm do all of the digital marketing work? Are we responsible for completing any of the work for you?
- Do we sign a service agreement? If yes, what is the duration of the agreement?
- Questions about fees can include amounts, one-time fees, recurring fees, and what services you receive for the fees?