4 Online Marketing Traps for IFAs to Avoid
There were two reasons I founded VouchedFor:
1) Clients find it hard to find the right Financial Adviser online
2) IFA firms are too small to benefit from economies of scale in online marketing.
On the latter, banks have the budget to reach the top of Google, run thousands of paid advertising tests, build a large PR awareness and develop affiliate partnerships with the large-traffic websites. Smaller firms are much more limited in their choice of online channels. Nonetheless, these channels can prove effective, if used properly. Unfortunately however, I have seen many financial advisers fall into one or more of these four traps:
1) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Don't: Let an unscrupulous SEO agency sucker you into pursuing a top-10 spot for a major term like "Independent Financial Advisor". I am yet to see an agency that can deliver this sustainably for an IFA firm. More likely they'll use suspect tactics that will work short term, but fail long term.
Do: Target more niche terms (having properly analysed their search volume), make sure your site is well architected (Titles, URLs, Keywords, Content etc), and only use fully ethical link-building practices (having worked with a few agencies, we have elected to insource all link building for our site). Do also ensure you have a good Google Places listing - local results show up increasingly well for financial advisor searches.
2) Google Adwords
Don't: Commit a large amount of money. I know several IFAs who have spent thousands on Adwords without generating any business. Financial advice should be an involved purchase, so why would someone just click the first advert they see rather than hunting around Google properly?
Do: Focus on specific terms where people typing them have real intent (e.g., Ethical Investing, Financial Adviser in Oxford). Test at low volume to begin with. Make sure you can tell not just how many visitors you generated, but also how many convert to business
3) Directory Listings
Don't: List with little-known directories requesting £50-200 for the listing. It costs the banks (who spend millions) well over £100 to acquire a wealth management client through online marketing. So how do such directories expect to do better for you if they only charge £50-£200 per listing?
Do: List on reputable directories such as those from IFP and PFS, which are free. Unbiased.co.uk has both free and paid options, and is worth a look given the amount of PR activity it does. VouchedFor only charges when you book an appointment through the site.
Do also join IFA Life because it's also free and increasing numbers of consumers are now visiting the site to find and assess IFAs.
4) Social Media
Don't: Enter into social media with unrealistic goals. You can't open a Twitter account and expect leads to roll in. It's possible to generate enquiries through social media, but it's just like networking in the real world - it takes talent, patience and practice!
Do: Set more attainable goals. Social Media is great for maintaining and enhancing a relationship with existing clients and prospects. It's also a critical part of an "offline to online" marketing strategy - you'll meet prospects in the real world who want to then check you out online. It's also a fantastic way to make professional connections with other professionals and journalists.
These are some of the things I've learned from my experience. The most important things though with any online marketing activity are to start small and learn, and to ensure your channel mix is part of a coherent strategy.
I'd love to hear whether your experiences tally with or differ from the above.
This is a guest article from Adam Price, founder of VouchedFor.co.uk, the new site that lets clients find, rate and review IFAs.
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Author: Adam Price
Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 | 3:45:03 PM