Let’s get personal for a second, shall we?
Almost every organization has a website. The question is, do they have a solid digital presence that attracts and meets the expectations of today’s tech-savvy consumer?
Providing an engaging and relevant digital experience is a trend that continues to accelerate as consumers of all ages jump online in search of information, entertainment, and of course, business solutions. But the most successful businesses provide seamless, intuitive online experiences; and to have an edge over the competition, these experiences must be personalized.
To their detriment, those working in financial services are failing to deliver the digital experiences consumers want, according to a new survey from Harris Poll. Consumers expect personalization, but 55% say they feel unseen and 48% feel undervalued by the brands they interact with. Nearly half of consumers (48%) say that the experiences delivered rarely meet their expectations.
The bigger problem is that financial marketers are in denial. While consumers report a deficit in the experience, 95% of marketers think they are headed in the right direction. Even worse, the overwhelming majority of marketers (96%) graded themselves as excellent or good in implementing new customer engagement technologies, 93% believe they are delivering personalized experiences, and 92% think they are meeting their customers’ expectations.
There is clearly demand for better experiences, but financial marketers are disconnected. Ultimately, it is no longer enough to have a basic website. In fact, a bad website could be a major deterrent. According to a DemandGen report, 70% of buyers say that a company’s website was the most influential channel in making a purchase decision.
Financial advisors must embrace personalization and modern digital marketing strategies – and the savviest of them know this. To stand out in a crowded market and successfully grow their business, it is critical for advisors to prioritize and strengthen their online presence and embrace the shift to personalized digital experiences.
But where do you begin?
In a recent survey of 500 financial advisors, five fundamental strategies were identified, helping advisors hone in on their digital efforts to not only drive engagement, but generate new customers and strengthen their bottom line.
1. Know – and Document – Your Target Audience
To create an exceptional digital experience, advisors must first create a strong marketing foundation by narrowing down their target audience and focusing on unique, specific customer needs. This ensures advisors’ time and resources are well-spent on those who drive meaningful, long-term results.
According to our survey, most advisors understand their target market and ideal clients. However, 71% of companies that exceed their revenue and lead-conversion goals have target audiences identified and documented.
Formally documenting target audiences is a critical step to providing a personalized digital experience. Simply put, advisors must understand who to create these experiences for, which requires discovering and documenting common qualities of high-value clients, whether by location, industry, profession, personal values or other unique characteristics.
2. Create a Strong Digital Web Presence
It’s more than simply knowing who the right target client is. Advisors need to be digitally present where their customers are and deliver the right messaging. In fact, nearly three-fourths of consumers say they feel frustrated when website content is not personalized to them or doesn’t provide the answers they’re looking for.
More than ever, consumers are turning online first for financial advice, with 80% of prospects conducting their own research online before even contacting a financial advisor. Even Google points to this. Online queries for financial questions surged during the pandemic, with searches for “online finance courses” up by 200% and searches for the “best stocks to buy during a downturn” up 800%, marking a major shift in where consumers go first for information.
With thousands of competing financial advisors turning up in search results, advisors can no longer rely on generic website designs and messaging. It's simply not enough to drive results in today’s digital world.
To meet these expectations, the most successful advisors are building websites that speak directly to their target audience. Using both their website’s design and messaging, advisors can attract their ideal client and convert more qualified leads into long-term customers.
One successful strategy used to increase inbound traffic from online searches is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO can be complex, but there are basic elements that can be personalized to attract an advisor’s focused target market to their website while also conveying to search engines that the content being shared is relevant and provides value. To further improve the appearance of content for search engines, meta titles and meta descriptions – the text that is displayed on search engine results pages and browser tabs to indicate the topic of a webpage – can be used to provide short summaries of what customers can expect to find on a website.
3. Personalize Content Marketing to Attract Customers
Audiences are flooded with online content every day, making it critical for advisors to provide targeted, relevant information that cuts through the clutter. Referred to by marketers as Personalized and Targeted Content Marketing, content must be created with an advisor’s ideal client in mind, enabling them to attract and engage the right audience and ultimately generate more leads and grow their business.
In fact, this strategy generates nearly three times as many leads as traditional marketing, and costs on average 62% less. However, Content Marketing only provides these benefits if it offers real value to the target audience. Personalized content builds necessary trust with prospects, which in turn, moves them from being aware of an advisor’s services to considering hiring them.
To put it in perspective, over half of companies that implement personalization into their Content Marketing strategy report a lift of 10% or greater across their marketing goals, with improved conversion rates and customer engagement.
4. Leverage Social Media to Humanize Your Brand
In addition to a solid Content Marketing strategy, social media platforms provide a unique opportunity for centralized content distribution, lead generation and brand humanization. Humanizing a brand, such as sharing the faces and personalities behind a business, helps prospects connect to and relate on a more personal level. By distributing content through social media channels, advisors expand their marketing reach and create a natural source for referrals when audience members re-post or share content.
With social media, advisors’ can build their brand reputation and become more memorable since audiences can connect with a personality. They begin to see more than just a logo. In fact, 57% of consumers will follow a brand just to learn about new products or services, and 86% of advisors say they’ve seen an increase in engagement, thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn, specifically.
These platforms enable advisors to gauge the accuracy and efficacy of targeted messaging and receive immediate feedback on whether viewers are interested in the content being shared. If they’re not, advisors can quickly change up their content to ensure greater relevance and interest.
5. Let Automation Do The Heavy Lifting
Historically, advisors’ marketing activities often centered around traditional in-person networking events or meetings. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that, forcing advisors to re-evaluate their new customer acquisition strategy and explore alternative ways to boost lead generation in a remote environment. The challenge is how to do so efficiently.
Today, the most successful advisors are using automation tools to more effectively and efficiently manage marketing functions across multiple campaigns and channels. Whether for email, web, social or even text messaging, automation allows advisors to create and schedule content in advance. This frees them up to focus on client needs, market research and future business objectives – particularly helpful for smaller firms.
But automation alone isn’t enough. In fact, when not executed well, automated messages can be perceived as cold and generic, turning potential customers away permanently. The key is combining automation with personalization.
Top advisors are using automation tools like email marketing, social media scheduling and content marketing solutions to give them a leg up on the competition. And when used in conjunction with personalized and targeted content, automation is supercharging conversions and boosting ROI on marketing spend. Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5% to 15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10% to 30%.
It's Time to Get Personal
After surveying some of the most successful financial advisors and exploring the most current and compelling industry trends and success stories, it is clear that a well-crafted personalized website and online presence are critical in today’s digital era.
The big-ticket question is how to do that?
Fortunately, the answer is simple. By first identifying and documenting the ideal target market, then creating websites that speak directly to that market, engaging content marketing and social media strategies, and leveraging automation combined with personalization, financial advisors can generate greater digital engagement and supercharge growth.
Advisors that create personalized experiences by leveraging these five critical strategies are seeing far better results than advisors who failed to do so. So much so that 95% of companies that prioritize their personalization efforts quickly increased profitability the following year.
It’s time to get personal.