How Advisors Can Fix Holes in Their Digital Marketing and Do SEO Right – ThinkAdvisor

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How to Fix Holes in Your Digital Marketing and Do SEO the Right Way
Life Health > Running Your Business > Marketing and Lead Generation
By Jane Wollman Rusoff

Digital marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it project. Indeed, it requires ongoing, precise strategies requiring substantial investments of time.
But executed correctly, this endeavor can reap rich results for financial advisors.
“Digital marketing is essential for the vast majority of advisors,” Robert Sofia, co-founder, CEO and chairman of Snappy Kraken, a leading marketing technology firm providing systems for financial advisors, argues in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. 
“[Certainly] those who have a desire to serve the next generation … and do something other than have a tiny exclusive club of billionaires in a family office need to be marketing online,” he explained. 
Sofia serves up a number of ways that advisors can create online impact, and he also names the biggest digital marketing mistakes they make.
Sofia, who also discusses search engine optimization, artificial intelligence, text messaging and social media, previously was director of business development at Ford Motor Co. and worked as a financial advisor for several years. 
In the interview, Sofia delves into ways that AI can save financial advisors money and why many advisors are not good podcast hosts. He also reveals the No. 1 method of generating referrals, the stats of which, he says, “blew [his] mind.”
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: Is digital marketing a must for financial advisors?
ROBERT SOFIA: It’s essential for the vast majority of advisors.
Advisors who have a desire to continue growing to serve the next generation, to be relevant online, to do something other than [serve] a tiny exclusive club of billionaires in a family office probably need to be marketing online.
What’s the primary goal of digital marketing? 
A way to scale connections — to communicate with your clients.
The No. 1 reason people leave their advisor has nothing to do with performance or service. It has to do with lack of communication. 
Digital marketing is a great way to stay in touch in meaningful ways.
What’s the biggest mistake that advisors make in marketing online?
Having holes in their strategy, not having a strategy at all or being too impatient with their strategy.  
Holes: not having a niche focus or automated follow-up or nurturing sequences to take leads and opportunities they’re creating to convert them into meaningful conversations.
If you write a blog but then don’t have a clear call-for-action at the footer so people can opt in, that’s a hole too. 
And if you don’t promote your blog by email to a list you’ve been accumulating or don’t publish it on social media channels with a link, those are holes.
What do advisors need to know about search engine optimization?
If you don’t have a strategy for Google, the biggest search engine — with 95% of all search results coming through it — that’s obviously a big problem.
So prioritize Google by leaning into their technology: Claim a free “Google Business Profile.”
Certain things that [come with that] will help you range higher in search results; for example, making it a complete profile by including your website URL, client reviews, a list of your services.
What else is key about SEO?
Advisors should be very specific to their target audience by including the types of things [these prospects] are searching for and their concerns. Identify relevant keywords so you can optimize your website’s content.
For instance, a keyword about a specific company and its stock option plans and how they work will rank much higher than something generic like “maximize your retirement plan.”
Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Semrush to optimize your website’s content around those keywords, including page titles, page headers and body text.
This involves writing very thoughtfully. 
Is that all there is to it, then?
No. You want to continue to create high-quality content over time and answer queries about your blog, videos, infographics and podcast — with transcripts. 
That way, you continue to build with content that supports your SEO strategy.
And you have to make sure your website is optimized for mobile browsing because if it’s not, you won’t rank high [in searches].
What about marketing using text messaging?
Text messaging is capturing the most lead conversion activity.
If you put a call-to-action on a page like, “Do you have a question about how to save money on taxes? Text to me,” people will quickly pick up the phone and text a question.
When they do, you can have a conversation and get their name and email address. You already have their phone number!
What follow-up strategy should advisors use?
For every new lead that opts in, [prospects of financial advisors using Snappy Kraken] receive a series of email messages from the advisor. They also get a video and text messages at various intervals. 
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You can write things like, ‘I just dropped my latest update on the impact of presidential elections on market returns and thought you’d be interested in reading it.” 
That’s very helpful in a non-spammy way. But if you [follow up] too much, people will quickly unsubscribe. 
How effective is email marketing?
That’s the other thing that’s really big. If you have a list of contacts you’ve accumulated and want to get those people talking to you, the best thing is to email them a video.
A video email, rather than a text-only email, has a 117% better open rate and a 120% higher click rate, according to our January 2024 digital marketing report.
In the subject line, type “Video” and the topic, and [in the body] insert an image of the video with a play button on it. 
When the client clicks, it takes them to a page that has the video and below that, a form they can fill out to send in a question.
That brings a lot of engagement.
The data shows that for clients, it’s enough to email them content every couple of weeks. Addressing what’s in the news — for example, the invasion of Gaza or elections — is the most important thing.
A new lead or prospect should get an email weekly at a minimum. These need to gradually build on the value you provide so that you’re warming up somebody to get them to want to do business with you.
Where does generative AI fit in?
AI is a tool that will not solve everything, especially where marketing is concerned. If you generate all your marketing with AI, you’ll end up with very watered-down, poor-performing content.
AI is not the be-all and end-all.
However, if you use it in the proper way, you can save a lot of money; for example, to generate one-of-a-kind images for your brand instead of having illustrators create images from scratch. 
And instead of your brainstorming ideas for blog posts, you can prompt AI to generate dozens of concepts using key words from your website. 
What impact are Google Overview summaries at the top of search listings having on folks looking for firms by generic subject? Should advisors feel threatened they’ll get lost in the shuffle?
AI Overviews make it crucial to prioritize high-quality, authoritative content. 
Early testing indicates that AI Overviews could result in a significant decrease in organic traffic, particularly for informational-type queries — which will result in “zero-click searches.” 
Therefore, closely monitoring key performance indices and metrics will be essential to understand the direct impact, including lead conversions. 
Google has stated that its systems automatically determine which links and sources to feature in AI Overview.  
[But] following regular SEO best practices outlined in Google Search essentially increases the chances of being featured in these Overviews.
Should an advisor host a podcast of their own?
This is the perfect type of thing with which advisors will often make a mistake: They’ll start a podcast but won’t think through the content, or they’re not a compelling speaker, or they don’t invite the right guests or don’t put the podcast in an email or on social media to build an audience for it.
And so they quickly give up. The majority of advisors that have podcasts don’t do it right. But the ones who do see great results. It can be a great way to build authority.
Back to social media: How valuable is using X, formerly Twitter, for marketing?
You have to know your audience and focus on the platforms where you can have the greatest impact. 
If targeting retirees, Facebook is much more effective than X. Targeting technology entrepreneurs, X is much more effective than Facebook. 
Targeting mid-career professionals, LinkedIn is more effective. Targeting millennials or even a broader audience, Instagram is probably more effective, which is linked to Facebook.
I’ve never seen an advisor who’s great on all the platforms.
What’s the objection that financial advisors voice most about digital marketing? 
“I don’t need it. I get all my clients from referrals.” So I ask these advisors, “But how are you keeping your clients informed? Every time the market moves 4%, are you calling all your clients?” They say, “No.”
“Why don’t you send them a video update?”
 “Good idea!” they say.
“Well, that’s digital marketing!” 
With so much focus online, are in-person client appreciation events still worth doing?
We found that events are the No. 1 way to drive referrals — free events that are social in nature, like sporting events or wine tastings. 
The data shows that 57% of clients will accept an invitation to an event from their advisor and that 34% of those will bring a guest, if invited to do so. 
That blew my mind!    
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