If you’re a financial advisor, digital ads need to be part of your marketing strategy.
For those who might be confused about digital advertising, here’s a quick definition.
Financial advisor ads in the digital context are marketing messages in the form of text or video displayed on search results, third-party websites and social media.
Most People Seeking a Financial Advisor Start Online – Welcome to what Google Think calls the “Age of Assistance.” In just the last few years, consumers have fundamentally changed their behavior.
Using mobile devices, online research has become the first stop for many consumers. With information so ubiquitous and readily at hand, consumers are research obsessed.
In the past two years, search phrases with the word “best,” as in, for example, “best financial advisor near me,” have grown over 80%. Searches for the term “financial advisor” increased up 75% from 2015 – 2017
More than 50% of offline investors gather information online first. These consumers are also more demanding. They expect finding the information they want to be quick and easy, even if the consumers are not explicit about their needs. In short, they expect financial advisors to anticipate their questions and provide answers proactively.
Answering questions in advance may feel like free consulting to you. In reality, it is the first step in a client acquisition sequence that gradually builds trust and authority before the client ever walks into your office.
Finally, Google says that consumers are more impatient. They make decisions, even hyper-critical ones like choosing a financial advisor, quickly and based on information gathered in minutes from online sources.
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Mobile search has grown more than 150% in the last two years.
Search terms like “financial advisor near me now” have increased more than 150%.
According to Hubspot, consumers consult social media for buying recommendations. 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.
A study cited in Forbes found that 81% of US consumers report that social media friends directly influence their buying decisions. That stat is not a shock. People have always relied on recommendations from friends. However, more surprising is that Market Force found that 78% of consumers say posts by companies they follow influence their buying decisions.
As a financial advisor, you can’t afford to miss that opportunity. However, social media is a delicate area for financial advisors. You cannot make recommendations.
Care is required in advertising of all kinds, and especially in social media. However, the trend is clear. Again according to Forbes’s research, 85% of financial advisors use social media for their business.
Social media ads are the next logical step.
Financial advisor ads used to be “spaghetti” advertising; throw it on the wall and hope something sticks. Financial advisors took out ads in broadcast media like TV, radio or print. Those ads appeared in front of a large cross-section of consumers. Most of them were not remotely interested in hiring a financial advisor.
Financial advisor digital advertising, on the other hand, can be laser targeted to precisely the kind of clients you prefer and, even more importantly, at the moment in time when they are actively searching for a financial advisor.
This targeted marketing has a much better return on investment.
Another problem with the old spray and pray method of advertising is that the financial advisor couldn’t measure their marketing campaigns’ effectiveness, compare campaigns head-to-head or A/B test.
The platforms that support digital advertising provide a wealth of real-time and precise data about your ads.
You will know which ads are your best performers, which need some tweaking and which ads you should stop altogether.
Again, the radically improves your ROI and allows you to target (and find) the clients most likely to respond to you and the services you offer.
Financial services are complex. Not every marketing message lends itself to a 250 character ad or a 30 second sound bite.
Digital ads come in all flavors, from images with a caption to 30-minute videos.
This flexibility enables you to customize your advertising for the target market and message.
Finally, one great advantage of digital advertising is retargeting the clients of greatest interest.
When a prospect responds to one of your ads, the advertising platforms make a record of that action. You then have the opportunity to continue to show advertising to that prospect tailored to the level and kind of interest their initial ad response indicates.
For example, suppose a prospect clicked on an ad about retirement planning. In that case, you might follow up with that client with follow-on ads highlighting your expertise in retirement planning.
The possibilities for digital advertising are as diverse as the internet itself. These are what our clients currently find most effective.
You’ve no doubt seen this type of ad. When a person enters a search query, the top results will be ads. Ads may also appear at the bottom of the search results or on the side of the page.
These ads look like search results.
The advertiser pays the search engine to display their ad. The payment is usually a variable amount based on an auction-like model and paid only in the event of a click.
Search advertising’s beauty is that these ads only show to people who have already demonstrated interest in the topic.
You still don’t know anything about their intent. The person could be actively searching for a financial advisor or just researching. However, with carefully chosen search terms, you can optimize for terms that do show intent.
Display ads appear on webpages that the search engines have determined are relevant to a search term you have selected.
For example, if you select to advertise on the search term “financial advisors in Milwaukee,” your ad might display on a website with an article about the tip ten financial advisors in Milwaukee.
As with search ads, your ads only show to people who have indicated an interest in the topic of financial advisors. In this case, they demonstrate interest by reading an article related to financial planning.
Native ads are a class of ads designed to look like the content on the page where they are displayed.
For example, you may have noticed at the bottom of many newspaper websites, a group of boxes that seem, at first glance, to be related news stories. On closer inspection, many of these stories are ads presented to mimic a news story.
Native ads are effective because the manner of their presentation instantly presents credibility. Imagine your financial advisor ads appearing side-by-side with journalism from the Forbes or Wall Street Journal team.
The extended format of native ad content enables you to showcase your expertise and build credibility with your prospects.
Choose where you display native ads carefully. Some publications are awash with clickbait native ads with sensational headlines. You will not build credibility if your carefully written content shows alongside this kind of ad.
Social media advertising is the fastest-growing advertising media. According to SproutSocial, ad spend on social media exceeded $89 billion in 2019. They expect spending to grow 8.7% to over $102 billion in 2020.
Digital video advertising is growing 25% year-over-year.
Financial advisors have to be particularly careful about their social media activity and advertising.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have issued social media activities guidelines. It would be best to familiarize yourself with these guidelines before launching a social media presence or social media advertising.
The CFA Institute of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct is another vital touchpoint. The CFA cautions that adherence to their code of ethics supersedes any legal responsibilities. In other words, even if the activity on social media is legal, if it violates the code of ethics, you still may not engage in that activity.
Of course, the main concern is that you may inadvertently, through your social media ads, give investment advice, which would raise questions of suitability, diligence and prudence.
Despite the ethical constraints, you should not overlook the power of social media advertising and the client flow it enables.
Let’s take a look at the various types of social media ads available to you.
Business people naturally think of Linked-In first. To the extent that your practice focuses on business professionals, Linked-In is your best bet.
Before you get started, make sure you set up your Linked-In profile correctly. You’ll want a complete personal profile and resume, and a company profile.
You’ll want to show your connections but be careful to only accept connections from people you know, trust or consider credible.
Here’s a Linked-In ad from a financial advisor.
It looks just like any post in your Linked-In feed, i.e., posts from your connections. But, in this case, it’s a promoted post.
Notice their use of a lead magnet. Lead magnets are an excellent way to collect segmented leads. Their imaging calls out specifically to their target demographic, men approaching retirement.
Facebook is another obvious advertising platform for financial advisors. Facebook is a blend of personal and business profiles. However, Facebook’s terrific segmentation tools allow you to target particular markets as a financial advisor. As with LinkedIn, make sure you have a complete profile. Also, post relevant content on your Facebook page.
One sales funnel that’s worked well for our clients is,
Above is an example of a Facebook ad by a financial advisor. Notice it’s timely. That’s a crucial piece of the Facebook advertising picture.Instagram
Instagram is a less obvious choice but can be quite powerful.
The visual nature of Instagram makes it more challenging to offer a nuanced message. However, with the right graphics, you can get viewers to click-through to content.
As with all the social media advertising strategies, adding value is critical. In the case of Instagram, most of our clients post a balance of motivational content and value-add content.
Finally, don’t miss YouTube as a platform for your financial advisor ads. Many people overlook the fact that YouTube is not just a social media channel. YouTube is also the world’s second-largest search engine.
Consumers consistently turn to YouTube for their research. Google data estimates that 55% of consumers use YouTube videos for their shopping research.
The video format of YouTube requires a different content/ad production format. Don’t let video ads intimidate you. A simple video of you sitting at a desk or a PowerPoint presentation can be as powerful as a slick video production.
There are two ways to get started with financial advisor digital advertising. Many financial advisors decide to go it alone. The cost of entry seems relatively low. But that’s an oddly inept decision for a financial advisor.
You likely explain to your clients that hiring a financial advisor is ultimately less expensive than braving the financial waters solo and losing money while they learn.
The same reasoning holds for financial advisor advertising. You could go it alone, but you will make rookie mistakes and waste money in the process.
Alternately, you could reach out to the experts here at Mediaboom and let our consultants get you started with financial advisor ads the right way.
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