There’s no disputing that in today’s digital and social media age, an effective online presence is vital for any kind of business that wants to succeed.
And this is especially true for IFAs and other financial advisers.
But with so many different digital marketing strategies to choose from, it can be hard to know which will be the best and most effective ones for you to use as a financial adviser.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and aren’t sure where to start when it comes to marketing your financial services business then read on. Because in this comprehensive guide to financial adviser digital marketing strategies, we’ll explore the various options that are available to you and help you figure out which ones to implement in order to enhance your online presence and build your client bank.
Whether you’re new to digital marketing or looking to enhance your existing strategy, this guide will provide all the insights and tools you need to take your practice to the next level.
What is digital marketing?
As with any kind of marketing, digital marketing is about getting people to know, like and trust you, your business, and its products and services.
Marketing can take many forms, from awareness-raising campaigns designed simply to make potential customers aware that a particular product or service exists, through to campaigns aimed at those who are in the market to buy a particular product or service right now, or activity designed to build customer loyalty and generate repeat business from existing clients.
The thing that makes digital marketing different from older forms of marketing is that it involves the use of digital technologies and online channels rather than printed material and traditional broadcast platforms such as TV and radio.
Some of the most common tactics deployed as part of a digital marketing strategy are: search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, online advertising, content marketing, and pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing strategies enable businesses to reach a wider audience and is generally a lot more cost-effective with lower barriers to entry. It’s also easier to track what works and what doesn’t by using tools such as Google Analytics. Businesses can then adjust their marketing strategies and tactics as needed to achieve their desired outcomes.
As well as allowing you to reach a global audience at a lower cost than with traditional advertising methods, digital marketing also lets you engage with your customers and prospects in a more personalised and targeted way, leading to greater customer loyalty and higher conversion rates.
The digital marketing funnel
When you’re working on your financial adviser digital marketing strategy, it’s important to understand the concept of the digital marketing funnel - i.e. the various stages that a typical prospect has to go through before they will become a paying client.
We usually refer to the funnel as being split into three sections: top, middle and bottom. And to go from being at the top of the funnel (where they have never even heard of your business) through to the bottom (where they become a client), someone will typically have to be exposed to your marketing around 7 to 11 times.
For a successful digital marketing strategy you will need to create advertising and other content that is aimed at people at each of these different stages of the funnel. So let’s look at each one in a bit more detail.
Top of funnel
Every potential client starts their journey with your business at the top of the funnel. At this point they are strangers - they’ve never heard of you or your brand before. So, during this stage, your primary goal is to create awareness of your firm, and you shouldn’t be attempting to get in front of the client or trying to sell them anything.
As a financial adviser, the top of the funnel is where you can concentrate on demonstrating to prospective clients that you can provide valuable financial advice and guidance. This means that the content you create for this stage of the customer journey should address, and discuss possible solutions to, a problem or issue that your ideal client is likely to be facing.
Simple and easy-to-consume content is usually best at this stage - such as a short blog post or video, or even an infographic.
Middle of funnel
At this stage in their journey, the potential client is aware of your firm and is considering whether to approach you for financial advice. But they’re probably also weighing up whether to go with one of your competitors instead.
So the marketing content you provide for the middle of the funnel needs to go a bit deeper and help your potential client realise that you are the most helpful and knowledgable IFA on their shortlist.
Email marketing and nurture campaigns can work well for this.
Bottom of funnel
By this point in their buyer journey, the potential client is ready to convert - i.e. become an actual client.
Your marketing at this point can become more direct and can focus on things like getting the prospect to request a quote or book a meeting.
How can digital marketing bring value to a financial adviser?
There are all sorts of benefits to using digital marketing as a financial adviser, including:
1. Increased reach
Digital marketing allows financial advisers to reach a wider audience than you could with traditional marketing and advertising.
Thirty years ago it was only those firms with the big budgets required for national press or TV advertising who could hope to reach potential clients beyond their local area. But now, through online platforms and channels such as social media, email, and search engines, you can get yourself in front of people across the country and around the world even with a very modest marketing budget.
This increased reach can lead to more leads, clients, and ultimately, more income for your IFA business.
2. Targeted marketing
Most traditional marketing - such as newspaper ads or leaflet drops - relies on getting your message out to as many people as possible and hoping that the right kind of person happens to see it. In others words, you’re throwing a lot of mud at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.
Digital marketing enables financial advisers to refine their marketing efforts and engage with their clients and prospects in a more targeted and effective way. For example, if you are advertising pension drawdown advice, you can make sure the ads you run are only seen by people aged 50+.
3. More cost-effective
Compared to traditional advertising methods, digital marketing for financial services is often more cost-effective. Social media and email marketing, for example, can be relatively inexpensive and offer a high return on investment.
Even paid-for advertising with platforms such as Google Ads tends to give a better return than traditional advertising because you only get charged if someone shows an interest in your ad by clicking on it and visiting your website. Whereas with a newspaper ad, for example, you’ll pay a fixed fee regardless of how many people see it or respond to it.
By creating and sharing high-quality content on financial topics in the form of social media posts, blog articles or videos, you can position yourself as the IFA who’s an expert in their field. This helps build trust and loyalty amongst your clients and prospects, which will ultimately result in more leads, an increase in referrals, and a greater volume of repeat business.
5. Measurable results
Back in the day, it was hard to know which bits of your marketing were generating results and which were a waste of money. There was a lot of guesswork involved and companies often carried on blindly running the same old marketing campaigns for fear that if they stopped then the leads would dry up.
But with digital marketing, you can easily get valuable insights and data on your marketing efforts. Through analytics tools, you can track and analyse the results from all your different marketing campaigns, and then optimise your digital marketing efforts and strategies for maximum impact. This is one of the other things that helps makes digital marketing for financial advisers more cost-effective than a lot of offline marketing.
3 top digital marketing strategies that work in 2023
With so many digital marketing strategies to choose from and so many agencies offering digital marketing services, it can be a bit overwhelming deciding which tactics to use and finding the time to do them all properly - especially if you’re a sole trader financial adviser or running a small IFA firm with only a few staff.
So, to help you narrow things down, here are the three things I recommend you turn your attention to first of all:
- Pay-per-click ads
- Social media
- A website optimised for SEO
Pay-per-click ads for financial services
As mentioned earlier, pay-per click (PPC) ads are ones where you don’t pay for your ad to appear - you just pay if and when someone clicks on your ad. In other words, they work on a cost per click basis rather than cost per impression (also known as CPM, which stands for cost per mille, because costs are usually quoted on the basis of what you pay per thousand impressions).
The role of PPC in a social media strategy
The grandfather of the PPC world is undoubtedly Google, whose Google Ads platform is responsible for the PPC results that appear at the top and bottom of the Google search engine results pages (SERPs).
But PPC is also used as the key source of revenue for all the social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Although it’s totally free to post content to your business pages on these social networks, the reach of your posts is always going to be limited if you rely on this kind of free organic content marketing. Your posts will generally only reach those who follow you and, even then, not all of them will see every post.
So if you really want to get your social media posts in front of a big audience of prospective clients then you need to invest in some paid content. Once you do that, you can get your content pushed into the social media feeds of your ideal kind of client, based on things like their age, location, gender and hobbies/interests.
Note: Although ads on social media are often referred to as PPC ads, the reality is that the default setting for most campaigns is CPM - where you pay each time one of your ads appears in someone’s feed, regardless of whether or not they click on it.
How to implement a PPC strategy
An effective PPC strategy for financial advisers should encompass both social media advertising and also Google Ads. That way you will be targeting the top of your funnel (via the social networks) and the middle/bottom of the funnel via Google Ads (which is where you’ll get in front of people who are actively searching for financial advice).
Here are some steps to follow to implement a successful PPC strategy:
1. Define your target audience
Before you start any PPC campaign, you need to understand who your ideal clients are. This will help you create targeted ads and keywords that will attract the right people to your website.
2. Choose your platforms
As already mentioned, there are several platforms you can use for PPC advertising, including Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising (for ads on Bing), and social media platforms like Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. When it comes to deciding which social media channels to advertise on, think about which ones will make it easiest to find the right audience. For example, if you want to target the directors of tech startups with fewer than 10 employees, you’ll find it easier to locate them on LinkedIn than on Facebook.
3. Create your ad campaigns
When it comes to Google Ads, make sure that your keywords are specific to the type of prospects you want to attract. Think about the intent that a searcher will have - for example, someone who searches for “financial adviser near me” is far more likely to want to speak to you than someone who searches for “pension allowances”.
You also need to make sure your ad copy is compelling and that it clearly communicates the benefits and unique selling points that you offer.
When it comes to social media ads, make sure you test out different images and use ad copy that speaks to your target audience and their concerns - e.g. “Not sure if you’ll have enough money to live on in retirement? Download our free budget planner.” See if you can use video in your ads too as this tends to be more eye-catching when people are skimming through their social media feeds.
4. Set your budget
Think carefully about how much you are willing to spend on your PPC campaign. Start with a small budget and adjust as needed based on the results.
5. Track your results
Use a combination of each platform’s own analytics plus Google Analytics on your website to track the success of your PPC campaigns. Pay attention to metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition.
6. Optimise your campaigns
Don’t just set and forget. Use the data you collect to make adjustments to your campaign. This may include pausing keywords that don’t convert, testing new ad copy, adjusting your budget, and refining your target audience.
Social media strategy for financial advisers
Aside from any paid advertising you decide to do on social media, you should also have a plan for organic content marketing on the main social networks.
The benefits of using social media in the financial industry
As a financial adviser, it’s really important for people to trust you before they do business with you. They also need to be confident that you have the knowledge to give them the best advice. After all, their financial future could depend on it.
Fortunately, if used correctly, social media is a perfect tool to help prospective clients get to know, like and trust you.
Important elements of a social media strategy
By posting regularly on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok you can:
- educate your prospects
- answer commons questions and concerns they may have
- demonstrate that you are up to date with developments in the world of personal finance
- show them a bit of your personality
Doing all this will give you authority and credibility in the eyes of your future clients and let them get to know you a bit as a person.
This last point - the one about showing some personality - is important but often overlooked by financial advisers, especially those who feel they need to be “professional” at all times because they’re from a financial firm.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you want to be posting lots of photos of you lying drunk in a gutter at the end of a night out. But don’t be afraid to share a bit of personal stuff in your social media posts. After all, when someone chooses you as their IFA they are buying into you and your personality as much as they are buying into the knowledge you have and the advice you give.
You might classify yourself as a B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business) financial adviser, but all IFAs are actually in the P2P (people-to-people) sector. You, the individual, will often be the biggest USP your business has and the thing that most differentiates you from your competition - so don't be afraid to let a bit of the real you come through in your social media output.
LinkedIn as a powerhouse for B2B
Don’t forget that social media marketing isn’t all about finding potential clients and staying connected with existing ones. The other great way to use LinkedIn as an IFA is to form professional connections.
If you’ve ever done any real-world networking through things like BNI, you’ll know how important it is to form relationships with people like solicitors, accountants, mortgage brokers, or will writers who can refer their clients to you when they need financial advice.
Now imagine that if, instead of doing that just in a room of 20-30 people, you could network online with 1000s of potential introducers and referral partners.
That’s where LinkedIn comes into its own. So make sure that, as part of your social media content marketing strategy, you plan in some posts which will help and appeal to those potential partners too.
Presentation videos and tutorials
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to organic social media content is making sure that your post gets noticed in people’s crowded newsfeeds.
You’ll often find that by using video, you’ll posts will get more attention. This is because as someone is scrolling through their feed, they are more likely to notice a post that has some movement in it.
There’s also more chance they’ll engage with your post too, as many people prefer to consume information via video rather than reading a large amount of text.
And if the video includes you speaking to the camera then this is another way to get your personality across and start that all-important process of helping people get to know you.
Something to bear in mind, though, is that people won't always be in surroundings where they can have the audio playing, so remember to add subtitles to your videos.
Interviews and podcasts
Another good way to add a bit of variety to your social media content is to include interviews with other people (in video or audio form) and/or to start a podcast which you can then share content from on your social channels.
Interviewing people is also a great way to create content without having to do all the work yourself - because you just ask questions and someone else (your guest) does the bulk of the talking!
If you think you’d not have enough ideas to come up with regular podcast episodes then just keep a note for the next few weeks of all the common questions that clients ask you about personal or business finance. You’ll soon build up a decent sized list and each of these questions can then become the topic for a podcast episode - either with you talking about it on your own or discussing it with a guest.
The role of having a website in digital marketing
You might think that, in the social media age, there’s no need to have a website as everyone can find you on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc instead. But a website is still really important because:
- It’s a platform you own and control (you can’t get banned from your own website like you can from Twitter, for example)
- It acts as a central hub which you can direct people to from your social media channels
Back in 2011 when I published my first book about how businesses can market themselves using social media, we included an image of a solar system with your website at the centre (as the sun) and the various social networks shown as planets orbiting around it and directing traffic to it. And, over ten years later, the model still applies.
So, yes, you do still need a decent website.
How to build a website
I’ve written an in-depth article about all the steps involved in building a lead-generating website but, in summary, you need to:
- Buy a domain name
- Set up some web hosting
- Choose and install a content management system (I recommend WordPress)
- Create a design for your site (I recommend using Thrive Suite to simplify this)
- Build your core pages - Home, About, Services, Contact etc
- Add a blog
- Create a mechanism to capture visitors’ contact details using a lead magnet
Website design elements and tips
Like it or not, people will judge you and your business based on what they see on your website. And, if your website looks scrappy and unprofessional then they’ll assume that the advice and customer service you give will be sub-standard too.
So it’s worth investing a bit of time and/or money in making sure your website is easy to use and gives the right impression of your business - both in terms of how it looks and the tone of voice used in your content.
Here are some tips to help you get it right:
1. Look and feel
A financial adviser website should convey a professional and trustworthy look and feel that reflects the way you want potential clients to view you.
2. Easy navigation
Don't make life difficult for people. Your website needs to have a clear and intuitive menu that helps visitors find what they're looking for quickly and easily.
3. Mobile optimisation
It’s likely that over half the visits your website gets will be from people using mobile phones. So make sure that your site is responsive and that it looks as good on phones and tablets as it does on a desktop. Make sure it loads quickly on all device types too.
4. Clear messaging
Does your website have a strong value proposition as its headline? Or does it say something generic like “Independent Financial Advice You Can Trust” which people will already have seen on every other financial adviser’s website? Make sure the messaging throughout your website is clear, concise, and easy to understand, with a focus on the benefits of choosing you over any other financial adviser.
Your website should have clear calls-to-action that encourage visitors to take the next step, such as requesting a callback, booking a meeting, or signing up to receive a free guide.
6. Reviews and testimonials
Including testimonials - ideally from independent third-party platforms like Google Reviews or Trustpilot - can help build trust and credibility with prospective clients.
7. Social proof
Similarly, displaying logos or badges that show which organisations you’re affiliated to or which qualifications you’ve got can also help build trust and credibility.
8. Custom imagery
You should definitely include imagery on your site to break things up. You can get free stock images from sites such as Pexels but by also including some custom imagery you can help your website stand out from the crowd and reflect the unique personality and branding of your financial adviser practice.
9. Compliance considerations
Financial advisers need to be mindful of compliance regulations when designing their websites, including adding whatever disclosures and disclaimers as required by the FCA (or other regulators if you’re outside the UK) for your kind of financial firm.
10. Regular updates
The website should be regularly updated with fresh content, such as blog posts or news articles, to keep visitors engaged and informed. This will also help with search engine optimisation and can move you up the search engine rankings.
Website content strategy
Your website is obviously going to need some core content that tells people who you are, what you do, how you can help them, and how they can contact you.
But beyond that, it makes sense to have additional content that is added and updated on a regular basis. This adds extra value for visitors to the site and it will set you apart from a lot of the other financial advisers you’re competing with. Also, Google favours sites that have high quality and regularly updated content, so this will help your SEO and help you get found through organic search results too.
The best and easiest way to achieve all this is to have a blog section on your website. Make a commitment to yourself to add a new blog at least once every two weeks. This can be about something that has happened in the financial services industry - e.g. changes to the pension rules - or it can be an information/advice article that addresses a common problem or concern that people have.
You can find out more about how to set up a blog and how to come up with ideas for what to post about in this video:
It’s a good idea to plan your content in advance and one of the things I help people with when they become members of The Predictable Pipeline Programme is to show them an easy way to come up with a year’s worth of content ideas in just a couple of hours. If you’re a member, you can get a copy of my toolkit for this here.
SEO strategy for financial advisers
As mentioned above, a blog is a good thing to have as part of your SEO strategy as an IFA. As well as meaning that there’s plenty of content on your site for Google and the other search engines to index and hopefully rank you highly for, it also means you have content that other websites can link to.
Inbound links are an important factor in search engine optimisation so, rather than just relying on links coming to you naturally, it is a good idea to develop a strategy for acquiring inbound links.
Don’t forget the importance of local SEO, too, if you want to be found by people searching for an IFA in your local town or area.
I’ve talked about all of this in a lot more detail in this article on SEO for financial services.
Very often, people will want to do a bit of their own research before they are ready to speak to a financial adviser. This is especially true of people who are at the top or middle of the funnel.
Clearly, if you’re website has lots of useful articles and blog content, then this will help people who are at that researching stage of their buyer journey.
But there are other things you can include in your site to help these people and warm them up to the idea of choosing you as their IFA.
For example, you could have interactive content such as calculators that will help people get an idea of things like how much their pension might be worth when they retire, or how much life insurance they might need in order to provide for their family.
Interactive content can also help keep people on your site for longer, and the search engines will reward you for that.
Hopefully this article has given you lots of ideas for how you can improve your financial adviser lead generation by using these kinds of digital marketing strategies.
At the moment, lots of financial advisers are way behind the curve with this type of thing, so if you start using the best digital marketing strategies now, you’ll be able to steal a march on your competitors and start getting more leads and more clients before they do.
If you want some advice on where to get started and where you should direct your digital marketing efforts for maximum impact, you can book a free strategy call with me.