How Financial Advisors can convert AUM from the Web

How to Capture AUM from Qualified Prospects on the Web

If I’ve learned one thing from working with RIAs over more than a decade, it’s that they’re more interested in referred clients than earned clients.

I understand the thinking: Cultivating existing clients, centers of influence and strategic partners can result in a pipeline of qualified investors to last through your whole career. By comparison, earning clients one by one sounds like a long, difficult slog.

But many financial advisors would be shocked to learn that digital marketing, done right, can deliver results that are comparable to, or better than, referral marketing. Many of the clients to whom I provide direct marketing strategy and implementation have captured more AUM through the web in 2015 than they did over the previous five years.

If this seems hard to grasp based on your online marketing efforts to date, chances are that your approach has been flawed and incomplete. By replacing patchwork, sub-par efforts with strategy built around industry best practices, you can create an effective online marketing program that is both simpler and less expensive than referral-based marketing.

So what are some of the elements of effective digital marketing?

Breaking Through the Trust Barrier

Your website is more important then you may realize. Even when prospects are referred to you, they typically visit your website before picking up the phone. Unfortunately, most RIA sites feature predictable, stale narratives that do little to motivate prospects to leave a message or reach out with a question.

Effective websites provide an impressive introduction to your firm and feature timely educational information that reflects how you do business and who benefits from being your client. Potential clients want to understand your value proposition, why your investment philosophy is right for them, and what your perspectives are on the challenges and opportunities they face right now.

A properly designed and written website isn’t a commercial about what you do—it’s a carefully crafted narrative about who you help and how you do it. Remember, your audience is looking for reasons to choose you over the next advisor, and that often boils down to trustworthiness. Experience shows that original videos, articles, and white papers can help visitors to break through the trust barrier and take the next step.

The Template Temptation

Most RIAs use cheap template websites that are sponsored by their broker-dealer or TAMP, usually in the misguided belief that all they need is real estate on the web to be successful.

The truth is that a large number of advisors see the web as a nicety rather than a necessity. And as a result, they pay little attention to the purpose of a website.

Purchasing a cheap template site from a turnkey provider deprives you of the opportunity to showcase your authenticity, knowledge and status in your geographic region, niche or space. And if your website does not feature a credible blog-publishing platform, it is unlikely to register highly with the search-engine rankings that drive prospects to certain businesses (Google/Bing).

Content: Outsourced Vs. Original

Let’s talk about blogging. Blogging is not just a way to touch clients and prospects with random topics. A blog can and should convey your unique voice, perspective, and expertise.

We’re fans of outsourcing many functions of the RIA business, but blogging is an area that requires your personal involvement. Bear in mind that most visitors to your website will find it through your blog. That’s because prospects in need of financial guidance typically input questions into search engines like Google or Bing. These search engines rarely drive lots of traffic to your homepage; instead, they send users to current, original articles. If you do not have fresh articles, you won’t have much luck netting traffic or leads.

If you run canned content from bulk providers like Forefield, the articles on your website will be featured on thousands of other websites just like yours, lowering their search rankings significantly.

What’s more, they will provide little value in terms of connecting with bulls-eye prospects who have questions about their situation. Although purchasing pre-written articles may seem like a convenient way to roll out content on a regular basis, you’ll likely miss the opportunity to target a niche audience and speak to prospects who have specific challenges that you are highly qualified to resolve.

Don’t Market in the Dark

Many advisors use Google Analytics to provide simple measures of website traffic. But sophisticated, low-cost analytic tools can provide a deeper and more useful understanding of the activity on your site.

A critical piece of information is where visitors spent their time: What content on your site did they find most engaging? It’s also valuable to know where your visitors are coming from. You may have a number of hits from the corporation downtown where you’ve wanted to make inroads.

Understanding how a prospect found your website and the content that kept them engaged during their visit is critical for shaping future marketing investments and decisions. Better analytic tools provide that clarity (ie: Jumplead, Hubspot, Pardot).

Capturing AUM From Your Website

If designed and implemented correctly, a comprehensive web strategy can net millions in AUM year after year. Great websites provide multiple call-to-action opportunities in which you exchange educational content for contact information.

Consider adding a whiteboard explainer video to help prospects understand the difference between a commission- vs. fee-based advisor, a fiduciary vs. a non-fiduciary, passive vs. active, and so on. Another great way to help potential clients learn more about how you help investors reach their goals is by publishing a compelling white paper (ie: How to shelter your estate from taxes).

The bottom line: You can capture $50 million to $100 million in AUM from the web on an annual basis, but only if you invest in your messaging, website and communication tools. Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re paying $99 to $150 per month for a website, or you opted for a run-of-the-mill template site from Advisor Products, there’s a high probability you will not even convert enough business to cover the cost of your annual marketing bill.

Instead, you should invest in the full potential of the web. In case after case, firms that have partnered with a capable digital marketing professional have become believers.

Tags: financial advisor websites, financial advisor marketing, financial advisor marketing strategies, financial advisor marketing plan

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