How to Connect Your Content to Your Sales Strategy

Today’s consumers expect a more immersive conversation with their potential financial advisor before subscribing to their services. The excess of information readily available to all consumers requires you to work harder—and smarter—to convert your leads into clients. The days of sending a one-off postcard are over. Clients want to create a relationship with you before enlisting your services.

Mapping the content that you create to different buying stages can help you maximize the success of your omnichannel strategies. To optimize the success of your content, you need to consider the different needs of your prospects at each stage of the sales funnel. 

The Anatomy of a Sales Funnel

Even for the most analytic consumer, making a purchase is ultimately an emotional decision. To truly understand what will appeal to your prospect, you need to know where they stand in the sales funnel.

The most simple model of a sales funnel has three very important stages:

Stage 1: Awareness 

This is the first step in a prospective buyer’s journey, and they may not even know what specific services they require at this point in the process. They are doing their research on potential financial advisors by scouring blog posts, the social media accounts of potential advisors, and industry trends in order to see what works best for their needs. 

Stage 2: Consideration

The evaluation stage is much more involved, and the prospect is now looking closely at what you offer. What sets you apart from your competitors? Do you offer the specific services that they will require? In addition to the services themselves, clients will be examining their possible professional relationship with your firm. Are your personalities the right fit? Do you respond to their questions quickly and concisely? 

Stage 3: Purchase

This is the final stage in your sales funnel, where you leverage your ongoing communication with the prospect to finally convert them to a client. In order to truly sell your services to your client, spend time highlighting your experience in the industry and what sets you apart from the crowd. Really drive home what you deliver for your clients! This will, of course, encompass your financial services, but don’t forget to mention how you cultivate relationships and deliver peace of mind every step of the way. 

How to Tailor Content to Each Stage of the Sales Funnel

Too many companies get hung up on the sale itself and neglect the first two stages of the process. Creating a relationship with your future clients takes time, and your prospects will have unique needs at each stage of the sales funnel. An effective marketing strategy will create content that addresses those needs and distributes it across multiple channels. This sounds daunting, but don’t panic! Here are some steps to guide you through this process:

Define the content needs of each stage in the sales funnel

Before you start hammering out your content, you need to take some time to evaluate what each prospect wants to see. This can be a daunting task, but breaking down the data will help you determine the needs of each persona.This data includes the life stages of your ideal client, their demographics (age, net worth, location, etc.), and what financial services will be most helpful.

Once you have your ideal client in mind, you can brainstorm what will most appeal to this user at each stage of the sales funnel. For example:

Stage 1: Awareness

The awareness stage is vital to starting a new relationship with your prospect. This is the stage where you want to build trust and establish yourself as an authority in the financial services industry. Talk about your accomplishments, tell the story of how you started your career as a financial advisor, and post rave client reviews. Having a compelling narrative helps build brand awareness and convinces clients to pick you over the competition. 

Once this content has been created, use blogs and social media to share it with the world. Posting on your social media channels gets your name out and encourages a conversation with your prospects. Be sure to respond to every comment on your page in a timely manner to prove that you care about your clients! 

Once you have started a conversation with a new prospect on social media, ask for their email address and inquire what financial services they need most. This will allow you to continue the conversation in a more direct way and speak to their major pain points. 

Stage 2: Consideration

This stage is a little more sales intensive, and you’ll want to convey the value that you have provided for other clients in order to prove your worth. 

Begin by addressing the pain points that the prospect brought up in your first conversation. Explain how you have delivered value for your existing clients, highlight your specialties, and explain your process. Having a page of client testimonials is a great way to demonstrate your success, and it will assure the prospect that they will be in good hands! 

Stage 3: Purchase

At the very end of the sales funnel is the purchase stage.  The client is now familiar with your brand and the financial services that you offer, and they are ready to take this relationship to the next level. To “seal the deal” with a prospect at this stage, show off your industry knowledge by sharing whitepapers, case studies, or any recent articles that you have authored. Ask your prospect if they have any other questions or concerns, and invite them in for a face-to-face meeting at your office. 

In closing

When creating your marketing strategy, you need to closely consider the stages of the sales funnel and tailor content to each step. Consumers today expect a longer conversation before committing to a service, and creating content that appeals to each buyer persona ensures that you are covering all your bases. 

Rocket Talk: What is a Whitepaper and How Do You Use It?

 

In the spectrum of different tools that digital marketers use, few are as powerful and versatile as the well-crafted whitepaper. Most people have heard the term by now, but many don’t understand what makes a good whitepaper. In this Rocket Talk, Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Enrique Sanchez discuss what a whitepaper is, how to create a great one and what you can do with it once you have it.

Why QUALITY Content Is King in SEO

How Content Influences SEO InfographicIn 1996, Bill Gates saw the rising value of Internet content. While he recognized the importance of output volume, he knew the future of web copy would demand excellence.

If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will.”- Bill Gates

If there was ever need of additional proof of Gates’ prescience, this statement would provide it. Twenty years later, the Internet abounds with content and a growing user appetite for increasingly valuable material.

As a financial advisor, you have to feed your clientele with relevant and trending information. The industry is inundated with hackneyed writing, making it essential that each post enriches your audience in compelling ways. Changes to search algorithms have made web crawlers like Google, Yahoo and Bing more discerning when it comes to judging the quality of your content. Appeasing their higher standards is the key to optimizing your site for search and improving your rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

There are three main aspects of your content you can improve to help improve your site’s ranking in the digital marketplace Bill Gates envisioned:

Originality, Personality, and Interactivity.

Provide Original Insight

The majority of the content being produced at any given moment is simply regurgitated versions of something else that was already published. The internet is aswarm with the same article sliced 15 different ways. If you want to experience the loving electric embrace of high search rankings you need to share information and experiences that are unique to you and your business.

When it comes to sharing lessons learned in the trenches, it is not a bad strategy to overshare. By opening up your coffers of knowledge and sharing your treasure with the web at large you are not only demonstrating your expertise in your chosen area, you are providing the exact type of insight that improves a users over all experience of your site. Your bounce rate will fall, your average time on page will increase and your quality scores, the number that signifies Google’s determination of how well you address a certain keyword, will go through the roof.

Demonstrate Your Personality

When you meet a prospective client, you smile as you shake hands. Having an approachable style and voice has the same effect. Your writing tone is essential to making your clients feel welcome but also needs to communicate professionalism and expertise. This can seem like a difficult tight rope to walk. Take some time to consider your word choice. Is your language festooned with jargon or approachable to a layman?

Another aspect of your writing to consider is your character. What persona are you projecting in your online publications? Are you the only narrator they experience? One incredibly powerful strategy to help your readers connect with your writing is to introduce a cast of characters made up of members of your staff, your family or your clients. The more that your readers feel that you are sharing of your life the more they will fell comfortable trusting you with aspects of theirs.

Use Interactive Content

One of the most important aspects of a web experience is how personalized it feels to the person having it. Something as simple as recommended similar articles that appear at the end of a particular piece can be the difference between a reader spending a few seconds with your site or going further, taking a deep dive into your content library and experiencing the breadth of your content.

Being concise is the new currency. Take advantage of our increasingly visual culture and use videos and images to tell your story. Bill Gates also predicted the importance of this component, suggesting the “need to have audio, and possibly video” to give customers a complete experience. A combination of pithy writing and powerful visuals will result in increased SEO performance and a steady stream of new opportunities for your company.

Get Started on Creating High-Quality Content

Advisor Launchpad provides comprehensive digital marketing services for financial advisors seeking to establish their online reputation and get ahead of the local competition.

From copywriting to SEO to web design, we have assembled various packages to meet your budget and marketing needs.

Contact us today to learn more information.

How To Strengthen Your Social Marketing

Financial advisors have limited time to worry about their social marketing. Between LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, it can be especially hard to build a brand that remains unique to your firm and yet specific to each platform.

At Advisor Launchpad, we’re here to strengthen your social marketing by simplifying your focus. Our advice? Pick a platform, build a game plan, and stick to the process. It’s that simple. Rather than trying to master LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook all at once, invest your time in one platform at a time.

Today, we’ll provide an overview of each outlet so you know what types of content work best.

  1. LinkedIn: “The 24-Hour Trade Show Booth”

For financial advisors, LinkedIn is regarded as the most important social marketing community. While Twitter and Facebook bring more personality to the conversation, LinkedIn is usually the first destination prospective clients and industry colleagues will search you. It’s the place where thought leaders carve their niche and cultivate their audience. 

To join the conversation, you need original, engaging, and thought-provoking content. LinkedIn surfers aren’t only interested in hearing about what you do. They want to know how you think. Not only do people use LinkedIn to network, but also to stay abreast of the most innovative ideas in their industry. 

Inspirational pieces about your unique work philosophy or your distinct approach to financial planning will make the most lasting impressions. To captivate audiences about your company, shine a spotlight on your team, your work culture, and your firm’s successes. If you can attract readers with your business ethos alone, it’s only a matter of time until they become your client. 

LinkedIn rewards topicality. Stick to your niche, focus on your audience, and publish content that continually reinforces your expertise in the financial world. Think of LinkedIn as your 24-hour, seven-day-a-week trade show booth at a financial planning conference. 

What would you publish to continually attract (and retain) your visitors? 

2.   Twitter: “The Eternal Elevator Pitch”

LinkedIn posts age slowly, but last week’s tweets might as well be from 1850. Twitter is a social media beast that feeds exclusively on a steady stream of fresh and pithy messages.

While providing a second outlet for the content you share on LinkedIn, Twitter presents an opportunity to network in a more engaging and public way. Beyond linking to your white papers and blogs, Twitter encourages you to continuously interact with others in your field. 

Retweets, comments, and even a well-timed GIF show readers that you possess a broad perspective that extends beyond your own practice. That’s an attractive quality to prospective clients. Think of Twitter as your personal newspaper, carefully curated to highlight the qualities that make your firm unique. Though much of the content on your feed may come from third parties, if you retweet it, you’re technically still the publisher. 

While your LinkedIn profile largely consists of your own blogs and updates, Twitter can be an eclectic collection of tweets from The Economist, stock market updates, a random Bill Murray GIF, and the occasional thought piece of your own. 

A word to the wise: while propriety is paramount, don’t be afraid to build the Twitter feed you want, not the one you think others respect.

3.   Facebook: The Happy Hour of Social Media” 

The secret is in the title: Face. Book. The ubiquitous social network demands one thing above all else: users want to see you. In contrast with LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook is by far the most personal of the social media outlets. 

With well over 2.13 billion active users on the platform, Facebook is less about overt branding and more about personality. This plays well into the hands of financial advisors.

While you may already have a personal Facebook page, you will want to establish one specifically for your company. When you do, lean into the recreational side of social media that Facebook enables. Continue sharing your company’s original blogs and content, but go a step further by posting videos of you and your firm. 

45% of users watch over an hour of Facebook videos a week. If you can tap into that demand - whether via clips explaining a hot topic in the news or behind-the-scenes videos of your team at work - you’ll be personally inviting prospective clients into your world. 

If LinkedIn is your round-the-clock trade show booth and Twitter is your elevator pitch, think of Facebook as a corporate happy hour. You’re technically still working, but you’re surrounded by people who want to loosen up and get to know the real you. 

Use video to get the most out of Facebook.

Getting started!

We hope this guide helps clarify the larger differences between the three pillars of social media. However you choose to get started, prioritize building an authentic personality on one platform rather than a haphazard presence on all three.

Pick your platform, build a game plan, and stick to it. Over time, you’ll master each platform and reap their individual rewards. 

What are backlinks and how do you get some?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a language of its own. From “whitehat” to “blackhat” and “nofollow” links to “dofollow” links, this digital lexicon requires more than a few definitions to make sense of the madness.

Today, we’re looking at one of the central components of an effective SEO strategy: “backlinks.” Widely heralded as the currency of SEO, backlinks are incoming hyperlinks that point from one website to another. For example, if Advisor Launchpad mentioned an article in The New York Times, that hyperlink would be considered a backlink for the famed publication. 

Backlinks are an integral piece of search engine ranking algorithms. If your website receives an abundance of backlinks from high-quality sources, Google will recognize your growing authority and boost your ranking.

While backlinks have long been part of the digital marketing conversation, the means of actually getting them have changed drastically. First, there was the old-school approach that saw hosts spamming comments sections with links to their own websites. Then came the “ends justify the means” crowd who bought backlinks from “link farms” to help increase their popularity. 

Though these tactics worked for a time, Google and other search engines caught on to the schemes and leveled harsh ranking punishments (and even banned) websites attempting to cut corners. The backlink goldrush inevitably led to a more tightly monitored and regulated market.

Backlinks are crucial to help grow your online presence, but only when they are earned through networking and a consistent emphasis on producing quality content.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Position Yourself As A Thought Leader

Backlinks themselves carry little value; it’s the destination they take you that matters most. Rather than fret over the number of backlinks you can attain, focus on the most important goal: establishing yourself as a thought leader in both your local and industry markets.

The financial advisory world is inundated with competing voices that often regurgitate the same information. Carve a niche in that community, and you’ll not only boost your backlinks, you’ll also grow your business. 

  1.    Build Your Content “Skyscraper”

What’s the best way to enhance your online presence in the financial space? Take a look at what’s already working. Run a quick Google search of popular financial blogs and articles authored by competing advisory firms. Tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and Buzzsumo can help you pinpoint the biggest content influencers and closely analyze their backlinks. 

Take note of the topics they cover and the tone they take, then put together a game plan to exceed their efforts. Brian Dean of Backlinko calls this the “Skyscraper Technique,” an approach derived from the “whatever you can do, I can do better” school of thought.

This could entail writing a more comprehensive or “ultimate” guide to the topic at hand, providing more real-world anecdotes and explanations to personalize your content, or simply altering your blog’s structure to feature more image-based or list-driven content. 

In short, be aware of the content that has a proven track record of success, then expand those qualities and put your own unique spin on it. 

  1.    Leverage Industry Partnerships 

Once you have cultivated your content, it’s time to launch it in the marketplace. Your best target? Financial industry partnerships and local community alliances. 

Say you published a blog that stresses the importance of incorporating an estate plan with your overall financial strategy. Your investment management firm works closely with local attorneys who specialize in estate plans. In this scenario, you could ask those attorneys to feature your guest blog on their website, or simply have them link to your article in one of their own posts. Google prizes these sorts of backlinks, as they rank high in both quality and relevance. 

Beyond leveraging your industry relationships, consider reaching out to local businesses with whom you may already have clients. The power of community credibility cannot be overstated. If a local shop gives you a shout-out in one of their own blogs or newsletters, you’ll earn both backlinks and new business. 

  1.     Publicize Through Social Media 

While leveraging your professional network, be sure to double your influence by capitalizing on social media. LinkedIn shares, Facebook posts, and Twitter retweets go a long way to getting your quality content on the map. Continue cultivating relationships with your social media followers, and it won’t be long before they start promoting your content.

Ultimately, getting backlinks takes time, creativity, and commitment. By focusing on developing unique and compelling content, then taking a multi-pronged approach to publicizing it, your website will gain backlinks as your company gains business. 

How To Make Your Next Blog Post The Best Ever!

As you’re beefing up your content marketing efforts, you might notice that your weekly blog posts aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Though this is a definite bummer, don’t panic! It just means that you need to spend a bit more time curating your content and sharing it widely. Here are some quick tips to make your next blog post the best ever!

  1. Judge your book by its cover

Yeah, Mom always told us not to, but let’s face it: people will judge your content based on their first impressions. Taking the time to perfect the title and the introductory paragraph is key to reeling in your reader. This is essential for blog posts in particular, as eight out of ten people will take the time to read your headline copy, but only two out of ten will read the blog itself. Make sure those first impressions shine!

  1. Balance fun and facts

Ultimately, people are visiting your blog to learn more about the financial services industry, but don’t forget to balance your statistics with a good story! Establishing a narrative engages your reader and allows them to relate to the scenarios you’re presenting. 

  1. Cite your sources!

Your teachers have been hammering this into your brain since grade school, and it doesn’t end here! Citing sources on your blog establishes you as an authority in the financial services field and shows that you’ve done your research. Helpful hint: If you’re linking directly to your source, don’t forget to check “open in new window” on your ALP Dashboard so the reader remains on your site. 

  1. Support your SEO

Be sure that you are taking the time to optimize every one of your posts for SEO keywords. Using targeted keywords in the headline, body text, and first and last sentence of your posts is essential to maximizing the impact of your SEO efforts, and this will give your blog an extra leg up in search engine results. 

  1. Announce your new post to the world

You’ve spent years building your following on social media…why let this effort go to waste? Announce your new blog post on all social channels and include hashtags for relevant keywords. This expands the reach of your announcement and brings in a fresh audience to check out your content. 

If your posts aren’t getting the full attention they deserve, try implementing these strategies for your next round of content creation. Adding a little extra tender loving care to your next run of blog posts can grow its reach and bring in a fresh bunch of prospects! 

Rocket Talk: How to Create Educational Content

As a financial advisor you are used people wanting to share your knowledge. Why not make education the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy? Join Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Enrique as they discuss what makes for great educational content and how you can make sure that the content you are sharing is value driven, action inspiring and business stimulating.

How to Pivot in Your Content Marketing

So you’ve fully embraced content marketing, posted new blog posts every week, and taken the time to evaluate your traffic and SEO rankings. But here’s the problem: Your content isn’t performing. Google Analytics shows minimal traffic, a high bounce rate, and your keyword rankings are slipping further every month. 

Naturally, you panic a little. You grab a chocolate bar, stress eat for a few minutes and try to figure out the next steps. But have no fear! Content marketing is as much of an art as a science, and it requires constant vigilance and evaluation to stay ahead of the game, especially since Google changes its ranking algorithm a whopping 500-600 times per year. Some trial-and-error efforts are to be expected, so here are some simple steps to pivot your content marketing strategy:

Determine what is working

As you dive into your Google Analytics reporting, you may notice that one or two pieces of content stand apart from the crowd. What sets them apart from the others? Is it a unique piece? Does it focus on a subject that is extremely popular with your audience? Did you use a different keyword strategy? 

Evaluating the success of your content may be tedious, but the end result is absolutely worth it. So settle down with a cup of coffee and start taking a hard look at every one of your content pieces. What truly resonates with your viewers…and why? This revelation will help guide you as you pivot your content marketing strategy. 

Think of the consumers

A successful content marketing strategy is constantly focused on the end user. What are the specific questions that your clients need to be answered? Some examples: People want to ensure that their retirement is funded, their family has enough to live comfortably, and that they are making the right financial decisions every step of the way. Confirm that each piece of content you produce touches on the questions that will allow you to present yourself as a thought leader in the aspects of financial services in which you are expert.

Present other options

If you notice your content pieces have a high bounce rate, you might have a problem. It means your clients are navigating to your page for specific answers and not finding what they need. There are a few ways to reduce your bounce rate and the negative impact it has on your SEO.

  • Avoid large chunks of text. Let’s face it…your clients are too busy to hunker down and read pages of text. Make their lives easy by simplifying your message as much as possible and breaking your paragraphs up with images or infographics.
  • Offer other options. Add two or three different links at the bottom of each blog post that keep the client engaged with your site. If you are adding a blog post titled “3 Unique Ways To Save For Retirement,” add links to your post popular retirement blogs and your “Services” page to encourage the viewer to keep digging through your site.
  • Proofread! This is an unexpected answer, but how can you expect to present yourself as a thought leader when your blog is filled with typos? Ask your coworkers to double check your content before posting (or hire a freelance proofreader).

Realizing that your content marketing strategy isn’t working can be a shock, but it’s certainly not the end of the road. Making a small pivot in your strategy can get you back on track with a more focused vision of your goals and ideal audience. 

4 Ways to Capture Events For Your Marketing Effort

Conducting events in your community is an excellent way to support your current clients and reach out to a new group of prospects. Whether you are hosting seminars, conferences, parties, or lectures on timely financial issues, you can show off your personality and establish yourself as a thought leader.

But hosting events also gives you an additional opportunity to boost your social presence and cultivate engagement through email marketing and blog posts. Here are some essential steps to ensure you are maximizing the ROI on your event planning:

1. Create a new event using ALP’s Event Builder

The more information you can include, the better, but be sure to have the date, time (be sure to select the right time zone), location, and a contact who can handle any questions about the event. For maximum impact, let people know what they should expect to learn from the event and encourage them to invite their friends and family. The RSVP feature makes it easy to estimate a head count and ensure that you have enough snacks and drinks to cover all of your attendees! 

2. Get the word out early on social media 

 In the lead-up to your event, it will be essential to post multiple times on all social media channels. Posting on your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter may be a given, but don’t ignore smaller channels like community pages and specialized groups. Craft a short sentence that describes the event, when it takes place, and what the public can expect to gain from attending.

3. Find someone to team up with

To really drive community involvement, consider a dual partnership with another local business to double your marketing efforts. You can reach out to the community to line up potential collaborators, guest speakers, or even just a popular lunch place to supply catering. Don’t forget to mention these partnerships in all of your marketing efforts!

4. Create a targeted email campaign

Reaching out to both existing clients and promising prospects is another excellent way to drive up attendance, and directing them to your website’s event page drives up your SEO. Be sure to send a series of emails as you countdown to your event. We suggest sending the first three months prior, then re-sending at 1 month, 1 week, and the day before to keep your event top-of-mind.

If you’re taking the time and effort to put together a company event, why not reap the benefits of your marketing strategy? Crafting an event on your website to drive traffic, sharing your event across all social platforms and through a dedicated email campaign, and drumming up community involvement all ensure that your event gets the attention it deserves! 

How Content Marketing Helps Your SEO

If you’ve been paying any attention to the marketing landscape, the words “Content Marketing” have probably caught your eye. Why has such a simple concept—creating timely and informative content to share on your website—come to dominate the marketing world? In addition to being relatively simple and affordable, content marketing has taken center stage for one key reason: It is an excellent way to maximize the impact of your SEO. 

But how specifically does content marketing increase your SEO? Here are some brief explanations of their impact (and some tips to put content marketing to work for you)!

So much space!

Take some time to imagine that you’re The Google Search Engine Algorithm. You can’t see the pictures posted on each website. You can’t watch videos. So how do you determine what each website is about? The written word, of course! 

If you’re not posting regular blogs, Google has limited information it can use to determine what industry you’re in, what clientele you serve, and what search terms are most relevant to you. The algorithms would have to rely on the sparse information on your homepage and interior pages to figure out how to rank you. Posting regular blogs gives Google more information to work with, and the more keywords you integrate into your content, the better it gets to know your business. So help Google out! Post regular blogs to strengthen its algorithm and improve your site ranking. 

You have our attention…

In addition to improving your SEO Keyword Rankings, content marketing performs another essential function for your website: Keeping the attention of your audience. As Google’s algorithm calculates its search rankings, it measures how many visitors frequent your site and how long they stay on each page. 

Posting regular blog posts has a twofold effect on your website: Previous visitors check back in to see if any new blogs have been posted, and new visitors take the time to look at your latest postings to see if your services fit their financial needs. In both cases, the time they take to scroll through your new blog post ranks you higher in Google’s SEO rankings, so keep posting that new content!

Show off your unique point of view!

One of the biggest challenges in developing an SEO keyword strategy is finding a niche that no one else is writing about. As a Financial Advisor, this gives you a wonderful opportunity to show off what sets you apart from other professionals. Is there a service or opportunity that you provide clients that flies under the radar in most firms? Is there a particular question that your prospects would type into Google that could lead them right to your website? Take some time to show off something special, and remember to be more specific than “How to prepare for retirement?” 

As you dive into your marketing strategy, content creation is an effective and inexpensive way to stand out from the crowd. By utilizing a keyword strategy and posting content regularly, you can optimize your SEO and make Google go gaga for your site!