A lot of IFAs are talking to us at the moment, about how to use their financial website to increase brand awareness and lead generation.
Most financial advisers gain business via referrals, and this will always be an important source of business. However, it will only ever get you so far.
Just like an investment portfolio which divides its assets, your marketing strategy also needs to be pulling in new clients from several directions. This helps ensure leads are still coming in when referrals are running dry for a season, therefore minimising the risk to your sales pipeline.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is one marketing channel that IFAs are increasingly recognising as valuable. The idea is relatively simple, yet difficult to execute.
It goes like this. You encourage your financial website to climb the search engine rankings, using a variety of SEO tactics. Users then find your business, view your website, and enquire.
There are many factors which influence where your website lies in the search engines. However, a huge ranking signal is the frequency, relevance and quality of content put on your website.
Sounds simple, right? Surely you just publish a few blogs every month on something to do with pensions, and up you’ll go in Google? The floodgates will open on your financial website before you know it!
If only this were true. Unfortunately, there are many complex moving parts to search engine optimisation, and it is easy for inexperienced business owners to make time-consuming, unnecessary and costly mistakes.
The “Keyword-First” Trap
One big SEO mistake made by financial advisers is to assume that keywords should drive their content strategy.
For instance, if I can ascertain that around 200 people are searching each month for “pension advice,” then surely I should write lots of blogs on the subject of pension advice in order to rank my financial website higher in Google?
This is true, but only to an extent. Keyword research done in this way can actually tempt you to create boring content for your financial website. You end up just simply saying what has already been said, countless times.
As a result, people do not find anything particularly new, insightful or valuable in your financial website’s content, and so leave fairly quickly. Google then notices this user behaviour, and likely ranks your financial website lower in the search engines! Why? Because negative engagement like this is a negative ranking signal.
The other problem with relying on keywords to drive your strategy is that search does not capture all of your audience’s needs. Just think of the questions your clients and prospects ask you over the phone, especially in the qualifying stages. You won’t find all of those questions in the search engines!
How Keywords Fit Into A Financial Website
Keywords are important, let that be clear. However, when it comes to content that drives SEO for your financial website, it’s important to start elsewhere.
Namely, you need to start with your target audience’s needs, your brand’s competencies, and what makes your value proposition unique. Looking at keywords is important for uncovering what people are saying about the topics relevant to your industry.
However, it does not provide the whole picture when attempting to understand your audience. The sorts of questions you need to answer first, before turning to keywords, include:
- What defines my audience? Who are they, and what are they like?
- What are their main problems and needs they are looking to address?
- What types of content do these people like? It may be written content, but could be audio or video.
- What conversations are these people already having online, and where are they having them?
- Honestly, what expertise is your business offering that competitors brands are not?
- Where do your business’s competences and your audience’s pain points meet?
Finding A New Angle
What we’re talking about here is called the “Content Tilt,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.
This means giving your financial website a unique angle on the subject matter that you’re an expert on, which also happens to intersect with your audience’s needs and pain points.
This is where the real challenge tends to lie for many financial firms, advisers and wealth managers. What unique angle can you really provide on a topics as dry as pensions, or investments?
Yes, it is difficult. But it is possible. You need to dig deep. One financial adviser we spoke to has a large network of parents of students, for instance. His unique angle was to tackle the subjects of pensions, investments and later-life planning from the perspective of a younger person.
His aim is to play the long game. After all, many of these kids will end up becoming future business owners, successful professionals and entrepreneurs. When the time comes to look for financial advice, he will be the first they consider.
In this case, therefore, the Content Tilt took the form of a more conversational tone, and included input from his student/parent network. Quotes, testimonials and client insights also enriched the content on the financial website.
What unique angle could you take? Is there anything especially different about your target market and value proposition that might provide any clues?