As a financial services business, you likely know that good, specialist marketing services are a rare find at a digital agency. That said, you should be wary of simply diving into the services of anyone who calls themselves a dedicated, financial marketing agency.
Just like there are many financial services firms which look good on the surface, but perhaps lack the desired qualities “under the hood”, the same applies to digital and creative services. As a result, it’s a good idea to speak to a range of different marketing agencies when considering help for your financial firm, and to have a set of qualifying questions ready to pose to them.
The intention here, of course, isn’t to help you “catch out” rogue financial marketing agencies. After all, if you’re looking for a long-term marketing partner, you want to start the conversation out with them on the right foot. Nonetheless, you want to be sure you’ll be working with an agency which offers you the best value and “fit” for your own organisation.
Here are 5 questions we recommend you ask a financial marketing agency, near the beginning of the tendering process, in order to narrow down towards your final choices:
What kind of clients have you worked with?
Financial services firms, in our experience, tend to want to work with marketing agencies with a high degree of experience in their field. After all, the buying cycles and clients of financial services firms are quite distinct from other sectors which many digital agencies often deal with (e.g. eCommerce).
Even within financial services, there is a lot of variation including mortgage brokers, EIS/SEIS investment firms, finance firms, financial planners and building societies. It might possibly be a bit of a tall order asking a financial marketing agency to have exclusive, specific experience of working in your distinct niche of financial services. However, they should at least have a strong track record with other firms which are quite similar to yours.
How do you improve my website’s Google rankings?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process whereby a financial marketing agency helps you improve your website’s exposure in organic search (i.e. Google). Similar to many financial services, however, such as tax planning, “SEO” can be hard to define and easy to misunderstand/represent.
It’s important, therefore, to establish a good understanding of the kinds of activities your digital marketing agency will engage in, in order to improve your SEO. For instance, do they intend to spend most of their time doing “on-site SEO” on your website (e.g. adding “alt tags” to images, etc.), or do they intend to commit most resources to “backlink building”. Do they intend to focus on content production for your blog?
A good financial marketing agency should have a strong focus on unique content production for your firm, which targets your users’ search terms. They will also incorporate some other important elements too, including backlinks and on-site SEO.
How do you ensure that our SEO is helping our marketing objectives and strategy?
It’s important to note that lots of digital agencies are strong on the “tactics” of marketing (e.g. SEO, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing), but they are not always as strong on “strategy”.
Strategy looks at the bigger picture to help you achieve your marketing goals, rather than getting bogged down in activities. They help you answer important questions such as: “Who, exactly, are you looking to target with your digital marketing?” and “What kinds of problems/pain points do they have, which could start to be solved with a content strategy?”
This shows that your financial marketing agency is trying to add real value to your marketing, and not just sell you a product (e.g. Google Ads management). It suggests that they will take the trouble to ensure that your campaigns actually stand a good chance of working, rather than simply selling you a service/produce because you think you need it.
How do you choose keywords for my SEO campaign?
A marketing agency which does not know the financial services industry stands a higher chance of selecting target keywords for your campaign which do not suit your needs. So it’s important to find an agency which knows what they’re doing.
As an example, we once spoke to an IFA who had been paying an agency for SEO over two years. This agency had been trying to get this financial adviser business to rank for the keyword “ISA” over that time. Not only was this hugely competitive, but it likely wasn’t properly targeting the right people.
A good agency will select a focused group of keywords which suggest a high degree of user intent, and a realistic level of competition for your budget. They will also be able to justify how the keyword is likely to be used by your target audience.
How do you measure performance in financial SEO?
One of the great things about digital marketing is that it’s very measurable. A good financial marketing agency will, therefore, want to take advantage of this to demonstrate how their efforts are adding value and showing return on investment.
Here, you should be listening out for words from your agency such a “KPI” and “conversions”. This shows that they’ll be aware of the need to produce leads and enquiries for your business, not just brand awareness/exposure and website traffic.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more brand visibility, higher search engine rankings and more footfall on your pages. However, if the story simply stops there and your prospects take no further action, then you need to question what all this marketing really is for. After all, for most financial firms the ultimate goal will be to close more business. Your agency needs to be on board with that.