Lead generation, SEO and financial marketing are all terms which get easily confused. They might broadly sound like the same thing (i.e. “getting more calls/enquiries to your financial firm”), but they have their important differences which bear upon the crucial question:
What is a good balance between lead quality and quantity, in marketing for financial services?
In our experience, few financial firms want to be inundated with hundreds of low-quality leads (which perhaps lends itself more to the “lead generation” model). On the other hand, neither do most firms simply want just one lead coming in every couple of months, no matter how “high quality” that lead might be (which is perhaps the danger with some “slow burn” approaches to financial SEO).
It can be tempting for both SEO agencies and their clients to agree: “You [the agency] go and get the leads and we [the client] will close the sales.” This might sound simple enough, but it actually can create a big disconnect leading to underperformance.
Most financial SEO agencies are not free to access their client’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, which would enable them to get a good idea of how their lead generation efforts are working and which types of leads are converting best. As a result, many agencies fall back on metrics such a “website visitor volumes” and “keyword rankings in Google” to demonstrate that their efforts are producing results for the clients, even though the bottom-line is really about conversions.
This is often why many SEO agencies and their clients fall out of love. From the former’s perspective, they might look at their marketing dashboard for their client’s campaign and honestly believe they are doing a good job for them. The client, however, can become deeply unhappy with the results they are getting. All this money is being spent on a financial marketing agency, but there seems to be little return on the investment when they sit down and look at the hard numbers.
What can be done? Are agencies and clients destined to part, and how can a healthy balance of volume and quality in lead volumes be achieved which keeps everyone happy?
When you as a client approach a financial marketing agency, it’s important to be clear in your mind what you are asking for and which problem you want to solve. For instance, if you tell your agency that you “want SEO” but do not tell them that, deep down, you believe this is the way to get lots more leads into your pipeline, then expectations are likely going to be different on both sides from the beginning.
SEO, for instance, is often a very powerful marketing tool for financial planners and other firms for driving more brand awareness, and for helping your audience discover your brand. That’s not to say SEO has no lead generation value (for instance, it’s currently our strongest lead generating channel here at Creative Adviser). However, if you have been getting all of your website lead from direct traffic and branded search terms up to this point, then in all likelihood, an SEO will probably bring your conversion rates DOWN.
That’s because in the former case (direct & branded traffic) people already know who you are, and are, therefore, probably further along in their buyer’s journey. When you do financial SEO, however, you’re getting in front of more people who do not necessarily know who you are. They will need time to get to trust you by reading your content and through exposure to your brand. Over time, there’s a good chance that some of these people will become leads. However, because you’ve “widened the marketing net” through your SEO strategy, it might look like you’ve invested marketing spend with a result in lower performance (due to lower conversion rates). However, take a step back and you see that, actually, the SEO is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do!
You might be tempted at this point to think that SEO and digital marketing are themselves the problem when it comes to lead generation. However, consider the popular alternative which many financial planners and advisers turn to: i.e. purchased email lists.
These “off the shelf” lists of leads might look like a great way to get more, quality leads into your sales pipeline. What tends to happen, however, is that the list (which can cost hundreds of pounds) often results in very few conversions, or low-quality sales which provide a poor return on your marketing investment. Why? Because several other firms have had the same idea as you and bought the list, marketed to it relentlessly, and desensitised the subscribers (who never properly opted-in, anyway).
What’s the point of us saying this about purchased email lists? It’s to highlight that each marketing tool or channel you are considering has its own respective strengths and weaknesses, when it comes to the balance between lead quality and quantity. There really is no silver bullet, where a single marketing channel can provide a perfect blend of the two. If such a thing existed, everyone would know about it and would be doing it, and there’d be very little need to have a marketing strategy of your own.
Where to go From Here
It might be that you need to review your expectations of what is possible when it comes to lead quality and quantity in your industry. Are you asking too much, for instance, if you are a small financial planning business looking for 50 incredible leads each month from your local area? Probably, yes.
On the other hand, what would, realistically, count as a “good lead” for you? Bear in mind that the higher you set the “qualifying bar” at the beginning of the lead generation process, the fewer leads you are likely to get. Of course, you don’t want to set the bar so low that you get, for instance, dozens of people contacting your financial planning firm each month who have no pension or savings. At the same time, bear in mind that the more questions you ask of your leads at the start (e.g. “what is the total value of your investable assets?”), the higher the risk there is of putting them off from contacting you. After all, you’d need to trust a financial brand quite deeply to divulge some of the sensitive financial information you might want access to, before engaging them yourselves.