May 3, 2013

4 Steps to More Effective Marketing (and a Better Website, Too)

Blogging, benchmarking important to success

There are four parts to an effective marketing strategy, Tim Welsh, president and founder of Nexus Strategy, said during a marketing panel at the 2013 National Association of Active Investment Managers Annual Conference.

First, advisors have to define their target client. Welsh suggested the simplest way to do that was to study the demographics of their most valuable clients.

Then advisors need to outline their messaging platform. To do so, they should define the services they are providing their clients and the benefits, how they will deliver those services, and what gives them credibility among clients and prospects.

With that information, advisors can begin building a campaign strategy, Welsh said, that shares that information with their target clients across all communication platforms.

The last step, of course, is to execute the plan.

Jason Wenk, founder and president of Retirement Wealth Advisors, then stepped up to describe how he used blogging to generate business for his firm.

Much of the traffic to his site comes from four blog posts he wrote over a year ago, he said. The key is writing targeted headlines to match what users are searching for.

Blogging fails when it is inconsistent, irrelevant, unengaging and doesn’t include a call to action for readers to follow up on, he said. Relevant content is the “missing link” to free traffic to advisors’ websites, he said.

Wenk posed four questions for advisors to answer to optimize their websites for the most traffic.

  1. What do ideal clients want?
  2. What are they searching for online to find your site?
  3. What are your competitors doing that you can do better?
  4. Are you an expert clients and prospects can trust?

To answer those questions, advisors can use Web analysis tools like Google Analytics. However, Mark Piquette, chief marketing officer for Trust Co. of America, said many advisors don’t use analytics tools because they don’t have the help or the resources they need.

“Why does your site exist?” he asked. “What do you want people to do?”

He described two types of outcomes advisors can generate with their websites: a macro conversion, where a prospect actually contacts the advisor through phone, email or a contact form; and a micro conversion, where a prospect may connect with the advisor through LinkedIn, download a white paper or comment on a blog post.

Piquette broke down website optimization into ABCs: acquisition (where are visitors coming from?), behavior (what are they doing while they’re there?) and conversion (what are the payoffs for you and for them?)

To increase acquisition, advisors need to optimize their website around search terms prospects are using to find their site. They must also find a balance between the different ways people arrive at the site: direct traffic, where they enter the name of the firm directly into the address bar, or search and referral traffic, where they are directed to the website through a search or a link on another website.

To optimize website visitors’ behavior once they’re on the site, advisors need to look at the top entry and exit pages on their website. The most popular page where visitors enter the site is “probably not the homepage,” Piquette said. “Google is your homepage.”

Advisors need to improve pages that are less engaging to prospects and make it easy to find their best content, Piquette said. They can determine that by looking at the bounce rate, or the number of people who opened a webpage and left immediately, for each page.

One way to increase conversions, Piquette said, is to create topic landing pages with ways to capture information from visitors.

A website’s design doesn’t matter as much as meeting the ABCs, he added.

He urged advisors to make sure they were allocating their marketing budget to people rather than tools. “Spend $90 on people and $10 on tools,” he said. “These tools are cheap; most of them are free. Spend money on people who can help you use them.”

Read Is Your Content Marketing Reaching the Right Prospects? on AdvisorOne.

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