What You Need to Know
- Samantha Russell suggests advisors focus more on Google Reviews and consider using the new Google Screened marketing tool.
- Under the new SEC ad rule, Google Screened could be a huge game changer, she says.
- It's still early days and advisors and broker-dealer affiliates may want to check with their compliance departments before taking these steps.
Advisors should focus more on Google Reviews and try the Google Screened marketing tool introduced last year to get more website traffic via its search engine and attract more prospects and clients, according to Samantha Russell, chief marketing and business development officer at Twenty Over Ten and chief evangelist at FMG Suite.
In a LinkedIn post on Friday, Russell suggested advisors stop focusing on referrals and start focusing on Google reviews, adding: “Every financial advisor wants more referrals, but getting clients to make those introductions PROACTIVELY can be hard (and puts the ball in their court instead of making the task something you have control over).”
Instead, “what if you could ask clients to refer you just ONCE, and have that referral ‘go to work’ for you again and again?” she asked. Because of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new advertising and marketing rule, ”now you can,” she said.
To encourage clients to write reviews, Russell suggests:
- Setting up and optimizing your Google My Business page.
- Adding a link in your email signature.
- Emailing your clients to ask them to leave a review for your business.
Google Reviews are effective because clients write a review just once and “thousands of prospects a year can see it when they Google you,” she said. “You can also use it over and over again in your marketing materials: put it on your website, share it on social media, and include it in your emails.”
Google Screened Is a ‘Game Changer’
The much newer Google Screened, meanwhile, provides advisors with a way to increase their visibility in local searches, according to Russell.
In a LinkedIn post last week, she wrote that Google Screened is a “game changer” because it “provides immense social proof” from Google, while enabling users to rank higher in local search results and get a green check mark next to their listings.
To get Google Screened, she said, advisors need to:
- Sign up for Google Local Service Ads. (No need to run an ad or pay anything.)
- Get three stars or higher in Google Reviews.
- Pass license and background checks.
These steps can “can take up to a few weeks to accomplish” but are worth it for advisors because, “to a prospect, it implies instant credibility,” she explained. There is also “absolutely no monetary cost” involved unless the advisor decides to run ads, she said.
What’s Changed Since Launch
Although Google Screened launched last year, Russell pointed out to ThinkAdvisor: “It wasn’t until the new SEC ad rule was rolled out [in May] that most advisors were able to even contemplate using it.”
That’s because, to get Google Screened, an advisory firm must have at least a three-star rating on Google Reviews and most advisors still don’t have any reviews on Google.
The new SEC ad rule, however, “allows advisors to use testimonials and reviews in their marketing and, furthermore, the rule makes it clear that you can proactively solicit/ask clients for these reviews and use those reviews in your marketing,” she said.
Dan Bolton, vice president of brand experience at Riskalyze, also suggested advisors use Google Screened, saying in a recent blog post it represents an “opportunity to put your advisory firm first up whenever someone in your local area needs financial advice…. If we had to give this tactic a Risk Number, we’d say its downside risk puts it somewhere south of twenty.”
The new rule does make it clear, however, that “you cannot cherry-pick which clients you solicit reviews from; you must have evidence/document that you have requested reviews from all clients,” Russell cautioned.
After the new ad rule went into effect May 4, “we finally started to see many more firms signing up for Google My Business accounts, starting to ask clients for Google Reviews, and displaying those reviews as testimonials on their websites,” she said, pointing as an example to WealthKeel in Philadelphia.