In a competitive category such as financial services, generating traffic to a financial advisory firm's Web site is no easy task. Thus, when you're fortunate enough to attract visitors, it makes sense to take full advantage of that traffic and the benefits which can be derived.
Fortunately, with advancements in technology the range of cost-efficient digital tools available to assist marketers in optimizing their Web site traffic have increased dramatically in recent years. In this article, we will profile a number of those tools for your consideration.
At a macro level, according to a Pew Internet study released in August, 85 percent of all Americans use the Internet. The statistics jump significantly for higher-income households and more educated consumers, 99 percent and 97 percent, respectively. So what do U.S. consumers do when they're online? Mostly, they search for information, read e-mails and look for information about a company, product or service that they are considering buying or buying from. In 2008, Nielsen determined that the average U.S. Internet user visited 105 Web sites and viewed over 2,437 pages in a given month.
Do you know how many visitors your firm's site is logging? How many pageviews or time spent (an indicator of engagement) is your site getting? Which pages did they accessed? Do you know whether they accessed your site from a PC, a tablet or a mobile device? Have you identified the top referring URLs to your site?
If the answer to any of these questions is "No" or "I don't know," then the first step toward optimizing your site traffic is to understand the composition and behaviors of your site's visitors. The best way to do this is to install site analytics software to monitor and assess Web site activity. The good news is that there are a number of "free" providers, such as Google, and if you opted to go with a more robust analytics solution, the licensing cost is relatively low.
One of the most important decisions that a firm makes is how to allocate its precious practice development resources across the various advisor marketing strategies and programs that are available. The ability to assess the viability of each program and to attribute results to such programs can dramatically improve a firm's resource allocation decisions and in the process avoid the conundrum posed by John Wanamaker, a 19th century merchant and marketing pioneer:
"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."
To advance one's "attribution" efforts, consider utilizing digital "call tracking" software to identify the source of a firm's leads and to measure responses to your marketing activity. Call tracking software allows you to assign distinct phone numbers to specific elements of your marketing mix (i.e. Web site, e-mail, direct mail, SEO, PPC, etc...). The software is inexpensive, easy to install and will allow the firm to more accurately track where its leads and information requests are coming from.
Once a visitor has arrived at your Web site, particularly a new visitor, financial services firm's can borrow a page from their e-commerce counterparts by utilizing "live chat" to provide an assist and enrich the user experience. Being available for support and or to answer questions is a wonderful way to reinforce your firm's client service orientation and to begin to establish a relationship with visitors, converting them to valued prospects. Another on-site tool that works more overtly to capture leads is the use of a "pop-up," which interrupts the visitor's browsing routine to offer them something of value (such as financial organizers, investment white papers, complimentary portfolio review, etc.) in return for a few lines of information. In the process, make sure that you also structure your lead capture forms in a manner that enables the firm to entice the prospect to "opt-in" to the firm's email program and the opportunity for future contacts.
Given the likelihood that prospects will visit multiple financial advisor sites to "comparison shop" prior to reaching out to speak via phone or to arrange a one-on-one meeting, how can you stay top-of-mind with those prospects once they have visited your site? One answer is the use of "re-marketing." Re-marketing involves tagging certain pages or the firm's Web site that correspond to services that the firm wants to promote, such as retirement planning, for example. You then create an Adwords campaign, allowing you to show a display or banner ad profiling those services to an individual who has visited your Web site as they continue their browsing. This is an excellent way to boost engagement with the firm's prospects in a relevant, timely manner.
Finally, while capturing leads is important, so too is nurturing prospects through the "consideration" phase of the conversion funnel en route to becoming clients. Perhaps the most effective and cost-efficient medium to do this is e-mail.
However, look beyond your exchange e-mail provider to distribute and monitor the firm's e-mail efforts. There are a number of campaign management providers such as Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp that provide html e-mail templates, database management tools and performance tracking support. Of note, the html templates will allow you to incorporate two-way communication. For example, your e-mail to prospects and clients could allow them to register for newsletters or events, forward the blast to a friend and take surveys to solicit their opinions and input. You will be able to track which recipients opened the e-mails and what links they clicked on. You will also be able to tell who forwarded your e-mail blast to a friend or associate.
Cliff Campeau is a partner with Evolutionize LLC and a regular blogger on financial services marketing best practices. Evolutionize specializes in providing independent financial services firms with a suite of proven practice development solutions including Web site development, inbound and outbound marketing tools and compliant social media marketing program support. Campeau can be reached at Cliffc@evolutionizemypractice.com.