With the retrenchment of in-person activities and events due to Covid-19, investors are relying more on online platforms to find a financial advisor, and they are being clear about what they are looking for on that digital journey.

According to a recent survey by eMoney, Americans want digital marketing that is customized for their needs. Most respondents (84%) indicated that personalized content is very important when working with a financial advisor. And nearly a third (63%) said insightful and educational content, as well as personalization, would make an advisor’s marketing stand out among their competitors.

The survey of 2,000 Americans, which was fielded in September, noted that individuals are turning to search engines as they rely less on referrals from family and friends. In fact, 42% of respondents said they start the process of finding an advisor online.

And when searching there, they usually visit a website. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are more likely to choose an advisor who is active on social media.

Those sentiments are not new to Tara Clark, founder of Social T., a boutique social media marketing agency based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Clark, who supports and helps businesses in building an online social media presence, said advisors who want to win over such clients will need to distinguish themselves by creating content that helps them stand out.

Too many advisors use online stock images and the same template to build their websites, she said. “And in turn, they are not standing out. They don’t seem unique enough, and the brand message isn’t really clear about what they are offering.”

Advisors, Clark said, must first determine the goal and their audience and then decide on the platform. She said an advisor who uses LinkedIn but whose ideal client is a young millennial on Instagram might want to revisit their strategy—not just focus on the photo sharing site instead but also come up with a visual plan with photos and videos.

Clark said many advisors miss the mark when designing a presence across all social media for the clients they want to attract. She highly recommends sharing videos on YouTube and Facebook, as well as in newsletters. LinkedIn, too, is great for sharing videos, but Clark cautions that if all advisors only focus on LinkedIn, they are going to be looking at one another.

“So, the first thing is getting a great brand, getting great photography, getting videos and then establishing where your ideal plan is,” Clark said.

The pandemic has shown advisors they can get in front of people virtually and reach more people, she said. “And that’s why doing social media the right way, having a plan through a strategy, being on the right platform and getting really clear on your goals is the key way, and you need a guide [a marketing person],” she said.

Additionally, Clark said advisors need to get personal. Social media followers don’t always want to hear about financial services, she said. “For individuals: Tell us about your hobbies or interests, provide business/entrepreneurial advice, share who you mentor or if you're a mentee, what books you've read and why. For companies: Team-building days, team lunches or Zoom happy hours, match the office dog to the advisor, fun facts about the team, crazy side hobbies we may never have guessed a team member is into,” she said.