In the not too distant past, most financial services providers found the bulk of their clients through word of mouth. That still works for some in the industry, but ambitious professionals and firms tend to rely on other channels too.
If your new client pipeline can’t be sustained by referrals alone, it’s time to invest in digital marketing — or double down on digital marketing investments you’ve already made. (Don’t worry; if you don’t want to let go of your referral marketing entirely, you can “digitize” it without much trouble. More on that in a moment.)
Follow these nine strategies to optimize your financial services operation’s digital marketing funnel and get more leads ASAP.
1. Claim and Build Out Free Business Directory Listings
This is not as time-consuming as it sounds. Depending on your niche and audience profiles, there are literally dozens of online business directories worth getting listed on.
In some cases, you’re listed on these sites already. They use scraping tools and open-source information (sometimes including user contributions) to add businesses without their permission. This is completely legal in most jurisdictions and could actually benefit your business, so it’s worth leaning into.
Prioritize high-value directory sites, such as Crunchbase and Yelp. Spend some time on each site to understand its approach and the sort of information your profile should include (if you can edit it, which is usually possible). The Crunchbase listing for Asiaciti Trust is a great example of what a solid profile looks like on that site.
2. Create and Edit Free Encyclopedia Entries (But Probably Not Wikipedia)
You’re aware of Wikipedia. You’d like to be listed on it. Is that possible?
It depends on how big and well-known your organization is. If you’re a solo practitioner toiling in obscurity, Wikipedia’s notability standards mean it’s probably off the table (for now). Although its standards have fallen over time, it remains more appropriate for global brands like Nike, Inc., than independent professionals who haven’t achieved prominence in their fields.
Fortunately, alternatives like Everybodywiki do exist, and they’re much easier to get listed on. They also make it much easier to edit your own listing; Wikipedia frowns on this.
3. Identify and Target Competitor Keywords With Paid Search Ads
Use keyword planning tools like Google Analytics and Semrush to learn which keywords your competitors find valuable. This information is useful both for your organic content marketing operation and for your paid search campaigns, if and when you choose to run them.
Paid search can get expensive, to be sure. But if you have the budget, it’s worth investing in targeted keyword campaigns to peel prospects from your competitors. Oftentimes, that’s as simple as combining a better-known competitor’s brand name with the high-value term.
4. Publish a Weekly Email Newsletter
Think of your weekly email newsletter as a blog post — or series of short blog posts, if you prefer — delivered right to your prospects’ inboxes. It’s the best way to stay top-of-mind for prospects and customers who don’t follow your social media accounts (or don’t use social media much at all), and to gently market to them.
A newsletter also helps establish your credibility and expertise, which are vital aspects of digital marketing.
5. Add a Sign-up Popup to Website Subpages
This can feel pushy, but it’s very effective. And it’s increasingly common, so your visitors aren’t likely to penalize you for it.
If you’re still concerned, don’t opt new sign-ups into marketing emails. Send them your email newsletter instead and bide your time as they get to know your brand. Eventually, they’ll bite.
6. Publish “Gated” Signature Content
This is another straightforward (though resource-intensive) way to cultivate thought leadership, increase engagement with your brand, and drive new prospects to your sales channels.
“Gated” refers to the fact that your prospects have to enter an email address (and preferably other information that allows you to identify them) to see the content. It should be free, though, unless you’re in the business of selling information products. Focus on original research and reports whose conclusions you expect to be relevant to your target audiences.
7. Publish a Book
Publishing a book is another resource-intensive but irreplaceable way to build credibility. It doesn’t have to be 400 pages of dense text, either — many e-books are a few dozen pages at most.
Unlike your gated signature content, you can sell your book. This means you can get your brand out there and cultivate real thought leadership and some make money doing it.
8. Leverage Retargeting to Bring Prospects Back Into the Funnel
You won’t close every sale on the first go-around, but running retargeting campaigns will help reduce your loss rate and give you second and third chances to convert people who slipped through the cracks. Like paid search, retargeting is budget-dependent, so you can start small and adjust as the results come in.
9. Seek Out Earned Media Opportunities
Podcasts, niche sites, blogs — most of these have lower exposure value than network news interviews or feature stories in major magazines. That leads many time- and budget-constrained finance professionals and brands to ignore them in favor of earned media channels that appear to have higher potential.
This is a mistake. You should start by targeting smaller, seemingly low-value outlets for two reasons. One, they’re hungry for content and are thus more likely to have you on. Two, and maybe more important, they have highly focused and relevant audiences. The end result: you cut through the noise and get in front of the people who actually matter.
Put Yourself Out There — Carefully
It used to be fashionable to call digital marketing “inbound marketing” to distinguish it from the outbound, sales-y tactics of yesteryear.
Today, it’s recognized that digital marketing can and should employ a mix of inbound and outbound techniques. The thinking around digital marketing is now more about how its practitioners can “put themselves out there” and define their brands in an ever more crowded marketplace where most, if not all, participants have never heard of them before.
It’s important to do so carefully, though. A major digital marketing misstep can backfire on you, setting back your business development efforts and threatening your organization as a going concern. Focus on what works and avoid high-risk plays that you aren’t sure about.