10 best practices for growing your advisory business online

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In today’s digital world, potential clients of all ages will form opinions about you based on your online presence before they even get a chance to meet you. Here are 10 best practices for establishing an online presence that can help you grow your advisory business.

1. Brand yourself

Having a solid personal brand is the foundation of all marketing - whether online or in person. Your brand should communicate what aspect of financial consulting you specialize in and which demographic is best-served by your specialty. Be as specific as you can. Everything will flow from your brand, from your website content and social media posts to the referral networks you build and how you engage with your community.

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2. Have an effective website

Your website should be an expression of your brand, and it needs to convey at least three things. One, it should explain who you help and how. Two, it should describe who you are and why you should be trusted. And three, it should include a clear call to action. Here’s a condensed version of how this could look:

“I help business owners grow and protect their assets so they can retire in comfort. I am a financial advisor who has focused on assisting business owners for the past decade. Click here to schedule a 20-minute introduction call.”

You can create additional “websites” by setting up profiles on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and following a similar formula to brand them.

3. Be searchable

Once your website is up and running, online searches for your name will likely turn up your website, especially if the search includes other key words, such as your hometown or the phrase “financial advisor.”

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of increasing the amount of traffic that you get from search engines. One way to do this is to fill your site with language that is relevant to your target market. For example, rather than simply saying that you provide retirement planning, you could say that you provide, “Retirement planning for professional engineers in Canmore, Alberta.”

You can also purchase relatively inexpensive SEO tools to help you identify other keywords that people in your target market might be searching for, then use those keywords in your headlines, descriptions, and blog posts.

4. Make relevant content

Both search algorithms and human minds are trained to filter out the noise and identify the best and more relevant content. Referring to the previous example, if you were a petroleum engineer thinking about retirement in Canmore, your eye would naturally be drawn to articles, videos, and other content that are tailored to you and your specific concerns.

If you are recording videos or writing articles for your website and social media, two content formats that can be effective are bold questions and numbered lists (like the “10 best practices” you are reading about right now). For example, “What are the best places in Canmore to retire?” or “5 insurance mistakes that engineers should avoid.”

5. Ask for testimonials and reviews

Content that you create is good. Content that your clients create can be even better, because it comes from an objective third party. Positive testimonials and reviews are known as “social proof.” Ask permission to share positive client reviews and testimonials, ideally with photos, to enhance their authenticity.

Another form of social proof is your connections to other trusted entities. For example, if you give a webinar to a professional association, get interviewed by a newspaper, or volunteer with a charity, see if you can use their name and logo on your website and social media.

6. Get on social media

We already mentioned setting up Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages. You might also want to have profiles on YouTube, X (formerly Twitter), and even Tik Tok, if you are hoping to connect with a younger audience.

There are two free ways to participate in social media: You can post your own content, and you can share and comment on quality financial content from a credible source. If you post content but don’t engage in the broader online dialogue, you might find it’s difficult to get much attention. For this reason, it might be best to select one or two platforms where you can be highly active, rather than spreading yourself too thin over multiple platforms.

7. Advertise online

Another way to take advantage of social media is to buy ads. You can also place banner ads on websites and pay to appear near the top of search engine rankings. If you decide to try paid digital advertising, it’s crucial to have a clear call to action so you can measure your return on investment.

We’d all love new clients to jump right in and book a meeting, but that is a lofty expectation - especially for somebody who does not know you and just saw an ad. Other actions you could ask users to take is to subscribe to your email newsletter, download a piece of content, or register for a webinar or event.

8. Send an email newsletter

The hardest part of most email newsletters is sustaining them over the long-term. Here are two tips for making it more manageable.

One is to keep it short. You don’t need to write a novel, you just want to stay top-of-mind with your clients and subscribers. If there’s something happening in the news, a simple paragraph or two providing your perspective is plenty to add some value and stay on their radar.

Another tip is to repurpose content from other sources. Sending along an article from a credible source is good enough as long as you add at least a few lines that provide your personal perspective on the topic.

Newsletters, like most marketing activities, can take time to work. Someone might receive your newsletter for months or even years before they have the need for assistance, see your name in their inbox, and take action. Be patient and consistent.

9. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool

Even if it seems like overkill in the beginning, as your list of online contacts grows, you will be glad to have a CRM tool to help you keep track of all the names and activities on your list.

Eventually, you could have contacts in different stages of development who you want to be able to communicate with in different ways. For example, say you want your clients to receive a version of your newsletter that thanks them for their business, and a different version for prospects that promotes an upcoming webinar. A CRM can help you manage your contact lists and keep track of what’s happening with each person.

10. Track and refine

In the old days, advertisers could put up a billboard and leave it unchanged for years. In the digital domain, things move much quicker. Now you can monitor which social media posts get attention, which emails get opened, how many website visitors take action - and then adjust and improve as you go. In fact, it’s common to try many iterations of an online campaign before you see results.

Building your online presence might seem overwhelming, but the best advice is simply to start. There’s no single tactic that will transform your practice. What works is making it a daily practice to build your online presence bit by bit and letting the results accumulate over time.

As your profile grows, you might be surprised at the people who start to discover you online. And when the time comes to deliver the advice they need, you can be sure that Beneva will have the financial solutions you need to do your best work.