At a lot of smaller RIAs, marketing duties are often given to the Director of First Impressions or one of the other non-advisor positions on top of the other duties these people perform. This is often a challenge, but it can be done—and done well, we promise.
The challenges often come in the nuances of marketing for advisors: Do you need an email system? Which one should you use? How do you connect your CRM to your Facebook page? Wait, do you need to do that? How do other advisors do this? Is everything being archived correctly?
Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of advisory firms build their marketing systems and processes so they can set up a successful lead flow that consistently brings in new prospects, and we’ve noticed something: The framework is pretty much always the same, it’s just the tools and strategy that change.
We’re here to help you answer that nagging question, “How do other firms do this?” We’ve worked with those other firms, and we can tell you from experience that it’s not so hard and there aren’t too many secrets—but there is a better way and a worse way.
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This article is the first in a series for those Directors of First Impressions and Administrative Assistants (and one-person RIA operations, for that matter) out there—splitting your time between answering phones, writing emails, designing invitations, integrating software, engaging people on social media and basically being the driving force behind all of your firm’s marketing.
We see you, and we salute you. Your job is not easy—but you play an exciting, incredibly important role in your firm’s growth, and we believe in you!
Today, we want to begin at the beginning: your website.
If you’re looking for a simple, quick, low-cost option, then we recommend Twenty Over Ten. They’re like the Squarespace of the financial advisor world, offering a drag-and-drop site creator that comes with the archiving already built in.
While Twenty Over Ten’s solution is easy to use, if you don’t trust yourself to add content to your site yourself, another easy, super affordable option is Just Three Pages. As you might have guessed by the name, they’ll set up a three-page website for you.
There’s a tradeoff to keep in mind here with these easy setup options: What you gain in simplicity, you lose in flexibility.
If you want to maintain flexibility and get a little more technical (without any actual coding), then WordPress is the way to go. Roughly 40% of the internet is built using WordPress. It’s flexible, fairly easy to use, and has a plethora of plugins that basically allow your site to do whatever you want.
We only use WordPress when we build sites for advisors, so of course that’s what we would recommend. In terms of reliability, flexibility and support, you’re just not going to find a better solution.
But the most important thing is that you get your site up and running, so if you don’t have the time and energy to devote to developing a WordPress site at the moment, go with what you can get done quickly. A custom WordPress site can take weeks or months, but you could set up a site on one of those drag-and-drop providers in a matter of an hour or two—possibly less.
Most advisors make the jump to a customized solution at some point down the line, but when you’re starting out, you may want something simple and light. As long as it has a blog and a contact form, you’ll be fine for now.
The #1 reason you need a website is just one thing: the contact page. This is consistently the warmest lead generation source for financial advisors using digital marketing. If someone takes the time to find your Contact page and fill out the form, chances are they’re ready to talk. You need a place for those people to take an action. Don’t just give them your contact info and expect them to reach out.
Your first assignment is to make sure your Contact page has a form. Some advisors prefer to skip the form and list their email address and phone number on this page to keep a bunch of random people from filling out their form.
If your boss wants to go this route, hit him/her with a few key details:
Spam-bots scrape the internet for email addresses on websites to add to their spam lists, so while you may keep a few rando-s out, you’ll be inviting countless spambots in.
Contact forms allow you to ask for specific qualifying info using form fields like “Estimated Investable Assets” and any other information you want. That’s not an option if you’re just giving people your email address.
By adding a simple (and free) ReCaptcha plugin to your contact page, you promise you’ll keep the spambots out. If your website isn’t on WordPress, search “[your website provider] recaptcha” and you’ll likely find the instructions you need.
Contact forms give you something advisors love: data. You can look back at form submissions and know exactly how effective your Contact page is, then you can use that data to test different variations and see how you can improve it. If you just give people an email address (which is likely used for multiple other purposes), you’ll lose that valuable data.
Tell them you’re going to write a super clever Thank You page that pops up after someone fills out the Contact form that encourages them to subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on Twitter, thus growing your brand with next to no effort on your part. The absolute best time to get someone to subscribe or follow you is right after they fill out a form on your website, so don’t waste your thank you page!
Once you have your website up and running, there are a few basic plugins you’ll want to add:
Like I said above, internet forms are bot magnets, so set up ReCaptcha to shield your inbox from scammers. You can typically find instructions on how to set it up on WordPress or Squarespace or Twenty Over Ten or wherever your site is hosted.
Search Engine Optimization is an incredibly important part of getting the most out of your marketing efforts, and plugins help make it simple. If you’re on WordPress, we like Yoast’s SEO Plugin (the free version will suit your needs just fine for now). Other site providers like Squarespace and Wix come with SEO tools already built in.
Again, your contact form is the most important part of your website, so you want to make sure everything is working here. The default on these forms is to just send all submissions to the site admin’s email address. That works, but you’ll be better off sending everyone to a specified list in your email marketing system. If you can’t do that for some reason, you should at least have them automatically sent to a spreadsheet in Google Drive for future reference.
The flexibility of WordPress wins the day here, as pretty much every email marketing system has a free plugin so you can easily integrate them with your site and embed forms. Or if you prefer not to embed forms, the favorite WordPress contact form plugin among advisors is Contact Form 7.
If you’re not on WordPress, your site provider may or may not integrate directly with your email system, so you might need a third-party integration tool like Zapier or Automate.io to connect them.
That’s enough for the basic starter plugins that you’ll want to set up from day one. We’ll save our favorite marketing plugins for another day.
This is a good place to stop and go apply what you’ve learned!
Building advisor websites is just one of our areas of expertise. Click here to connect with a member of our team today and make the most of your digital home.