As New Year headaches begin to ease, many consumers will experience a hangover of a different sort as their spending over the Christmas season catches up with them.
Those with New Year Resolutions to sort out their finances will use the Internet to find an IFA, but many IFAs’ online presence will do little to attract people to make contact because their websites are dull, lifeless and do little to communicate professionalism.
Despite IFAs working very hard to reach the highest levels of professional standards by examination, consumers can see little evidence of it from many IFAs’ websites.
But according to IFA Internet marketing expert Philip Calvert, 2010 will be the year when IFAs finally embrace the Internet as a mainstream marketing and client communication tool. Many IFAs have traditionally believed that their clients (particularly older clients) are not interested in receiving communications or services via the Internet, but Google, search engines and social networking sites are rapidly replacing the telephone directory as the preferred means to find an IFA.
Consumers no longer want just a list of local IFAs in their search results, they also value online recommendations, videos, blogs, articles and other content which will help them to ‘get to know’ an adviser before making contact with them.
IFA Life has produced ten New Year Resolutions for IFAs to enhance their Internet presence:
1. Communicate much more with existing clients by email and through your website. Start today by sending out a New Year newsletter giving ‘Ten Financial New Year Resolutions’ for clients and website visitors.
2. Commit to adding regular (weekly) new content such as articles to your website. This keeps people coming back to your website and helps to improve your search engine results.
3. Give your website a ‘human touch’ by including professional photos of every IFA and member of staff. Include hobbies and interests and avoid too much boring stuff. Remember that ‘people buy people’ online just as much as they do face to face.
4. Encourage clients and site visitors to get their financial news from your website. Write a three paragraph summary of the weekly financial news and put it on your website every Monday morning.
5. Start using video as a communication tool and to add value to clients. Record your weekly news summary and post it on to your website. This gives people an opportunity to see and experience you and also increases the amount of time they spend on your website.
6. Set up your own Channel on YouTube and upload your videos. Don’t worry about the quality – it is the content that people are interested in. YouTube is also a search engine and is second only to Google.
7. Create new sections on your website which contain content which is exclusively for existing clients and professional connections. Add to it regularly and build community by encouraging people to add their own thoughts and comments.
8. Add a Press and Media section to your website. Get in the habit of writing regular press releases (monthly) and post them on your site. This will add to your content, will help improve your search engine rankings and will prove to site visitors that your business is live, busy and active.
9. Set up profile pages on LinkedIn, IFA Life, Twitter and Ecademy. Also set up a business page on Facebook. These websites will broaden your reach on the Internet, help your search engine rankings and will attract new business to you. Spend fifteen minutes every day adding content to your profiles on these sites.
10. Brainstorm and develop ‘financial information products’ for people to purchase from your website. This adds to the perception of your expertise and creates a valuable new income stream.
Write an Internet Marketing plan
Whilst many IFAs have written marketing plans for 2010, very few have written a specific Internet marketing plan. At the very least, IFAs should include a separate section within the marketing plan detailing how they will use the Internet and in particular social networking sites to both attract new clients and to add value to existing clients.
Founder of social networking site IFA Life, Philip Calvert said today:
“2010 will be the year when IFAs make huge steps forward in their use of the Internet. It’s still fair to say that many don’t yet have a clue as what to do, but they are learning fast.”
“We are very excited that in January, IFAs will be treated to Ian Morgan, Google’s UK Head of Financial Services who will speak on how to use the Internet to target and communicate with clients.”
The Social Media in Financial Services conference in January will also feature speakers from networking sites LinkedIn and Ecademy, plus YouTube and BT Tradespace. The conference will also feature Nick Bamford of Informed Choice on why an online execution-only service offers huge potential for IFAs – plus Father of Life Planning George Kinder will lead a discussion on how to develop a high touch, high tech financial planning proposition.