Blogging for business

Advisors are more comfortable reading balance sheets than writing blogs, but the latter is increasingly key to generating organic leads on the Web, writes industry expert Maggie Crowley

Blogging for business
A great website isn’t really that great if no one visits and uses it. One key indicator of performance is the amount of traffic and engagement it receives. I get a lot of questions from advisors asking how to create a website that really maximizes its potential. My answer? Blogging. One of the most effective (and economical) ways to increase the number of people visiting and using your website is through financial blogging.
On average, we know that about 90 per cent of the traffic an advisor’s website receives can be broken down into two groups: prospective clients who visit your site to learn more about your firm and your services and; existing clients who want to access their account information and get updates on your firm. From a web marketing perspective, your website can—and should—cater to both of these groups.
A blog gives you the ability to maintain client relationships while answering questions and nurturing prospective clients. Just to be clear, here’s a quick definition of what a blog really is according to Oxford Dictionaries: ‘A personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites., etc. on a regular basis.’
Simply put, a blog is a section of any website that’s updated with valuable information on a regular basis. The most successful financial blogs offer a variety of content (articles, video clips, images, infographics, white papers, etc.) that is targeted towards a specific audience.
Maintaining a financial blog requires the time and effort necessary to publish original content, but the rewards of blogging offer advisors a pretty hefty return on the investment. From a marketing perspective there are two primary benefits.
The first and, arguably most important, reward of blogging is all about search engine optimization.
By now, you’ve probably heard of the term (SEO) – at its core, SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engine’s results. The earlier and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
SEO isn’t that big of a deal until you consider the number of Canadians who turn to Google for help when making a buying decision. Director of Google Canada Chris O’Neill pegs that number at upwards of 86 per cent. Canadians seeking a new financial advisor begin looking for more information online first.
Search engines such as Google really love the fresh and original content that is published on a blog, websites with a blog regularly rank higher on a search results page. What does that mean for you as an advisor? Basically, blogging is a great tool to help the people who are looking for you online (ie, potential clients) find you.
Besides the technical side of SEO and creating fresh content for your website, blogging allows financial advisors to connect with their clients and prospects and build a unique rapport that is incredibly cost- and time efficient. Financial blogging provides a platform for you to position yourself as an expert in the industry.
Picture this scenario: an advisor who specializes in creating retirement plans publishes a blog article entitled, ‘Six steps to a worry-free retirement.’ A well-crafted, informative article will answer reader’s retirement questions and, the advisor who authored this post automatically becomes an expert in the eyes of the reader.
The impact on website traffic is remarkable for financial advisors who blog. According to Hubspot, companies that blog receive 55 per cent more website visitors. The results don’t stop there; Hubspot also reports that 57 per cent of those companies have acquired actual paying clients from their blog.
Although the benefits are tangible, the majority of advisors have yet to take advantage of a financial blog. Last year, Advisor Websites ran a poll with and asked questions about financial web marketing. The results reveal a huge opportunity: Only 5 per cent of financial advisors are blogging for business.
Ready to get started with you financial blog? Based on trial and error from my own blogging experience, here are four ideas to make sure every piece of content you publish on your blog is successful:
There is a saying that those who write for an online audience should spend 10 per cent of their time writing the body of an article and 90 per cent of their time creating the perfect, irresistible title. While I don’t necessarily agree with that theory (if the title is that great, surely readers will be disappointed with the actual writing, right?), it does get the point across: the title is important.
A few tips for creating an irresistible title:
  • Use action words
  • Explain what the article is about
  • Know your audience
Quality content is 100 per cent based around your audience. Write with your readers in mind. Get into the mind of your readers: what are their problems, what do they do for fun, what’s interesting to them, and mostly, how can you help?
As an advisor, use your blog to share your knowledge and expertise. The Internet provides a world of opportunity to present yourself as a thought leader in the financial planning community. Use this to your benefit by explaining current events or answering frequently asked questions.
Online readers generally appreciate not being sold to. Be real, speak from the heart and don’t be afraid to show flaws. Another tip? Instead of talking about your audience, talk to them. The easiest way to do this is to use words such as “you, we, and me.” If you treat writing more like a conversation than a textbook, readers are more likely to enjoy the experience. And actually read it.
Don’t assume that your ideal target audience is reading your blog just because you are publishing awesome blog content. First, you need to let them know that your blog exists. Don’t be shy about spreading the word – especially if your blog is new. By using a tool like Hootsuite, you can streamline your social media efforts. Hootsuite offers a free service that allows advisors to create and schedule social media posts in advance.
Measuring the number of views your blog receives can be really insightful. Here’s the simple truth:
Tracking the performance of your financial blog is vital to identifying whether it’s actually doing its job of generating traffic to your website. If not, then you know it’s time to make some changes.
Two of the most important metrics that determine the success of your blog are individual post views and traffic sources.