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Enhancing your financial planning firm’s online presence – Jon Pittham, ClientsFirst

  • By Sue Whitbread

How great content attracts an audience that returns and converts

This article is the second in our mini series from Jon Pittham, Managing Director at ClientsFirst, aimed at enhancing your financial planning business’ online presence. This month Jon looks at the importance of great website content to support your client retention and acquisition strategies

We know that the secret to succeeding online, by which we mean having a high ranking website that drives organic lead generation, is content. Producing regular ‘great’ content is the secret sauce to any digital success and financial planning businesses are no exception.

A sideways look

Just look at Furrow magazine. This 1895 publication was produced and launched by John Deere, the US agricultural machinery manufacturer, targeting the farming community not with hard hitting advertorials, but with genuinely useful articles offering advice on enhancing their business.

By 1912, circulation had reached a readership of 4 million, establishing itself and the brand in the nation’s consciousness as the go-to source of good farming advice. What was arguably their greatest success was identifying their audience and catering to it so effectively.

So what can we learn from the Furrow’s success? And how can you ensure that the content you’re producing on your firm’s website is reaching the right readers and audience so as to be properly in line with your client retention and acquisition strategies?

Know your audience

It sounds obvious, but so many firms try to cater to too broad a church when it comes to content, which inevitably leads to mixed messages and failure to make the most of a niche that could convert into clients. To avoid that situation, try to devise a couple of reader personas that match your typical client so you are thinking about exactly who you are talking to and engaging with.

Understanding your target market requires a bit more work. Firstly, think clearly about what problems your financial planning proposition will solve for clients. Who are your current clients? Who is your competition? What do clients stand to gain from using your services and content versus that of your competitors?

Answering these questions will help you know why your content should exist in the first place, and who is going to read it. It will also help you avoid falling into the trap of endlessly sharing kitten memes… no matter how cute they are, they likely won’t be relevant.

Set expectations

It’s easy to get carried away and target 10,000 monthly readers by the end of the year, each one devouring your 5 weekly articles that are as thought provoking as they are thought leadership pieces.

In truth, you need to start with what resources you have, and decide what can be achieved. We’ve briefly mentioned your niche, and fully catering to it is the key to content-driven success. Look at your competitors’ content; how can you say it better? The Furrow focused on tips on growing an agricultural business, and still does to this day.

How to address your audience?

While the rest of your site might be angled to suit a wide range of interests, your blog is your opportunity to break the mould and use your ‘voice’.

Your voice and personality are what drives your brand in the online space – and helps to really engage existing and prospective clients. After all, people don’t read online purely to consume highly technical content. They read what is engaging and relevant. According to the Custom Content Council, 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content.

In your financial services business, for instance, your readers may quite likely be busy senior decision-makers, and therefore they’d need information that is short and to the point. Avoid, therefore, embellishing your content with words that take the impact out of your arguments. Think about your audience, who you want to attract and speak to them in a way which they will find clear and engaging.

Build it and they will come

A first blog post is not likely to propel your website into the stratosphere but if you keep producing content at a regular pace, you will soon have a decent bank of content that will tell Google that you offer readers something of potential value.

And the results will come. A study by DemandGenReport found that 47% of B2B buyers read 3-5 blog posts or content pieces prior to talking with a salesperson.

Furthermore, Hubspot  found that companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get nearly 3.5x more traffic and generate 4.5x more leads than companies publishing 0-4 posts per month. We’re not saying every company needs to produce over a dozen posts a month, that would be a huge resource commitment. Instead, the results show that content works to drive interest in the brand.

Also worth pointing out: OrbitMedia found that the average blog takes 3 hours 16 minutes to write, while NewsCred found the median average time spent reading an article is 37 seconds. Hence the importance of writing content of value, and perhaps even more importantly: setting aside the time to write unique content.

In this day and age, your clients have high expectations of what you deliver for them. Ensuring that your company’s website properly showcases this detail is essential if your business is to grow and thrive.

About Jon Pittham

Jon founded ClientsFirst in 2010, having previously worked in both plc and SMEs. Having started in what he describes as a ‘broom cupboard’, Jon has grown ClientsFirst from the ground up and continues to take an active role in both our own marketing and that of our clients, as well as setting the strategic direction of the business.

Jon’s most difficult ‘management’ task away from the office is keeping three young offspring busy but, when he’s not doing this or anything related to ClientsFirst, he heads out into the great outdoors, with tennis, golf and running the occasional half-marathon amongst his hobbies.

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