Four Existing Resources Advisors Can Use to Boost LIAM Marketing Efforts

Like any entrepreneur, many financial advisors set aside at least a few hours a week looking for tips that will help take their marketing game to the next level (much like you’re doing right now).

Keeping up with the latest trends and constantly evolving digital landscape—and implementing them into your existing marketing strategy—can be a time consuming, but necessary endeavor for advisors trying to stay ahead of their competition. While the time you spend looking for the next big marketing opportunity is certainly not wasted, sometimes it can be more efficient to stick with your existing resources.

For instance, we are now halfway through Life Insurance Awareness Month. With only a couple of weeks left to take advantage of the top-of-mind momentum created by this educational initiative, now might not be the best time to launch an untested marketing plan. This is one of those situations where the most effective and practical solutions might be those resources already at your disposal. Such as…

Current Clients

The old saying, “dance with the one who brung ya,” can be words to live by when time is of the essence. For advisors, this means leveraging your current book of business to create new opportunities. Much like you would for milestone occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.), reach out to your existing clients with an email about life insurance coverage. This can be a reminder about a policy review or update, information about new products, or a simple invitation for an in-person appointment.

For example:

Prospect Lists

No matter where the prospect is in your marketing funnel, an event such as LIAM presents an opportunity to move them one step closer to conversion. Consider this an extension of your ongoing drip campaign and make contact through your regular newsletter or a lead nurturing email.

For Example:

 

 

LinkedIn

As the most popular social network Facebook is the typically the “go-to” platform for lead generation and advertising. However, LinkedIn is also a great marketing resource, especially for advisors trying to make professional connections. Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to post relevant content, share it with your connections, and participate in groups. Additionally, LinkedIn offers a wide range of targeting options for ad campaigns and sponsored posts.

Printed Promotional Materials

In the digital age, the value of printed materials is often overlooked. According to the 2017 Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report, direct mail response rates once again outranked digital (5.1% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists versus 2% for all digital channels combined). While effective, a direct mail campaign might not get off the ground quick enough to capitalize on the remaining LIAM momentum. This is when flyers and/or poster might be a good (and more immediate) alternative to consider. With a little legwork, a well-designed flyer that directs åpeople to your website is an inexpensive and effective method to promote your brand and services. Just make sure they’re in a well-trafficked area and posted with permission.

Ideal spots might include:

  • Public Library
  • Coffee Shops
  • Book Stores
  • Banks
  • Grocery Stores
  • Gyms/Fitness Centers

Request our Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit to make the most out of your life insurance prospecting efforts.

What You’ll Get:

  • Customizable Prospecting Letters
  • Email Drip Templates
  • Factfinder
  • Life Insurance Prospecting Ideas
  • Concept and Presentation Pieces
  • Consumer Facing Life Insurance Overview Powerpoint and more!

    Life Insurance Awareness Month Form

Using Social Media During Life Insurance Awareness Month

Awareness campaigns and social media go hand in hand. No matter the topic or cause, these initiatives would struggle to get off the ground without social media driving the conversation. And as many of you have already noticed, this month’s conversation revolves around life insurance. While the primary intent of Life Insurance Awareness Month is consumer education, this annual initiative is a chance for advisors to boost their brand and reach new prospects.

Taking advantage of the social media momentum behind Life Insurance Awareness Month doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your existing strategy, but it does call for a little fine tuning. Consider the following tips when outlining your September social media plans.

 

Post With Purpose

Launched in 2004 by non-profit organization Life Happens, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an example of a purpose-driven marketing, a type of campaign that strives make a more personal, emotional connection with the public by addressing a specific need or cause. Consistency is a crucial part of these campaigns, which is why advisors who leverage social media during LIAM need to make sure their message fits the overall narrative about life insurance awareness. There are a few trending hashtags that can help bring you into the LIAM conversation (and boost your organic reach in the process):

  •            #LIAM18
  •            #LifeInsuranceAwarenessMonth
  •            #LifeInsurance
  •            #TakeThePledge

Keep in mind that the most effective hashtags are both relevant to the topic and already in use. While there are other hashtags we’ve seen advisors use for LIAM-related posts, not all are exclusive to your services. Also, keep in mind that using too many hashtags in one post can actually limit post engagement, so avoid using more than two or three at a time.

  •           #AreYouCovered
  •           #Insurance
  •           #Life
  •           #Coverage
  •           #IncomeProtection

 

Target Strategically

 The overwhelming majority of consumers, regardless of their age, now consider social media (or other online resources) to be a valuable source of information when searching for financial services. In fact, a recent LIMRA study showed that Baby Boomers are now more likely to use the internet for information and recommendations than Millennials and Gen-Xers (who are both more likely to consult friends and family for advice). This is why it’s crucial for advisors to not only maintain a strong social media presence and an up-to-date website, but post content that will resonate with your specific target audience. Building custom audiences based on consumer details is a great way to get the right message to the right target.

Let’s say you want to share a message that promotes the “family protection” aspect of life insurance. Because this will likely hit closer to home for younger to middle-aged consumers with children than it would someone close to retirement age, use age and demographic-based metrics to hone in on parents aged 30 – 50 years old. Most social networks provide a wide range of targeting options. The key is to determine who will respond better to each specific post and target accordingly.

Timing Is Everything

The majority of social media users visit one or more platforms on a daily basis. However, few of them spend the entire day scrolling through their feed. Scheduling your posts during peak engagement times can significantly increase your organic reach. While your results may vary, peak posting times, according to several studies, are as follows:

Facebook:

·      12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday

·      12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday & Sunday


Twitter:

·      9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday (with peak engagement on or around 3 p.m.)

LinkedIn:

·      Early to mid-morning, early afternoon & early evening Monday – Friday

Keep in mind that social media marketing is an art, not a science. Use these tips as a starting point when crafting your LIAM social media strategy and adjust as needed. And remember that, when jumping on board with a widespread campaign like LIAM, you’re becoming part of a bigger conversation. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

 

Request our Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit to make the most out of your life insurance prospecting efforts.

What You’ll Get:

  • Customizable Prospecting Letters
  • Email Drip Templates
  • Factfinder
  • Life Insurance Prospecting Ideas
  • Concept and Presentation Pieces
  • Consumer Facing Life Insurance Overview Powerpoint and more!

    Life Insurance Awareness Month Form

 

Insights For Advisors: Millennials and Life Insurance

In many ways, Millennials are the perfect storm of opportunity for agents and advisors. The largest generation in American history currently represents more than one-third of the workforce and is set to inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever (an estimated $30 trillion over the next 30 years). With the majority of Boomers at or near retirement age, and Gen-Xers turning that corner, advisors would be wise to start paying more attention to Millennials.

When it comes to life insurance products, the Millennial market is wide open territory. The 2016 Life Insurance Barometer Study (Life Happens/LIRMA) found that only half of the Millennial population carries life insurance. Interestingly enough, half of Millennials surveyed recognized that, if the primary wage earner died, the financial impact would be felt immediately. So, yes, Millennials are thinking about the big picture, and according to one study, are twice as willing to discuss long-term savings goals than Boomers. However, advisors who try to reach this demographic with traditional strategies are less likely to have those conversations.

Tapping into the Millennial market requires an understanding of their values, perspectives, needs and, more importantly, challenges. (Data source: Pew Research Center, unless otherwise noted)

Education & Employment

  • Roughly 40% of Millennials (aged 25-39) have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, making Millennials the most highly educated generation in history.
  • Unemployment rates among Millennial college graduates are significantly lower than those with only a high school diploma (3.8% vs. 12.2%).
  • Millennials are more likely than Gen-Xers to stay with the same employer for 13 months or more (63.4% vs. 59.9%).
  • The median household income for Millennials is $72,500 (second only to Gen-X households).

Takeaway – While Millennials struggle with student debt and reduced earning power now, things will likely improve over time. With the increasing value of a college education, young graduates often see their student loans as an investment in to their future. This suggests a willingness on their part to play the long game, if they can be confident it will pay off in the end. Consider applying this logic to your strategy. Start with what they can afford/attain now and outline how that can be used as a stepping stone to bigger and better things down the road.

Values, Priorities & Perspectives

  • 45% of Millennials feel that most businesses do not behave in an ethical manner (Deloitte).
  • Half of Millennials say they do not want a primary financial advisor, and only 1 in 3 have one (Life Happens/LIRMA).
  • Overall, Millennials are most likely to need information and education about life insurance (Life Happens/LIRMA)
  • More than 80% rank family as their top priority (52% said “being a good parent” and 30% listed “successful marriage” as most important) versus 15% who said “having a high-paying career”).
  • 31% say they currently earn enough money, while 88% feel confident they will in the future.

Takeaway – Millennials are skeptical when it comes to business and finance-related matters. This likely stems from a lack of understanding about the role advisors, along with the services and products they provide, can play in their lives. At the same time, their optimism and desire to maintain a stable and successful household present an opportunity for advisors to ease that skepticism. A transparent, ethical, and mentoring approach will go a long way toward establishing credibility. Make a personal connection to show that you care as much about their family’s well-being as they do. Work with them, rather than sell to them.

Making the Connection

  • 75% say new technology makes life easier.
  • More than 50% will research life insurance online, but purchase their policy from a professional (Life Happens/LIRMA).
  • 54% will turn to social media for recommendations on a financial professional (Life Happens/LIRMA).
  • 67% say it’s important to meet with a financial advisor in-person (Center for Generational Kinetics).

Takeaway – While Millennials are fully immersed in the digital world, they also value human connections and interpersonal relationships. Advisors should expect Millennial clients to come in armed with whatever knowledge they were able to gain from web articles, eBooks, and other digital content. However, they’ll need you to fill in the blanks for them. Also keep in mind that members of this tech-savvy generation might respond well to incentive-based wellness programs, like those that provide wearable gadgets to policyholders.

Overcoming Life Insurance Objections

Depending on which study you read, anywhere between 30 – 60% of American adults do not have life insurance. However, 90% of consumers think a “family’s primary wage earner needs to own life insurance,” according to 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, from Life Happens and LIMRA. So, we have a product that nearly everyone sees a need for, but few actually purchase.

There are several common reasons people give for going without coverage, most can be traced back to one overarching issue – misconception. In today’s marketplace, factors such as affordability and health-related qualifications are not nearly as much of an issue as they have been in the past.

That said, there is still a large portion of consumers who don’t seem to be fully aware of the options available to them. The first step in educating these consumers is to understand their apprehensions and misconceptions. The next step is to use that insight to address their objections and guide them toward a solution that meets their specific needs.

Below are the three most common life insurance objections agents and advisors hear from clients, along with some responses that could help overcome them:

“I can’t afford life insurance.”

Looking at some of the key findings from Life Happens and LIMRA’s 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, you can see why this is among the most common objection to life insurance. According to that study, 44% of Millennials overestimate the cost of life insurance by as much as five times the actual amount.

  • “When was the last time you looked at insurance prices?”
  • “Did you know that most people overestimate the cost of life insurance?”
  • “We don’t really know what the price of insurance is because it’s based on underwriting. So let’s get you medically underwritten and then we can talk about what the actual numbers will be.”

Additionally, 61% of people don’t buy life insurance, or more than they already have, because of other financial priorities.

  • “Did you know premiums increase with age. You’re never going to be any younger than you are today.”
  • “Most people don’t get healthier as they age.”

 

“I don’t need life insurance.”

Even though this sounds like a hard “NO,” chances are it’s rooted in a lack of understanding about how life insurance works, and/or the benefits a policy could provide for them and their family. Also consider the possibility that, while one member of the household feels that way, others disagree. In fact, 90% of those who took part in the Insurance Barometer Study think a family’s primary wage earner needs life insurance. Roughly 35% of them say that if the primary wage earner died, the survivors would feel the financial impact within one month.

  • “Why do you feel that way?”
  • “How does the rest of your family feel about that?”
  • “What about your final expenses?”
  • “What plans have you made to make sure your family is taken care of after you’re gone?”

“I don’t qualify because of health issues”

While health issues, certain lifestyles, and occupational hazards can disqualify people from certain policies, most of them probably don’t realize they have options that don’t require medical underwriting.

  • “You’re not the only one who has run into this problem. While you might not qualify for certain types of policies, there are other solutions. Would you like some information about guaranteed issue life insurance?”
  • “Just about anybody can qualify for a life insurance policy, regardless of health issues. There are many different types that account for many different situations.”
  • “Many people may have misconceptions about the underwriting process, what is prompting you to say that?”

Beyond the “Big 3” listed above, there are numerous reasons a person might give for turning away from life insurance coverage. However, because most objections stem from misconception, the solution is simple – education.

Request our Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit to make the most out of your life insurance prospecting efforts.

What You’ll Get:

  • Customizable Prospecting Letters
  • Email Drip Templates
  • Factfinder
  • Life Insurance Prospecting Ideas
  • Concept and Presentation Pieces
  • Consumer Facing Life Insurance Overview Powerpoint and more!

    Life Insurance Awareness Month Form

How To Incorporate Thumbtack Into Your Business

Listing your company on community-based business directories is a great way to boost your online presence. Because businesses with profiles on high-traffic platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Merchant Circle (to name a few) benefit from higher local SEO rankings than those that don’t, these sites can be great tools for brand awareness. That said, many only offer a snapshot of your business/services. For advisors targeting niche markets, this does little to generate qualified leads.

However, there is one rapidly growing platform that digs a little deeper to connect consumers with professionals that meet their specific needs. Launched in 2009, Thumbtack is taking a new approach to the traditional professional services model popularized by Yelp and Angie’s List.

Instantly Matched Leads

About a year ago, Thumbtack introduced Instant Match, a feature aimed at connecting consumers with the businesses that best suit their needs. When you set up your business profile, Thumbtack gives you several options to fine-tune your potential leads. You can specify your area(s) of expertise, type of clients you’re targeting, travel/location preferences, and other details meant to filter out unlikely matches.

Consumers searching for services that fall under the “Personal Financial Planning” category are required to answer a series of questions about their income, career status, specific needs (retirement, life insurance, etc.), and other relevant details. If your preferences match the consumer’s, your profile is included in their search results and the door is open for them to reach out.

How high or low you set your weekly budget determines how many leads can contact you. Because you’re charged each time a consumer makes contact (or vice-versa), it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your budget settings if you want to keep a steady flow of leads coming in. Thumbtack only charges for that initial contact and doesn’t tack on (pun intended) any additional fees or commission if you and the lead decide to do business together.

Keep in mind that Thumbtack is a localized marketplace, not a guaranteed lead generator. Its value as a marketing tool is based largely on the demand for your services. If there aren’t many people in your area using the site to find financial advisors, you might not get much out of it. On the other hand, the leads that do come your way are more likely to be interested in doing businesses.

A few additional things to keep in mind when building your Thumbtack profile:

Consistency Counts…

The contact information on your profile should match that of any other business listing you have (Google My Business, Yelp, etc.). Keeping your physical address, business hours, phone number, email, website, and social media pages consistent across platforms is one of many factors that help determine your SEO ranking.

…And So Does Content

A well-written and comprehensive bio will increase your chances of attracting the leads you want. A concise, but detailed overview of your services and financial know-how will help convince the consumer that you’re the right person for the job. You want to come across as both professional and personable. Including a few high-quality photos of yourself will help drive that point home. In addition to your bio, Thumbtack’s Q&A section offers a list of questions related to your background, education, and experience. This lets you go into a little more detail about yourself without turning your bio into a novel. There’s also an option to incorporate a background check (via Checkr) into your profile, along with a list of your professional licenses and credentials.

Follow Up

Keep a close eye on your notifications and try to follow up as soon as possible when leads come in. Remember, you aren’t the only advisor included on the list Thumbtack sends to the consumer, so you want to beat the competition to the punch. After the initial contact is made through Thumbtack, start working your magic like you would with any other prospect who enters your pipeline.

Be Patient

Thumbtack connects consumers with pros working in hundreds of different industries. And with the Instant Match feature still in its infancy, getting the results you want might take time. If things are moving slow, try tweaking your preferences a little or adjusting your budget for a few weeks. Like any other digital marketing avenue, Thumbtack comes with its own set of pros and cons. That said, this is an innovative platform that has great potential for those willing to put in the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets for Successful Video Marketing

The value of incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy cannot be understated. No matter the platform, video outperforms every other advertising medium by a longshot. In fact, simply including the word “video” in the subject line of an email has been proven to increase open rates. And those with videos embedded in the email can significantly boost conversion and click-through rates. Those who use video on social media and websites find equal, if not greater success, when compared to text and image-based messages.

While marketers across the board have come to rely on video, it is becoming increasingly more prevalent for advisors. According to a study by Wibbitz, those working in the financial industry are leveraging video marketing more than those in any other industry but manufacturing. So, have you jumped on the bandwagon yet?

You don’t have to look hard to find an endless list of stats and surveys that support the hype surrounding video marketing. However, the answer to why video is so effective can be summarized in one word – psychology. Televised messages have become so commonplace in our society that we often look for any sort of connection that might exist between ourselves and the person we see on the screen. This is a level of emotional engagement that isn’t as easily or quickly found with other mediums, especially in regard to advertising. And when targeting people with services that relate to their finances, retirement, and families, trust and confidence are key elements to conversion. If you think about it, one of the goals during any one-on-one interaction with a prospect is to earn their trust, isn’t it? Why should your marketing approach be any different?

If a picture is worth a thousand word, then a video is worth far more (1.8 million words, according to Forrester Research). While that doesn’t mean the articles you write and/or share on social media and your website aren’t an important part of the overall process; a short, but sweet video message can be a much more effective way of capturing consumer attention. This is especially true for those living faster-paced, “time-is-money” lifestyles, like the nearly 60% of executives (a.k.a. high-end clients) who stated they prefer video over text, when given the option (Forbes). Are you convinced yet?

Those working with a limited marketing budget might think that video production is too elaborate and expensive of an endeavor to attempt. While this is true if your goal is to shoot a sleek, pro-quality TV spot, producing a decent online video is much easier than you think. Most mobile devices today come with cameras that can hold their own against those used by pros, in regard to overall quality. The rest of the equipment needed – a tripod, mobile device mount, and clip-on microphone – can all be purchased for $100 or less. Set it all up in a well-lit, professional setting, and you’re ready to roll.

If you’re a little shy about stepping in front of a camera, don’t feel bad. Some of you might take it right away, but many people are intimidated by the thought of being on a video that’s blasted out across social media. It might sound cliché, but pretending that you’re in front of a client, not a camera, is a great way to relax and present yourself as the same well-spoken and knowledgeable advisor you are in the “real world.” Composure and confidence are the two of most important elements to delivering a good performance. The third piece of this puzzle is practice (practice, practice). If you’re not the type who can memorize lines verbatim, you should at least have a good grasp of your talking points before shooting. Using cue cards or reading from a script while shooting might be necessary but doing so can make your performance seem unnatural and distracted. A video of an obviously nervous person uncomfortably reading from a script while their eyes dart back and forth is a video nobody wants to watch. Run through the spot a few times, critique each take, make note what worked, and identify where you need to improve.

While you want to put your best and cleanest take out there, it’s the quality of your content that matters most. Great content makes up for average production every time. As popular as live streaming media has become, the “DIY” vibe is becoming the trend to follow. If you’re comfortable going out there without a net, Facebook Live is the way to go. By the end of 2017, 20% of all videos on Facebook were live streams. Those videos were watched as much as three times longer and received around 10 times as many likes and comments as uploaded videos. With a little promotion and planning, a lengthy Facebook Live Q&A session can be a great way to drive traffic to your social media pages, while giving you the chance to strut your stuff in front of an engaged audience.

As we move farther into the age of streaming media, advisors who utilize video can expect increased engagement, interaction, and conversion rates. And, of course, with all that, more business. So, are you ready to roll? It’s time for your close up.

Think Locally Part 3: Create a Community

If you think beyond the textbook definition, the essence of hyperlocal marketing encompasses any method used to engage with and build relationships with prospects living within your area. Recent editions of Marketing Corner offered tips on how you can apply that concept to boost your local online presence and leverage Nextdoor.com for business purposes. However, there remains much more ground to cover when it comes to localizing your marketing efforts. So, let’s keep exploring, shall we?

To state the obvious, Facebook is among the most valuable online/social media marketing tools business owners have at that their disposal. However, changes to the platform’s advertising and targeting policies have made it more challenging to connect with qualified leads. That’s not to suggest you stop running geo-targeted ads or put the brakes on your Facebook marketing efforts. In fact, when trying to convert local prospects, you might consider increasing the time and energy you put into Facebook. The key is to spend that time and energy wisely.

The ultimate goal of any Facebook business page is to increase brand awareness. The best way to achieve that goal is to get as many people as possible to “like” your page, right? Sort of. While you do want to build an audience, you want that audience to consist of people who are interested in and would benefit from your services. Spending money to promote your page and boost your posts is still one way to reach that audience, but it’s not nearly as effective as it once was. So, how do you attract those legitimate and qualified prospects out there in Facebook Land? You get them talking.

If Content Is King, Then Conversation Is Queen

Quality ad content might catch their attention, but conversion usually requires conversation. It’s your expertise, people skills, and gift of gab that makes clients out of prospects. So, why not apply that concept to your marketing efforts?

Remember that Facebook is social media and people use the platform to interact and engage with the world around them. Use this to your advantage and create a Facebook group made specifically for discussions related your areas of expertise. Ideally, you’re already applying this practice to your page by posting content that is both relevant to your target audience and reflective of your professionalism and know-how. Creating a group and linking it to your page goes one step further by giving others a chance to chime in.

Because you’re using this group to engage with local consumers, give it a name that reflects both your area and the subject matter – “[YOUR CITY/REGION] Financial Guru,” for example. Because you want group members to feel comfortable discussing topics related to finances and retirement, it might be a good idea to set the privacy settings as “Closed.” This will keep the posts and comments hidden from anyone not in the group, but still allow outsiders to find it and send a request to join (which, in turn, allows you to vet any incoming members). It’s also important that you use your business page, not your personal profile, as the group admin and when posting or commenting. This will help establish your brand as the “expert,” and drive traffic back to your page at the same time.

As the group admin, you want to be the most active member. Reposting or sharing content from your business page and/or website is a good start, but you also want to keep people talking. Balance out the links you share with informal posts and conversation starters. For example, a photo of the sun setting over a beach and a caption like “I think I found where I want to spend my retirement years. How about you?” You get people engaged and thinking about their own plans and did so without pushing a product in their faces. Remember, the group is more about establishing and fostering relationships than anything else. Save the sales pitch for the appointment, this is your chance to show some personality.

A few other things to keep in mind when managing your Facebook group:

  • Be responsive! Reply to questions and comments from group members. Don’t use a confrontational tone in response to criticism, but don’t ignore it either. The same goes for positive feedback. Even a simple “thanks!” or clicking the “like” button can go a long way.
  • Before launching the group, define your guidelines and rules (No spam or self-promotional posts, hate speech, explicit language, trolling comments or abusive comments, etc.) and list them in the “About” section and/or on a pinned post. Don’t hesitate to get rid of any violating posts/members.
  • Avoid controversial subjects! Taking a stance on politics and other divisive topics is a great way to lose business. Consumers want to hear your expertise, not your opinions.
  • Create a sense of community. The people who join your group are (hopefully) members of the same community in which you live and work. Remind them of that by including a few local references in your posts.
  • Invite everyone who follows your page to join the group and vice-versa. And, while you’re at it, encourage other members to invite their friends to the group.
  • Be consistent! If your posts are few and far between, your group members will lose interest and, eventually, stop engaging altogether. If you can’t post on a daily basis, consider adding someone to help pick up the slack.

Overall, you should treat your Facebook group as you would your business page. It might be a little more casual and open-ended, but it’s important that your message and voice match those used anywhere else online.

 

 

Think Locally Part 2: Hyper-localize Your Online Presence

You’ve probably heard the buzzword “hyperlocal marketing” trending as of late (perhaps even right here on Marketing Corner). While the concept is nothing new, the use of hyperlocal marketing is growing rapidly.

Our last Marketing Corner post looked at how Nextdoor.com is expanding its neighborhood-based social networking hub into a hyperlocal marketing tool for businesses and service providers. But one social platform is merely the tip of a much bigger hyperlocal iceberg.

In a nutshell, hyperlocal marketing involves targeting prospects within a specific geographic area. Geotargeting your ads and sponsored social media posts are popular forms of hyperlocal marketing in action. However, those are most effective when you reach a consumer who is willing to engage with the post/ad and answer your call to action. In spaces oversaturated with ads, such as Facebook, this can be a challenge.

Be There When They Want You

People are busy. They have places to go and things to do. Yes, they’re probably scrolling through Facebook or Twitter along the way. But that sort of multitasking leaves little room for them to engage with the ads that pop up in their newsfeed. While it’s important they at least see your content scroll by, it’s even more important that they can easily find it when they’re ready.

According to Google, “near me,” or location-based searches have increased by as much as 150% over the last two years. These might include “financial planners near me” or “advisors in [city or zip code].” As you might have noticed when conducting your own searches, Google now lists local results over organic when returning the results of a search (and just below the list of paid results). The higher a site ranks on these search results, the more traffic said site will receive.

So, how can you boost your site’s ranking? Because Google’s algorithm is in a constant state of change, there is no clear-cut answer to that question. However, there are several ways to optimize your page for better local results.

Best Practices for Local SEO

Claim Your Business Page – Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business page is a crucial part of boosting your SEO ranking. Setting up your page is free and fairly simple but does require you to complete a verification process (usually by receiving a postcard with a confirmation code to your physical address). Once you are verified, add as much relevant information as possible to your page—address, business hours, website URL, phone number, business description, etc. Make sure your information is accurate, consistent, and honest. Google has cracked down on businesses that give false or misleading information, and any violations of their guidelines could negatively impact your listing (or result in your page being suspended).

Images can help drive search engine traffic, so you’ll want to include a handful of quality photos of your business. Use a good shot of the front exterior of your office as your cover photo. You should also include your logo, professional headshots of you and your team, and a few interior photos as well.

The slug and meta description for the very article you reading right now.

Keywords & Content – Your address should be included in the sitewide footer section on your website, as well as on your “Contact” page. If you post original content to your site (which you should be doing), localizing some of that content can also help boost local SEO rankings.

Incorporating localized meta descriptions, tags, and keywords into your pages and photos can also help your site’s local rankings. Just be aware that Google frowns upon “keyword stuffing,” so make sure to keep things relevant. You will also want to include a clearly and concisely written snippet of anchor text (the blurb that appears underneath your link on a search result), such as “[Insert business name], a certified financial planner in [insert city], specializing in retirement planning.”

Be Mobile Friendly – This almost goes without saying. Mobile searches account for roughly 60% of all online inquiries and that trend is expected to grow in the years to come. Additionally, Google and other search engines favor sites that are optimized for mobile over those that are not. Simply put, if your site is not mobile friendly, you’re going to lose business.

Local Review Directories – While the reviews and feedback posted to your Google business page will appear first and foremost in search results, there are several alternative review sites that you should look into. Granted, many of these are geared more toward retailers and service industry businesses (bars, restaurants, etc.), but there are a handful that hold value for those working in the financial industry, such as Yelp and Foursquare. Customer feedback, be it from these or any site, can be leveraged to help your overall search ranking. Just remember to be responsive and transparent when a client shares their feedback.

 

Overall, local SEO is more of an art than a science. This is especially true when it comes to maximizing your online presence to prospects in your area. Having read through the tips listed above, now might be a good time to conduct a few localized online searches of your own. Whose business ranks higher? Yours, or the competition?

Think Locally: Marketing Yourself on Nextdoor.com

Nextdoor logoYou’ve probably never given much thought into incorporating Nextdoor into your marketing strategy. If you haven’t, don’t feel bad. Not very many have. In fact, for many marketers and businesses, Nextdoor is barely a blip on the radar. All that might change in the not-so-distant future if the company has its way. For the last seven years, the community-based social networking platform has built itself up as an online neighborhood message board of sorts, giving people a place to post about garage sales, lost pets, crime, and other local happenings.

This “Craigslist with a newsfeed” feel hasn’t made Nextdoor the most popular digital destination, but a number of small, niche businesses (home repair, lawn services, daycare, etc.) have discovered the value in advertising through Nextdoor. In April, the company introduced the ability for businesses to sponsor posts, making now a good time for agents and advisors to give Nextdoor a look as well.

Nextdoor is often described as “hyperlocal social media,” because its users only see what others in their own or surrounding neighborhoods post. For them, the increased privacy and relevancy, along with the lack of unsolicited, “spammy” posts, makes the platform a more neighborly alternative to global social networks. For you, Nextdoor offers unsaturated access to a localized list of potential new clients.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Financial Planner

The obvious first step in your Nextdoor marketing campaign is to create or claim your business page. This will differ from a personal Nextdoor profile in that the business page won’t have any specific neighborhood affiliation. The owner of a business page also can’t access neighborhood directories or the conversations that take place on the site. These limitations are in place to, according to Nextdoor, make sure “…members’ experience remains positive and is not overwhelmed by posts from businesses and service providers.”

Your page will also lack the bells and whistles of a Facebook business page, and displays little more than your contact info, profile picture, location on a map, and

what Nextdoor members are saying about your business. This last feature is where the value of Nextdoor can be found – word of mouth marketing.

According to Nielsen, two of the most trusted forms of advertising are online

via nextdoor.com

consumer opinion and recommendations from friends and family. Nextdoor brings both together under its “Recommendations” section. Like Facebook or Google reviews, Nextdoor recommendations allow customers to offer feedback about their experience with a business. With more than 17 million recommendations posted, this can be a powerful brand awareness tool. Be sure you review the site’s Community Guidelines to avoid any violations or conflict of interest.

Hyperlocal Social Marketing 

As we mentioned above, Nextdoor is in the process of incorporating Sponsored Posts into the newsfeeds of its members. However, in the interest of keeping the content relevant, they’re taking a calculated approach in doing so. Thus far, Nextdoor has only partnered with select businesses, including home and auto insurance providers, to give Sponsored Posts a test run. While they have yet to open the floodgates, the company says the option will be more widely available in the near future. When this happens, participating businesses will have the ability to build a geographically-customized audience based on zip code, neighborhood, or individual home address. This targeting method could come in handy when trying to fine-tune your message to homeowners, and/or people who live in a specific community.

Whether Nextdoor will be an effective way to market your individual business depends largely on how active your community is on the site. If you aren’t already a part of the more than 150,000 Nextdoor neighborhoods across the U.S., this might be a good time to sign up and start exploring.

**This post is part of Legacy Financial Partners’ ongoing Marketing Corner, a space that offers advisors short sales ideas, yellow-pad concepts, and alerts to aid advisors in lead conversion, marketing, and client relationship building.

We are deep into summer. Don’t forget to request our Summer Survival Kit, which provides great tips for advisors on how to deal with the slump in business that naturally happens each summer.

 

What You Need To Know About Facebook’s New Ad Policies

“Your Facebook ad has been disapproved”

Those six words have been throwing a wrench in the works for more and more business owners as of late. If you haven’t encountered them yet, the chances will be even greater you will in the coming weeks. In response to the ongoing data, privacy, and “fake news” scandals, the world’s most popular social media platform is making some changes, many of which could have a direct impact on your marketing strategy.

In the interest of transparency, Facebook is tightening the belt on ads (and advertisers) pertaining to elections and political issues. The new rules include new verification requirements for advertisers and “paid for by” disclosures on their ads. While the move is intended to slow the spread of “fake news,” there appear to be a few kinks left to be worked out of the screening process. In the weeks since Facebook has started roll out these changes, we’ve seen numerous reports of ads/sponsored posts being incorrectly flagged as “political” and disapproved until the advertiser submits personal information, such as their Social Security number and photo ID, needed for the authorization process.

While the policy itself was written with politicians, lobbyists, and election campaigns in mind, content from a variety of businesses (including agents and advisors) has also been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s increased scrutiny. When Facebook launched the new political ad rules in late May, the company released a list of 20 initial issues that would be used to determine whether an ad was political in nature. A few topics that appear on that list might help us understand why your post about a retirement planning seminar was disapproved:

  • Budget
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Social Security
  • Taxes

Sure, it might seem silly to draw any sort of connection between the November elections and a post offering future retirees information on how a tax-deferred annuity can help those who are concerned over the future of their Social Security benefits. But, with a screening process that’s based on a combination of human judgment and a still-evolving algorithm, it’s happening. Has it happened to you? If so, don’t expect much help from Facebook, as the company is passing the issue off as growing pains and claims it will

straighten itself out over time. This leaves legit, non-political advertisers whose content has been flagged with little recourse other than to appeal the decision and/or complete the authentication process. Both of these require more time and energy than most of us would rather spend on clients and prospects.

But wait, there’s more…

The content of your Facebook ad isn’t the only thing under the gun these days. The ways in which you target your audience is also undergoing a major overhaul. The end of June will introduce the first step in Facebook’s move to eliminate “Partner Categories” from the available ad targeting audience. Partner categories consist of consumer data provided by third-party companies that advertisers use when fine-tuning their customized audience. This means that several behavioral and demographic parameters advertisers used to better reach those consumers who would benefit most from their products/services will no longer exist on Facebook’s advertising platform.

What does this mean for you?

For those working in the world of finance, targeting consumers based on their financial indicators is a key part of finding those prospects who are most likely to convert. Information such as personal income, net worth, homeownership, and several behaviors related to one’s financial well-being have long been used by advertisers when customizing an audience to the product/service. Beginning June 30, those parameters will no longer be able to be used for creating new or editing existing campaigns. On October 1, any ads using data gleaned from partner categories will no longer be delivered.

Does this spell the end of Facebook advertising? No, absolutely not. Despite the platform’s overhaul and accompanying frustrations, Facebook will still remain one of the most valuable ad platforms available. Even after the third-party data is gone, the remaining demographic, behavioral and interest categories will still allow you to finely-tune your customized target audience. You’ll just have to be a little more creative when doing so. Here are a few tips that can help you work around the changes to Facebook’s advertising platform:

  • Geotarget Affluent Communities: You can no longer use Facebook to specifically target homeowners who make at least $75,000 a year. But, you can use what you know about your own area to geotarget your ads to reach those living in neighborhoods that would likely be populated by people who fall under that demographic. Geotargeting is a commonly used parameter that can be used to create a customized audience of Facebook users living in a specific area.
  • Replace Behaviors with Similar/Relevant Interests: Just because Facebook is no longer going use consumer profile data from third-party companies, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped learning everything they can about its users. The social media giant uses internet activity such as web browsing and Page “likes” to create comprehensive profiles of its users. If you ever expressed an interest in clog dancing, Facebook probably knows it and has you tagged as someone who might be receptive to an ad about clog shoes. The same goes for those who have searched for things like annuities, retirement, and life insurance. This approach might take some experimentation but can be an effective workaround in the absence of third-party data.
  • DIY: Facebook’s new targeting policies apply to consumer info compiled by third-party data mining companies such as Acxiom and Experian. But the rules do not prohibit businesses from targeting people based on data they’ve collected themselves. Consider using surveys, forms, or landing pages to help build an audience of consumers who want to see your ad.

In all likelihood, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Facebook’s much-publicized overhaul. This means we should expect the “formula” for a successful ad campaign to change with the seasons. Keeping up with it all can take more time than most of you have to spare, but you also can’t afford to waste resources on ineffective advertising.

This is where we can help. If you’d like to learn more about how to keep ahead of the curve, call us today.