Think offer, not pitch, with mobile ad messages

Advisers will eventually need a mobile strategy as part of digital marketing

Jul 28, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

By Liz Skinner

Financial advisers should be thinking about what they can offer the wealthy woman sitting in bed at 10 p.m. searching “best city to retire” or the stressed out executive googling “should I rollover my 401k?”

Mobile advertising provides a great opportunity for advisers to land directly in the lives of prospective customers when financial issues are in the forefront of their mind, such as when searching for solutions on their smartphones or iPads between work responsibilities or in the evenings.

Ads on Facebook, Pandora and other online sites and applications can be tightly tailored to target certain demographics, preferences or even uses in a certain zip code. The tone, however, needs to be more than a sales pitch, experts said.

The message advisers deliver through a mobile ad should offer a tangible solution as opposed to a service promise, according to Angel Gonzalez, cofounder of Leads4Advisors, which helps advisers plan mobile advertising strategies.

The ad should provide a link to a branded white paper, financial guide or something else of value, he suggested.

“We tell advisers not to be sales-y or pitchy in their ads,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Don't jump into online advertising and approach it like a billboard; instead provide utility or value.”

As more people use mobile devices more often to search content and buy goods, the market for mobile advertising spending has ballooned.

Mobile advertising spending is predicted to reach about $18 billion globally this year, according to a report by Gartner Inc., in January. That would be a 37% jump from the estimated $13.1 billion spent last year. The report estimates $41.9 billion in mobile ad spending by 2017.

Display ads make up most of the spending, though video is predicted to show the highest growth, the report said.

Stephanie Sammons, founder and chief executive of Wired Advisor, said at some point she expects all advisers will need a mobile ad strategy to have an effective digital marketing plan. But she's unsure how quickly it will come.

“That could be a year from now, or it could be five years from now,” she said.

Ms. Sammons agreed that advisers need to make their online offers “compelling” or the campaign could be a dud. Ads should be tested on a small scale to see what resonates most with people, she explained.

“I know some advisers who have created awesome offers and run ads with strategic focus and they've had zero results,” she said.

Effective campaigns — those that result in a large number of prospects being driven to an adviser's website or other content — can be expensive and once they are stopped, the leads and traffic cease, Ms. Sammons said.

Campaigns that run on social networks like Facebook should be preceded by efforts to build up the number of fans or followers of the adviser in those networks, she said.

Advertising on mobile devices can potentially be more effective than other online ads for advisers because many parameters can be used and layered to reach the right audience, according to Jon Nolz, vice president of product management for Hipcricket, a mobile marketing company.

“You are providing a targeted advertisement at the right time on the right device to the right person,” he said.

That could mean, for instance, creating an ad campaign for an advisory firm that would be delivered to a certain type of investor only when the stock market has fallen a set amount in a day, he said.

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