Financial advisers seeking to grow their businesses should carve out more time for writing, as blogs have become an essential tool for finding new clients.
“Blogs are vital for firms that want to use their websites to grow their businesses,” said Graig Norden, president of digital marketing firm Freewheel Marketing.
Blogging used to be considered kind of a “low-brow” tool for communicating, but that changed after research showed nearly all clients referred to a financial services company check out the firm's website first, Mr. Norden said.
Therefore, a website becomes an advisory firm's most important marketing tool and a pertinent post is the ideal way to drive potential clients there.
Crafting blog posts isn't something that comes naturally to everyone, but financial advisers who have perfected the skill and other experts suggest all is not lost. Advisers can create a volume of content around the firm's expertise and keep the purpose on educating or enlightening — and not on selling.
“The most popular content for driving consumer leads is deep niche expertise content in whatever your niche is,” said Michael Kitces, partner at Pinnacle Advisory Group and co-founder of the XY Planning Network.
The two most popular posts last year on his Nerd's Eye View blog in terms of generating leads for his firm were ”Tax-Efficient Spending Strategies from Retirement Portfolios” and ”The Portfolio Size Effect and Using a Bond Tent to Navigate the Retirement Danger Zone."
Both of these reflect Mr. Kitces' original retirement research.
However, it's the sum of articles published over the years that drives organic Google search traffic and leads visitors to the firm's website, he said.
“I don't generate leads with the best one or two articles each year,” Mr. Kitces said. “I generate leads with the thousand cumulative articles I've published over time.”
Sophia Bera's post, ”Should I Contribute to a 401k or a Roth IRA?” published in 2013 is the most popular article ever for this virtual financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning, which targets millennial clients.
The reason? People directly type that question into Google and she comes up, Ms. Bera said.
“Advisers should think of questions their ideal client has and write blog posts with those titles,” she said.
Blogging frequently about a particular niche creates an environment where the adviser is speaking the same language of the person searching, Mr. Norden said.
“It means they're going to find you rather than you having to find them,” he said.
With prospective clients filtering to an adviser's website, the adviser can spend more time on warmer leads, and that can help firms grow faster.
A comparison of the fastest-growing registered investment advisers and the largest RIAs, shows three-quarters of the fastest growers use a blog compared to 45% of the largest firms, according to a Freewheel study late last year.
Ambitious advisers should aim to post once a week with blogs of 400 to 500 words, experts said.
Original content is great, but advisers also can create a post based on sharing a news article and discussing why the topic is worthy of consideration.
Posts should be light reading, topical and not include anything with a sales pitch, not even a “we can help you with that,” at the end, Mr. Norden said.
Prolific blogger Josh Brown, chief executive at Ritholtz Wealth Management and author of The Reformed Broker blog, said he tries to share information and viewpoints that he believes will help readers understand the markets, as well as the larger world.
One of his top posts for 2016 was ”Everyone is a closet technician."
In addition to providing a marketing function for prospects, Mr. Brown sees blogging as essential to educating clients and keeping their expectations in line with reality.