Paid Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors Part 2: Bang For Your Buck

There’s no doubt that organic social media remains one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of a financial advisor.  But what about paid digital marketing advisors? While Facebook’s organic reach continues to decline as its algorithm continues to evolve, there are still strategies in place that can help financial advisors boost their brand profile, but is Facebook the right platform for you?

Facebook has its place! The cost to reach your target audience and other buying objectives like cost per click, cost per engagement, and even cost per lead are significantly lower than other platforms (like LinkedIn). 

But if competing with every person’s best friend, family member, or IKEA’s highly engaging ads about furniture specials, makes generating ‘quality’ leads an uphill battle, is the cheap cost worth it?

LinkedIn paid digital marketing is expensive.  But Gary Vee insists that it provides an organic growth potential likened to Facebook in 2012, while Facebook ads leave our ideal clients overstimulated and paralyzed with choice, so where is the sweet spot?

In part 1, we concluded that organic social media for financial advisors is a key component in boosting your profile. In this follow-up blog, we look at organic social media as the cornerstone of paid media in the context of analytics and insights, understanding data, choosing objectives, and retargeting.

Organic Social Media is the Cornerstone of Paid Social Media

How does organic social media provide a data-driven foundation for paid social media? Analytics! Whether you find your voice on LinkedIn or a highly engaged audience on Facebook, the built-in analytics tools provide financial advisors with the essential information you need to inform your paid marketing decisions.

Let’s take a look at the most useful features financial advisors can leverage on each of these core platforms.

Facebook Page Insights

As Facebook continues to respond to user sentiment towards privacy concerns by limiting how much built-in insights can provide, there are still some features advisors can leverage.

When it comes to reaching users at the right time, Facebook page insights allow financial advisors to see at what time and on what day their followers are most active. From a content marketing perspective, you can also access which post types (and which specific posts) are generating the most results.

By taking the best posting times and top-performing content, advisors can adjust their paid marketing efforts to reach their users at the right time with the right message when it will matter to their users the most.

When Your Fans Are Online

LinkedIn Insights

Maybe what Gary Vee said was right, because LinkedIn’s analytics are what Facebook offers, but on steroids.

The most valuable asset LinkedIn company page analytics provides for financial advisors is their visitor demographics filter.

LinkedIn Visitor Demographics

Advisors can filter by job function, location, seniority, industry, and company size. Knowing this information before you start experimenting with paid ads or revisiting paid ads from a cost-effective perspective is essential.

When you plug demographic information into your targeting settings, you are already one step closer to narrowing an already narrowed audience. And as we all know, this is an exercise in building rapport, not mirroring a door-to-door sales process on a digital platform whereby we go straight to closing the deal.

This is why we need to treat on-platform organic social media analytics as a foundation for when we want to build upon our templated buyer personas.

So, Facebook and LinkedIn provide some pretty useful on-platform data for financial advisors to leverage. But how do we validate how effective our organic strategy is in generating valuable website traffic? 

Well, if we think of our ideal client as an onion, on-platform analytics can be understood as the first layer available for us to peel. But we all know advisors want to validate that client persona from day one. Google Analytics allows financial advisors to skip the peeling, slice the onion down the middle, and look at each layer from an entirely different perspective.

Google Analytics: The All-Seeing Eye of Paid Media!

As the reality of a cookieless world becomes more apparent and consumers (and advisors), do everything in their power to protect their privacy, this places unique limitations on all paid media platforms. 

This means that tracking data off social media platforms is becoming less accurate as users continue to opt-out of tracking, making it difficult for advertisers to verify whether or not their traffic, leads, or purchases taking place off of the paid ads platform are accurate.

So, how can you mitigate this inaccuracy? Well, if you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site, you should and it’s free. Whether you intend on running campaigns yourself or you get a paid media specialist to manage them, you must understand how to make meaningful business decisions based on Google Analytics data.

Understanding Organic vs. Paid Media Analytics via Google Analytics

Now bear with me; this section may get a little bit technical.  But it’s so important to wrap your head around it even if you end up getting a digital marketing agency to manage your online activity. Why? Because data is and will most likely be one of the most valuable resources available to us (many consider it to be more valuable than oil).

When it comes to interpreting data, you’re probably wondering where you should start? While Google Analytics can get complicated, its default view has enough information to tell you where the most opportunity lies if you want to know where to spend money on advertising.

As advisors, we tend to throw many things at the wall hoping that something sticks. But if we take a look at what Google Analytics is telling us, we can get a better understanding of what platform we should be investing our time in (even organically).

Traffic Acquisition, Behavior & Conversions

What you’re looking at above is an overview of the acquisition data for Conneqtor. This overview will give you an understanding of where to begin fine-tuning your communications strategy. So, we know 118 users came in via social media, but what was the top-performing channel? Can you guess?

Social Media Traffic Acquisition

You guessed right if you thought it was LinkedIn. Now that I know that LinkedIn is my main acquisition channel, how can I verify how effective the content on LinkedIn is in bringing traffic to my site? You’ll notice that LinkedIn doesn’t give you an accurate drill-down of what is performing to produce the traffic you want and need. So, what can you do?

Using UTM Codes To Know What Works

Using UTM codes (Urchin Tracking Module) are snippets of code – attached to the end of a URL – used to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns. They are also used to pinpoint specific sources of traffic to your website) give you that extra bit of insight into understanding what organic content you need to prioritize and more specifically, how your visitors are interacting with your site.

From a paid media perspective, UTM codes also reveal patterns of behavior that analytics doesn’t do. Let’s say a potential lead visits your site via a blog post of yours they found organically. They spend a long time reading that blog but leave the site to do some online shopping. You were smart enough to have your Facebook pixel or LinkedIn insights tag installed on the site, so you decide to run a conversion campaign targeting people who visit your site. The person who found your site via the organic blog clicks your ad and signs up to your mailing list. 

Since you were wise enough to use UTM codes, not only can you verify the content that converted them on Facebook, but you can also confidently attribute their opt-in to paid media ads AND organic search.

That was quite a bit to take in, I know (this is why I have a team to help me with this stuff). But verifying the specific kind of content that generates a lead and exactly which channels were involved in generating that lead are the two main reasons why you should use UTM codes.

Using Google Analytics in conjunction with UTM codes will allow you to accurately plan and even scale your budget based on advertising or organic content that is working to generate leads on your website, and know the specific user journey your leads take.

Conneqtor’s Go-To Paid Media Strategies

Yes, you read that right! I am about to take you through a few of the main strategies that have worked for Conneqtor in the past.

Lead Generation vs. Conversion Campaigns

Lead generation or conversion campaigns: what’s the difference and when should you use them? The main difference between lead generation and conversion campaigns comes down to where the conversion takes place. With lead generation ads, the user fills out a Facebook form on Facebook.  Whereas conversion ads involve filling out a form on your website.

If you know Facebook, you know they will want to keep users on their platform for as long as possible. So, lead generation ads are significantly cheaper than sending people off of Facebook to complete the action you want them to.  While the cost per lead might be significantly lower than conversion ads, you might take a hit when it comes to quality per lead.  Conversion ads on the other hand will most likely result in a better quality lead since that user was willing to exit their Facebook experience to visit your site and fill out a form.

Both options require a little bit of tech work. Lead generation ads store your contacts on Facebook for 90 days, and they are deleted thereafter. To avoid the hassle of manually having to download these leads, we recommend connecting your lead ads to a CRM. Conversion ads will require the installation of the Facebook pixel on your website (but you should have this already).

LinkedIn has the same options I have just described above when it comes to campaign objectives, except (and yes, the rumors are true) the cost per lead is much higher (four times higher sometimes). So, what do you choose? Conversion or lead generation? Well, the principles remain the same. 

Cold targeting is going to be expensive, but LinkedIn will work in your favor if you keep users on their platform. Still, it’s too expensive. $20 to $40 for a lead – no thanks!  Let me be clear, these are leads as in they may have downloaded your eBook or filled out a form.  They are in your CRM now, but that’s just a start.  $40 for a lead may be amazing if they become a client, but the journey to becoming one is not as simple as filling out the form. 

Even Facebook can get a bit too expensive for the quality it delivers. What can you do about it?

A Marketing Funnel: Stop Assuming Value!

Creating A Customer Acquisition Funnel

Conneqtor was built to help advisors thrive in the 21st century versus the alternative to brick and mortar tactics like door-to-door selling and cold calling, so why do we assume the same approach when it comes to using paid ads? Do you want to know why it doesn’t work? Because we are assuming that our products and services are valuable to our ideal clients, without understanding why they are on Facebook or LinkedIn in the first place.

In general, our clients are on Facebook to consume content from friends, family, artists, and even news outlets. Our clients are on LinkedIn to gain valuable insight into whatever professional topics they are interested in. So why do we assume the digital version of door-to-door selling and cold calling will work? We need to change our approach!

Advisors need to provide value to their potential clients by relating their offering to what the client is interested in. There needs to be a clear understanding of the ideal client–advisor relationship and this should be the information applied to your paid media approach.

A paid media funnel will allow you to take out the guesswork while reducing the cost per lead.

A Two Funneled Approach

I highly recommend putting together a video that speaks to the core pain points of your target audience. This video should be 45 seconds to a minute long. Your ad copy should create awareness around the pain point and your proficiency in discussing it – empathy and creating an ad that acts as an organic post will get you bonus points (make it seem like you’re just a part of the content they regularly consume).

Top of Funnel Awareness

For Facebook, either choose the video views objective or the traffic objective. Either way, you should be able to generate a low cost per result and drive video views. For LinkedIn, choose either video views or the brand awareness objective. Ensure that you have a link to the site as an additional data point for both platforms. Run the ad with your core audience targeting set and build as much video view volume, clicks, and site visits as possible (remember those UTM codes!).

Bottom of Funnel Conversions

Now whether or not you decide to go for on-platform lead generation or conversion is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong answer; you need to test what works for you. What you do next relies more on the data you have generated at the top of the funnel. Your UTM tracking should verify the specific content that produced the results at the top of the funnel as well as which objective you should go with. Then for Facebook, you will want to create custom audiences for retargeting based on video viewers between 75–95%, people who engaged with your ad, and people who visited your site within a particular window e.g. 7 days. 

For LinkedIn, you can take the same approach with regards to custom audiences except you have the added benefit of filtering your custom audience based on their job title, function, industry, and so on. This added benefit is available on your campaign manager dashboard.  You can get a deeper insight into users who are engaging with your ads, much like you can on your company page. Filtering your retargeting audience by demographic also allows you to understand how to tailor content to their specific needs.

You can even retarget the very people who originally viewed your video – talk about warming up a cold prospect!

Whether you decide to test this on Facebook or LinkedIn, your success relies on volume! Volume in video views, clicks, and site visits. You also need quality volume. It’s all well and good to get 20,000 views on a video, but if they are only watching 10 seconds of it, it’s not going to work. At the end of the day, you need to take the time to understand your organic content performance.  Understand your target audience, and test, test, test!

That being said, this campaign structure should result in a lower cost per lead and a higher quality lead provided you iterate as you go. It’s a lot of work, but once you have cracked the code you don’t have to touch campaigns.

Closing Thoughts: More Bang For Your Buck Comes Down to Strategy!

I get it, there is a lot here and you are probably feeling overwhelmed. No worries. Go back to the basics first. Make sure your digital infrastructure is in place.  Post some organic content, and have a nice website with clear messaging and CTAs.  Then, honestly, go hire an expert to help with your digital strategy.  There are many amazing firms and people out there you can lean on and not worry about having to pay through the teeth.  Want an intro to who I use?  Send me a note or a DM on LinkedIn and I will happily refer you.

Paid digital marketing is part art, part science.  Don’t try to wing it.  I hope this has helped you learn a few things that you and/or your team can run with.

Best Regards,

Derek Notman

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