Case Study: Marketing Wins In The Ultra Competitive Financial Sector
Marketing in competitive industries is tough. No surprises there.
The cost per clicks are high and it generally takes more time to take your customer through their buying journey. Meaning ROI takes longer.
However, with the right strategies in place, even the most difficult industries are ripe for the picking online. In this case study, we go through how Financial Framework’s marketing manager Chris Evan’s built an online presence with the help of local outsourcing.
The journey began in November 2017 when Chris proposed a marketing strategy to build a consistent stream of new enquiry’s. This involved building our online presence and developing a strong value proposition that would attract new clients.
In the past, Financial Framework had been a business that relied on “old school techniques”.
The firm relied on taking over businesses from other financial planners who were typically retiring.
Outside of these retiring businesses, other ways the business would grow would be through organic referrals from happy clients and referrals from other related businesses.
It’s certainly not a bad way to do business, and a lot of the financial services industry still relies on this model, but the benefit of having another way to generate enquiry means that you are not reliant on one particular method or channel (as the marketers like to call it).
As with any business, there is a desire to grow, and Financial Framework is no exception to that rule. However, in the financial planning industry, you cannot place growth before client outcomes and there is an incredible amount of integrity and trust to uphold.
In other words, it is not as simple as slapping up some “BUY, BUY, BUY” ads and hoping that you get a few people interested as a result.
In this industry, integrity is extremely important, more so than almost any other industry on the planet. In fact, I’m not sure if simply bolding the text will highlight how important this is, so let me explain…
The recent Royal Commission highlights the importance of trust in any financial relationship.
So How Do You Get Online Enquiries In The Financial Planning Industry?
You don’t. Unless you have trust in your services with a clear well thought out online strategy.
In November of 2017, a strategy was presented to the leadership team of Financial Framework around how online marketing could increase enquiries to the business.
Before the presentation, a lot of research was prepared. The goal was to determine the market size of each audience and what portion, within reason, could be assisted with our services.
The platforms that were assessed at the time were Social Media and Search or in other words Facebook and Google.
How Did We Identify Social Media And Search?
Part of the reason we approached social media was due to Chris’s skills set in paid advertising on Social Media. It seemed like a no-brainer to leverage this skillset. What was also apparent from our competitor research was that not many other financial planners knew how to be helpful in this medium.
There seemed to be an opportunity in this and with proven results behind a member of our team, it seemed to be a great place to start.
While there was some competitor research prepared in this process, most of the time was spent analysing potential audiences on Facebook.
Given that this was a local business and Perth is quite small, the audience sizes were limited, but we managed to identify a few that may be interested in our services.
The interested parties were likely to be those that showed an interest in financial knowledge and other investment services. For this particular campaign, we were looking to catch the interest of 40 – 50-year-old males. Finding marketing personas can be hard. Try this cool tool called Socialbakers.
As you can see in the facebook ads tool there are approximately 100k-150k active users in Perth that fit within this age bracket.
Pre Social Media Campaign Launch
In the lead up to going live with a social media campaign, we prepared a lead magnet around the area of interest for this profile of people. We identified that this audience was interested in sport, particularly AFL (our avatar was an executive level manager).
So, to gain the interest of this persona, we invested in preparing an E-Book around how football relates to investing. The E-Book would be placed on a landing page, we used Click Funnels, where an interested person could simply enter their email address and download the book. Pretty easy and common method right?
The follow up strategy was to prepare a series of automated emails to capture their interest and reach out to see if they would like further assistance. To automate emails, we used Active Campaign.
A Slower Than Expected Social Media Campaign
The campaign was launched and testing of the ad sets was underway. With some excellent click through rates and cost per click statistics, we were tracking to be within KPI. However, when it came to converting that activity, the conversion of interest to sign up was very low.
This likely had something to do with the landing page experience that was being presented to visitors of the landing page or people simply may not have been interested enough to provide their contact details.
It wasn’t long before we found that the enquiry time on Facebook was quite extended due to the fact that most people weren’t in the market for our services at that particular time. Generally, a social media campaign requires a minimum of 4 months to find it’s feet. We thought it may have come around quicker this time, but we always had it to go back to.
A good rule to remember is that only 4% of the total interested market may be ready to commit their time and energy to discovering your solution. The other 96% are either in research mode, not interested or are completely unaware of your services.
In the end, this didn’t fit with our short to medium term strategy. Financial Framework’s goal was to focus on already interested people who they could help immediately.
With a slow up take on the strategy, we decided to take a breather and try something else where we knew the interest was already very interested in our services and they didn’t need convincing… This lead us to Google – specifically Google Adwords.
Why Google Adwords?
With social media, it is a matter of creating interest in a product or service. With Google Adwords, that interest already exists. Instead of trying to create attention, you simply need to capture it in a search.
The main reason why people have recently used Facebook over Adwords is because it can be ‘cheaper’ than Adwords. Though this is becoming less and less the case as Facebook continues to increase it’s ad costs.
Through our SEO research, we identified that there were a number of keywords that we could capitalise on for Financial Planning in Perth.
As we were still awaiting our SEO results to come through we thought it would be interesting to fast track our results.
The Adwords Strategy
Instead of providing an e-book to half-interested 40-50-year-olds, we were now focusing on people who were ready or almost ready to enquire.
This meant that our strategy would completely shift to compensate for this. Our main call for action was now a call or option to be called.
To execute this we prepare a 3-page landing page funnel. The first page provided details of our services, the second page provided a form to fill out and enquire (on the form we asked for Name, Phone Number, Email and preferred contact times) and the final page was simply a thank you page.
Keyword Research for Google Adwords Strategy
Keyword research is an important part of any marketing campaign because it helps you identify the motives and psychology behind the people that are seeking out your services.
It also helps to plan campaigns that will generate interest for these words when people search them.
Our focus was to display for searches that were purely based on our core service – Financial Planning or Financial Advice. We referred to some of our keyword tools that were used during our SEO research which included:
However, we also went a little deeper and more specific and just focused on the most interested keywords of the bunch. Around 50 words that were directly related to financial planning were targeted in total.
These included, Financial Planner Perth, Financial Adviser, Best Financial Adviser and so on and so forth. We then created a number of ad groups to cluster each group of search terms, usually 12 words per group to determine which ad group performed the best.
During the launch of our AdWords campaign, it wasn’t all butterflies and roses, we had some external challenges.
Shortly after we started advertising the Royal Commission on the financial services started airing on TV. This took the media by storm and painted certain financial service businesses as untrustworthy.
Some might say it wasn’t a very good time to be advertising in the financial services, but we had a goal to meet.
Once the ad groups were set then we created 2 ads per ad group to test some of the wording that might work best.
Why Google AdWords Ended Up Second Choice
One of the only downsides of search engine marketing is that you have less ability to choose the demographic of people that enquire through your website.
What I mean by this is that the targeting capabilities are not as significant as facebook and if someone ends up landing on your page, they can inquire, whether you like it or not; whether you can help them or not. In a busy office, this is an important factor.
When people are stretched for time, they should only be talking to people they can help. There is no point in generating hundreds of people interested in your business if they don’t fit into your services. Fortunately, there are a number of disqualification methods you can use in your landing page that counteracts this.
Piecing The Campaign Together
Every campaign should have a goal and this one was no different.
- Goal – Generate 2-5 new enquiries per week
- Audience – 45 – 57 year olds
- KPI – < $250 per enquiry
These goals provided room to improve, but also maintained that helping new clients could be done profitably.
How To Achieve The Goal
Just like building a house, a Google ad campaign requires materials and resources to be complete.
Resources required for this campaign:
- Landing Page Software
- Remarketing Tool
- Graphic Ad Creation
- Copywriting & Unique Value Proposition
- Email Integration
- Lead Automation
As part of the AdWords campaign, a new landing page was created, tailored to the main keyword that we were targeting – Financial Planner Perth.
Our key differentiator on this page was the number of reviews we have across the internet. We have over 50+ positive reviews online spanning from Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews, independent reviews on Adviser Ratings and so on. This was implemented into copy and used in ad text and the landing page.
If interested parties didn’t enquire the first time around a remarketing message was set up to remind them of our services when they left the website. For this part of the campaign we used Perfect Audience, although Google Adwords has this tool as well, Perfect Audience is an extremely simple to use interface.
This time, instead of showing up in search with text ads, we were showing up on websites with display marketing. To create these ads we used Canva, a simple to use graphic design tool.
Of course, when a new enquiry is made there must be a system to follow this up. To provide alerts from Click Funnels when an enquiry was made I set up an automation to send the enquiry to a google sheet. When the enquiry hit the google sheet I would get a message to my inbox to alert me of the new enquiry. This would then be set up with an available adviser to call and assist.
The Results Of Google Adwords
It took around 3 weeks for our first enquiry to come through. There were a number of poor keywords that we were showing up in the beginning and we had to iron these out of our system so that we didn’t display for irrelevant searches.
Being in the financial services industry, these search terms could cost anywhere from $4 – $60. It’s a very competitive market when you are up against banks and ASX listed companies. So, three weeks in and things were starting to look far from impressive, then, sure enough, our first enquiry came through. From then on, the rest started to follow. Within a couple of weeks we were averaging a new enquiry every couple of days.
What Happened To Everyone Else? The Power Of Remarketing
While we had some interest coming from Google Adwords, we also had some interest coming from places that weren’t so obvious. It turns out, people were revisiting our website based upon our remarketing.
At the time, this managed to improve our enquiries by about another 30%. With remarketing, you are only placing reminders in front of people that have visited your website.
Here’s an example of a remarketing placement that we created in Canva. This is a 728x90 placement which fits on mobile and desktop devices.
Enough About Paid Ads, What About The Organic Stuff?
As we mentioned earlier, we were going for a multi channel approach which meant not relying on just one particular method. A few months into our paid marketing campaigns, we started to see some enquiries also coming from our organic marketing; SEO.
7 Months In… Hello SEO!
Finally! About 7 months into our SEO campaign we could finally start to see some traffic that wasn’t coming from Google Adwords.
The graph above (blue) shows the growth in average users since the start of the year (with the exception of when Google Analytics was disconnected from our website. This was a slip up that occurred while our marketing manager was overseas so they weren’t able to pick it up until they got back.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean anything tangible, just that the data for that period won’t be recorded.
As of July last year, we were only getting around 50-60 visitors to our website each month. The majority of these visitors were existing clients, usually looking for our address or phone number. This didn’t provide any new opportunities to grow the business, other than to do a great job of servicing our existing clients.
Looking forward, we wanted this to change so that we could actually be found and discovered by new potential clients.
Fast forward 7 months and there is now a solid foundation of new and potential clients visiting our website. Whereas in the past we only had new clients finding us when they search for financial planning terms (Adwords Campaign), now we had clients finding us for additional services that we provided within our financial planning capabilities.
We began to show up for Retirement Planning Strategies, Education Saving Plans, Help With Centrelink and so on and so forth. We believe that some of the trending uplift was thanks to a few related financial websites that decided we were worthy of linking to for content.
We formed partnerships with a number of locally based financial websites such as lawyers, accountants and finance brokers. These websites are great because they have typically been around for a while and they don’t typically link to many other websites.
We also extended our relationship to some app providers such as Rooster Money that we use. These larger websites are generally more invested with their marketing so they have strong online presences which can really boost the position of other related websites (Financial Framework’s included).
This meant that a link form these websites can send a strong messages to Google that we are worthy of being shown for organic search terms.
- Plan and research your market.
- Keep your goals front of mind and remember why you are doing things.
- Test multiple sources of traffic diligently. Some might work better than others.
- Stand out from your competitors with a unique value proposition.
- Be patient and always be optimising your website, landing page or ads.
- Even in the online world, relationships are extremely important.
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