Marketing & Client Acquisition
Site, search, social — How to attract prospects through digital marketing

CE credit: 1 hr., CFP* and CIMA



Will McKenna:

Hello and welcome to the PracticeLab Webinar series. I'm your host Will McKenna. I want to thank everybody for joining us today. Really great to be with you, and we are very excited for today's topic, which is digital marketing for advisors. And we're going to cover the four foundations that you need for a successful approach in today's world, and that is: search, site, social and email. And by the end of this event, you should have some actionable ideas that you can use to help drive growth in your practice. We’ve got two great speakers to help us break it all down: someone here at Capital Group and an advisor who has been putting these techniques to work in the real world and having a lot of success with it. So, we're excited to bring them out. But before I introduce them, let me cover a couple of housekeeping details.

If you look in your additional resources section of your player, you're going to find everything you need, including slides from today's event and the CE credit quiz. Now CE's available for both CFP and CIMA designations. You're also going to find a few articles from PracticeLab on all the topics we're covering today. And I'm going to be a bit of a broken record during this event. You’ve got to go check these out. I think they can really help you in your practice, and I'm going to encourage you to read those after today's events.

Also, we love getting your questions and comments. Please keep them coming during the event. We'll try to weave those into the conversation, and if you do have any tech problems, let us know in that same Q&A window.

So with that, let me introduce these folks. We have Cynthia Casarez, who is a digital marketing specialist at Capital Group. She really helps us optimize our search engine optimization, also known as SEO — that's a mouthful — as well as our social media strategy. Before joining us, she's had extensive experience in the advertising world, and she also holds that SEO designation from UC, Irvine. We also want to offer a very special welcome to advisor James Comblo. And James is the CEO and president of his firm, FSC Advisors, in Fishkill, New York, in the beautiful Hudson Valley area. Shout out to anybody in the audience who's joining us from that part of the world — great to have you. He is a third-generation advisor, was recently chosen to be among the fast-growing advisors by AdvisorHub for two years running. He didn't tell us that himself; he's a humble guy. But we found that out about him. His practice has grown to nearly 250 million in assets under management, and they provide holistic planning to clients that he calls "blue-collar millionaires," so we'll want to hear about that, James. He's got a ton of hands-on experience with digital marketing. A guy who's somewhat self-taught but is really  having some good success and momentum with it. So he's going to share with you all in the audience the tips and techniques that he's used to boost the growth of his practice.

So, Cynthia and James, welcome. Thank you so much for being with us today. Great to have you. And we're going to go ahead and jump in, and let me just set the stage a little bit by talking about why is this topic important. And I wanted to share some pretty eye-opening research with you, and this comes from Capital Group's Advisor Benchmark Study. And our study shows that high-growth advisors, those that grow at more than double the rate of their peers, are much more likely to spend time on and develop expertise in marketing and client acquisition.

So, very clear and compelling reason to engage in this practice. James, love to have you kick us off and tell us about how you got started with digital marketing in your practice.

James Comblo:

Yeah, well, so, thanks for having me. So it was about 2015, and we're sitting in the room. There's about five other advisors that are at my company, and we're trying to figure out, how do we grow the practice? How do we get in front of more people more reliably? Everybody knows about the seminars and direct mailers and all the stuff, but being the young guy in the room, I said, "Hey, there's this crazy thing called social media, right? Maybe we should use that,” and they all looked at me like I was crazy. They were all kind of wallflowers in that environment. They would look or potentially like a picture on Facebook, but nobody wanted to kind of dive in and start marketing in that avenue.

So I said: "I'm young. I use it every day. I'm pretty good at it. I think I know what to do. So, why not try?" So then the first thing I started doing was trying to promote the website. Um, then we started doing webinars. Now we do social campaigns. And so that kinda set me off on an almost 10-year journey now, from start to finish, which I think we'll go through a lot of that here today, but it's been a pretty awesome ride.

Will McKenna:

That's fantastic. I love that you were the young guy who got roped into this, but ended up being a great, a great direction for you all. Well, we're going to dig into all of the details behind what you just described. And let me just, by way of kind of an agenda for our time together today, let me talk about what we're going to cover.

And this is really the four kind of foundations I mentioned earlier of digital marketing and how they work together to really draw in interest from prospects and create — you can see here what's known in marketing as a funnel — to help you grow your client list and your practice. And that goes from search to your site to your social media and, importantly, email and hopefully conversion over time. We're going to talk about techniques that can help you incorporate each of these into your overall program and drive growth in your business.

Now, before we dive in on each strategy, I know that all of you have firms with different guidelines as it relates to digital marketing, so please check with your compliance department first before implementing any new strategies. So with that, let's jump into this first foundation, which is search. Cynthia, let me turn it over to you to kick us off.

Cynthia Casarez:

Thanks, Will. I'd like to start our search conversation with a quick statistic. The top 5 search results will garner 70% of the clicks. And what this means is that it's really important to rank as high as possible so that your website gets found and that you get additional traffic to your site. And one important way to improve your organic rankings is to build your site's expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and this is better known as EEAT.

And you can really achieve this by creating content that shows your experience and expertise on the subject matter and also ensuring that the information you're providing is factual and trustworthy. And doing this really allows you to signal to the search engines the credibility and quality of your content for relevant searches. And it's really important to keep in mind that this concept and these qualities are even more important for financial advisors and financial sites because they're categorized as "Your Money, Your Life" sites, meaning that the content and information that's provided can ultimately affect the reader's wellbeing, their financial stability or their health.

And with that, we've all done Google searches, and prospects, even if they've been referred to you, will likely Google your firm and want to validate what they've heard about you even if they've been referred by a current client. In fact, 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022. And every keyword search is going to have an intent behind it. Whether the intent behind that search is to find a particular product or service, to find an answer to a specific question, or to locate a specific firm or website. And in order for you to utilize organic search as a prospecting tool, you'll want to make sure that you're creating content that addresses these different intents.

Let's take, for example, that referral that we were talking about. They're likely going to search your name, your firm name, and the town that your firm's located in or some combination of those search terms. So these'll be the initial keywords that you'll want to optimize your site for, so that you're making it easy for searchers to find either your website or your detailed business profile using these searches.

And we'll get a bit into how you can optimize your business profile later in the program, but for now, another way to determine keywords that you'll want to target is to think about the questions that prospects may be asking. For example, someone who's looking for advice on retirement may search something like, "Should I take social security at 62?" And you'll notice on the screen that when someone searches "Should I take social security at 62?" Google will then offer related variations of that search. For example, “social security retirement age chart.” And these related suggestions from Google can then help you build out your keyword strategy by targeting these keywords and topics in your content website.

One thing you'll want to keep in mind as you’re building your keyword strategy is that you don't always want to necessarily go after the most popular keywords or base your keyword strategy solely on search volume. And search volume is the number of times a particular term is searched every month. Let's take, for example, the term "financial advisor." This is a super popular term. It gets a ton of searches. But it's not really going to provide you much context on the search, behind the intent behind that search. And it's also going to be extremely competitive to rank for. So likely, large sites and large firms will own these types of terms. And this is where a local search strategy can really come into play for you.

So let's take the term, for example, "financial advisor for corporate retirees in Tacoma." It's a less popular term, but it's much more targeted and likely will drive more qualified leads to your site. One additional thing to note here is that local search itself can be fairly competitive, so one thing you'll want to ensure that you do is claim your business profile, and this can help you show up in local listings in the Map Pack, and we’ll provide details on how you can achieve that in a few slides.

Now we're going to share some ideas on how you can enhance your search rankings. So we just discussed briefly local search. One of the first things you're going to want to do to start showing up in local search is claim your Google My Business or Bing Places profile or both. And we do have some resources  on your screen that you can click through to get some details on how to do this. But essentially, claiming these profiles will not only help boost your local rankings, but will also allow you to really easily share your business information and contact information with people working for your business. A couple additional considerations that can help you build your authority and trust aside from claiming these profiles is having your website link placed on third-party sites, like maybe your local chamber of commerce or your social media profiles. Having those profiles link back to your website. And then also one thing I'm a big proponent of is encouraging reviews on third-party sites, whether that's Google or Yelp. Having these reviews and positive reviews on these third-party sites can help build again that trust in Google's eyes.

And then claiming these profiles, whether it's Bing or Google, can help you show up in the Mat Pack listings. And this is a way that you can show up that easily displays your address, phone number, hours of operation and ways that potential clients can contact you, which just makes it easier for them to engage with your firm.

One other way that you can think about your keyword strategy is to use a keyword research tool. In these keyword research tools, you can type in a word or combination of words that you think may be a potential keyword, and it'll serve you back actual keywords, related keywords, and then give you the number of searches that are performed for each of those terms monthly. And there's free keyword tools that you can start using to perform this research that includes Google's Keyword Planner or Ahrefs’s Keyword Generator.

And one thing to bear in mind as you're doing this research, as we mentioned before, is that you don't necessarily want to go after the most popular terms. And these tools can allow you to find less competitive terms that better fit your niche. For example, the term "early retirement" has 12,000 monthly searches. It's not really telling you much about what the person wants to find out about early retirement, but by comparison, "early retirement age" gets just over 5,400 monthly searches and provides you context about the information the searcher is looking for.

James, I know that you do a lot of keyword research, does this resonate with you?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so exactly to your point, the first thing I wanted to do was just identify a tool that could help me find the right keywords. There's tons of them out there. I went with a paid one, which is a very cheap one, but nonetheless it was easy for me to understand exactly what the keywords were telling me. And to your point, Cynthia, I didn't want to target a keyword that had 12,000, 50,000 hits a month, because I know at my company size and the amount of money that we have to put towards these keywords, we can't dominate that keyword.

So we always look for keywords that are below 2,000 hits a month. And also, to take it one step further, just to save yourself some time in the future, I created a table where I lay out about 15 different questions that would include a keyword and, you know, like, what is a mutual fund? Right? How does a mutual fund work? But all of these different variations on that same keyword so that I could then pick the one that I want and include that inside the writing or, you know, the marketing pieces that we're doing and try to dominate a much smaller keyword than something like an American Funds could obviously, you know, outpace me in.

Cynthia Casarez:

Yeah. Thanks for sharing that insight into how you go about your keyword strategy, James. Um, but really quickly, I want to pivot to once you've decided what these keywords are, where you need to include them in your website and your content so that you're able to signal your content's relevance to the terms that you're targeting. As we mentioned earlier, doing this is going to just make it easier for both search engines like Google and people like potential prospects to find your website.

So you'll definitely want to make sure that you're including your keywords in any headlines and subheads throughout your content. But even more importantly, you'll want to focus on your meta titles and your meta descriptions because these are the two elements that are going to show up in the search results when people are searching for these keywords. It's really going to help inform them of what your site can offer and really get them to click through to your site and visit.

A few other considerations here as you're developing content is linking externally to expert sources. So in the example that we're sharing, that would be the Social Security Administration. The table is taking data from them. And we're linking out to them saying: "This is where we got this information. This information is therefore credible." You'll also want to make sure that you're linking internally between all of your related content, meaning any content that you have that is covering the same topic, you'll want to make sure that all those pages point to each other. This helps to build your authority with search engines, which is one of those really critical EEAT factors.

James, aside from keyword research, I know you've been doing a lot to build your authority online. Can you talk a little bit about that?

James Comblo:

Sure. So, as you said, you want to have other websites that hopefully are much bigger and have much more credit than you linking back to your site. So, one of the things that I did, that I found early on, was, it's a site called Help a Reporter Out, also known as HARO, where you can reach out or contact writers through that website and try to get cited in their piece, right? It could be a blog, it could be whatever they're writing about. Give them a quote, they'll usually take that exact quote, put it into the article. But then they'll link back to your website, which lets Google know, hey, this is a verifiable website. They have something here that people may be interested in.

And then the other strategy we used was linking within our site. So once somebody hits our site, we want them to stay on the site as long as we can. So, we'll take from one blog, we'll link them to another blog, to a different white paper, or, you know, potentially a podcast, something like this. Where we'll keep them interested and circulating through our environment, as opposed to having them come to the site and then jump off immediately.

Will McKenna:

That's great. And I learned a lot just listening to you guys talk about search and what you're both doing to optimize that. So, what I took away is, it's not ... it's probably a temptation to look for the biggest keyword, but really you need to be going for those where you have a better opportunity to get traction. And James, interesting to hear you say fewer than 2,000 was kind of your area of focus. I know these guys mentioned a number of tools and resources there, whether that's Google's Keyword Planner, Ahrefs's Keyword Generator. James talked about HARO, which is Help a Reporter Out. All of this is in the links that you've got to articles on PracticeLab. So, we'll make sure you have access to all that.

I see some great comments coming in. A lot of you are asking, "Will these slides be available?" Yes, they're available. You can download them right now from that additional resources. And it will be available later as a replay. And folks like Charles asking, "How do we get our websites to appear first in Google searches?" Hopefully we gave you the beginnings of that there. Some other good questions from Cory and others.

Let's do this. We've talked about search. Let's transition now to talk about your website. And as we do that, I'd love to encourage you in the audience, write in the comments what are some of the challenges that you're trying to work through, or the opportunities that you see, whether that's in your website, or search, or other areas of digital marketing. Let us know and let's transition now to talk about the website.

Now, once you've leveraged search to bring people into your site, you want to make sure that it's a good user experience there, that connects those leads to the information and services that they need. And so, there are two main categories we would talk about that you need to have on your site. The first is really the essentials and these are just details about who you are, who you serve, what are your services that you're offering to clients. You need to have a very clear site structure that also helps the search engines work with your website. Also, very important to have a website design that's mobile friendly because more and more people will be finding you that way through search, et cetera.

The second category's all about engagement. And this includes things like content, whether that's a blog or other forms of content, video, calls to action. And we'll take a little bit in more detail about that.

Let's start with content. And really when you think about content, it's one of the best ways to show your audience that you have expertise as a financial advisor or planner. When you tell them who you are, what your designations are, what your experience is, you're telling them about your expertise. But content helps you show them that expertise. So your content topic should really be inspired by what you're hearing from clients, prospects, common questions that they're asking. And you can see some of those on the screen. And James referred to them earlier.

And then secondly, it's important for you to find a format that fits your style, whether you like writing, you like speaking, or you are comfortable on video, and use those, maybe experiment across them, but use those you feel most comfortable with or that get the most traction for you.

So, James, I know you've spent a lot of time, 10 years, building and refining your lead-generating website. Tell us about your experience.

James Comblo:

Yeah. So, way back when, right around, again, 2015, I was looking at our website and I said: "This is terrible. Nobody will come to this website and say, 'I want to work with these people.'" So, we redesigned the website. That was kind of version 1.0. But the mistake we made is that we made it all about us. It was only about us, who we are, what we can do, all of our talents. So we redesigned the website again after that, tried to incorporate more of the person coming to the website, how could we help them.

And now, we have actually a third version of it, which we just did last year, where it's all about the client. It is ... there is … still about us, but it's, you know, a different link. But the main page of our site is all about you, you're the hero in the story that we're trying to tell, and really, we want to act as the guide that's just going to help you go down that path. And even if you landed on our website, the first thing you see, is it's your plan, we'll help you build it, right? And it just kind of keeps in that theme.

The other thing that we really tried to focus on was creating content that we were comfortable with. So, there's always that fear in the beginning of, will somebody ask a gotcha question or make you look bad or will you say the wrong thing? And so, for me, I use blogs. And I was writing two blogs a month for two years. And really trying to generate people coming to the site. And then, the other thing is, how do you take advantage of those people coming to the site?

So, one thing I do want to touch on, though, is that it doesn't always have to be about finances, right? It can be about things that are just happening in people's lives. And to start this year, I wrote a blog about The 5 a.m. Club. And it had nothing to do with people's finances, but it had everything to do with the struggles they were facing in their life about how to be more productive, how to show up better during the day, how to get where they want to go outside of money. And I think that really resonates a lot with people.

Will McKenna:

Very interesting to hear your evolution there and the way you describe it as kind of talking about you all — call it a billboard for your business — until you evolved to more it's all about them and they're the hero of the story. I've been curious how that's going. Like you've been through these three iterations. Are you finding better success with the current format you're using?

James Comblo:

Yeah, that's exactly right. So, thankfully, every time we kind of reevaluate, we get a little bit better. And that's kind of the thing. We always hear the term “fail forward,” right? So you want to always be reevaluating, seeing what's working, what's not working. Just because something worked five years ago doesn't mean it'll still work today, right? So you always want to reevaluate. But one of the biggest things that has worked for us is our calls to action. We have a schedule call or schedule now button at essentially every single point on our website.

So, the original version had one, which was on the contact us page. Then people would see something they liked and they couldn't find the button or maybe it was harder to find the button to actually schedule a call or meet with us in person. So, we wanted to eliminate that hurdle. We then put a schedule now button on every single blog we wrote.

Now, if you looked on our website, there's a schedule now button after every single section. So, I talked about kind of the headline of the site, there's a schedule now button. Then there's four questions that most of the time is what we hear when people come into the office, something like, "Hey, I'm worried about will my money run out before I retire," you know, "Will my money run out in retirement?" We have these four questions that just kind of cycle through and at the bottom of those, it's, hey, schedule now.

So, we want to give them the opportunity to schedule a call with us whenever that moment strikes. If it's at the bottom of our home page, we want them to be able to do it. If it's on the contact us page, great, they can do it there as well.

Will McKenna:

That's great. Yeah. You can't, kind of, can't overdo it with the calls to action, right? And, I see some good comments coming in, that I think we're going to come to later. For example, Teresa's asking, "How much should we spend on Google Ads?" I think you're going to talk about your experience there, James, when we talk social media.

Also Jerome asking, "Does a third-party site manager like FMG Suite do this for you?" Now, you mentioned doing two blogs a month. Isn't part of your approach to work with FMG, maybe as raw material, and build on that yourself? Or give us maybe a quick sketch of ... we'll probably talk about this more later, but quickly, how are you working with that?

James Comblo:

Yeah. So, I'm sure FMG does do all that keyword maximization for you, or optimization. One of the ways that I utilize FMG is that I will take some of their pre-curated blogs and use essentially the framework. So, there may be four points to the blog. I will take the bullet points, the ideas, the main concepts, and rewrite them in my own words. Because I do want it to be authentic to who we are and how we approach planning for clients, or a specific topic for people. So, that's more how I utilize them. But I'm pretty sure they do have a way to help you out to … to your site.

Will McKenna:

Yeah. Well let's do this, let's talk a little bit about video. We referenced it quickly. Listen, video's obviously becoming incredibly popular and more and more so every day. Very effective way in building rapport and forming connections with clients and prospects, and therefore in driving new business, as I think you can see from some of the data on the slide in front of you. But I know not everybody's going to be comfortable with video. James, maybe give us your … your quick experience with video in your travels?

James Comblo:

Yeah. So, I am one of those people, as I mentioned, I was uncomfortable even doing a podcast, you know, five years ago. So, I went to writing. One of the ways that I went from writing to getting on video was in between I did podcasts or audiograms where you can hear my voice and I can give a message, but you didn't actually see me.

Then just to get comfortable, I did a live stream one day, on National Hot Dog Day, which was one of those things where you can't really say something wrong because you're talking about something that is just your opinion, right? So, I did this stream. It was, you know, some clients laughed and like, "Hey, yeah. I'm going to check out that hot dog place you mentioned." But now that I'm more comfortable, right? So I kind of dipped my toe into it.

Now, we send a video. I do live webinars, we send a video to clients and prospects every month where I just do a quick two-minute about what's happening, what are we doing, what they should be looking for. And interestingly, much to my chagrin, because I'm not ... I'm still not like exceedingly comfortable on camera, my clients have said they love the videos. They feel like they have a better connection with me, which maybe more than their once, or twice or four times a year meeting. They see me every month and they get to hear my voice and my words talking about something that they're interested in.

So, it's been very powerful for us. And YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, right? So, if you're not using video at this point, I think you're missing a huge opportunity.

Will McKenna:

Outstanding. And, I see a couple of comments here, from Melanie who said: "I'm a novice with videos. How best to record and post them to the website?" And Melanie, we've got some of that again in the articles that are in the additional resources. So, we'll ask you to check those out.

We talked about calls to action, but let me just quickly put on a couple of slides on the screen. The first talks about the kind of messages and formats you can use in your calls to action. And then I think we have maybe even some examples from your site, James. I know you gave us some of the details on what you already cover, but, suffice to say, calls to action, you've got to have them front and center, above the fold, and on every part of your site. You can't overdo it there, and I think we've already heard from you on this, James.

So, what I'd like to do is, again, mention if you look at the homepage makeover article on PracticeLab, you're going to find a lot more of these details that we just discussed, and we'll come back to that later. That pretty much covers it for our website discussion.

Now, I want to switch gears and talk about social media. So we've covered search, site, let's go to social. Cynthia, I'm going to tun it back over to you. Go ahead.

Cynthia Casarez:

Yeah. So for all the controversy around social media, they still remain huge platforms that billions of people are using every day. So, it really makes sense to leverage these channels in ways that you can connect with prospects and really build relationships. And in this slide, you can see the value and the opportunity with LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, and aside from those three, couple other noteworthy channels. Twitter has a community of financial advisors, and it's a great way to really see what people in the industry are talking about. If you're interested in joining those conversations, search the hashtags #financialadvisor and #fintwit. And then, in addition to that, Instagram and TikTok may not be as popular in financial services, but they still remain great avenues to reach a younger audience, especially Gen Z, that next generation of clients. And James, I know you're pretty active on social. Can you tell us what's worked for you?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so we really do a mix of different things. One is, obviously, I talked about the blog. We always post a blog. We try to turn that into small snippets for things like Instagram, or quick Facebook pieces that we put on. I also like to always include some personal things, which again, doesn't really hit the nerve of people in personal finances. However, people want to know that I'm a real person, and so they love seeing, you know, not unfortunately, but my daughter's picture that you see on the screen, or maybe you did see, that got more likes than anything else I've ever posted. So that is always good, to just let people know that you're not some robot. You're not some person that's not going to understand what they're going through. You are a real person. And then there's also reaching out to the local community, or regional community, national community, whatever it is you're targeting, because they can also share and repost your content to their audience, and so we try to really do all three of those things in a sequential manner.

Cynthia Casarez:

Yeah. I really like that you're mentioning the use of personal posts and sort of building these communities, helping to build these relationships, and so one quick reminder here for advisors is that you … In order for social media to be effective, it's really a two-way street, so you should also engage with other pages' posts, and when appropriate, you can offer content that might be relevant to those conversations, really build those relationships, these communities that James was speaking about.

And one quick way to really get started with social media: You can start by just filling in your LinkedIn profile and photo. Fewer than 45% of financial professionals have a background photo in their profiles, and nearly 25% are missing a bio summary. So these are just really important elements to get started, your LinkedIn profile, and as we mentioned, about four out of five advisors are getting AUM from LinkedIn, so it's a really powerful channel. If you'd like to hear a little bit more about that, we've got a great video about it on PracticeLab. And I'm going to kick it back to James really quick to talk about your bios or sharing your bios here. Can you tell us how you approach them?

James Comblo:

Yeah. So, again, I just want everybody to know exactly who I serve and what communities I serve, so I try to make my bio let you know immediately, within the first 30 seconds of being on my page, you know who I am, and what I'm about, and how I can help you and your life. Also, that message has to be married to our company page too, because I'm the ... Yes, I'm the president and CEO, but this is who we help as a larger group, with my other advisors that work with me, and I think they have to go together. You can't have two totally different messages on the different pages.

Cynthia Casarez:

Yeah. That's, that's accurate. And while we're on the subject of social media still, I know you've taken social media to the next level with social ads. Can you tell us what that experience has been like?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so originally, it was just like testing the waters, right? I wrote a blog, and I did a campaign on Facebook, where we just, we did $50. That was the maximum I was allowed to spend, and we were just trying to get people to get to the website. Now, we're trying to get people registered for our webinars, where we can then hopefully, you know, convert them into clients later on. So, currently, we're running three different ad sets, which is three different pictures, with three different content or writing underneath the picture. And so, really, it's nine ads that are running simultaneously, to try to get in front of people and try to get them onto our webinar, where we can then, you know, tell them about something they may not be aware of and show them how we could help going forward.

Cynthia Casarez:

Yeah. I really love that test and learn approach that you're talking about. And one more thing to keep in mind for social media: No matter what channels you're posting on, you'll want to make sure that you're participating in relevant groups. And these don't always, as James mentioned earlier about the content on his website, it doesn't always have to be financially focused groups, financial service focused groups. You can just join groups that are talking about areas of interest for your clients, maybe something like Michelin restaurants, things where you can just engage with those communities.

And you want to make sure that your interactions are not one-sided, so maybe you set aside a block of time to scroll through your timeline. You can like, comment and share content that ties prospects back to your website. And one easy way to do this is by leveraging your website content, taking that content and turning it into bite-sized social posts that highlight something within a larger piece of content, maybe like an interesting fact or statistic. And if you're wondering what and when to post, here's a sample schedule. And you'll notice that Friday afternoons aren't a great time to be posting, as you can imagine. And one additional callout for social is that social media builds on itself, and often the success of your channels is really going to depend on how much you put into it.

Will McKenna:

That's fantastic, and as you guys were talking, I was really picking up on this theme of weaving in some of that personal information and just calling some of that back from earlier. James, you talked about The 5 a.m. Club, which I'm not going to join, but I'm glad you're having success with that. You talked about National Hot Dog Day, making us all hungry here. Some of the personal content, that picture of your daughter. You know, Cynthia, you talked about, some of the Michelin restaurants, and it, and it really is, some of those same relationship-building ideas you would use in person also apply to the digital realm. James, I do want to circle back. You were talking about the webinars, and I'd love to hear you take that a step further and talk about, take us through that journey, and how many people are you attracting through those ads? How many show up? What kind of success are you seeing? You know, how many come, and then how many might you have calls with and turn into prospects and clients?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so, so this is kind of where the rubber meets the road, right? And I've heard a lot of advisors say it doesn't work. Well, we're getting between 100 and 120 people registered for every webinar we do. We just did one on Tuesday. I believe it was 102 people were registered. It is the summer, so we had a lower turnout rate than we wanted. Out of every 100, we want 40 people to actually log onto the webinar. On Tuesday, we had 33, I believe, which is still, still good for a summer Tuesday night. But then the goal from there is to have 20% of those people who were on to actually book what we call a right-fit call and have them go through that phone call with us, which is just a free 20-minute conversation. We actually got nine people to book a call out of that 33, so pretty good, higher than our target of 20%. And then after that, we're targeting one person per webinar … well, excuse me. We want five people to then go through our meeting process and one person to actually, hopefully, turn into  a client at the end of the day, per webinar.

Will McKenna:

Okay, that's very helpful, to understand what that flow looks like and because some of the folks were asking how that worked out. And as I look on our little portal here, I see we've had more than 800 folks on this current webinar, which says to me there's a lot of, just a lot of interest in this topic out there. Okay, great. Discussion of social media, and now we're going to transition to our fourth and final foundational element of successful digital marketing, and that's email. And you know, even though it's one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, it is still a great way, and a very successful channel, for nurturing those leads and converting them into clients, both as a way to engage new prospects, and also deepen relationships with your current clients. So it really pays to do this right.

And a few tips here that you can see on the screen. First of all, it's helpful to build kind of segmented lists, whether you're using MailChimp, or Constant Contact, or something that your firm provides. If you can segment those groups into prospects, clients, et cetera, that helps you target them and make it feel more customized. Don't be afraid to use templates. Have those templates that make it easier for you to produce these things. Obviously, strong subject lines are all-important, and those compelling calls to action, you want to have those in your emails as well.

Personalizing the content where you can, again, based on which audience you're speaking to, and then also as Cynthia was saying with social, you don't want to ... you want to create that sense of consistency and dependency in your audience with your email. We found in our research that the best days to send are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you know, and a couple of different times during those days. And you'll find all this on the article that's on PracticeLab. So, James, tell us about email, dig in there. What role is that playing in your overall marketing strategy?

James Comblo:

Yeah. So, obviously, if we're trying to get one out of every 100 people that, you know, give us their information and sign up for the webinar, that means we have essentially thousands of people who gave us their information. They just didn't turn into a client yet, so we have multiple thousands of people's information, where it's this almost treasure trove of prospects, and we want to make sure that we are reaching out to them. We have different campaigns for clients, different campaigns for prospects. They're timed differently. They have different messages. But we've set it up through MailChimp, as you referenced, where we can actually have automated journeys, where there's five to seven different emails. If they click on something, it triggers another email.

And we really think that's a good way to get people who maybe weren't ready in that moment where they signed up, and even were on that webinar, but later on, it's like, "Hey, yeah, what James was talking about on that webinar, that's actually what I need now." And to kind of prove that fact is, I had somebody come back 18 months later and said: "Hey, I saw your webinar about a year and a half ago. I wasn't ready. I've been reading all of your emails. My wife went through some stuff. We now need to sit down with you and figure out a few things." And he came back into the fold, just based off that email campaign.

Will McKenna:

And James, that’s very helpful as you describe that. In other words, sometimes you're nurturing those relationships for, for some time before they end up being clients.

James Comblo:


Will McKenna:

Some folks in the audience are interested in hearing a little more detail. You gave us great detail on those webinars, but what about how you think about budgeting for this kind of activity, whether it's for the ads you're running for the webinars, or kind of what you're spending on optimizing your site, or working with an FMG? Can you help us understand what some of that budget looks like and what's successful and why?

James Comblo:

Yeah. So, for us, it ... So it's different for everyone, right? For us, I'll tell you exactly what we spend per month on the webinar. So, we spend $500 per webinar for ads, so that's $2,000 a month, and then we spend $2,500 a month to have a company constantly tweaking and updating all of those ads, to make sure that they're running properly. Sometimes Facebook will flag an ad and just say, "This doesn't work," and you got to tweak it for whatever reason, and then send it back out. We pay to have a company actually doing that on our behalf.

Will McKenna:

Okay. And I'm seeing some questions, and I'm going to transition here in a minute, a couple of questions. You know, you're obviously pretty well advanced on this stuff at this point and applying what sounds like a pretty healthy budget toward it.

James Comblo:


Will McKenna:

For those who might be earlier in their journey, and I see a question here from Cory for example, "Where would you start if you were beginning again from square one?" So as you think about these … kind of these four areas that we've talked about, or in your experience to Cory's question, if you were going to start  from an earlier spot, where would you suggest they focus?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so that, that's a great question, Cory. If I had to go over and do it all again, I would start with a website, because you can do so many things with your website. I don't know that if you go on social or something like that, people will DM you and ask for you to work with them. I think the goal of all of that stuff is to get them to your website, where you can then convert them from prospect to client. So, I would start with the website and focus on the client and their pain points, for the specific people that you are working with or that you want to work with. And then pick some form of content, whether it's blogs, podcasts, video, whatever that is that you're comfortable with, and use the website to promote all of that, or put, you know, yeah, either way. Create it all. Get them back to the website, and that, that's where I would start.

Will McKenna:

That's great advice, and that goes back to that thing we talked about earlier, sort of covering the basics, the essentials with your website. Then the engagers too. As you said, the blog, and that's how you start to attract people over time. And maybe picking up on that same idea, I'd love to ask the audience, which of these four areas are you more interested in and want more help with? Again, we've talked about search, we've talked about your site that James has talked about. We talked about social media. And I guess as part of that, we talked about webinars, and then we've covered email. Let us know in the comments, what would you love to see more of, or where do you feel like you need the most help as we transition toward our last couple of topics here? Okay. While we're waiting to hear from folks in the audience, and by the way, thanks for all the engagement we've seen so far. A lot of great comments and questions in there so far. Cynthia, I want to bring you back in, because I know there are, in addition to the four areas we've covered, there's some additional kind of considerations that operate underneath that that our audience ought to be thinking about. Can you take us through some of those?

Cynthia Casarez:

Sure. So, once you've sort of developed your content, you've optimized your site for search, maybe even have your email campaigns going, you're posting on social, you'll really want to take some time to consider tracking your results and optimizing these tactics. So that might look like having reporting about the traffic that's coming to the site. Are people spending time, once they land there? Are there certain articles that they're spending more time on; those topics may be topics you want to continue to cover because there's interest there.

It can have landing pages that are built for conversion, whether that's having someone sign up for a webinar or download a white paper. Are they converting? And once you have those sort of conversions and leads that you are developing through your site, you'll want to integrate with your CRM so that you can then track the outcomes of those leads. Are you booking meetings with these leads? Are they eventually becoming clients?

And we've had a lot of questions in the past about resourcing. And there are a couple different paths that you can go down, depending on your experience and comfort level with digital marketing. You may want to start by looking internally and maybe you have someone like James who is already using social media and can work with you to create content based on your expertise.

Or maybe you'll need to hire a contractor to work on specific projects. And, of course, you can always hire a full-time marketer to come and join your team. And then there's always agencies and marketing tech companies who can help provide support and help evolve your team’s skills in all of these different channels. And if you're interested in finding more details about those resources, you can look at the website makeover article on PracticeLab and in your resources.

And I know I just mentioned a lot, and between content creation and authority building and results tracking, it can all start to feel pretty overwhelming. James, why don't you talk to us about how you were able to integrate all these new activities into your practice?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so it is overwhelming, truthfully. And that's why you have to start small and go piece by piece, one at a time, then add kind of the next layer every time you go. I have a person who, full-time, she runs this whole thing. She's kind of the brains behind the brand at this point. Her name is Liz, she's been tremendous. And she tracks things like how many people are coming to the website, where are they coming from. She uses Google Analytics to do that.

And then, I mentioned the Facebook ads and to the webinar. So, how many people are getting on the webinars, how many are signing up, how many are getting on, how many do the call, how many become clients? All that stuff, she tracks all of that.

And then we use our CRM to really follow up, to see, where are they in the funnel? Do we want to reengage them? Should we send a different message? Where are we having problems? Because we want to know if there's something where, if there's a lot of people falling off at a certain stage, we want to know so that we can look at it, analyze it and try to tweak it and make it better to hopefully get them further down that funnel.

Will McKenna:

Yeah, that's fantastic. And it's funny, as you were saying that, we got a comment here from Toby. This entire topic feels overwhelming and I'm not quite sure where to start. And I guess, you know, it's important for us to say, we have covered a ton of ground today, and it's making me think, perhaps we ought to have some webinars in the future that just pick off one of these at a time and go into them.

I thought from our earlier question, and I saw many, many questions about website, they needed help. That was probably the number one, just glancing through. The search is also kind of confusing. Social media. I'm taking from this that many of you, some said email, but many of you must be more comfortable with email. That's probably a more common practice for you. And I see my friend, Doug, with a funny comment in there, thank you, Doug. And you know, this advice, or this guidance from you there, James, start small, go piece by piece. I would also give the audience a lot of credit. You're taking this step today, you joined this webinar …

James Comblo:


Will McKenna:

... to learn about this. And today's event was really a view across a very broad spectrum of digital marketing. And what we've got on PracticeLab are some very detailed, deeper dives on each of these topics that I suggest that you go dig into.

So let's do this. I'll summarize a bit, as we're coming to the end of our event, and provide a little bit of a wrap-up of the discussion. I think we have a slide here that shows what we've covered. Essentially, again, those four foundational elements: Search to help bring folks to you. Your site, which is where they land, and it needs to provide not only kind of a billboard for your business, but something that's going to engage folks and develop a bit of a relationship with them. Don't forget those calls to action.

We've talked about social and using that to help extend that relationship and still trust. And bring in some of that more personal interaction that James shared. And then, finally, email is a way to get pretty smart and targeted with different lists that you can send to different folks. And then, as Cynthia mentioned, some of that underlying plumbing, whether that's tracking your results or integrating that with your CRM. Of course, James is now at the point of evolution where he has somebody on the team who really has expertise in that.

But James, as we're wrapping up here, what's next for you? What’s next in terms of your goals in your digital marketing? And what guidance might you give to the audience, some key takeaways for them?

James Comblo:

Yeah, so one thing I want to say is, don't be afraid to spend a little bit of money, right? Whether it be testing out an idea or hiring an expert to come in and maybe perfect one piece of your website, because I've kind of done all of the above, right? I worked with a company last year to really fine-tune just the language on the front page, and it has really elevated our results quite incredibly. And so, they're worth every penny, right?

The other thing I want to say, is that when we started this journey, my company was about $80 million, maybe $90 million in AUM, total. And essentially, all of the results have come through this evolution that you've all heard today. And so, we're right under $250 million today. It's pretty good, right? The webinars that we put on sometimes can uncover $10 million, $15 million, $20 million in prospective assets with people that may become clients down the road.

And so, I say start small. Find one vehicle, whether it's email, whether it's social. Whatever it is, go on the PracticeLab website, take a deep dive into that area, become at least a [subject] matter expert on it, and start to implement it, start to test. And test inside of your own client base, right? Because they're your clients. They already like you. They're not going to be upset with you if you make a mistake or do something wrong like that. So, that's what I would do. For us, it's just to continue tweaking and evolving the process with the changing environment. It's always changing, so you always have to keep up. We're really trying to incorporate some lead generation. Things like white paper, stuff like that, where we give them something, they give us their information and allow us to contact them and do some follow-up stuff. But very niche-y and specific and targeted that way.

Will McKenna:

That's fantastic. And this is the first time I'm hearing this, that your evolution from about $80 million to $90 million up to $250 million, that feels like real ROI, James. And good advice there.

The other conclusion I'm drawing from hearing you talk through this is, experimentation is a big part of this. And just don't be afraid to get in there and start trying things. You will not be perfect at first. You, yourself, had a bunch of, call it, mid-course corrections, things that didn't work. You tried different approaches, and just being, having that mindset of experimentation is really important.

And I see, some of the folks in the audience, Larry, saying, "Hey, this is a great topic and program. I agree, it's a big topic, and maybe in the future break it up into smaller ones." And then, uh, Glen said, "I would definitely suggest breaking these topics down. Too much at once. Fire hose, drinking fountain." Okay, that's totally fair, Glen. And I think, absolutely, we're going to see that more as we go forward.

All right. Let's do this. Let me go ahead and take my own advice and leave you with a call to action today. The first one is to go to PracticeLab. I know we've been talking about it, but I think we have a slide up here with some QR codes on it and this is the content we have; there will be more coming that can take you deeper into the chunks that we talked about and help you follow through where it doesn't feel so overwhelming. And that's the main call to action.

The second, really, is to reach out to your Capital Group team and see how they may be able to help you pursue some of the opportunities that you're focused on in your business. We probably have more resources than you realize, and we, and they, are here to help.

So with that, I want to thank everybody for joining us today. It was great to have you, great comments, great engagement. We love all that. And I want to especially thank James and Cynthia for their great insights today. I hope all of you learned as much as I did today. Thanks again for joining us, and enjoy the rest of your day.

James Comblo:

Thanks, Will.


How effective is the digital pathway to your practice?

Our Pathways to Growth: Advisor Benchmark Study of more than 1,500 advisors reveals that dedicating time to marketing and client acquisition helped advisors drive growth in practice assets.  

In this webinar, Capital Group's Cynthia Casarez, search marketing specialist, will share strategies to help your website stand out in search and drive quality leads. Content director Will McKenna will offer easy but effective ways to improve your website and social media presence. Plus, James Comblo of FSC Wealth Advisors will share lessons learned along his digital marketing journey — his focus on content, user experience and social media — that helped him boost his business. 

What you’ll get:

  • A website roadmap to help attract and engage prospects and drive leads
  • Online search tools and checklists for effective search engine optimization and compelling online content to help get you noticed
  • Social media best practices to help drive awareness and establish your authority online

Who can benefit: U.S.-based financial professionals seeking to build or optimize their digital presence for business growth.

And check out coverage of the webinar in Financial Advisor magazine.**

James Comblo is president and CEO of FSC Wealth Advisors in the Hudson Valley region of New York. As a comprehensive Certified Financial Fiduciary and portfolio manager at FSC, he and his team are committed to helping clients implement, grow and realize the best possible outcomes for their financial future through personalized financial planning.

Cynthia Casarez is a senior paid media specialist at Capital Group. She has 11 years of industry experience. Prior to joining Capital, Cynthia worked as a digital content manager at Walker Advertising. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach. She also holds the search engine optimization certificate from the University of California, Irvine. Cynthia is based in Los Angeles.

Will McKenna is a content director at Capital Group. He has 27 years of industry experience and has been with Capital for 22 years. Prior to joining Capital, Will was an associate at Mercer Management Consulting in New York, where he focused on marketing consulting for financial services clients. He holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude. Will is based in Los Angeles.

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James Comblo
President, FSC Wealth Advisors
Cynthia Casarez
Senior Manager, Search Marketing
Will McKenna
Content Director

*CFP credit is available only for U.S.-based webinar registrants.

**Source: "Impactful digital marketing starts with the website," Financial Advisor magazine, July 2023.

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