All businesses should understand how clients find them.

    However, a simplistic “they are referred to us”, “they found us online” or “they walked past our office” really isn’t enough. You need detail.

    Sure, high-level information* is important. It means we can calculate return on marketing investment while understanding which activities are generating new enquiries, and which aren’t. 

    But we also need to understand behaviours.

    Tracking every step a prospect takes to your door, then making improvements to that journey, will increase the proportion of people who are aware of you (suspects) who take action.  

    To develop that understanding of their behaviour, we’ve got to talk to prospects and clients. 

    That’s why we’ve launched a project to interview the clients of financial planners, asking them about their journey. We’ll publish the results on our website over the coming weeks.

    The first, with a client of Darren Cooke’s at Red Circle Financial Planning, can be found by clicking here.

    The power of Google

    The interviews have all confirmed the importance of Google. 

    We’ve always said that it sits between someone becoming aware of you, perhaps having been referred to you by an existing client, solicitor or accountant, and taking action. 

    That means you and your business must be visible and impressive online.

    Visible, so that you can easily be found for a brand search; one for your name or that of your business.

    Impressive, so the suspect is sufficiently impressed that they move from awareness to action by making contact.

    How often have you considered the dark corners of the web which a Google search could take a prospective client to? 

    It’s clear that Google can take your prospective clients in some strange directions. Darren’s went to Companies House to “check him out”. 

    It’s not an isolated example either, we’ve heard reports of other prospective clients doing the same thing.

    That means we all need to be very aware of the places a prospective client could end up after a brand search.

    Three ways to become more impressive online

    As we continue our interviews, we’ll get further detailed insights. Google’s pivitol role is clear though. 

    So, let’s consider three things which you could do now to make your business more impressive online.

    Google My Business listing

    If you’ve claimed your listing it’ll appear in the top right-hand corner of the search results page. If you’ve not claimed it, click here to start the process. It’s simple and easy to do.

    Whether it’s a new or existing listing, it needs to be fully completed. 

    You should also ask clients to leave reviews. 

    As I wrote here a few months ago, it’s a great way of impressing potential clients and differentiating your business from others in the local area.

    Your website

    Evidence shows that most prospective clients (yes, even those referred to you) will visit your website before contacting you. You need to impress here too. 

    Make two groups of people the stars of your site; your clients, who benefit from financial planning, and your team, who deliver it.

    Check the other links

    Ideally, your business will dominate the results for a brand search. 

    Your website and Google My Business listing should appear at the top of the page. The rest will include links to various other sites. 

    You should follow each and, if necessary, tidy them up:

    • The FCA register often has missing or out of date information. For example, the contact details you gave when you applied for authorisation have perhaps changed. You might not have had a website when you applied either
    • Your social media profiles might have been set up with the best of intentions, but now could look sadly neglected
    • Is all the information on Companies House up to date and accurate? Are your accounts up to date? A prospective client seeing that you’re late filing your accounts won’t be impressed
    • If you’ve cancelled a subscription to directory listings such as Unbiased or VouchedFor, your profile might still appear in Google search results. Better to remove it completely from the directory rather than sending people to incomplete or out of date profiles
    • You might have been included in free listing sites without your knowledge, that means you won’t have kept the information up to date

    Click every link you can find, review the information which a prospective client might see and, where necessary, update it or make improvements.

    Much is written about marginal gains, but these small details really do matter. 

    Information has never been easier to access, consumers are more discerning and many other options are available if a prospect doesn’t like what he or she sees when they search for you.

    It’s all very easy to control too. 

    So, open your browser, run a brand search and get busy checking. 

    At the same time, make sure you’re collecting as much detailed information as possible about a prospect’s journey to your door. Only by understanding it, can you improve it.

    *We recommend that firms collect nine fields of data at this level. If you’d like to know what they are, drop me an email.

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