All financial planners need to understand how prospective clients use Google.

    Why?

    It’s quite simple; Google sits between a consumer becoming aware:

    • of a financial problem/aspiration
    • a particular planner or
    • both

    and them taking action, by getting in touch with the planner.

    Almost all prospective clients (including those referred by existing clients or professional connections) will search for you or your business on Google before getting in touch.

    Some will be looking for basic information such as your contact details, address or directions to your office. Others might be considering more than one planner, and are therefore carrying out deeper due diligence.

    What they see following the Google search dictates the action they take. They’ll start to make judgements about you and your business. And you have no right of reply.

    That means, you need to understand how prospects use Google.

    We’ve reviewed new research from Backlinko and identified four key stats all financial planners need to know. We’ve summarised them below, plus the action you need to take.

    Stat #1: Only 9 per cent of people make it to the bottom of the first page of the search results, while only 0.44 per cent go to the second page

    This supports our view that financial planners must be visible for a brand search (one run for you or your business). It also confirms the importance of dominating the first page for a brand search.

    If you’re not on page one, you’re nowhere.

    In fact, it’s no good your website appearing at the bottom of page one. You need to dominate the whole search results page. That starts with your website and site extensions appearing plus your Google My Business listing.

    Then, everything else on the search results page should be about you and your business.

    Stat #2: For local queries, 42 per cent of searchers click on results inside of the Google Maps pack

    Rightly or wrongly, most consumers still search for a financial planner based, partly at least, on geography. It’s therefore no surprise that nearly half of all people looking for a service near them will head to the Google Maps pack.

    Also known as Google Places, this shows businesses close to the searcher’s location and can be found below the adverts on many search results pages.

    The best way to stand out is by collecting Google reviews. Our research into Google reviews for financial planners shows that very few firms have them.

    We ran some searches to find out how many financial advice/planning firms in the UK’s major cities had more than 10 Google reviews.

    Here’s what we found:

    Birmingham: 0

    Bristol: 5

    Cardiff: 3

    Edinburgh: 2

    Exeter: 1

    Glasgow: 1

    Leeds: 1

    London: 4

    Manchester: 4

    Newcastle: 2

    Reading: 1

    It’s clear that very few firms are building Google reviews, which means there’s a huge opportunity to stand out from the crowd for those who do.

    Of course, the other key benefit of these reviews is that they appear in your free Google My Business listing, which should appear after a prospective client runs a brand search.

    Stat #3: 19 per cent of searchers click on an advert during their search

    I often hear financial planners dismiss using Google Ads to generate new enquiries.

    “No one clicks on the adverts” isn’t an uncommon thing to hear. Well, someone is; in 2019 Google generated over $130bn dollars in ad revenue!

    The research shows that approximately one in five searchers click adverts. That’s a significant number, and can be a great opportunity for financial planners.

    It’s one which needs to be approached with caution though; I’ve seen firms pour thousands of pounds into Google Ads for zero return. However, done well, Google Ads can provide a very attractive return on investment.

    Stat #4: 50 per cent of users click a link within nine seconds of searching

    That’s quicker than Usain Bolt ran the 100 metres, and really isn’t long at all. Furthermore, the average amount of time from searching to clicking a link is only 14.6 seconds.

    It’s another reason why you need to be both visible and impressive online. If you’re not, there are plenty of other distractions within the search results to tempt your prospective client elsewhere.

    Harness the power of Google

    Google is both an opportunity and a threat for financial planners.

    Those planners who understand how prospects behave, and adapt their marketing accordingly, will be perfectly placed to take advantage of the opportunities. They’ll be visible and impressive online, moving prospects from awareness to action.

    Planners who fail to adapt their marketing will be left behind. They’ll get fewer referrals from existing clients (always the best type of new enquiry) and their return on investment from other marketing activities will be adversely affected.

    The simple question is: which type of planner are you?

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