The most successful businesses understand the benefits of improving conversion rates. 

    However, while many financial planning practices undertake some form of marketing, very few focus enough on each of the three stages of conversion:

    1) Suspects into prospects

    2) Prospects into clients

    3) Clients into advocates

    Those which get this right will be more sustainable and benefit from a constant stream of new enquiries. They will also spend less money on marketing and maximise profitability. 

    In this blog, I want to focus on the first stage; converting suspects into prospects. We’ll consider the second two in future articles. 

    Suspects into prospects

    This period starts when a suspect has already encountered your brand. They might have been referred to you, seen you on an adviser directory, driven past your office, received your newsletter or found you on social media.

    How they found you is irrelevant. What they do next, isn’t.

    Suspects have a powerful tool at their fingertips. It allows them to find anything about your firm from basic information, such as telephone number, address and opening hours, to deeper due diligence. 

    The name of the tool? Google.

    Suspects have a trigger they are looking to address. It might be a financial problem they want to solve, or an aspiration they want to achieve.

    Either way, they want to know whether you might be the right person to help. What they see following a Google search for your name or that of your business will increase or decrease the chances of them getting in touch. 

    That means you need to dominate the first page of Google for brand searches; those run for your name or that of your business. Ideally, the suspect will be able to see:

    • Your website with site extensions
    • Your Google My Business listings with reviews
    • Reviews on other sites such as VouchedFor or Trustpilot
    • Your FCA register entry
    • Links to your social media platforms
    • Your blogs

    The whole first page of Google should be dominated by your business. 

    If you can’t be found online there are two possible reasons:

    1) Your business is new. That’s to be expected; with the right actions, it should take no more than six months for you to dominate the first page for a brand search. If it hasn’t happened in that time, then something might be wrong.

    2) Your business has such a generic name that you will never be found; that’s a problem which is usually only solved by either a rebrand or a Google AdWords campaign. The former is a bigger step but more sustainable in the longer term.

    Either way, if you’re invisible online, the chances of maximising your suspect to prospect conversion rate are nil. 

    The importance of ratings and reviews

    When a suspect has Googled your business, they will be faced with a variety of options. They will probably head to your website which, again, needs to be equally impressive. It needs to demonstrate:

    • What you do
    • Who you do it for
    • Why someone should use you

    This is best achieved by showcasing two groups of people; your team and your clients. 

    Before they get to your website, a suspect’s eye should be drawn to your positive ratings and reviews on the search results page. That’s why we recommend that firms select two platforms to collect ratings and reviews online. 

    The prominence of the Google My Business listing in the search results means we always recommend the first of these platforms is Google.

    The fact that Google reviews are a ranking factor, especially in local search, simply cements it in the number one position. After that, we recommend choosing between VouchedFor and Facebook. 

    Why two?

    Not everyone has a Google account, which is necessary to leave a review. So, two bites at the cherry will help you dominate the results page and, let’s face it, two platforms with great reviews are better than one.

    Once you’ve selected your platforms, we recommend building a simple internal process to ask for reviews.

    This starts with a verbal request by the financial planner, followed up with an email request from the support team. Our website provides a free template to help you email clients, which you can find here.

    Online reviews are all too often overlooked, but they play a vital role in impressing clients online and turning suspects into prospects. 

    Remember, your clients meet you before you meet them

    To maximise the number of suspects who turn into prospects they need to:

    1) Be able to find you (on Google)

    2) Be impressed (on Google and other ratings and review platforms)

    3) Take key calls to action (on your website)

    For most firms, the first of these is relatively simple to achieve.

    It’s the second and third which often lets them down but are nevertheless vital to improve conversion rates. Why? Because potential clients meet you online before you meet them. 

    Over time your relationship with clients will develop into a partnership of mutual trust and respect.

    Yet when the relationship starts the suspect has an unfair advantage. They’ve started to make judgements well before that first physical meeting. And, often before you even know they exist! 

    Every single interaction with your brand, many of which you will happen without you knowing, will increase or decrease the chances of them moving from being a suspect into a prospect. That’s why you need to:

    • Be found online
    • Dominate the search results for your brand, and
    • Build a compelling online presence.

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