DENVER -- In the digital era, marketing for financial advisors has a new set of rules.

"The world has shifted from outbound to inbound marketing techniques," Craig Faulkner, founder of digital marketing firm FMG Suite, told the audience at Schwab’s Impact conference here.

"Advisors still need to go out and meet people," he said. "But they also need people to want to come to them in the digital world."

Faulkner spoke Thursday at a conference session titled "Four Steps to Inbound Marketing Success: Leveraging Digital Media to Acquire Clients."

To bring prospects and clients inside the advisors' digital tent, advisors need to make sure that people can find them, learn about and from them, talk to them and trust them, Faulkner said.

Here are some of his suggestions for making it easy to be found by prospects:

*Leverage search engine optimization. Advisors should personalize and localize their websites as much as possible. "People want to see you, your staff, your city and your civic engagement," Faulkner said.

*Grow the email list organically. "Don’t buy lists," Faulkner said. "You want people to come to you because they want to come to you. How do you get their email? Ask them!"

*Keep it simple. On questionnaire forms, only ask for a name and an email. People are turned off by requests for more information.

Meanwhile, content is king.

"It’s all about good content," Faulkner said. "But the content has to be compelling, fresh, interesting, personal and constantly updated."

Here are ways to provide compelling content:

  • Use videos whenever possible. Make sure that the videos are never longer than 90 seconds. "People have short attention spans, and they're watching more videos than ever through streaming services like Netflix," Faulkner said. "Studies have shown viewers stay on a site five to six times longer if they watch videos."
  • Use information-rich and personal photos. "Avoid generic at all costs," Faulkner said. "Show the inside of your office and pictures of your events."
  • Present a personal brand and tell a good story. "Identify your niche and your interests," Faulkner said. "Do you golf? Fly planes? Woodwork? Let people know, make it interesting, and you will generate interest from like-minded enthusiasts."
  • Change content at least once a month. One-third should be original, and the rest should be outsourced, Faulkner suggested.

In addition, once advisors reach people, they need to engage with them.
Here are ways to do that:

  • Make sure that the site is mobile-responsive. About half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, according to Faulkner. Make sure that the firm's website adapts to the screens of mobile devices and doesn't look the same as it does on a computer.
  • Social sharing is a must. Make sure that the site has icon buttons for major social-media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Finally, Faulkner said it is imperative that advisors develop trust.
He recommended getting conversations going on questionnaire forms and LinkedIn discussion groups.

"Advisors sometimes take for granted how much they know,” Faulkner said.

"Remind people of your expertise," he said. "The more they see that, the more they will trust you. "

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