Take the Guesswork Out of Your Marketing Strategy

Journal of Financial Planning: January 2014


Hard numbers help make educated decisions. If you haven’t started tracking your marketing metrics, you’re simply guessing at what you think may work. Take advantage of analytic technology and keep an eye on three marketing metrics that will provide concrete insight and evidence as to what really works.

Each of these metrics can be collected using a free Google Analytics account. Some web providers have analytic tools built right into the platform. Find out if your website has this capability and put it to work.

Traffic Origin

Do you know where your web visitors come from? Each visitor arrives at your website as a result of typing in your web address, clicking on a search engine result (organic or paid), or they were referred to your site from another web page that linked to your site (for example, social media, online directories, blogs, or other industry websites).

Why should you care? Identifying what types of content are interesting to your web audience is important, because it reveals a lot of information about your visitors. Wouldn’t it be easier to decide what types of content to put on your website (and blog and social media outlets) if you knew how visitors ended up on your website? Delineating where your web traffic originates helps evaluate areas where you’re succeeding, in addition to the places where your site can use some improvement.

How to use it: If your social media followers are engaged with the content you’re sharing, try elaborating those messages and creating a blog article on a related topic. Most of the content you share online is transferrable to other digital channels; use this to your advantage.

Call-to-Action Click-Through Rate

A call-to-action (CTA) is a button on a web page that urges a visitor to do something, such as “book a meeting” or request a “free evaluation.” Usually CTAs lead to a landing page with a form people fill out to receive the offer (and you receive a new lead). Calls-to-action are a website’s primary lead-generation tool.

Why should you care? The more click-throughs a call-to-action receives, the more your offering resonates with your web audience. If you don’t get any click-throughs on your CTA, that is still great feedback—it shows what area needs improvement.

How to use it: Analyze your CTA in terms of how many times it’s clicked (the click-through rate) and how often a form is completed. If you want web visitors to book a meeting but it’s not happening as frequently as you would like, try offering an action that requires less commitment such as, “download a white paper,” which can be a great way to share your knowledge and convince web visitors of your expertise, further instilling trust and establishing your identity as a thought leader in the financial planning community.

Organic Search Traffic

Organic search results are those listings on search engines that appear because of the relevance to the search term, as opposed to advertised (paid) results. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an example of non-organic searches.

How much organic traffic should your website generate? It depends. If your site is fairly new (live for a year or less) it may receive as little as 100 organic views a month. Established advisers with a properly maintained site can expect more than 1,000 hits from organic traffic each month.

Why should you care? Organic search traffic is, arguably, the most important source of traffic to a website. It means that users are searching for you with intent. A rise in this number indicates that your website contains relevant information to searchers. Web users who are searching for you online are more likely to be interested in your firm’s offerings, thus more likely to convert into potential clients.

How to use it: If you really want to get serious about increasing your organic search traffic, start with improving your site’s search engine optimization, or SEO (see sidebar for details). Once your website begins ranking higher on search engine results, your site will naturally access traffic that wasn’t there before.

Maggie Crowley is the marketing coordinator for Advisor Websites where she manages the company’s online presence. This article is for informational purposes only; always verify content you use with your compliance department or legal counsel.  Send an email to Maggie Crowley.


Optimize Keywords to Improve SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving the visibility of a website or particular web page in a search engine’s results. The earlier and more frequently a site appears in the search result list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.

Properly optimizing your search engine ranking takes time and consistency. One of the simplest yet most important ways to improve your search engine ranking is to optimize the keywords within your website content—those search terms that web surfers input into Google or other search engines to describe what they are looking for. Search engines match the terms people enter with the keywords used within websites to determine the ranking of search results.

When marketers refer to the term “long tail keywords,” they are talking about a very targeted search phrase that contains at least three words. Using long tail keywords are how most people search the web. For example:

  • Keyword: adviser
  • Long Tail Keywords: how to find a financial adviser; financial advisers in Atlanta, GA; tips from a financial adviser

Here are three steps to optimizing keywords to improve your SEO:

Get in their heads. If you were searching for a financial adviser on Google, what words or word combinations would you use? Get into the minds of your ideal clients. Think about the jargon they use, the problems they want to solve, their interests, friends, education, and geographic location. Assessing how your audience will search for you will help you find them.

Then, come up with 30 long tail keywords that you want your website to be found under. If you’re having trouble thinking of good, long tail keyword phrases, Google can help. Begin typing your search terms into the search box, and let the search engine recommend some long tail variations for you. For example, if you enter “financial adviser for,” Google will display the options:

  • financial adviser for business owners
  • financial adviser for debt
  • financial adviser for student loans
  • financial adviser for professional athletes

Do another Google search. With long tail keywords based on your target audience established, type them into Google (yes, one by one) to see if you’re already ranking for any of them. If so, first congratulate yourself; you’re doing great, then pick a few new ones.

Put them to work. Now that you know how people will search for your website, make sure they’ll be able to find it. Start with your homepage and read through the copy to identify if and where you’re already using the long tail keywords. Use your long tail keywords in these places:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description tags
  • Meta keywords tag
  • Naturally within the body content, including headers and sub-headers, page content, and link text.

— M.C.

Professional role
Marketing & Communications