Most financial advisers and planners are still ignoring the simplest way to impress potential clients online.
In this week’s blog, we’ll explain how to fix the problem, stand out from the crowd, and help turn more client referrals into genuine prospects.
Let’s begin by considering the journey that prospects take to your door. It starts when a prospective client becomes aware of two things:
- That they have a financial problem or aspiration they can’t solve themselves
- That you might be the right person or firm to help them.
There are, of course, several ways a prospective client could become aware of you. They might have been referred by an existing client or professional connection, seen you on social media, driven past your office, received your newsletter, and so on.
However they’ve become aware of you, they will probably head to Google and search for you or your business (this is known as a brand search). In our experience, Google sits between awareness and action for almost all clients, from a first-time buyer to high-earners or those with large amounts to invest. Some will be looking for basic information such as your telephone number or email address. Others will be conducting deeper due diligence, perhaps because they are considering several advisers/planners.
The Google search results page is where clients first meet you. It’s where they develop their first impression of your business and start making judgements about you. And, remember, you have no right of reply!
So, to turn awareness into action you need to be impressive. Google reviews (along with a great website) are the easiest ways to impress online after a brand search.
However, very few financial advisers/planners take Google reviews seriously. Consequently, the number of firms who have significant numbers of reviews are low.
How many firms have Google reviews?
We ran some searches to find out how many financial advice/planning firms in the UK’s major cities had more than ten 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 is a huge opportunity for those who do.
Many of the firms in the above list are clients of The Yardstick Agency who follow our tried and tested process. More of that later in this blog.
Why aren’t more firms collecting Google reviews?
There are several reasons:
- Some don’t understand why they need to impress online
- We’ve come across firms who don’t believe that the type of clients they deal with will use Google to search for an adviser/planner. This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the prospect’s journey as they are using Google to validate a pre-existing choice, not for the initial search
- Others might see the need, but just haven’t got around to it
- Some use the excuse that clients need to have a Google account (usually email) to leave a review and it’s, therefore, harder to get reviews on there than other platforms. This is partly true. You do need to have a Google account to leave a review. However, we work with firms who have 50, 60, 70 Google reviews. They show what’s possible!
What are successful firms doing?
In a word; asking!
Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that. They understand the value of online ratings/reviews, develop a process and approach it with an open mind. They know that not everyone they ask will have a Google account or leave a review. However, they also know that:
- Many clients will have a Google account and the more they ask, the more reviews they will get
- Even if they don’t have one, some will happily sign up for a Google account just so they can leave a review
- Finally, some email addresses, which might not immediately appear to be from Google, actually are. Take our Yardstick email addresses; they all run on Gmail.
We’ve worked with many firms over the past few years to build up their online ratings and reviews and have developed a tried, tested and proven process.
We recommend following these simple steps:
- If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing yet, click here to do so
- Make sure your listing, is fully completed adding photos, information about your business, opening hours and regular updates
- Produce a database of clients you will ask for a review. Don’t exclude clients who don’t obviously have a Google account. They might have an account you don’t know about or set one up to leave a review
- Write and send an email to all your clients requesting that they provide a Google review (and if you use it VouchedFor, we’ve had great success with this tactic as it gives the client a second option if they won’t, or can’t, leave you a Google review). If you have a large client bank you might want to stagger the emails over a period of weeks
- Add requesting Google reviews (and VouchedFor too) to your new business and review process. Get the adviser or planner to verbally request the review and someone in the support team to follow up with an email giving the links they need. The email follow up is vital; most clients will forget the verbal request, so the email will act as a gentle nudge, which they will either have to action or delete (something they won’t want to do, remember, they like you!). Practically, it will make their life easier too because you should include the links they need to leave you the review. Finally, make sure the email requesting the review doesn’t contain any other information. Don’t include the review request with other documents and certainly don’t add it to the end of a 12-page suitability report (which they probably won’t read).
The firms who follow this process see an initial surge in online reviews. This is followed by a gradual increase as reviews are requested from new clients and after review meetings.
Three other tips
Our process works, but there’s no reason to stop there. Here are three other ways of generating online reviews which you might not have considered:
Asking for ad hoc reviews: Many clients will write an unsolicited email thanking you or your team. If you get one of these we recommend replying to say thank-you, then politely asking if they would copy and paste it into a Google review. Remember to send them the link to make their life easy (our template explains how you can generate this link).
Asking professional connections: Not all your professional connections will be clients. However, if they are happy to refer you to their clients, ask them to leave you a review and explain why they recommend you.
Doubling up: When you work with couples, ask them both to leave you a review. They will each have different perspectives on the value you add. Plus, it doubles the number of reviews you receive!
Resources to help
We’ve developed an online review request template, which you can download for free by clicking here. It gives you everything you need to run the project.
As with all these things, the key is to take action. Nothing will change if you don’t! Start with the smallest of steps, by claiming or updating your Google My Business listing and move things forward from there.
Of course, if you don’t have the time to run this project yourself, we could do it for you. Over the past few months we’ve helped many firms become more impressive online, for example, we:
- Helped a London based firm collect 121 VouchedFor reviews in a single month
- Developed a Google review strategy for a group of companies within the same organisation
- Helped a financial planner collect over 40 Google and VouchedFor reviews
If you would like to know more about how we can help you collect more Google reviews please get in touch, drop us an email to [email protected] or call us on 0115 8965 300.
Finally, (and because we practise what we preach) if this blog, or the others we write each week, has helped you we’d be very grateful for an online review. Just click here to leave your review. Thanks!