I spend a lot of time with advisers talking about their target markets. Almost all want to attract more clients at, or around, retirement age.
That’s probably no surprise; yet the number of times I hear advisers insist (generally with very little corroborating information) that these people aren’t online still shocks me.
Where possible, decisions about your marketing should be based on the available evidence, which in this case shows that older generations are without doubt online: Three quarters of 65-74 year olds in the UK use the internet and over 50% of 55-64 year olds use social media. What’s more, the percentage of older people using social media is rising, compared to younger generations.
If you want to attract these silver surfers as clients, your business needs an effective online presence, including a compelling website.
Because potential clients, including those referred to you and people who have used directories, will probably conduct their own research before making a final decision to get in touch. If what they find enhances an existing positive impression, the potential client is more likely to pick up the phone. The reverse is also true. If your most successful source of new enquiries is recommendations and you think that means you don’t need an effective online presence; think again.
That all starts with Google.
Type your name or that of your business into Google. What do you see? Ideally you should dominate that results page with your website appearing first alongside your ‘Google My Business’ listing. The rest of the page will hopefully include links to your social media profiles, directory listings, articles and blogs you have written, the FCA register and perhaps press quotes or award wins.
If you can’t be found, your website fails to appear, or worse negative articles or reviews are returned, your online presence will fail to convince. This will certainly affect the percentage of people who will get in touch.
The potential client’s first impression of your business is so often the Google search page. It’s essential to get it right. Google is now effectively your homepage and it needs as much attention as the one on your own website.
Next, your website. I firmly believe there are three fundamental components to a website:
- An effective user experience: Can the visitor easily find what they want? Are they signposted to the correct area of the website?
- Great images: These will be seen before the words. Do they resonate with the visitor? Do they accurately reflect your business?
- High quality copy; This is so important, yet often overlooked by advisers. The copy needs to be well written and engage with the visitor
Social media will almost certainly have a part to play too. I have always believed that advisers should only use social media if it is either useful (use the channels that your target clients do), enjoyable (life’s too short), or preferably both. I’m also not a fan of outsourcing social media to a third party. For me, someone else’s voice will never be as authentic as your own. I’m also a big fan of Facebook ads. The targeting and low cost, relative to Google Adwords, make them very attractive.
As consumers we are more discerning than ever and have an almost unlimited amount of information at our finger tips. If advisers and planners are to engage successfully with all generations, but especially silver surfers, a compelling online presence is vital.
Phil Bray is director of consultancy the Yardstick Agency.