Facebook can seem like a daunting marketing channel for financial advisers. Where do you even start? How do you leverage this channel to grow brand awareness, and generate new leads?
Moreover, is Facebook even a legitimate channel to use to reach your target market? Certainly, with recent news stories about Facebook giving organic business posts less prominence in users’ news feeds, the question is a good one.
However, Facebook is still very powerful as a financial marketing tool when used properly. In this post, we’re going to look at Facebook in light of financial advisers’ typical target market. I.e. If you use Facebook in your financial marketing, are your target audience actually going to find you?
Secondly, we’re going to look at Facebook’s place in the buyer’s cycle. I.e. Is there evidence that Facebook can actually work in terms of increasing awareness of and engagement with your brand, whilst bringing in new referrals and leads?
#1 Facebook & Financial Adviser Marketing: Is Your Ideal Audience Actually There?
When we speak to financial advisers about the kinds of clients they want to reach, they tend to say the same sort of thing. Typically, IFAs want to attract people with a certain level of invest-able assets.
For some that level is £100k, for others it is £250k. Every now and then someone is focusing on the big fish (£500k to over £1m). Of course, there are some IFAs who want to reach millennials with their financial marketing, and some focus on a particular niche – such as doctors, dentists or lawyers.
However, the picture is usually fairly consistent, with the variation typically lying in the geographic area in question. The question is, do these kinds of potential clients use Facebook? Can they be found on there, and are they active on the platform?
For many financial advisers, there is still a widespread perception that Facebook is “for the younger folks”, and so it is not likely to have many profiles comprising the kind of demographic they are looking to reach.
However, this is mistaken. Younger people do still use Facebook, but the evidence actually suggests it is declining in popularity amongst under-24 year olds. At the same time, older people are moving over more and more to the platform, with over-55s set to become the second-largest demographic on Facebook.
Of course, this demographic comprises all sorts of people – rich and poor, labourers and business professionals, workers and retirees. Yet with all the detailed information Facebook has on its users, it is possible for you to target specific sub-sections of this “over-55” bracket.
More on that later.
#2 Facebook & Financial Adviser Marketing: Can It Actually Convert New Clients?
So Facebook passes on the first test for financial advisers’ marketing. The audience is indeed there, but the next question is whether Facebook actually can generate conversions.
There are plenty of articles which decry Facebook as a poor choice for your marketing investment, and you might well think we are about to blindly counter that in this article.
Whilst it may be in the interests of a financial marketing agency to do that, we’re not going to jump to that position. Our perspective has a bit more nuance, and a story will illustrate our point.
Recently, we met with an IFA client who had employed a separate Facebook marketing agency to build a video advertising campaign for their brand. The idea was that potential clients within the local area would see educational videos about pensions in their news feeds, and click onto the website from there. These website visitors would then hopefully connect with the website’s content and value proposition, leading to an enquiry and eventually becoming a client.
It all sounded good as an idea, but when we asked how the campaign had gone over the last 6 months the news wasn’t particularly impressive. The number of monthly leads hadn’t really increased at all when compared to the months prior to the beginning of the Facebook campaign.
This is obviously just a singular example. It is possible the agency wasn’t running the campaign properly, or that the IFA’s particular local market just didn’t resonate with the content they were putting out. Indeed, in another area of the country and with a different campaign set up, perhaps the results might of been different.
However, it does seem to us here at MarketingAdviser that Facebook is a challenging tool to use for the purposes of pure IFA lead generation. There are many possible reasons for this, but in our minds it comes down mainly to this:
Facebook campaigns hit people earlier in their buyers’ journey.
People on Facebook aren’t usually “shopping around”. They tend to use it to socialise with their friends and family, and increasingly people use it as a personalised news portal. People even in the over-55 Facebook demographic are on there typically for these reasons, and are not usually on Facebook actively looking for a financial adviser.
So, when they see your brand’s Facebook post or advert, in all likelihood they are not looking for financial advice or an adviser at that particular point. (They might need this in 6 months’ time, but not at that moment). As a result, these people either do not click on your Facebook advert or post, or perhaps they do and perhaps visit your website, but soon leave thinking to themselves:
“That looks interesting, but I don’t need it now. I’ll remember it and come back later” (which of course, hardly anyone does).
This is very different from SEO and Google marketing, where people have an active need for financial advice or an adviser and are searching the internet to find an answer to their problem. If you can get your brand in front of these people, that’s where some of the big financial marketing wins lie.
So, what is the place of Facebook marketing for financial advisers, given the nature of Facebook’s typical place in the buyer’s journey?
#3 Facebook & Financial Adviser Marketing: Crunching The Numbers On Engagement Rates
Most of the UK’s financial advisory firms are small businesses. (87% have five financial advisers or less). One of the big challenges with Facebook therefore lies in its costs, which often get quite high for small businesses like IFAs in order to be viable.
This requires a bit of explaining, but ultimately the difficulty can be traced back to Facebook’s algorithm which focuses on page “Likes”. If you have a Facebook page, Facebook recommends that you get people to “Like” it, so that your posts begin appearing in their news feeds.
The way this typically starts is to share your page with your friends and family, inviting them to Like it. But this only gets you a limited distance. The next step is usually to run Facebook Ads. These can be shown to a very specific target audience, and over time more people should start liking your page. You pay for these ads on a “cost per click” basis (CPC), with CPCs typically ranging from £0.10 to £0.70.
Over time, you could potentially build up thousands of Likes on your page, mostly comprising your target audience. Looks great, right? However, the problem is that not everyone who Likes your page will see what you post.
Maybe only 1-4% of these people might see your updates and posts, in fact. So if you have 5000 people who Like your page, that means 50 to 200 people might see your post. At the same time, maybe only 5-20% of these people who see your post will actually engage with it. That means maybe 1 to 10 page likes, comments or shares on each post.
This isn’t earth-shattering engagement compared to larger brands, but it’s certainly nothing to turn your nose up at either. Remember, you might be posting 4 or 5 times a week on your business page.
So over the course of that time you might possibly get hundreds of impressions (people seeing your posts), as well as dozens of people engaging with your content in some way (Likes, shares, comments).
#4 The True Value of Facebook: Visibility, Awareness, Education & Affinity
So where does this leave Facebook for financial advisers? It seems difficult to make the case that Facebook will generate instant streams of leads, even if you pumped thousands of pounds into creating thousands of page Likes.
Rather, the value of Facebook marketing for IFAs can be broadly broken down into 4 categories:
- Visibility. This is where most marketing and advertising ultimately starts for any business. People need to see your brand, and on multiple occasions, to know that you exist. You may have exceptional financial advisers, knowledge and capabilities to offer, but if potential clients never see your brand and value proposition your business is going to struggle to grow.
- Awareness. A time will likely come when some of your Facebook followers want to actively seek financial advice. At that point, they’re probably not going to look on Facebook (although they might ask their Facebook friends for a link to an adviser they recommend). However, they will probably turn to Google. If your website appears high up in their search results, and they’ve been seeing your brand posts in Facebook for months on end, then they’re FAR more likely to click on your link as opposed to your competitor.
- Education. Most financial advisers agree that the majority of UK citizens would benefit from financial advice from a qualified professional. The problem is that many people are unaware that they even face financial problems, let alone that a solution exists out there to fix it in the form of regulated financial advice. That’s where your Facebook page can add real value. By posting interesting, educational content on matters pertaining to inheritance tax, pensions and retirement planning, you can inform potential clients about financial problems they may be facing, and how an IFA like yourself can fix them. It’s a longer game for getting clients, but the “awareness building” stage of the marketing and sales process is a crucial one, and pays dividends down the line.
- Affinity. Recall the example given above, where a potential client might put the question out on Facebook: “Can anyone recommend a good financial adviser?” (Yes, it does happen). If you’ve built up a substantial, loyal Facebook following for your page, and one of them sees this post, then there’s a good chance they will refer the potential client to your page. At that point, you will be grateful for the large following you’ve built up, and the positive reviews you’ve generated!
Conclusion: The Value of Facebook for IFA Marketing
To summarise the above:
- Facebook is not just for younger generations. Evidence suggests that Facebook use amongst this demographic is actually declining in the UK, and that over-55s are increasingly signing up.
- It is difficult, however, for financial advisers to generate significant volumes of leads via Facebook in the short term. Conversions can happen, but they tend to come further down the line.
- Facebook has curtailed the number of posts users see from businesses in their news feeds. Maybe 1-4% of your total followers will see your post.
- This means that you need to generate quite a large following, and post several times a week, if you want your content to appear in front of significant numbers of relevant eyeballs.
- Generating this following is very difficult to achieve through purely organic means, so it means you will have to commit financial resources to an advertising budget. For some IFAs this cost will be possible, but for many smaller IFAs it is likely to be prohibitively expensive.
- Facebook brings value in the form of brand visibility and awareness, making conversions more likely further down the buying cycle. It helps to qualify and educate your potential clients by informing them about financial problems, and the kinds of solutions which exist. Every so often, as well, a well-run Facebook presence can product greater brand loyalty and affinity from clients, and potential clients – therefore increasing referral and conversion opportunities further down the line.