Neil St. Clair, Vestorly’s Chief Growth Officer, recently told financial professionals how to answer the question: how can I use my website to attract HNW clients and prospects? Watch the webinar recording here, or read below for his insight.
The profile and broad characteristics of high net worth individuals (having between $1-5 million) mean they have different lifestyles, interests, and expectations. This knowledge can better help you understand how to appeal to them on your website. First, we know that they are highly educated. 81% have at least a college degree and more than a quarter have an advanced degree.
They consider themselves to be fairly knowledgeable about financial products and investments. Only 22% would not say they are knowledgeable. And importantly – 56% know they still have a great deal to learn. A key insight here: they are knowledgeable but open to being educated and reading content that can teach them something. They have strong educations but they know that remaining educated and learning more is necessary to staying ahead.
The top concerns among these individuals have to do with the financial security and education of children and grandchildren. They are less concerned with building wealth but worry about making it last.
When asked about the attributes most important to their success, the top two responses were listed as hard work or practice and personal ambition.
This can help you predict the subject of content that might interest these visitors (they may be more receptive to an article about setting up a 529 plan for their grandchildren, but not about budgeting for vacation), but we can also draw some broad conclusions about the experience they expect when reading content.
Those who have worked hard to become successful want to enjoy their success in the future and desire premium experiences and quality. They want to know about new research and events and market updates as soon as they occur. They trust premium sources, not canned stories or fluffy content without real insight. They prefer meaningful communication and digital experiences with inherent value. They can see through communication for the sake of communication and know when you put generic articles on your site to fill up space.
With a general picture of HNWIs and the digital experiences they expect, we can consider how these individuals interact with you through the content on your website.
Below is something you may have seen before – a simple marketing funnel. At the top are individuals who don’t know you but are aware of you. At the bottom are your happiest clients who refer you and advocate for you. To bring a lead from the top of the funnel to the bottom requires many touchpoints like phone calls, meetings, events, emails, and – importantly – visits to your website.
At the top of the funnel – people who are aware of you and are maybe considering you, but are not ready to speak with you or begin a conversation – are what are known as MQLs
Say a HNWI named Stephen in Utica has recently realized he needs a financial advisor. He’s busy and not ready to start a full exploration, but he wants to see what’s out there, so he searches online or asks a friend for a recommendation, and he comes across Utica Wealth Management, so he takes a look at their website.
If the site prompts him to make a phone call, send an email, or schedule a meeting, it’s asking for too big of an action from someone who is just browsing. Stephen may be planning to research further in the future, but currently he’s only window shopping. He doesn’t want to speak to someone or get in touch, so if the website has no other calls to action, he’ll leave without telling Utica Wealth Management about himself. Their web analytics will show another visitor, but that data isn’t useful without a name or contact information.
Every website needs something for visitors like Stephen, who are just browsing right now but will be looking more seriously in the future. Content like timely articles, blogs, news, whitepapers, or newsletters engages Stephen without asking for a commitment. Someone in his position is more likely to click through to read articles relevant to him or provide his email address to receive weekly insights. If Stephen signs up for a newsletter, he’s made a small commitment. When the time comes to do his research and find a financial advisor, Utica Wealth Management will be at the top of his mind.
If Stephen signs up for a newsletter, he’s made a small commitment. When the time comes to do his research and find a financial advisor, Utica Wealth Management will be at the top of his mind.
This is why we call someone like Stephen at the top of the marketing funnel a Marketing Qualified Lead. He’s ready to read the firm’s content and be marketed to, but he’s not ready to set up a call and be sold to.
A few weeks or months later when Stephen decides it’s time to buckle down, do his research, and commit to a financial advisor, he remembers Utica Wealth Management because he’s visited their website a few times to read their suggested articles and he’s gotten their weekly emails. He’s considering them more seriously and has real intent to make a commitment, so he reaches out for an initial call. Before he decides to work with UWM, there will be more calls and meetings, but he’ll continue his own research.
Web content that gets deeper into Stephen’s needs and interests keeps him interested. If the website makes him feel like he learned something and he’s better informed, that feeling contributes to the brand experience that Utica Wealth Management is building and provides a more positive impression of this firm.
Like Stephen, 60% of visitors feel more positive about an advisor after reading good content on his or her website. The Spectrem Group found that the most important factor in choosing an advisor for HNWIs is this perception of the advisor as honest and trustworthy. Trustworthy, quality content on your website contributes to that feeling, while out of date and low-quality content detracts.
Let’s say that Stephen has signed on as a client and has moved down to the bottom of the marketing funnel. He’s made a purchase, but he needs to remain happy to become a loyal ongoing client and advocate for many years.
A website with news, articles, information, and videos from top sources turns his wealth management firm’s website into a bookmarked destination. If he trusts the site and knows he can come to it daily for articles curated for his interests and needs, then every visit he makes will build trust, establish more touch points, and keep the firm top of mind.
In this way, your website content can bring leads through the marketing funnel, engaging them when they’re not ready to start a conversation, supporting your conversations when they are ready to talk, and satisfying more clients to become advocates, which will deliver more referrals back to the top of the funnel.
To host the most engaging content that moves your prospects and clients through this marketing funnel, you need to rely on data. Hard evidence reveals what your visitors truly want.
We’ve already viewed data regarding interests, needs, and preferences of HNWIs, but Vestorly’s proprietary dataset demonstrates the specific content they enjoy. Thousands of advisors use Vestorly to share content every day with their audiences, comprised of millions of investors in aggregate. Over the last few years, we’ve tracked the most engaging content on advisor sites, what they have in common, and what makes them perform well. We’ve discovered five components most important to choosing content for your website.
We’ve found two topic blocks most appealing to HNW visitors. First are all finance-related topics. If the content mentions one of the below, it is more likely to be clicked on by HNW visitors:
• Market events
• Education planning
• Real estate
But we’ve found these non-finance topics perform well too:
• Vacation and travel
• Golf and fitness
• Cultural events
If it seems strange to host topics like these on your website, remember your goal is to intrigue and engage visitors no matter their relationship with you. We’ve found that many HNW visitors to your site are likely to click on lifestyle articles because they want to read articles on topics they like, even if it’s on the website of a financial professional.
In the below example of a Vestorly user’s content page, the firm shares major news next to the basics on trusts and medicare, and even next to food and recipes. They’ve found that these are the topics their particular audience enjoys most.
The most read sources we’ve found for news and events are trusted national sources like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. These same publications along with your local sources are most-clicked for cultural events. The most-clicked sources for investments and markets are more premium sources that delve into deeper understanding like The Economist. The top trusted lifestyle articles again come from premium sources like Conde Nast Traveler and Food & Wine.
On the left in the below example is a typical financial advisor website featuring canned content without identifiable sources. These articles were written generically for thousands of advisors to white label and they don’t grab the reader’s attention. On the right are a few articles from premium recognized sources on more relevant issues with quality images and headlines that pop. This is the kind of content HNWIs will engage with because they want the most premium experiences.
In the above example, the better articles are also timely and respond to the day’s news. They are not generic FAQs about financial planning but tell readers how recent events impact them. Though timely news has a shorter lifespan and requires frequent updates, we’ve found that readers are 3x more likely to click on it over evergreen content.
More important than the medium of content you share, is the variety of the mediums. Your website should include a mix of articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and infographics to appeal to varied consumer interests and to offer different options for consuming content.
Our data can only guide you so far, because ultimately, the best content for your website is different from the best content on someone else’s. One of our most important findings is that there are no hard rules. Every audience is a little different depending on the target. Do you work with retirees in Florida or new families in Michigan? Do you do estate planning in New York? There is no magic wand you can wave for the perfect mix of articles. The visitors to your website arrived by different searches or referrals, and they have different needs, interests, questions, hobbies, and goals.
The topics and sources we’ve shared so far are what our data has shown to work most effectively at attracting high net worth individuals from a general view, but customizing your website with content relevant to your visitors based on niche, your location, and interests of your community will truly take you above and beyond.
There’s a certain balance you need to strike on your website. Ask yourself before sharing something: would I want to read this? If it’s not something you would click on if you came across it, then why would your audience? You wouldn’t be interested in vague stories from unknown publications that are out of date and don’t match a premium experience you expect.
But at the same time, you can’t offer content that’s all about you and for you. If you’re only offering content that appeals to your specific interests and preferences, you’ll alienate some of your visitors. If your content is too deep into the financial planning process, or if reading them is like studying for a test, your readers won’t return for more.
Consider both sides of the questions. Does the quality of the content you share match the premium experience you want to associate with your brand? Would the content appeal to you even if you were not a financial professional?
The below example is the content page of a leading RIA firm working with HNWIs. They publish original content on a monthly basis and a generic update daily. These headlines don’t catch a visitor’s attention and the introductory blurbs are dry and difficult to read, which don’t make visitors want to continue reading. This is not the kind of content a new visitor on your site will be enticed by, and it’s not the kind of content that a client would bookmark or share with others. These articles only come once a month because the firm doesn’t have time to write daily.
In this next example though, the firm devotes their content page to a variety of topics. On their Finance and Investing page shown here, they display recent articles in a modern browsing experience, which is more likely to engage and attract HNWIs.
The examples in this article have all featured third-party content, which may make you hesitate. Why would you want to send clients and prospective clients to something you didn’t write? Don’t they want an opinion from their wealth manager? Not quite. Articles from premium sources like The Wall Street Journal are internationally recognized because of the quality, timeliness, imagery, and access to experts. Sharing third-party sources enables you to cover all kinds of topics even when you’re not an expert, and enables you to share in real-time, not only when you have time to write an article. For these reasons, your visitors are more likely to engage initially with third party content than your original content.
We spoke about this with one of our users, a large advisory firm, who found the content they write themselves actually gets less intrigue and interest than content shared from a premium third-party source. The firm uses this to their advantage. If for example, they want to initiate a conversation about estate planning, they won’t write and share an article called “What You Need to Know about Estate Planning.” Instead, they’ll share an article from The Wall Street Journal like “US Aims to Clamp Down on Tactic to Avoid Estate Tax.” It’s from a highly recognized and trusted source, and related to timely news. It may be less to the point, but the message is the same: talk to your financial advisor about estate planning.
Pictured below is the firm’s News & Insights page. Your visitors certainly want your opinion as an expert, but original content is not necessarily what they’re likely to click on. They want to read timely relevant news from top sources and then talk with you about how it affects them. The content on your site is the hook to bring them in for a real conversation.
It’s unrealistic to maintain a regular schedule of content production and to write an article immediately in response to every event. Your website should always be up to date though and if you’re relying on your own content, you’ll end up with out of date articles that don’t reflect well on your brand. Set a realistic content production schedule for yourself of once a month or quarter even, and supplement your website in the meantime with trusted third party sources. Remember: the most important factor in choosing an advisor for HNWIs is the perception of the advisor as honest and trustworthy. Out of date articles will not aid in that perception.
Our suggestions for this article are based on data we’ve collected. You, too, must use your own personally generated data to optimize and iterate your email marketing. We’ve identified two types of data most important to your strategy. The first we call Vanity Metrics and comprises information like clicks to site and time spent on site. These rates help you understand which topics or sources compel more clicks, but they don’t directly translate to new business. However, you can use this data to improve your site to become more engaging to ultimately generate what we call Actionable Intelligence, like names, emails, contact information of your readers, and every article they’ve been reading and their continued click paths.
This is the data you can act directly on to form a new relationship and grow your business. If your web analytics page reveals that someone you don’t recognize has read a recent article about estate planning, and in fact continued clicking to read more articles about estate planning, this person may be a lead in need of your services. If your analytics tool also reveals the visitor’s name and email address, you can add this person to your newsletter, continue nurturing them through email and other touchpoints, and eventually take the relationship offline. If all you knew was that one more person had visited your website, then it wouldn’t have been much use to you.
We asked Halbert Hargrove, a Vestorly user, about the results they saw after implementing a web content strategy like we’ve described here.
Previously their only content was published semi-quarterly and was investment specific. Their clients commented, “this looks like it might be great, but I don’t understand it.” The content was too dry and didn’t appeal to visitors. Now using Vestorly, they stream curated content like what you see below to their website. By engaging their visitors with more enjoyable content, Halbert Hargrove increased their database because Vestorly collects the names of new visitors. They’ve also found that this changes the conversation.
Rather than clients saying: “My advisor tells me I should contribute to my IRA” they instead say “Wow, The Wall Street Journal is writing about IRAs, which my advisor keeps telling me about. This must be important.” They say that this content is an additional service for their clients. It’s value added to the relationship that clients truly appreciate.
A well thought out and implemented web content strategy is easier said than done. If you’re a wealth manager, web development is not your main business. Realistically, you have more important things to do than finding articles to share and updating your website.
Thousands of tools exist to curate content and embed it on your website. The financial services industry faces an additional challenge though: most compliance departments require approval on all articles shared. For that reason, most content curators for financial firms are dry canned articles, and can’t be shared in response to real-time news.
All hope is not lost. Vestorly is a software that automates the strategy discussed here. It curates content from the best sources for your audience and automatically updates it on your website, in addition to designing intelligent email newsletters and social media posts. Vestorly is based on artificial intelligence that examines your audience and what they’re most likely to read, and then suggests the content most engaging for them so your strategy is personalized.
The data we’ve used to make recommendations about the content people want comes from what we’ve seen all of our users and their audiences doing. This data is available in your Vestorly accounts too so you can examine what’s most impactful and what people like best, enabling you to iterate and improve in the future (or take the suggestions from our intelligent engine).
Since Vestorly was built for financial professionals, we work closely with large enterprises like Pershing and TD Ameritrade and with large independent RIA firms to solve the compliant content problem. Our technology directly integrates into your compliance workflows so you can get quick approval on third-party articles, allowing you to stay timely and relevant. We also track the articles that compliance departments are most likely to approve, so we can further customize our suggested content for sharing.
Your ultimate goal when sharing content on your website is to intrigue visitors enough to bring them back to you and your company. Vestorly helps you live and tell stories in digital space through the gift of content. With a more intriguing and interesting digital presence, you’ll draw more people in and initiate more conversations. Get in touch with us to learn more or to speak with Neil directly about email strategy.