Understanding Your Prospects’ Buyer’s Journey
• Valerie Rivera • January 26, 2021
With remote work and social distancing at the forefront of our lives over the last year, we can all agree that digital has become a primary method for engagement.
A Buyer’s Digital Journey
When we refer to the buyer’s journey, we are really talking about the stages your prospect moves through, from prospect to lead to client. You are the leader of this journey as you try to grow your business. Understanding the buyer’s journey is essential to executing any effective financial professional marketing strategy.
Understanding Warm and Cold Leads
It’s important to recognize that not every prospect or lead is the same and that their journeys to you are different. A “hot” or “warm lead” is familiar with you and your services and has shown interest. And while “cold calling” has many interpretations across industries, it generally refers to a lead that hasn’t shown complete interest in you and your service yet.
Think about it this way: A warm lead, like a referral, just seems to land on your doorstep. They appear, they have a need, you can meet that need, and they are ready to purchase, although they may not know which service provider they will choose. They may also only be partially aware of the solutions available for their problems.
A cold lead, which would likely come from a digital marketing channel, are the folks that haven’t reached your doorstep yet because they are wandering around your neighborhood. You can peek out your window and see them, they may see the exterior of your house, but it’s going to take some further engagement to understand why they are in the neighborhood and what they are looking for. It doesn’t mean you can’t convert a cold lead to a hot one—it just means their journey is going to look a bit different.
The digital marketing journey has five distinct stages: attract, engage, capture, nurture, and convert.
Stage One: Attract
With so much information exchange happening today online, it should come as no surprise that in a recent survey1 we found 42 percent of Americans would start the process of researching an advisor using a search engine like Google.
So, the first step for financial professionals is to make sure you can be found. If you do not yet have a digital presence, make that a priority for 2021.
A website is a must-have, as 98 percent of those surveyed stated that the advisor’s website is somewhat or very important to them. If you have not yet created a profile on social media, consider a social platform like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, since more than half (59 percent) of those in our study said they are open to hearing from advisors via social media.
In addition, check that your local marketing is up to date by typing your name and your firm into a search engine and confirming all details (contact, location, website, etc.) are complete and correct.
A step further would be to ensure that some direct keywords to your service “holistic financial planning Miami Dade,” for example, include you within the search results.
Stage Two: Engage
After being found, you want to make sure you have given the prospect what they are looking for—this is your opportunity to build credibility and trust with them. You can accomplish this by telling your brand story through your website, blog, social profile, or social feed.
If a prospect today were to browse through your LinkedIn profile for example, what would they take away? Would they understand your firm’s mission through the description and tone of your profile? Would they get a sense of you and your services through articles you are sharing?
Evaluate each element of your digital presence to see if you are clearly articulating who you are and what you offer, because this is what a prospect does when they engage digitally. A suggested tactic to make sure you can engage the prospect is to leverage a thought leadership perspective to showcase expertise quickly.
Stage Three: Capture
Engaging a prospect with great content can seamlessly slip that prospect here to stage three—lead capture—where you want to make sure you can properly identify this lead and understand their needs. To do this, you need to have the person fill out a form with their contact details.
A digital “form” can take on several different identities—an e-newsletter signup, a request to access a webinar replay, a simple calculator that allows the visitor to see if they are on track with their goals, or any other specific piece of gated content you can offer engaged leads.
Stage Four: Nurture
With a prospect’s email address, you can now use content to build the relationship. You will want to send only what is relevant to them. For instance, if they came to you via an article “Is Refinancing Right For You?”, perhaps continue to share content about debt management or home ownership as part of a wealth building strategy so you can educate them on a topic you know is important to them.
This is where an automated campaign that is topic-specific may be a good fit to send to a targeted group of leads. Keep in mind the average decision-making timeline. In our research, 43 percent of could-be-clients take 1-2 weeks to research advisors, so schedule an outreach cycle that aligns with your audience’s timeline.
A few additional things to consider at this stage. You want to create an exchange. Maintain gated content so that you can continue to understand the needs of this prospect. Also, give multiple options for engagement—’follow me on social,’ or ‘here’s my email address’ to keep the conversation going.
Stage Five: Convert
The end goal of this digital activity is to get the introductory meeting so you can convert this prospect to a client.
Bearing in mind all of what you have gathered about the prospect and the decision timeline, at some point you need to make the pitch to take the conversation offline. This could be as simple as a scheduled email, sent two or three days after you have shared content, saying, “I hope the content I have shared has been helpful, is there anything I can help you with? Can I answer any questions for you?”
And just like that, you have a call to action!
Advantages to Take Your Digital Efforts to the Next Level
Just because you can no longer physically meet a client sitting across from your desk, doesn’t mean you can’t meet your next clients.
The primary advantage to focusing your efforts on digital marketing is efficiency. With today’s digital tools—the hashtags, keywords, campaigns—you can get really specific and target your efforts. To start today, select a topic or area of your business where you want the growth, and read our eBook for strategies on how to integrate content and campaigns in your buyer’s journey.
1 2020 eMoney Consumer Marketing Survey, September 2020, n=2,000
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
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