Inbound Marketing for RIAs

Leverage the power of online search

The global marketing landscape is quietly undergoing a significant transformation due to recent technological trends. We believe this transformation will mandate a paradigm shift be embraced by your firm with respect to its marketing efforts if your firm desires to remain visible in the eyes of your target markets. And the sooner your firm acknowledges these trends and “retools” its marketing strategy, the better positioned your firm will be relative to your peers to reap the benefits afforded by these trends. In this discussion, I will identify these technological trends and present specific actions your firm can take, right now, to leverage behavioral changes in your clients, prospects, and referral sources to increase assets under management.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is simply marketing efforts designed to facilitate the discovery of your firm through your target market’s own Internet-related activities. This means instead of you finding your most qualified leads, they will find you. Some of the key drivers of inbound marketing include social media use, Web 2.0 development frameworks, video-based content, search engine optimization efforts, RSS feeds, and webinars. The common denominator here is content, thus proving, once again, content truly is king for online visibility! For RIAs, that content, parked in clear view on your website (as I discussed in Website Development for RIAs), should represent your firm’s intellectual capital which will differentiate your firm from your peers. For the most effective results, your firm needs to implement a comprehensive strategy that collectively leverages all of these drivers.

What About Traditional Marketing?

So what about all of those cold calls, broadcast media advertisements, direct mail campaigns, and spammy email messages still used by everybody else? Outbound marketing techniques such as these are becoming less effective due to behavioral changes in your target market brought on in large part by advancements in technology. The common denominator among these traditional methods used by businesses (including some RIAs) to engage clients and prospects has been their interruptive nature. Cold calls have interrupted your workday or family time, commercials have interrupted your television and radio programming, and direct mail and spam have interrupted your daily procedures.

But now, instead of permitting cold calls to interrupt my day, I can check caller ID and send the call to voice mail with a push of a button. I can even blacklist numbers using our virtual PBX platform. I can download apps to block all cold calls on my smartphone. And this is after I’ve registered with the various “do not call” registries, which dramatically reduces cold call volume. I find myself consuming less and less traditional broadcast media, instead, favoring the convenience and portability of using my smartphone for media consumption and information aggregating. And when I do spend time in front of the television (generally accompanied by a phone or tablet), my DVR permits me to easily advance through all of the commercials. The direct mail I receive from unrecognized senders typically ends up in the recycle bin. And email filters effectively eliminate email spam before it ever hits my inbox. Instead of forcing your marketing message onto your target audience, inbound marketing pulls members within your target audience to you, enabling them to consume your intended message on their terms and at their convenience.

Why We Prefer Inbound Over Outbound

In addition to the above-listed reasons, we prefer inbound marketing strategies because the Internet is a fantastic competition leveler. As long as your content is compelling, timely, and bundled in an easy-to-consume package, your inbound marketing strategies can enable your firm to compete on a level playing field with those firms possessing massive marketing budgets (not necessarily other RIAs either). Although a firm can persistently buy its first page Google search results placement, the fact is as many as 70 percent of the links clicked by online search users are organic links provided by the search results, not paid links according to MarketingSherpa. Finally! Your marketing results are rewarded based upon the quality of your content, not the size of your wallet.

Further, moving from a local or regional presence to a global presence can be easily accomplished by exploiting existing inbound marketing strategies. The scale of your firm is no longer limited by its geographical presence. Instead, your firm’s scalability essentially becomes limitless as soon as you embrace inbound marketing. For the vast majority of RIAs, this is incredibly empowering.

So What About These Technological Trends?

Listed below are key statistics that lend insight into the behavioral changes currently taking place within your target audience:

  • At Facebook’s 2011 F8 conference held last September, the firm declared its user base exceeded 800 million individuals
  • As of March 2012, Twitter processes 340 million tweets each day
  • Analysts estimate Google Plus is adding 625,000 new users everyday
  • According to Pew Research, retirees aged 65 and older now represent the fastest growing age group of social media users
  • In May 2011, YouTube reported 48 hours of video content is uploaded to the site every minute
  • In November 2011, Cisco reported 51 percent of all Internet traffic is video; and the company predicted within three years, 90 percent of all traffic will be video
  • According to Forrester Research, publishing SEO video content on your website will give you a 53X better chance of landing a first page Google search results ranking
  • 2011 global mobile data traffic was over 8X greater than the entire world’s Internet traffic in 2000
  • Mobile video traffic is expected to grow at a CAGR of 90 percent through 2016
  • Total mobile website traffic is doubling year over year
  • By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth
  • Google handles on average nearly 115 billion online searches per month

Interpretation Please!

Here’s what I take away from that list of facts:

More people continue to use multiple social media sites, everyone now has an Internet connected mobile device and people are using them to search for online content, people are consuming vast amounts of video content apart from traditional broadcast media channels, and search engines are perfectly content to serve that video content up on a platter to those who search for it.
At the beginning of this discussion, I said the global marketing landscape is “quietly” undergoing this transformation from focusing solely on traditional, outbound-centric, marketing campaigns to incorporating inbound-centric strategies. Clearly, inbound marketing calls into question the relevancy of most marketing firms that continue to rely on traditional marketing methods. The more nimble and tech-savvy marketers have already embraced this paradigm shift while many traditional agencies continue to tread down familiar paths. Echoing this sentiment is Craig Davis, former global chief creative officer for J. Walter Thompson, the world’s fourth largest ad agency:

Audiences everywhere are tough. They don’t have time to be bored or brow beaten by orthodox, old-fashioned advertising. We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.

So What Do We Do?

As I mentioned in Website Development for RIAs, your firm’s website must become the online central repository for your firm’s intellectual capital. This represents the compelling, timely content in the inbound marketing strategy. By using Web 2.0 design principles, your content will be positioned to be leveraged by downstream inbound marketing strategies. Next, read Social Media For RIAs and learn how to integrate social media into your overall inbound marketing strategy. Learn how to use video content for inbound marketing purposes by reading Social Media For RIAs (Part II). Lastly, read Social Media For RIAs (Part III) and learn how to exploit the social sharing functionality inherent in many social media sites in order to globally distribute your content.

If you are an active social media user, please consider sharing this topic with your acquaintances who may benefit from our services.