For advisors who want to grow their audience – and hopefully, their client base – content and distribution is King, Queen, and Jack. But how do you build your audience? What is going to set you apart from the crowd and make your blog post or newsletter a must-read, your video channel a must-watch, your next podcast a must-listen?
Caleb Silver, the editor-in-chief of Investopedia, discussed these hot topics at the recent FPA Annual Conference in Chicago. After his presentation, “Building an Audience: Top Strategies for Exponential Audience Growth,” Caleb sat down with me to discuss the 10 ways he believes advisors can improve their online presence and create content followers won’t swipe past.
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No matter how good your online strategy is, you don’t have the 30 million unique monthly visitors that Investopedia has, or its 95-100 million monthly page views.
“For advisors that wanted to create their own content to try to compete with Investopedia, nobody should try to do that,” Caleb Silver says. “It's taken us 19 years to get to where we are and there's plenty of competition in investing education.”
What you can do is partner with Investopedia through its Advisors Insights platform and take advantage of Investopedia’s SEO strength to improve your own Google search results.
“If you look at some advisors who are on the platform, and if you Google their name plus advisor, you will see their Investopedia profile on Google rank really high,” Caleb says.
Another idea, which I discussed recently with CNBC’s Jim Pavia, is to pitch yourself to national media outlets. Positioning yourself as a go-to blogger or talking head when news breaks will boost your credibility, your profile, and your audience reach.
Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are tools of the trade for a fiduciary advisor. Your website should broadcast those values as well.
“EAT is a part of Google's guidelines for recommending websites,” Caleb explains. “Your website should demonstrate that you have expertise and that people can trust your content.”
The easiest way to boost your EAT is to have an up-to-date bio page that’s easily-accessible from your home page. Caleb also recommends adding a byline at the end of every post, like the one I have at the very bottom of this page.
If you want to go a little deeper on this topic, you can click here to read Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
“The successful personalities in the advisor space have been able to get other folks to link to them because they've created something unique,” Caleb says. These backlinks are a key driver to expanding your latest blog post beyond your core audience.
One idea: the internet loves lists, especially at the end of the year. It’s certainly worked for Forbes, Barron’s, and Fortune 500! Caleb’s team created the Investopedia 100 in that spirit, to celebrate influential advisors who are using their reach to provide quality education.
What’s a year-end list you can create that will appeal to your audience? Something that they’ll find so helpful or interesting that they’ll share it with folks who are outside your circle? The best business books you’ve read? The best podcasts you listen to?
Of course you can always hire a PR firm if you want help boosting your audience. But Caleb believes that “earned media” – your peers and community sharing your content because they like it – is more valuable. It’s certainly more cost-effective!
“The easy answer is ‘share everything you write,’” Caleb Silver says. “But that’s not actually the right answer. You have to pick your spots.”
Indiscriminate sharing is tempting because it’s so easy. But while you might feel satisfied looking at your robust content feed, your audience might feel like you’re oversharing. Suddenly regular readers, listeners, and sharers are clicking on a different button: unsubscribe.
If you audience feels like it can get the content you’re creating and sharing from anyone, then they will. You have to create content that’s stamped with your personality, your unique area of expertise, your unique spin on a topic. What is it about your perspective and your brand that only you can deliver? Does your audience appreciate your takes on issues outside finance, like politics or sports? Or are you better off staying in your lane?
Email newsletters are one of the most effective ways for advisors to create direct, personal relationships with their audiences. Investopedia’s most popular is its “Term of the Day,” which gives its audience something quick, interesting, and timely to read and some links for more information. It’s an easy way for Investopedia to engage its audience every day while also reinforcing its brand as a trustworthy source of financial education.
You could seize upon the day’s top national or local headlines to give your audience a quick hit of info. Other newsletters, Mike Allen’s for Axios or David Lenhardt’s at the New York Times, are written from more of an editorial angle. Caleb Silver edits Investopedia’s new afternoon newsletter, for which he selects stories that he thinks are interesting and that complement other content on his site. Again, knowing your audience and what they’ll respond to is key.
Say you wanted to create some content on the ups and downs the market went through in October – while also fielding all those calls from nervous clients who need your reassurance!
You might only have time to write up a quick primer on market volatility for your weekly newsletter. That’s an engaging start. But you can also expand that content. Maybe you read an excerpt from your piece on video and add a relevant personal story that isn’t in the newsletter. You could link to a relevant Investopedia article on volatility. You could excerpt the content into a short social media post and link to an interview with someone like Warren Buffet that expands on your point.
You’ve just turned one piece of content into half a dozen and given your audience multiple opportunities to share your take on an important issue. And maybe that expert you link to reshares your piece to his or her own audience! As Caleb says, backlinks are gold.
On the video side, your cell phone has all of the equipment you need to create professional content. But Caleb cautions against just standing in front of a wall or talking into your camera while you’re driving – unless you have such a huge audience that they’re literally hanging on your every update. “You have to find your space,” he says. “You have to find a way to use a medium in its strongest form possible. Don't just tell me something, show me something.”
Your audience isn’t looking for you to break news. They have Google Alerts and Twitter for that.
Caleb Silver draws an important distinction between a “push medium” like CNN and a “pulled medium” like Investopedia: “tangential content to understand what’s happening.”
As an example, Caleb’s team didn’t break the news that John Flannery was out at GE. But they did “surround” that news with stories that answered questions they knew would interest readers: Who owns GE? What businesses does GE still own? What have they sold? Who are the top shareholders? Who might be the next CEO?
“When something like this happens, it's another opportunity for us to update that content really quick because that's the stuff that's going to work in search, where we get the most of our traffic,” Caleb says.
I already mentioned that year-end lists are popular, and you can probably come up with content topics that will sync up nicely with holidays, summer vacations, dads and grads, tax season, etc.
But with massive amounts of Investopedia user data at his disposal, Caleb also tries to pinpoint when readers start looking up specific types on information.
“Everybody thinks taxes is an end-of-the-year thing, and then a January, February, March trend,” Caleb says. “And there is strong traffic in those months. But interest in tax content for us actually begins in mid-October, end of November. It wanes by the time we get to the end of January because people have already taken care of their taxes for the most part.”
The key here is anticipation. Just like a clothing retailer starts displaying swimsuits in March, you want to get out ahead of what your audience will be thinking about before they’re thinking about it.
One sweet spot to be on the lookout for is something that your audience is very interested in, but that isn’t being covered very much. Caleb’s team asks, “Where is search volume the heaviest but the content produced the lowest?” This process of “topic sizing” can lead you to some content that’s going to set you apart, if no other reason than you’re one of the few people talking about it.
“Just type in the question,” Caleb recommends. “If you're not finding an answer, then nobody's answering it very well. You might have an opportunity to do that. If you don't think by doing it yourself you can get traffic amplification and get ranked high, reach out to us. Maybe we do it together to get you started.”
Investopedia uses its data to track an Anxiety Index of search volume for key terms against the VIX. Caleb Silver says that the correlations show that people do try to educate themselves about financial topics before they take action.
Most of the data RIAs deal with is personal to our clients. You’re not going to share that data, but you can use it to analyze the kinds of choices your clients are making at different points in their lives, and what kind of content you can create that’s relevant.
“What are my clients in their 40s thinking about right now?” Caleb asks. “What are my clients in their 60s thinking about right now? What's the common theme that keeps coming up? What are the types of accounts people keep asking me about? There's something in there that you can do something with.”
Of course, maybe the most important data you can mine are your personal experiences working with clients, understanding where their financial habits come from, figuring out the strategies that will lead them to their retirement goals. How you ask and answer questions that help people use their money to live better is what makes you, well, you. And ultimately, how well you present you is what will determine how many people you reach, and how many new clients walk through your door.
- Investopedia Check out the latest content from Caleb Silver and his team.
- Investopedia Top 100 Financial Advisors A list of financial advisors "who have contributed significantly to conversations about financial literacy, investing strategies, life-stage planning and wealth management."
- Investopedia Advisor Insights Caleb Silver put together this network of expert financial advisors that answers questions from the larger Investopedia community.
- Investopedia Anxiety Index Caleb Silver's team tracks searches for key terms against major market trends.
- Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines Get a better understanding of how to optimize your content for Google's search results.
- The ROL Index A tool Mitch Anthony and I developed to help advisors measure their clients' well-being in 10 aspects of life.
- Values Clarification Toolkit Click here to download this FREE tool and start living your values.
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