Russell helped launch the digital marketing platform Twenty Over Ten in 2016, and the firm became part of FMG Suite — also a LUMINARIES winner — in late 2020.
In her latest Q&A with ThinkAdvisor, the digital marketing expert shares how advisors can win new business and better serve existing clients online with the right strategies and content.
THINKADVISOR: You work diligently to educate advisors about using social media and other tools to better market themselves. How did you get started in this work?
SAMANTHA RUSSELL: When we started Twenty Over Ten in 2016, we were an unknown entity and needed to prove that we were credible, experienced and knowledgeable. Even though we only offered a website plus archiving platform at the time, I knew we needed to help advisors with their full marketing strategy if we wanted to gain their trust — so we started the Twenty Over Ten blog.
Our goal was to provide great digital marketing advice and tangible, practical tips that were easy to understand and follow that any advisor could use — not just those using our technology.
I wrote about and shared not only the latest marketing tactics, but actually tried them out for our own business and then shared what did or didn’t work — the transparency was something that advisors really responded to and the blog quickly gained a following.
As we worked with more advisors, I would share the marketing wins we were seeing with different firms. And because people love real-life examples of how others are doing it, it was a hit.
How are these making a difference?
My hope is that the information I share levels the playing field so that it’s no longer just the advisory firms with the biggest marketing budgets that win the most clients. There are so many financial advisors doing good, acting as true fiduciaries and changing their clients' lives — and I love that the marketing tips I share allow more investors and consumers to find those great advisors.
I’ve heard from many advisors over the years who have never gotten a new client from SEO or social media before. But a few months after implementing these marketing strategies, the day comes when a stranger finds them via Google and books a meeting on their website. They are astounded that it actually “works” and so excited all at the same time.
What makes your approach different from others?
An advisor recently wrote to me and said, “I love how you consistently reinforce your marketing tips with data and studies. The combination of tangible, real-world advice mixed with quantifiable data that is backed by third parties makes your suggestions so compelling.”
No matter what you do or who you serve, the more you can share stories, examples and research to back up your advice, the more people will resonate with it.
What are some general steps advisors should take to be searchable?
- Claim and optimize. Completely fill out your firm’s Google My Business Listing. If you are looking for step-by-step guidance, we have a blog that’s a great resource.
- Get as many Google Reviews as you can.
- Create content (blog posts, guides, videos, podcasts, etc.) that answer the questions that your clients and prospects ask. However, when you do this, don’t reword the questions in a way that sounds too professional.
Instead, use the exact words and language that your clients and prospects use when asking you questions. This is important because you want to word your content and title your pieces using the same language that others will actually go to Google and search using.
What web-based marketing practices should advisors avoid?
Google Ads aren’t worth the money for most advisory firms (especially those on the smaller side — which is a high percentage of the industry overall). That’s not to say all paid ads aren’t worth it by any means — Facebook and YouTube ads, retargeting ads, etc., can be highly effective — but I’d avoid just straight Google Ads.
What other “must do” tips can you share?
Identify someone from your firm who will be the “face” of the company (or even a few people even) and get them on camera giving advice/creating content.
There is a psychological phenomenon called the “mere exposure effect” which tells us that people tend to develop a preference for things or people that are more familiar to them than others.
Repeated exposure increases familiarity. The more prospects, centers of influence, people in the community, etc., see your face, hear your voice and watch you give away great information, the more you and your firm will be seen as the go-to experts in your specific field.
If advisors have to choose between adding video or adding podcasts websites and content plans, what would tell them?
Both are great mediums, but if asked to prioritize one over the other, I would choose video over podcast because of the reasons I mentioned above, as well as because of how we find and consume content in general.
If you go to Google and do a search, Google will pull relevant YouTube videos into the search results — highly increasing your chance to be found organically by new prospects.
This allows many more people to “stumble upon” your content when it is video, vs. podcasts, which don’t lend themselves to people finding you organically as well.
Also, the Pew Research Center reported in April 2021 that 83% of all Americans now report that they use YouTube — even more than use Facebook (69%). You want to be where your prospects and clients are spending their time, and YouTube is it.
Additionally, you can take the videos you create and turn them into podcasts if you want — doubling the bang for your buck.