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The Power of Online Reviews for RIAs and The New SEC Ad Rule

This article first appeared in Advisor Perspectives on March 12th, 2021, and can be found here.

We all do it. We go read online reviews before making any big `purchases or hiring a professional. And it’s no different when someone is looking for an advisor. Unfortunately, previous restrictions prevented firms from tapping into the benefits of online reviews

But that’s all changed.

The new SEC ad rule gives advisors the chance to acquire and leverage reviews to their full benefit. Best of all, the new rule has officially made its way to the Federal Register, so the 60-day waiting period is in effect. And, as an independent agency, the SEC is not required to follow the Biden administration's regulatory freeze. This means the new rule will apply beginning May 4th, unless a voluntary freeze occurs.

Now is the time to re-strategize your marketing efforts and take advantage of this new opportunity.

But where do you start? With so many review sites and options, it’s easy to get lost in a new process.

That’s where this article comes in. Read on to learn the exact steps to help you acquire more reviews and the extra advantages that come from them. You can also watch this video about Google Reviews.

Why should advisors leverage online reviews?

Reviews provide technical and practical benefits that go beyond improving brand perception. These include:

SEO: Google has confirmed that positive reviews on platforms like Google My Business help improve your local SEO efforts, increasing the likelihood that searchers in your area will discover your website.

Increased leads: Seeing the positive experiences of others can drive site visitors to the next step to become clients.

Credibility: Reviews improve the credibility of your website’s copy. Claim to provide a personalized experience? What do your reviews say?

Opportunities for improvement: Not every review will be glowing, but negative reviews don’t have to be all bad. Constructive criticism can be used to improve your processes.

Where do reviews appear?

There are a variety of review sites for financial advisors. But the best place to start is with your Google My Business listing.

What Is Google My Business?

Your Google My Business listing is the window that appears on the right side of a Google search results page:

WealthKeel LLC Googly My Business Listing

Optimize your Google My Business listing first, as it’s a great catch-all for your firm’s information, including your address, contact info, business description, etc. But, most importantly, it includes your Google reviews.

Other options for reviews

Google My Business is a great start, but it’s not your only resource. By analyzing the search queries for other advisors, I’ve seen that a good portion of searches for a firm’s name don’t end with a visit to the firm's site.

That means that searchers are looking for reviews on the firm and are relying on other websites to provide that info.

This is evidence that creating and claiming your listing on one or two other review sites is beneficial. Here’s a list of other popular websites that collect reviews on financial advisors:

Popular Review Websites for Financial Advisors

If you’re having trouble deciding which website to use, then do a quick search of your firm’s name. Do any review websites appear? If so, start with those options.

How can financial advisors get more reviews?

Now that you know why reviews are important and where you can request them, let’s dive into some strategies for receiving more.

1. Request reviews with an email campaign

Create a campaign to request reviews by providing a short description of how those reviews will help your firm. Though it may seem strange, send this campaign to everyone on your contact list, not just clients. Requesting reviews from a specific group could result in bias, making the reviews that follow misleading.

Lead Pilot Review Request Email Campaign

Make the process of writing a review as simple as possible, providing links and directions for specific websites. Lastly, follow standard email marketing rules to improve reader follow-throughs, such as a call-to-action and an attention-grabbing subject line.

2. Include links to review sites in your email signature

An email campaign for reviews should not be sent very often. But including links and a request for reviews in your email signature is a great way to turn every communication you send into an opportunity.

This strategy doesn’t require as much detail as your email campaign, but your links should be clear. Add the site’s logo and a simple request for reviews to draw your visitor’s eye to this section of your email. For example, a simple button requesting a Google review could look like this:

Button to request Google reviews

3. Add links to your website

Your advisor website presents multiple opportunities for review requests. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Website footer: Just like your email signature, review requests and links can be included in your website footer. This approach is unintrusive and makes sure that your request carries over to every page of your website.

Pop-upPop-ups are a little controversial. At best, they’re a reminder; at their worst, they’re an interruption. Make sure yours is the former by only having it appear on pages where requesting a review would make sense.

Review guide: Making the review-writing process simple is the best way to get more reviews. Create a landing page or include the process in another location. This testimonial page from Global Wealth is an excellent example of where advisors can include a guide:

Example testimonial page

4. Make individual requests

Most communication occurs over the phone or Zoom. But if it feels appropriate, one-on-one client conversations can be an excellent opportunity to request reviews. Though this approach will reach fewer individuals, it can be effective. Providing a contact page or some direction following the request is best, so make sure to include this strategy with others.

Online reviews: An opportunity for advisor growth

With the new SEC ad rule at the Federal Register, the 60-day waiting period is in effect. Advisory firms who take the time to plan will successfully leverage reviews to grow their firm. For more ways you can use the new SEC ad rule to your marketing advantage, check out Twenty Over Ten’s recent webinar with Max L. Schatzow, Esq. Don’t forget – always check with your compliance team before jumping into any new marketing opportunity or strategy.