When it comes to running a successful financial planning practice, impactful positive client reviews can bring in significantly more business. Online reviews are more important than ever before. Review interaction—searching for, filtering reviews, and expanding or reading entire reviews—has increased 50% percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Client reviews can have a real, tangible impact on your financial planning firm’s reputation and bottom line. Let’s dig into the nuts and bolts of online reviews, why they work, and strategies for collecting high-quality reviews to boost your business.
Do Reviews Really Matter?
Lack of reviews or negative recommendations can lead customers to take their business elsewhere. In fact, 94% of consumers say that one or multiple negative reviews have convinced them to avoid a business or organization entirely, and 85% of consumers say they value online reviews just as much as recommendations from close friends and family members.
Although this may sound straightforward, rules and regulations created by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission stipulate how marketers can obtain and use customer reviews or testimonials to sell their services — and that applies to financial advisors, too. Failing to follow certain protocols can hurt your business or cause consumers to lose trust in your financial planning services.
Why are authentic reviews so critical? Client reviews shape how prospective customers view your financial planning practice. According to HubSpot Research, 60% of consumers have faith in customer reviews, believing most were either trustworthy or very trustworthy. However, as more businesses and social media influencers are called out for violating SEC guidelines, customers are increasingly skeptical of online marketing and advertising.
How Financial Advisors Can Strategically Collect Client Reviews
Not sure how to collect reviews that showcase the benefits of your services? Here’s how to get started.
1. Identify your brand and public image.
What’s the current public image of your financial planning practice? What do you want it to be? Are they the same? What do you want clients to say, feel and think about your financial planning practice?
A clear, well-defined corporate identity is critical to success. Your firm’s external elements (values, relationships, positioning, and brand identity) should align with your firm’s internal elements (your practice’s mission, vision, company culture, the cost to serve, clients’ needs, and more). Why? Defining your practice’s brand and public image will help you identify and showcase reviews that strongly align with your core values, creating a consistent online presence.
2. Gather reviews from clients.
As a financial advisor, there are many ways to collect reviews from your clients ethically, including the following:
- Ask for reviews via email when following up with clients.
- Send emails requesting reviews to both long-term and short-term clients.
- Add a review page to your website for different types of financial services and different advisors. Make sure it’s easy to find and simple to navigate.
- Offer incentives for written online reviews (e.g., gift cards, a free consultation, small giveaways, or prizes). Make sure that each review states that incentives were given as part of a promotion.
- Use social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram to ask followers for reviews.
- Respond to positive comments or feedback on social media networks as quickly as possible, and ask commenters to review your services.
3. Decide how to utilize client reviews.
There are many different ways to utilize client reviews effectively, and placing them in front of the right people can help attract more clients to your firm.
As you consider how to utilize the client reviews you’ve collected, take the following options into account:
- On your website’s key pages: Display current customer reviews on the most important pages of your website, such as your homepage, “About Us” page, or product information pages.
- In online search ads: Use snippets (just one or two sentences) of client reviews in relevant search results that users see when browsing for financial planning firms.
- Through email marketing campaigns: Email is still the top channel for ROI. Email messages that contain impactful reviews from current clients can improve overall click-through and conversion rates. These email messages should target specific customer demographics, such as age, location, income, and more.
- On your social media networks: Displaying positive reviews on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn can lead to more likes, higher engagement, and recommendations from followers. Social listening can also help your financial planning firm learn how people feel about your brand, improve overall engagement, and expand your reach.
TIP: If any reviews were given as part of a promotion or reviewers were given incentives, this information must be included as part of the review.
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