Authenticity and Client Engagement

Browse through a few financial advisor websites at random and you’ll get a case of deja vu: didn’t I just read this? Does everyone really have the exact same market commentary? Who is actually writing this?

So many financial services websites seem to be carbon copies, which makes sense since financial professionals have more important things to do than aspire to blog superstardom. Yet, everyone’s advice seems to be “content is king!” and new content libraries and services pop up every day promising to beef up your web presence and generate leads.

The biggest challenges financial professionals face when sharing content are producing engaging content (66%) and producing it consistently (45%), so it’s no surprise that so many advisors have turned to canned digital content to give them a boost. But in truth, content doesn’t bring you value just by existing.

The reading experience matters

Content holds more value than just the words on the page. The way someone experiences reading content affects the perceived value of the message. The nature of how it’s sourced, accessed, and displayed triggers certain values within a reader’s brain. Content that feels like it’s displayed in a contrived environment signals that it’s not an authentic experience or that it’s just there to serve someone’s business purposes. But if it’s displayed in a natural way, credibility is enhanced dramatically. Natural to consumers means familiar, well-designed, and written by a trusted source, not a copied-and-pasted section of a website or a PDF buried on a small business’s resources page.

There’s a reason publishers will be spending $21 billion per year by 2018 on native advertising experiences. They know that content audiences are used to certain formats and a less disruptive advertising experience is more effective at engaging readers.

Sharing brings benefits, so make it shareable.

If a financial advisor writes and shares a blog or recommends a piece of news, it’s delivered with certain expectations and value among their audience.

If a friend recommends a piece of content, it comes with different expectations and social value among the recipients.

Consumers trust advisors because they have years of experience and training. Consumers trust friends because they have personal relationships. When a friend shares content from their advisor, the benefits and value to the advisor compound. If we want a person to recommend what an advisor shares to another reader (i.e. clients sharing with prospects, expanding the audience and reaching referrals), it makes logical sense to provide a natural viewing experience that consumers have come to expect. These are the questions consumers are subconsciously asking themselves as they read:

Is it credible?

Is it real-time?

Is it a real website or is it some kind of copy and paste my advisor is buying?

76% of financial professionals have found that sharing content is the most effective way to build trust, but consumers spot canned messaging and contrived experiences a mile away. People steer clear of it and head back to what they were doing elsewhere in just one click. Capitalize on content’s ability to foster trust with credible, real-time news instead of sacrificing your opportunity to do so with questionable purchased content.

Ads Aren’t the Enemy

Many consider the absence of ads to be a benefit, and don’t share content from the web as a result. But this head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t change the fact that your clients are getting real content on the web whether you like or not. In the marketplace of desirable content, there are no ad-free zones. The most visited websites for personal finance are Yahoo! Finance, MSN MoneyCentral, CNN Money, Google Money, and The Motley Fool, all of which feature ads prominently and are no less trusted by investors.

We all expect and accept the presence of ads. It feels almost bizarre for a reader to be on a page with content without ads. If advertisers aren’t interested in the page, traffic and trust must be low, right? You can always bypass ads if you license premium content, but that can run into the six figures annually. Even publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Economist have ads in their paid-for experiences.

If the content experiences you offer readers are supported by data, then you’ll be sharing content people want to see. The experiences will engage people and enrich your relationships regardless of the ads your audience will see anyway somewhere else.

If the most natural experience to consumers is reading trusted publications and sharing with friends when something is a good fit, then the solution is obvious: let people get content from sources already trusted and rely on objective data to identify the best. Vestorly uses artificial intelligence to find content your audience wants and automatically shares it. You and your audience both get what you want: desirable content for them, less guesswork and more engagement for you.

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