Accounting and financial services firms take pride in winning new clients through referrals and word of mouth. In a profession that demands a high level of trust, positive client relationships are essential to building a strong base of repeat business.

As a new generation enters the market, companies need to connect with a demographic accustomed to online communications. For one thing, only 2 percent of children keep their inheritances with their parents' financial advisor. This presents a challenge and also an opportunity. What can you do to ensure your firm is visible -- and viable -- to a generation of younger clients?

 

MAKE SURE YOU CAN BE FOUND

Eighty-one percent of consumers research online prior to making big purchases, while 94 percent of business-to-business buyers do online research. Based on these trends, an effective online presence can only help your cause.

Start by making sure your Web site is "clean" and friendly to search engines. Eliminate problems that incur penalties from Google: duplicate content, Web site speed, incorrect link redirects and bad backlinks.

Optimize your Web pages with quality content, indexable text, images and video, well-considered meta tags and descriptions.

Get proactive with backlinks. This is a long-term, ongoing effort to acquire links from social media, business directories, business partners, clients, industry forums and industry bloggers. This is the most effective tactic for search engine optimization.

 

BE FRIENDLY TO MOBILE DEVICES

"Mobile-friendly" options for your Web site range from making some tweaks for compatibility to building dedicated mobile apps. These options include:

Implement responsive design: Build a Web site that "adapts" to specific screen sizes and browsers. This requires design and planning to make sure navigation and content will work for both desktop and small screens.

Build a dedicated mobile Web site: This is a Web site designed to work with all the features of a mobile phone for a fully compatible experience.

 

USE SOCIAL MEDIA PRODUCTIVELY

A survey of over 4,000 investors with $100,000 or more in assets showed that one third use social media for personal finance and investing purposes; nearly 70 percent have re-allocated investments or changed relationships based on content found through social media. They use social media to form first impressions and then to discover "traditional" information sources.

Know when to go private. It's tempting to answer a question on social media, where everyone can share in the knowledge. But if you're chatting to another parent at a school soccer game and they ask you for serious advice, you would stop the casual chat and initiate a private and formal process. Same here.

Listen. Too often, we think of social media as a channel for pushing our expertise outward when it's just as valuable for staying current with what's going on with our clients. Weddings, births, home purchases, graduations, illness and death. These are life-changing events that need acknowledgment and perhaps advice.

 

OFFER QUALITY CONTENT

Interesting, helpful, quality content is at the hub of your online marketing efforts. It builds credibility, allows you to showcase your expertise (without pitching), and gives you something valuable to post or tweet on social media. Quality content attracts those all-important backlinks and gets retweets.

  • Commit to consistency. Good content marketing requires resources. Budget for this and find the right talent. Your staff can do some writing, but make sure the articles/blogs are professionally edited.
  • Blogs work both ways. There's value to inviting guest bloggers or submitting articles to other blogs or publications.
  • Create a content calendar. Think like a magazine editor and schedule a few months' worth of topics. This reduces stress by letting you allocate time and resources.

As a new and connected generation enters the market, interaction through digital channels will only increase in importance.
Martin Wong is chief marketing officer at Smartt.com, a digital consulting agency based in Vancouver, B.C.

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