Acquiring more clients online - The Adviser (9 July 2015)

Matt Mitchener, product and channel marketing manager at Vow Financial and Yellow Brick Road, explores how finance broking businesses can acquire new clients - in particular, SMEs - for commercial loan enquiries.

Whilst handshakes and relationships rule in the real world, in the digital world it's important to follow a few key ideas to successfully market your business to target and attract commercial borrowers.

1. Ensure you have an online presence, not just a virtual business card

Yes, you probably have a website with five pages explaining what you have on offer. But do you have a blog, highlighting recent success stories or the current lending environment for small business? Become an expert and put aside 30 minutes each week to write about whatever is topical. Enable your customers to interact with your website, providing tools (for example, calculators or FAQs) or downloads (like SME business plans and budgeting spreadsheets to track cash flow). The more you add to your site, the more you empower your customer and the more likely search engines such as Google will rank your website higher. Also, by being current, insightful, regular and relevant with your content, you inadvertently prove your expertise over your competitors.

2. Source customer testimonials

Finance brokers generally do this all of the time, but have you ever thought to ask your commercial client to instead recommend your services on LinkedIn? With seven million users in Australia alone, think of the power of a recommendation on LinkedIn that is seen by all of your client's contacts? If they own a business, it's likely they are connected with similar companies and decision-makers who seek trust and guidance from their professional connections. Word of mouth is impactful online, just like it is offline.

3. Convert the traffic you receive.

Make sure that your website invites enquiries, and that this is prominently displayed. To begin a conversation with a potential client you only need a few details - don't ask for too much!

4. Fish where the fish are

It's no secret that most professionals who may require commercial loans have a LinkedIn page. There are sponsored posts and advertising options via this platform to get into the news feed and onto the screen of a potential customer. Of course, there is the option of Google AdWords, which may also assist in increasing website visitors, but advertising on 'commercial loans' or 'commercial lending' keywords may be up to $50 per click. The following is a practical case study:

LinkedIn has two main ways to target their users: sponsored stories (posts) or creating an advertisement. To access these options, click on 'advertising' in the main menu of your LinkedIn account. To set up an advertising account, you will need to link a credit card and pay $5 to set up the ad account.

In this case, we will be targeting Sydney-based members of LinkedIn, who are business owners and company directors (no limit on size of company) in the manufacturing sector.

Your advertisement copy should read something along the lines of: "Commercial finance in Aus - grow your business, speak to an expert in the manufacturing sector today."

Be selective with the messaging of your ad - you are restricted by how many characters you can use.

Now you target the members of LinkedIn who will see your advertisement, starting with location (Oceania, Australia, Sydney). This will target over 1.5 million members.

Then select your industry (in this case, manufacturing) and different categories (for example, chemicals, plastics, machinery, mining). I selected all of the available options and now I have 78,500 LinkedIn members.

Finally, select job seniority. I selected 'owner' and 'director', which left me with a total target of 10,162 LinkedIn members. You can drill down into more targeting options here if you wish (for example, age, schooling, sex).

Now, to select a budget on what you are willing to pay. There are two options to choose from:

  • cost per click (CPC), where you pay every time someone clicks on your ad
  • cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), where you pay for every 1,000 people who see your ad.

Depending on what your campaign is targeting, LinkedIn will provide you with a recommended budget. For the above example, LinkedIn gave me the below options:

  • recommended cost per click - $5.46
  • recommended cost per 1,000 impressions - $3.09.

Because the mentioned advertising campaign is only targeted to 10,162 people, I am very happy to pay $3.09 per 1,000 views of the ad in hope that they will see it a few times, click on it and be directed to my company website so that I can capture the lead.

Read article online here.