Solving Compliance’s Biggest Bottleneck: The Content Approval Process
Most financial advisors want a modern and sleek website design. While that is an admirable and worthwhile goal, it is a mistake to go the minimalistic route and reduce the amount of useful content in order to make a website more visually appealing.
After all, it really doesn’t matter how beautiful a website is if no one ever sees it.
When search engines, such as Google, crawl and rate a site, one of the primary things they are looking for is high-quality, original content. Providing such content is one of the basic tenets of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is the best way for you to get your website ranked higher. In other words, if you want your website to be one of the first ones listed as the result of a web search, you need to populate it with useful content.
The Purpose of High-Quality Content
The reason for writing original, high-quality content, though, goes way beyond simply trying to optimize SEO. Content should be viewed as a tool that provides a way for you to interface with your existing customers and communicate with visitors to your site.
Just ask Jeff Rose, a financial advisor turned Internet marketer. His website receives more than 400,000 hits per month due to his blogging activities. Imagine what that must be doing for the growth of his business and what it could do for yours! If only one-tenth of one percent of those visitors became clients, he would be adding 400 new clients per month!
Creating and Editing Website Content
The Internet has opened up new opportunities that could have only been imagined a few years ago. New promotional campaigns can be launched, revised, and relaunched faster than the paper could have been gathered to publish a traditional campaign in the past. The ability to reach new customers has never been greater, and the increase in available customer data has led to an explosion in market potential.
You may be thinking of adding new content to your website, such as a blog, but you are wondering if it is really worth the trouble considering the content approval process you will be faced with. However, if you let that stop you from tweaking your website, you will be missing out on some of the greatest marketing opportunities of all time. Here’s why:
- As a financial advisor, you are constantly looking for ways to improve your relationship with your existing clients as well as to add new ones. Your website allows you to stay in touch with your clients and shows them that you care enough to take time out of your busy schedule to provide them with the useful information they need.
- Because your clients are constantly searching for facts and information regarding their financial strength and security, you can help them immensely by providing current, useful and informative content. Done right, you can easily create a loyal following. Once your clients realize the value of the information you are providing, they will revisit your website again and again to read your latest posts. Your website content will then become an invaluable tool in helping you develop long-term relationships with your clients.
- When a new client is evaluating the services you offer via your website, the information you provide will convince them that you have the knowledge, expertise, and credibility that they are looking for. The strength of your content can make the difference in whether a potential client selects you as their new financial advisor or decides to go with one of your competitors.
- When an existing client visits your website and sees an article that catches their attention, it is likely that they will share it with family and friends on social media. This is another way that new clients are introduced to you and to your website.
- The original, high-quality content on your website will drive additional visitors to your website through the use of search engine optimization, as previously mentioned. When bloggers and web developers are impressed by the quality of the information you provide, they will include links on their website that will lead visitors to your pages in an organic fashion. The successful use of SEO can dramatically increase the number of potential clients who visit your site, much more than other measures alone could ever do. The proper use of SEO will also allow you to score higher in Google searches when a person keys in a search word or phrase related to the term financial advisor.
- In terms of SEO, simply providing content that has become stagnant is not enough. In addition to searching for original, high-quality content, web crawlers also evaluate how often information is updated in an effort to guide internet users to the websites that contain the most current information. Even if this were not the case, you would still want to edit your content on a regular basis in order to provide your clients and prospective customers with the latest information they are looking for.
The Content Approval Process
Once launched, virtual campaigns have the ability to explode in a viral fashion as the information gets shared across multiple platforms. While this is ideal from a marketing point of view, it presents significant compliance issues that have to be addressed.
One of the reasons that content approval is necessary is that all content and promotional material must be in compliance with the law. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties and restrictions. One benefit of complying, though, is that your website will present a consistent picture of the services you have to offer, regardless of where or how the material is viewed.
Another reason that the content approval process is necessary is that noncompliance can be very costly from a financial standpoint, not to mention the harm that can be inflicted on you and your broker/ dealer’s image. This is especially true if any of your emails are inadvertently designated as spam or if you are dropped from a search engine’s files.
Content Approval Bottlenecks
There is a high probability that the people who contribute content to your website are extremely creative, including yourself. After all, their task is to drive customers to your site by using promotional materials that are constantly evolving. While this can be a huge benefit in creating a top-of-the-line website, it has the potential to produce a mountain of content that must be sifted through and sanitized before it can be published. The content review process is necessary so that your staff is armed with content that is compliant with all laws and regulations that govern it. However, content approval often leads to bottlenecks that squash the creative process and create large backlogs of unpublished content.
Bottlenecks occur when the content approval process lags the demand for creation of new and revised content. Not only does this affect the timely creation of new content but it also takes a toll on the company’s ability to distribute information that is vital to its success. Here are some of the reasons that bottlenecks exist:
- The approval process gets bogged down because there are too many conflicting steps, leading to confusion.
- Compliance teams involved in the approval process rewrite the material but dilute its message to the point that it loses its effectiveness. This requires the material to be rewritten and resubmitted, an expensive and time-wasting procedure.
- Once content is approved, advisors are reluctant to make changes to keep it current because they do not want to go through the approval process again.
- Advisors sometimes find a way to bypass the approval process which can result in unintended consequences. This often delays the approval process even further and can significantly increase the company’s legal exposure.
Implications of Content Approval Bottlenecks
There are many implications of having your content production throttled. Here are just a few of them:
- Financial advisors become frustrated and disgruntled when they are not able to share their expertise. When working on new promotional material, their creative juices tend to dry up due to the delay in approving their most recent submittals. They begin to adopt the attitude that if it isn’t going to be published. Why bother to spend a lot of time on it?
- As a result of the slow content approval, financial advisors are not able to keep pace with changing environments and emerging markets. Suppose, for example, that new regulations are passed that significantly affect the financial industry, and you would like to give a heads-up to your clients. If your content approval process is slow and the information on your website is stale, your clients will begin searching in your competitors’ websites for the information they need.
- Security is one of the top concerns in online publishing. Threats are always present and continually evolving. Not being able to make quick revisions to your content can leave you in a highly vulnerable position and expose you to damaging breaches. Sadly, one such breach can result in significant damage to your website, not to mention your company and your reputation.
Solutions to Content Approval Bottlenecks
Bottleneck issues can be solved with advance planning. This can be accomplished by manual means or by taking advantage of automated systems that expedite the process. Regardless of the system you use, it is important to solve any bottleneck issues that you are experiencing so that your company’s image and your reputation remain untarnished. Bottlenecks can often be eliminated by following these steps:
- Ensure that the approval process is well thought out and thoroughly documented. Various types of content requiring a specific approval process should be clearly defined.
- Make sure that each participant understands their role in the approval process. For example, is a particular member of your staff allowed to make changes or to only give recommendations? Assign responsibilities that are definitive and measurable.
- Establish an open and fluid line of communication between content creators and content approvers in order to achieve common goals. If both parties know what to expect, the process will run much more smoothly.
- Anticipate change, and make allowances to accommodate it. This includes changes in personnel and publishing requirements as well as cultural changes.
Technological Solutions to the Bottleneck Problem
As alluded to earlier, bottleneck problems can also be solved by using technological solutions that embody product innovation. FMG Suite, an all-in-one marketing solution, is currently available that provides the necessary tools for financial advisors to do their own marketing. By selecting the right software, the content approval process can become much more automated and significantly less cumbersome. For instance, the need to contact the compliance team for content approval can be eliminated in certain cases, as this step can be automated.
Another way that technology can reduce bottlenecks is by optimizing a company’s operations in such a way as to streamline and maximize its capacity for generating content. This increases a company’s ability to scale its operations as well as to improve its overall efficiencies.
In summary, your abilities to create stellar promotional materials are limited only by your imagination. New markets across new platforms are available for you to explore and exploit. Your website content can drive new customers to your site as well as solidify your professional relationship with your existing customers. By using available tools to your advantage, you will be able to create a website and other valuable content that will be the envy of any financial planner. Rather than letting the content bottleneck stifle your creative juices, try employing some of the tools listed above to navigate your way around it.