This article first appeared in Professional Adviser.

When managed well, online presence can be a powerful tool for your business. Here are four simple ways to take control of your firm’s digital presence.

Whether it’s through social media, shopping or engaging with the news, we all leave an online footprint. And while this footprint typically holds little influence over our daily lives, for IFA business owners, it can have a major impact on brand awareness and the ability to reach potential new clients.

Since few financial advisers double as expert marketers, the process of reviewing and managing a company’s online presence can often seem so unwieldy it falls by the wayside. However, as our lives and means of doing business increasingly digitalise, being able to take control is essential.

Here is a checklist of the key things to look out for, plus some easy wins to help your company get more out of what’s happening online.

1. Find out what’s out there

First things first, make sure you have Google Alerts set up for you and your business. Requesting for notifications to be delivered either ‘at most once a day’ or ‘as-it-happens’ can be a great way of staying on top of what’s being said about your company.

There are two sides to this coin. The first is ensuring you can be on the front foot in addressing any potential issues – has an employee shared something online that may reflect poorly on your business for example?

On the flip side, you might uncover some positive news worth sharing via your own channels. Has a client tweeted about how much they enjoy working with your firm, for instance? Maybe the local newspaper has written an article about a charitable initiative being undertaken by your team.

Google Alerts don’t pick up everything, so be sure to do manual searches every couple of weeks to ensure you’re not missing anything. And if this will be your first time, then it’s worth undergoing a more in-depth search – you’ll probably uncover a whole host of information you didn’t know was out there!

2. Ensure search engine listings are up to date

Search engine listings are a common blind spot but can have a big influence over whether a prospective client gets in touch or not.

Ultimately, you want to make it as easy as possible for someone searching your company to see what you do and how they can make contact. Check the following:

  • Does the business description accurately reflect what we do?
  • Is an email address and phone number listed? And is an appropriate person monitoring these?
  • Is the website link up to date and working?

Your search engine listing will often be the first touchpoint for a potential customer – the last thing you want to do is put them off by displaying missing or outdated information.

3. Conduct regular website reviews

It might sound cliché, but your website should be considered your shop window. If what you display is professional and helps visitors easily understand the areas in which you can support, then the chances of them getting in touch increases.

Equally, if your ‘About Us’ section is too long and wordy, or visitors are faced with lots of typos and broken links, then they’ll probably end up looking elsewhere.

The best IFA websites I’ve seen keep it simple and feature a clear, relevant ‘elevator pitch’ that sums up the proposition in as few words as possible. They also don’t ‘set and forget’- have someone audit the site on a regular basis (quarterly is a good place to start) to check all pages function correctly and contain up-to date information.

Importantly, during an audit you want to ensure messaging is consistent across all of the channels you are using. If content appears inconsistent or disjointed to an employee, then it certainly will to a client!

4. Stay on top of online reviews

You may already be in a position to ask clients to leave reviews about their experiences on websites such as Trustpilot or Google, in which case you may already have a selection of positive reviews to help others understand the benefits of your proposition. If this is the case, then don’t be afraid to ask clients if you can share these across your website and social media channels.

Wondering what to do if you uncover a bad review? The value of client feedback – good and bad – should never be underestimated, so don’t go on the offensive, but rather politely acknowledge the feedback and encourage the author to get in touch directly to discuss further.

You have a one-time opportunity to try and understand why that person left the review they did – and how you can do better in the future.

Aside from this, more emotional responses are unlikely to help you come to a resolution and could also draw undue attention such as comments being shared across social media channels.

When managed well, your online presence can be a powerful tool for your business. Following these four steps will help you stay on the front foot and keep you connected with new and existing clients.