More and more financial advisors are taking a look at their websites and realizing that it’s just not working for them anymore. What used to be a decent brochure site that prospective clients could visit for more information about a financial firm is now becoming an artifact of a lost time period.
Today, it’s no longer effective or even adequate to have an antiquated website with boilerplate copy and out-of-the-box design. In fact, operating with a website like this can actually hurt your brand and turn prospective clients away, because these same prospective clients expect much more from their online experience now. Having a site that is valuable and useable to your ideal client is of the highest priority. Otherwise, visitors to your website could quickly bounce off your site with a bad impression, losing you potential new business and reinforcing a poor brand perception.
There is hope! Here are just a few things every financial advisor website needs to have in order to support a positive online experience and your overall business goals:
A Story (that stars your ideal client)
First and foremost, your website should read like a narrative, not a user’s manual. All too often, advisor sites tout features and benefits and forget to share a convincing story that helps you build trust with your audience. Traditionally, advisor websites talk exclusively about the advisor and their services. What about your ideal client? Where are they in your story? Can they recognize themselves in your narrative or is it so vague and nonspecific no one knows? Take the time to craft a brand story that focuses in on the very audience it seeks to appeal to.
Your Value Proposition
In a nutshell, you need to immediately share why someone should choose you over anyone else. What makes you different and what supreme value do you offer that convinces someone to consider you for their financial needs? If you can’t get this very important message across on your home page in less than 6 seconds, you need to keep working on it until you can.
Responsive Web Design
All this means is that your website needs to be able to be easily viewed and used across every device from desktop, mobile, tablet, ereaders – you name it. 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important (Wolfgang Jaegel, 2015) and 91% of mobile users say that access to content is also very important (Wolfgang Jaegel, 2015). What about the fact that 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site (CMS Report, 2015) and an incredible 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours (Nectafy, 2014)! As you can see, having a responsive website isn’t just a “nice-to-have,” it’s a must.
If your website has borrowed copy from the Financial Planning Association’s website or another syndicated source, it’s time to update. Your copy should be personalized to your brand and targeted to your audience. If you’re using “off-the-shelf” copy, it can be neither of those things and you’re doing your brand a real disservice by not producing original copy. Your audience can get a real sense of the style of your firm and service by how you write and the tone you take. If your website is a prospective client’s first impression of you and your brand, why would you ever want that impression to be anything less than honest and authentic?
Visual appeal is extremely important and works to support and amplify the message and meaning of your brand. For this reason, make sure your website features images, graphics and video that engages your audiences, reinforces a message or a feeling and keeps their attention! Many service firms are even opting to use their own pictures instead of stock photography so that they can provide visitors with a more intimate view into their business.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of people would rather learn about a company via an article than an ad. People can learn a lot about your business through the value you deliver through a relatively simple article. A blog is a great way for you to share useful information to your audience and position yourself as a thought leader. Blogs help to attract ideal clients to your site and also keep your site relevant and can increase your SEO and site rankings (B2B Community, 2014). A stagnant website is a website search engines view far less favorably and much less trustworthy.
Having helpful resources on your website not only helps your brand build trust and make yourself valuable, but it’s just plain smart. If you provide a resource for an exchange of information (lead contact data), you have made a new connection that can become a profitable new relationship. I think Harvard Business Review says it best when they observe:
Conventional wisdom told brands to keep knowledge quiet, to put “trade secrets” under indefinite embargo and to let exclusive information gather dust in corporate archives. But with the advent of the Internet, social media, and the dispersal of knowledge in every direction, corporations are in the unique position to distribute the information they’ve gathered in exchange for audiences, readership, and brand loyalty.
If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it forever – give all your advice away.
Calls to Action & Landing Pages
Calls to action (or CTAs) are those fun clickables on a website that help your website guest take an action you’ve prescribed. If your website is all copy and doesn’t allow your visitor to actually DO anything, than it’s not doing you any favors. Your prospective clients leave without leaving behind their proverbial calling card, never to return again – because why would they? Calls to action on a website help you to drive specific action on your website that start your prospective client down the path of your firm’s specific sales funnel.
Contact forms are great and definitely keep those, but why not make it even easier for a serious prospect to get on your calendar! If people visit your site 1x, 2x, 10x and eventually get to the point where they feel comfortable and want to talk with someone, eliminate their barrier to access. With an online scheduler like ScheduleOnce, Calendly or a host of others, you can allow prospects to schedule an introductory consultation with you on their terms without the inefficient back and forth of trying to figure out a time that works for both of you.
Lastly, make sure your website provides access to your social media accounts and contains social sharing icons so that your website visitors can share your blog posts with their networks. In today’s connected world, you have an opportunity to do so much more than use your website as an informational piece. You have online access to engage with and cultivate relationships with the clients you want most. Being active on social media and building your online community is a topic I’ll cover in more detail in another post.
So take a hard look at your website. Visit it as if you were your ideal client. Does it convey the right message and experience? More importantly, would you want to learn more and possibly work with you? Your website is a living, breathing extension of you and your brand. If it’s not quite up to your standards, hopefully you now have some clearer direction of some enhancements you can start making right away.