First impressions are important. They can determine if someone likes you, if someone wants to do business with you and, for financial advisors, if someone wants to hire you to handle their hard-earned money. In the financial services industry, that first impression is typically made on financial advisor websites.
It’s no secret the financial services industry has changed over the last few years. Investors are now going online to search for local, qualified financial advisors, and then interviewing those they find have potential. Typically, an investor will come across the home page of a website, look to see if anything gets their attention, and then either dive in or skip to the next site. If they can’t find anything of interest, they don’t stay very long; statistics show less than a minute.
- So, what impression is your website giving?
- And more specifically, what is your home page saying about you, the services you offer and what solutions you provide to investors?
The home page is very important, because a lot of times, this is where a potential client will go first. Your website’s home page is like the front door of your office.
- Does the messaging speak to your clients?
- Do they even know what kind of services you provide?
- Is there any reason to dig deeper and go inside?
- Realistically, your site could be one of many financial advisor websites a potential client comes across, so how does yours stand out?
- What do visitors see?
Blogs are slightly different: It’s likely that the visitors who come to your blog page are already loyal readers or they’ve come across your firm while searching for subjects they want to read about. They may stay awhile to find the answers they were specifically looking for.
However, when readers click over to your home page, you have just seconds to make a positive impression. Here’s how to make those seconds count.
FOCUS ON YOUR TARGET PERSONAS
Who is it that you want to work with? What kind of people can you do your best work for? Who is your “bread and butter” customer? Who do you need walking in the door? Imagine your ideal client. If you haven’t already, start writing down their common characteristics:
- Income level
- Education level
- Career stage
- Wealth level
- Number of children or grandchildren
- Key financial concerns/problems/issues
At the end of the process, you’ll have completed what marketers call a persona. That is, a fictional but personalized model client.
These personas can help guide design and editorial decisions on your website and help keep your communications and marketing focused on your core capabilities, where you do your best work and make your best profits.
Develop a few personas: Young upwardly mobile parents, pre-retirees, executives in their peak earning years, physicians. Don’t go overboard. You only need a few. Everything on your home page should focus on items of concern to one or more of these key personas.
Make the connection visually, as well as verbally. Good, focused visuals that are closely tied in to your targeted personas silently communicate that you understand their concerns – that you work with people just like them.
FOCUS ON THE READER, NOT ON YOURSELF
Too many home pages contain tons of information on the planner and his or her terrific staff and specific process or share information about asset allocation and modern portfolio theory, but very little information on how they can help the reader.
Everything that comes up on that first screen should address your clients’ needs and concerns rather than yours. Define your unique value proposition and how you benefit the reader – and sell the heck out of it.
Don’t confuse your home page message with your “About Us” page message.
Once you have the readers’ interest, they’ll click over to that secondary page.
SELL THE DREAM, NOT YOUR CREDENTIALS
There’s an old saying among salespeople: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
In the financial planning business, the “steak” is analogous to the financial planning process itself. The “sizzle” is what makes them want it.
One way to do it: Find photos of people who closely represent your identified personas enjoying the benefits of a lifetime of sound financial planning and decision-making:
- Enjoying a comfortable retirement together
- Spending time with grandchildren
- Retired or near-retired couples walking on the beach
- Children and grandchildren graduating from college
- A younger couple dropping a child off at college
- Owning that first home or that vacation home
All these things play to emotion, not intellect. That’s powerful, because for most of us, it’s emotion that drives decision-making.
Remember – you have just a few seconds to keep the reader from clicking away. Give them something that they already want: The dream of safety, security and prosperity.
TELL THE READER WHAT TO DO
Some people are afraid to sell. But at the end of the day, planners need their website to convert readers into appointments. A good home page will help move readers down the road to becoming leads and eventually clients.
Keep the messaging short and sweet and add a “call to action” so they can find out more. Here are some examples:
- “Learn more about our process”
- “Download our report on the 10 most common retirement planning mistakes”
- “Read: Five vital questions to ask a prospective financial planner”
- “View our infographic”
- “Download our video presentation”
QUIZ YOUR ACQUAINTANCES
Ask people who don’t know what you do to read your home page (and no other pages) and then explain back to you what you do and what problems you solve. Don’t use other planners for this. They already know what you do and will read their professional bias into the page. Ask people who are in your target market.
MAKE IT EASY TO SUBSCRIBE
Most people don’t call for an appointment right away. If you have a newsletter, email, blog or other form of drip marketing, make it easy and intuitive for your reader to sign up to get more information.
MAKE IT MOBILE-FRIENDLY
Many readers these days will engage with your site using a mobile device. That means your site has to display well not just on a desktop or laptop computer, but also on a smartphone display. Test your display and functionality on Macs, PCs, iOS and Android devices, at a minimum.
That means keeping displays simple, for fast downloads. Enable compression and eliminate redirects that can slow the download. Here’s a quick tool you can use to assess your site’s mobile friendliness.
INTEGRATE CURRENT DIGITAL MARKETING TECHNOLOGY FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
At the end of the day, form follows function. And the function of all financial planner websites must be to help generate business.
We’ve seen tremendous improvements and innovation in digital marketing, on-demand media, artificial intelligence marketing automation and lead generation in just the past few years. These trends are going to continue.
With that in mind, it’s not enough to find someone who can just build a pretty website. You need a digital marketing professional to set your site up to be a robust and powerful asset for your business. Ideally, your site should help you accomplish the following:
- Capture SEO-related traffic
- Anticipate readers’ future needs
- Capture reader data
- Track key metrics such as unique users, reader locations, page views, referral pages and bounce rates
- Facilitate “drip marketing”
- Convert contacts into leads and leads into appointments
- Establish and build your credibility as an expert
- Establish your firm’s technological sophistication
- Facilitate communication on multiple social media platforms
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.