Have you ever wondered why some financial advisory firms are growing much faster than other firms? Is it because they produce better performance? Is it because they have more advisors who are responsible for marketing their firms’ services to prospective clients? Or is it because they have superior Digital Marketing strategies, meaningful marketing budgets and financial advisor websites that excel at generating leads?
The fact is, most financial advisor websites do no convert visitors into qualified leads. Unfortunately, most RIA websites are online sales brochures that disseminate information about financial advisory firms but do not convert visitors who view the information into qualified leads. Just like brochures do not create leads, neither do websites that act like brochures.
The principal role of a financial advisor website is crystal clear. It must convince visitors to give up their anonymity and submit their contact information. It is your sales professional’s role to convert the leads into prospects (establish mutual interest) and prospects into revenue-producing clients.
What has to happen to convert visitors into qualified leads? Following are five tips that will turn financial advisor websites into lead generation machines.
THE RIGHT FIRST IMPRESSION
How long do you think investors stay on home pages (above the fold)? If your answer happens to be 10 seconds or less, you would be correct. Investors form instantaneous impressions about websites, in particular, those that are not owned by firms that have significant brand awareness, like a wirehouse, major mutual fund family or a brand name RIA (Fisher Investments).
In a matter of seconds, investors will determine if they have come to the right website and want to spend time there. They can make this determination by viewing the firm name, the subtext under the name or the home page messaging that introduces visitors to the firm. That means the primary purpose of the home page has to be to introduce your firm to visitors and make sure they know they came to the right website. Do not load the home page up with a lot of distractions that divert their attention away from your firm and why they should contact you.
A well-designed home page should have one core purpose – create a great first impression that keeps visitors on your website long enough to make an accurate judgment of your firm’s capabilities.
How long do visitors spend on financial advisor websites? A general rule of thumb is under three minutes. The more relevant the information on the site, the more time visitors will spend on the site.
INTUITIVE WEBSITE NAVIGATION
Most investors who are using the Internet to find financial advisors are going to visit 5 or more websites before they initiate contact with the advisory firms they relate to the most. Therefore, it is critical that financial advisor websites deliver the most important information that investors are seeking when they visit websites: About Us, Our Team, Our Services, Who We Serve, Why Select Us, Disclosure Information.
But that is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Top financial advisor websites have to provide intuitive navigation, so the information investors are seeking is easy to find. No search functions are necessary when the content is easy to find. There is a lot of evidence that investors will exit financial advisor websites before they will search for information.
Remember, they are visiting multiple websites, so they will spend more time on sites that make key information easy to find, read and understand.
One topic per website page is also a good idea. Putting too many different topics on one page can confuse visitors, not to mention Google.
CREDIBILITY AND TRUST
Why should investors believe the information on your website? Since you control all of the content, isn’t it just self-serving sales information.
One way to reduce this concern is to practice full transparency. This can mean you disclose information that your competitors withhold from visitors on their websites. One sensitive topic is the disclosure of financial advisor compensation and total expenses. A solution is to describe how you are compensated and the related benefits versus how much you are compensated.
You should not disclose any information that may confuse visitors. For example, describing a complex investment process using investment jargon.
Top financial advisor websites disclose the information visitors are seeking when they use the Internet to screen advisors. For example, information about key professionals should include credentials, ethics and key business practices.
The biggest challenge for top financial websites is to identify key features that differentiate the firms that own these sites from their competitors. But again, that is the tip of the iceberg. You may think you have important differentiating characteristics, but the only ones that matter are the features that create value for investors. It pays to remember that features describe your firm. But it is relevant benefits that will cause visitors to contact you.
Describing features is easy. You hope they differentiate you from other firms. But the real key is converting those features into meaningful benefits that matter most to investors.
The more you describe how your key features benefit investors, the more credible your firm will be.
One of the biggest mistakes that financial advisors make on their websites is they provide little or no content that is designed to make visitors feel safe when they submit their contact information.
You might be asking why safety matters? It matters because you are asking visitors to give their anonymity when their predisposition is to withhold this information. If investors do not feel safe, they will not submit their contact data.
Don’t assume investors are comfortable submitting content on your website. The real key to creating a safe environment for investors is disclosing what you will do with their contact information.
Most investors have endured years of unwanted telephone calls from aggressive sales representatives, mass emails that make it through their spam filters and mountains of advertisements in their mailboxes. All of this aggressive sales contact was unwanted and a waste of time and resources.
The Internet is the game-changer. Investors use it to find and research financial advisors. Their online research determines who they contact. You have to give them relevant reasons why they should contact you, then you have to make them feel safe. The firms that do this best have major competitive advantage.
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.