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How to mobilize your practice

More and more traffic to your website is coming from mobile devices

Sep 8, 2014 @ 9:35 am

By Blane Warrene

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Mobile readiness may sound like something other companies have to deal with. However, the days of being mobile-friendly as an option are over.

What exactly is mobile readiness? For our purposes here, it's the ability for visitors to your website to enjoy the same experience and content regardless of the form of the device they are using (e.g., desktop, laptop, mobile device). We'll return to this in more detail shortly. First the indicators.

Traffic on websites from the traditional web browser is in slow decline, with as much as 20% of all consumer (read investor) traffic coming from smartphones and tablets. That's a 10% jump over 2013, according to the authoritative Internet Trends report authored annually by Mary Meeker of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

An interesting distinction about that mobile traffic reported on CNN earlier this year was that a big portion of that traffic is from individuals coming through apps versus a mobile web browser (including all the major social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter). So if you are sharing links on social media, when someone clicks, the app brings the web page to that individual.

Maggie Crowley, marketing manager at Advisor Websites also points out that last January, for the first time ever, more Americans accessed the Internet through a mobile device than anything else.

“The surprising part isn't that we spend a lot of time on our personal devices, it's that many websites today still aren't mobile-friendly,” Ms. Crowley said.

Combine those two scenarios and you can see that any financial firm, from a sole proprietor to a full-scale enterprise, needs a savvy digital presence.

As we watch the evolution of the modern digital business model for financial advisers, we see some key shifts that serve as incentives for this mobile readiness pressure:

• Websites are no longer just canned templates with text and images. Firms of all sizes are managing blogs, sharing video and audio and using more interactive approaches to presenting a web destination for clients and visitors.

• The percentage of financial advisers using social media continues to rise, and that use is going beyond just LinkedIn. We see increases in sharing on Twitter, interactive content via YouTube and Pinterest, and other platforms.

• E-mail is not going anywhere fast as many firms have upped their game using more sophisticated tools for distributing content to lists of clients and prospects who have opted in to stay in touch.

Justin Wisz, chief executive of digital marketing platform Vestorly, says his firm and many others dealing with digital communications and engagement are defaulting to mobile-ready content.

“People now expect mobile and real-time experiences from service providers,” Mr. Wisz said. “If something of interest is not readily available on a phone or tablet, the reader will move on to a web property that is.”

WHAT ARE FIVE STEPS TO TAKE?

Getting mobile ready does not have to halt your business while you figure out a strategy. Start with some fundamentals.

1. View your website(s) from as many smart phones and tablet type devices as you can afford to. Get a sense for where you might need to enhance your site to accommodate the smaller screens.

2. Don't forget social media. When you share links and others view those links in social media apps, they load outside of the standard mobile browser. Be sure to test your shared content from within the social networking apps you use.

3. Stress test all of your outbound communications. If you are using a platform optimized for digital marketing (such as Vestorly), it is easily done for you. It's also readily available without burden if you use tools like Constant Contact or MailChimp.

4. Ms. Crowley also suggests remembering the “thumb” experience. “As we all know, it's not always easy to navigate a complicated website when you're working with four inches of space and two thumbs.” she advised.

5. Imagery is powerful and simplifies your content for any screen (and usually makes it more appealing). Images also are highlighted when e-mailing or sharing your web site content on social media. Use them to enhance the text in your content, and as with other tests, preview on those mobile devices to confirm the views your recipients will experience.

There is no need to panic and absolutely no need to build an app to solve the problem. Depending upon the age and capabilities of your web sites, you can do some overhauling or cosmetic touch-ups and be headed toward mobile readiness.

Blane Warrene speaks and writes frequently on technology and the intersection of marketing and compliance in financial services. He co-founded Arkovi and QuonWarrene, the former acquired by RegEd in 2012. He produces the Digital Well podcast.

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