Make your website a hot marketing tool

Though rated No. 1 by advisers, most don't maximize the potential of their sites with ongoing improvements

Oct 2, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

By Liz Skinner

Most advisers consider their website their No. 1 marketing tool, yet many don't realize how that public face of the firm could be improved.

About 65% of advisers consider their firm's site their most successful marketing activity, according to the InvestmentNews 2014 Financial Performance Study of Advisory Firms.

Advisers use their websites as a landing page from links on search engine results and from social media, and many post their latest writings and media clippings for visitors there. A lot of advisers also offer some kind of white paper or checklist in exchange for a visitor providing his or her e-mail address, creating a useful prospecting pool.

(Related: Find out which 6 marketing activities bring advisers the most success.)

Website experts say there are lots of ways advisers can enhance their sites to convert more visitors to prospects.

When considering website improvements, start with the “About” section, because this is the most viewed section of financial adviser sites, said Jude Boudreaux of Upperline Financial Planning. Visitors typically come to an adviser's website explicitly to learn about someone they may be thinking of hiring.

Mr. Boudreaux has attracted 122 prospective clients, most of them local to the New Orleans area he works in, through his website since he started the firm in 2010.

He has an “About” section on the homepage of Upperline Financial's website. In it he states his goal, “To help you live the life you want to live,” and includes a headshot of himself.

“Put photos of you, the adviser, on the site — not random old people walking on a beach,” Mr. Boudreaux said, alluding to an industry tendency to flash photos of people enjoying their retirement.

(Read the related story: “How far should you go to show off your personality online?”)

He also suggested testing different messages through live feedback, such as that offered through usertesting.com. With such services, an adviser can ask to have any aspect of their website used by “testers,” who the service finds. The adviser would be able to see and hear how the testers interact with the website, including why they leave.

“This is the best way to decide what changes to make,” he said.

Other tips include making sure the firm's physical location address is on the site so Google knows to include you when people search locally, and having a business Google Places page, which allows the adviser to control what information Google has and presents to searchers.

Victor Gaxiola, customer advocacy manager for Hearsay Social Inc., said most adviser websites are very "Web 1.0," or outdated.

Instead, advisers should have dynamic websites that integrate social media platforms and bring traffic to the site.

He offers up the site of his wife, Kim, who is an adviser, as an engaging example. She depends on her website to bring her prospective clients, he said.

"It's the only way she markets," he said.

At the top of her homepage she has a four-minute video where she introduces herself and states her No. 1 goal, “To make your money work for you.”

Sameer Somal, chief financial officer of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, said it's important that the site is designed to be easy for visitors to maneuver around, but it also needs to have a useful back-end that provides advisers with diagnostics on who is coming to their site and how they are arriving.

Such information is necessary to make sure the site is optimized — or being picked up by search engines — he said.

“If it's not optimized, no one is going to find you,” Mr. Somal said.

Today, when at least 20% of website traffic already comes from smartphones and tablets, it's also important than an adviser implement a responsive web design so their site is easily readable on any device, he said.

(Read the related story: “How to mobilize your practice”)

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