Your website is a mirror of your business. What reflection do your clients and prospects see?

We know that most affluent investors turn to the Internet for health and financial advice these days. Studies show that even if prospects receive your name from a trusted friend or family member, 9 out of 10 will still Google your name and check out your website first.

In 1999 when we made our first advisor websites, we thought of them as an “online brochure.” The most important thing about the site was the contact information and the picture of the advisor. Unfortunately, 25 years down the road, some advisors are not accomplishing much more than that with their websites!

What People are Searching For in a Site

In a paper titled Please Advise: Using the Internet for Health and Financial Advice, researchers Elisabeth Sillence and Pam Briggs examined the ways consumers use the Internet to research financial matters. Various Internet sites were examined and the perceptions of consumers were recorded. Their findings can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Many consumers reported negative experiences with “live” financial advisors, with the main two complaints being a bias toward “selling” certain investments, and a hard-to-understand approach that left the consumer confused. The main reasons certain sites were preferred above others was their visual design and ease of use. When queried, test groups listed the following priorities for a financial website:

  • Branded site
  • Tailored information
  • Quick response to questions
  • Easy to use

Take a good hard look at your website right now. Does it reflect your brand, is it filled with relevant and interesting content, is it interactive, and above all, is it easy to use? A website is multipurpose: it should generate leads, start conversations that lead to client meetings, and in a more general way, build your brand. Let’s talk in more detail about each of these features.

Your Website As a Lead Generator

Most financial professionals have a website. You’ve probably spent a chunk of marketing dollars over the years keeping yours updated and in working order. Take a look at your website and ask yourself, “when was the last time I got a new client, or even a warm lead, from my site?” Is your website working as hard as you are? If not, it may be time to kick it into gear.

The best lead you can get is a referral. We all know that a positive comment from someone we trust carries a lot of weight. If your website is doing its job, it should make it easy for your clients to share little pieces of content from your site that act like personal referrals for you. Here are a few tips and techniques to help you turn your website into a lead generating monster.

Sticky Elements that Engage Visitors

A big part of generating leads through your website is making sure that you give visitors a reason to spend substantial amounts of time on your site. Time on your site builds trust, and trust leads people to reach out to you and become a lead. How do you get prospects to spend more time on your pages? Start with these three steps.

  1. Get people to spend more than 30 seconds on your site
    30 seconds is about how long it takes an interested visitor to decide if they’re going to click on a second page. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that most of your site visitors look at one page and leave. This could be for a number of reasons but you can make a majority of those visitors stay if you give them a reason to click on your other pages and learn more about you.
  1. Break out the secret weapon: video
    Video has a profound impact on the average time a visitor spends on a website. One of the reasons is that video slows down your website visitor. Their mind isn’t deciding whether your website is a worthy place to spend time; they’re too busy watching your video. Another reason is because video piques curiosity. A video efficiently provides the viewer with so much information, making it that much more tempting to stay on your site and watch another video.
  1. Harness the power of great looking content
    Design has the power and the perception of value. If you placed a well-designed article in front of one audience and a poorly designed version in front of another, the audience that saw the well-designed version would be more likely to read the article and click on another. Even though the actual content is exactly the same as the poorly designed version, the look of your content has a profound effect on whether or not someone will take the time to read it. Pleasant design makes your website look more legitimate, more professional, and more engaging.

Don’t Play Hard to Get

As the website visitor reads copy and watches videos, questions may come to mind. Include question forms on each page and make it easy for your visitor to give you his or her contact information. Remember, the goal of your website is to gather contact information so that you can reach out to prospects. So make it easy every step of the way.

First, your question form offers an answer to the visitor’s question or concern in return for contact information. Complex forms that require even a full minute of effort are counterproductive. Ask for the name, email address, and maybe a phone number. Period. Then be quick to respond. Have an office process in place that offers a quick response to every website inquiry. Your assistant should take a few minutes every day and attend to this detail.

Secrets of a User-Centric Website

Any conversation about building relationships through your site would be lacking if I didn’t talk about making sure that your site is “user-centric.” By user-centric, I mean making decisions in building your website that ensure visitors have a user-friendly experience. Sites that aren’t user-centric see the lowest “average time on site” and the smallest number of return visitors. With a few simple changes, you can avoid a high bounce rate and low average of repeat site visitors.

  1. Use standard navigation on your site
    Standard navigation refers to the top or side navigation on a website. Standard navigation models are what Internet users are used to seeing and are comfortable with. Stick to these to give the user what they expect.
  1. Eliminate technology glitches
    Work with a good web developer to make sure your site is modern, up-to-date, and fully functional, and to eliminate any bugs or mobile issues.
  1. Create pages that your visitors value
    Each page should have a definitive purpose. An about page should tell your story and explain your business model. A team page should introduce members of your staff. This doesn’t mean there can’t be additional elements on a page, but your pages should meet their intended purpose to meet your site visitor’s expectations.
  1. Don’t let your site become a pulpit
    It’s tempting to view your website as a place for personal expression, but your website exists to provide value to your clients and introduce your firm to prospects and referrals. Build your website with this purpose in mind.

And this is just the beginning! The biggest takeaway from all this? Ditch the brochure website. You need a dynamic site that clearly explains who you are, what you do, and why a client should choose you over the competition.