The Internet is beginning to change the way financial advisors market their services to investors. Financial advisors no longer control all of the information that investors rely on to select them. Today, investors can visit financial advisor websites and google search names to learn more about professionals and firms before they select them.
2020 and the Covid-19 crisis accelerated the process when it made traditional, face-to-face selling a risk for investors and their financial advisors. Too many advisors to count are beginning to convert their marketing practices from traditional to virtual.
We believe it is safe to say it is only a matter of time before every brick and mortar financial advisor in America puts more emphasis on digital marketing. As more investors work from home and telehealth business practices take hold in the medical community, more advisors will begin modifying their marketing practices to match the expectations of investors.
The competition will be increasingly fierce as more advisors use digital marketing business practices to win new clients, assets, and revenues.
We already know a high percentage of RIAs have websites because their competitors have websites. They did not want to be conspicuous by their absence by not having a website. But, financial advisors did not develop websites that produced new clients for their firms. Their intent was to build websites that served the same purpose as their sales brochures. That is, deliver information that investors were seeking when they used the Internet to research financial advisors.
Consequently, they have relatively low expectations for the productivity of their websites and digital marketing. Therefore, very few financial advisors have productive websites that are designed to convert traffic into qualified prospects.
This was confirmed in a 2019 survey that was conducted by Paladin Digital Marketing. 83.8% of the 550 respondents said their websites were not a consistent source of new prospects for their firms. Even more onerous, 37.2% said their websites had never produced a prospect for their firms.
It is safe to say the Internet is the most competitive marketplace on earth. Investors have hundreds of choices at their fingertips. Websites have seconds to create interest in their homepages and less than three minutes to convince visitors to submit their contact information.
As a consequence of this extraordinary competition, advisor websites have to be designed from the ground up to be competitive with other sites and give investors compelling reasons to contact them.
What does it take to make this happen?
Here are our five suggestions for building a great financial advisor website.
#1: Intuitive Navigation
Intuitive navigation titles help visitors find the information they are seeking quickly and easily. Numerous surveys have shown investors will exit financial advisor websites before they will search for information.
This phenomenon is even more pronounced because investors have too many choices. Why search for information, when it is easier to exit the site and visit the next site on the Google page.
In general, investors are looking for the following information when they visit financial advisor websites:
- The background of the firm
- The backgrounds of professionals at the firm
- What types of services are provided by your firm
- What types of clients you work with
- What makes you different and better
- What types of free information reside websites (blog, eBooks)
- How to contact you
All of this information should be readily accessible on your website.
More than 50% of investors will also Google search financial advisor names to find additional information that impacts credibility and trust.
#2: The Right Content
The primary role of your website is to deliver information that investors are seeking. There are three keys for providing the right content:
- Simple Language: Do not alienate visitors with terms they do not understand. This means you want to avoid financial jargon and use terminology that is understood by most investors.
- Practice Transparency: Keep in mind investors are visiting multiple financial advisor websites. Therefore you should not withhold important information that your competitors choose to disclose to investors who visit their websites.
- Differentiating Characteristics: Provide as much information as possible that differentiates your firm from your competitors.
#3: Team of Professionals
Your key service is financial advice that is based on specialized knowledge. Your team of professionals is the foundation of your knowledge-based business.
If you are a one professional firm do not refer to a team that does not exist. Instead, the Our Team page on your website should become the Our Founder page.
If you are a two professional firm or have a smaller number of financial professionals you may want to consider adding other professionals that do not compete with your economic interests. For example, adding an affiliated CPA and/or an estate planning attorney if they fit your ideal types of clients.
#4: Add Relevant Free Offers
The stronger the content on your website the higher the probability it will be enough to convince visitors to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact information to you.
On the other hand, you may benefit from a back-up strategy that obtains the contact information of visitors to your website. This is best accomplished by adding one or more compelling free offers to your website. The most popular free offers on many RIA websites include:
- White papers
- Plan or Portfolio Reviews
Be sure to utilize intriguing titles when you add eBooks and papers that require registration. Bland titles and irrelevant topics do not work. It is better to assume visitors are being asked to give up valuable information. You have to offer something of value to make it worth their while.
#5: Minimize Distractions
Many advisors load their sites up with excess content and calculators. They believe a more robust website adds to their credibility. However, nothing could be further from the truth. All of the excess information can distract investors from your real goal - learning more about you and your firm.
A typical investor will spend 2.5 minutes on your website. You do not want them spending that time reading white papers and answering questions in a calculator.
Your financial advisor website should be designed to be a sales funnel that produces qualified prospects for your advice and services. Distractions just get in the way of your real objective.
Editor's note: This blog article was originally published in 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Originally published May 13, 2016, updated November 17, 2020.