I’d say that 99 percent of all financial advisors have a website that promotes their services to potential clients. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a majority of financial planner websites don’t do a good job of converting strangers into prospects.
The type of website a financial advisor has can be a big contributor to the online success (or failure) for the firm’s ability to draw in new visitors to the website on a regular basis and then convert a percentage of those visitors into leads/prospects.
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to update your firm’s online presence, there are several options to consider. The two most popular considerations are template-based websites that are leased on a monthly basis or custom-built websites, which you own completely.
So, will you plug into a template or are you interested in a custom website designed and tailored just for you? While one may sound cheaper in the beginning, it actually may cost more in the long-run. So before making a decision, it’s important first to address and understand the key differences between the two approaches as well as some of the far-reaching effects of choosing a template or custom site.
What Is A Website Template?
Website templates allow financial advisors to buy a pre-fabricated “theme” and then plug-in information about their firm into fill-in fields. This do-it-yourself approach to website design can help get a quick site up and can usually be relatively fast with lower costs upfront.
However, understandably, with these templates come limitations. Many also come with a content library of existing content that can be used on the site. While this sounds very attractive, especially if you don’t like to write a lot, be aware that using repurposed content will not get you any SEO value, as the article is not original and many other sites may also be posting the same content. Google is looking for original, fresh content on your website and blog, so these content libraries won’t assist you in getting keyword ranking.
All Sites Are Not Created Equal
The most obvious downside to the pre-packaged, do-it-yourself formula is that a template is just that – it is the framework with little flexibility, which does not allow for customization or creativity to help your firm develop its unique brand and attract the best and most investors.
Another factor to consider: Many firms use these same templates, which means they all have the same look and feel, making it near impossible to stand out in a sea of competition. These do-it-yourself sites can also mean settling for the default designs, features and functions that do not necessarily fit your firm’s needs or help you in any way when it comes to marketing financial planning services.
In addition, if you find you need to make revisions to your template website down the road, this will entail hiring a web development company to take a stab at the original code and intent. This workaround does not take into account that with the inevitable updates that eventually surface, these can have a negative effect on a revised template’s display and functionality.
Less Is Not Always More
Another implication to consider when it comes to a website template is the fact that there are also fewer high-tech features offered with web templates, including convenient online forms and e-commerce functions. Also, templates typically do not include powerful analytics, which can provide you and your firm with a variety of tools, including data collection about online browsers and automated communications.
The Need for Speed
When it comes to web browsing, consumers are unanimous in the fact that fast is good. So it is worth mentioning that often templates are hosted on a shared server, and as such, may load slower, which is at the top of the list of reasons why your potential investors will immediately leave a site. Another important differentiation to consider is that the built-in fields you edit on web templates can ultimately “weigh-down” your website in terms of not only load-speed but also the agility to consistently get your firm on relevant search engine lists.
Of course, when your website is custom-built, everything can be tailored to ensure that your site does exactly what you need it to do. This can include the assurance that your site is tested to be responsive to your leads across all types of browsers and even multiple devices, such as laptops, tablets and phones. This is big in today’s fast-paced digital marketplace, where tech-savvy consumers demand ease of use and will keep browsing until they find a site that lives up to their needs.
A Custom-Built Web Experience
When you opt for a custom-built website, many times, you get a team of experts to focus on you and your firm’s success, which starts with a valuable web strategy. For example, at Paladin Digital Marketing, a custom web team understands how best to reach your target audience and speak to them through your firm’s unique selling points. Paladin’s Digital Marketing experts and creative team will combine fast functioning with current techniques in layout and design to support your brand. This comprehensive web creation results in a completely unique site that adheres to a voice and brand specific to your firm and your audience.
A custom website can also mean that you have a web team to support and update your site, should you need to down the road. With the ability to make changes more easily, your site is naturally more adaptable to your company’s growth and evolving needs.
The Most Bang for Your Buck
If you enlist the right Digital Marketing experts to build your custom website, you will not only ensure that your site stands out, but that it will also incorporate the tools and strategies proven to increase your visibility and drive web traffic.
Other technical advantages to a custom website include the fact that with your team of experts comes an array of additional offerings you may need, including valuable Inbound Marketing services that have become vital to investment firms today. This includes site tracking, automated communications and content creation, which have become necessities and practically pay for themselves through leads generated and time and money saved. Comprehensive services like these work seamlessly together to take the guesswork out of your marketing efforts and ensure your Internet presence gives you the most bang for your buck.
Don’t Forget Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a big role in the success of any website. There are guidelines to follow when building a site, and not all templates are capable of abiding by these rules. This is where custom websites can optimize your firm’s marketing presence and ensure greater profits and success.
When your custom website is created, your development team will incorporate SEO expertise in order to ensure your site is “search-engine friendly” by creating ideal content for each web page in order to give your firm higher search list rankings. It can be said that this all-inclusive approach to marketing puts the power of an entire department of digital experts at your fingertips for less than it would cost to hire a part-time employee – and with more guarantee.
A Partner That Knows Your Industry
If you are realizing that it is time to give your firm the support it deserves with an outstanding website, do not underestimate the benefits of choosing a web team that specializes in your industry. It’s important that the individuals who are marketing financial planning services for you online understand the industry and know what you’re trying to do.
Paladin Digital Marketing has been a marketing resource for RIAs and IARs exclusively since 2003. If you are ready for a website that works hard for you, contact us to see how we can help.