Every financial advisor in America has a website that disseminates information about their firms. Most of the information falls into four primary categories:
- About Us
- What We Do
- Who We Serve
- Why Select Us
Each category of information can have sub-categories. For example, you might find an Our Team page under About Us.
Then the websites add stock photos to make the websites more attractive.
Smaller financial advisor firms tend to lease template-based websites. Larger financial advisor firms are more inclined to pay a digital marketing agency to produce a custom website that has more information, distinguishing characteristics, and functionality.
Consequently, many financial advisor websites tend to look a lot alike. The principal variable is the content on the site that provides the information that advisors want to disseminate to investors who visit their sites.
So why aren’t more financial advisors satisfied with the results that are produced by their websites? The answer lies in the expectations of investors who visit the sites seeking advisors or information.
Let’s start with advisor expectations. What results are they expecting?
Disseminating information is supposed to serve a purpose. Investors who visit the sites are supposed to initiate contact with the financial advisors who own the websites.
This means the sites have to disseminate the right information and it has to be competitive with the other information that is being viewed by investors.
The ultimate expectation is financial advisor websites are supposed to be a source of leads when investors are seeking advisors on the Internet. These are investors who have an immediate need to interview advisors and select one. These are investors who use Contact Us to start a conversation.
However, there is a much bigger block of investors that are seeking information that may reside on the financial advisors’ websites. This could be information about:
- The financial advisory firm or a professional
- General information about financial advisors
- Information about a financial topic
This information may be published on the financial advisor websites. Ideally, it will require registration to access the information.
The worst-case scenario occurs when investors visit financial advisor websites and exit them without initiating contact. There is a 98% probability they will not return to the site, so this is a one-time opportunity.
Why Investors Use the Internet
As you might imagine the answer to increasing the productivity of financial advisor websites requires a basic understanding of why investors use the Internet to find and research advisors in the first place.
It could mean they are seeking advisors and the Internet is their best alternative for finding advisors, learning more about them, and maintaining their anonymity until they are ready to talk.
This means the Internet puts investors in control of the process they use to find, research, and contact advisors.
Also, this does not mean they do not contact financial advisors who are referred to them by friends, family, associates, and Centers of Influence (CPAs, attorneys). However, they will still use the Internet to research advisors before they initiate contact:
- They visit financial advisor websites
- They Google search advisor names
- They research third party websites (FINRA)
So, even if they do not find advisors on the Internet, they will use it to research financial advisors before they contact them.
What is more important? The information investors find on financial advisor websites or the information they find when they Google search financial advisor names (firms and professionals)?
Both are important, but cautious investors will put more value on what they see when they Google search financial names.
Two primary types of investors are using the Internet to find financial advisors. Both are going to be cautious for different reasons.
One type of investor is replacing a financial advisor. This usually means they have had a bad experience with previous advisors, and they do not want to repeat their mistakes.
The second type of investor is a first-time user. Perhaps they are rolling assets from a 401k to an IRA and this is their first experience selecting a financial advisor.
They are both going to be cautious and the more money they have the greater the need for caution.
Both types of investors are going to be cautious because they do not want to make a mistake. Perhaps this is why so many consumers check Yelp ratings before they go to new restaurants – they do not want to make a mistake.
Consequently, they are going to discount the claims that are made on financial advisor websites because they know advisors control the information. They believe advisors publish information that makes them look good and they withhold information that makes them look weak.
Financial advisors need high-quality websites that disseminate the right information in an intuitive manner. But that may not be enough to convince cautious investors to give-up their anonymity and submit their contact information.
The online visibility of a financial firm or professional can be more important because it is not as easy for advisors to control this information – just like restaurants cannot control all of their Yelp ratings.
Build a Better Website
We already know financial advisor websites tend to look a lot alike when they disseminate similar information to investors who visit their sites.
So, how do they differentiate themselves?
One answer is to anticipate the four reasons investors visit advisor websites and provide solutions for all four. The website is a pivotal part of this process because it has to convince four types of visitors to initiate contact. For example, investors who:
- Are seeking financial advisors
- Want general information about advisors
- Want specific information about particular advisors
- Are seeking general financial information
Since you do not know what investors are seeking, your website should be designed to deliver all four solutions to visitors. This way it does not matter what they are seeking, they will contact you. This will maximize results for this one-time opportunity.
Online visibility establishes your firm as the expert they are relying on to provide this type of information – an excellent first step in the building of relationships.
Financial advisors benefit when their websites and online visibility work together to establish them as financial experts.