Advisor Technology | 01/05/2017
4 Messages Your Firm’s Bad Website Is Sending Potential Clients
This article was originally published in the January issue of the Journal of Financial Planning.
Nowadays, first impressions are largely made on the internet. Whether you’re looking up reviews of a restaurant on Yelp, checking out a potential employer on LinkedIn, or swiping right on Tinder, a bad digital experience can derail what could have been a beautiful relationship, if only the first impression had been better.
When potential clients come to your website, what do you think their first impression is like? What message is your home page sending?
Here are four unintended messages your website could be sending prospects:
1. Details Don’t Matter To You
Details are incredibly important to financial advisors. If you didn’t care about the fine print and getting all the numbers right, you’d probably be out of a job.
So why is the information on so many advisors’ websites not up to date?
This can pop up anywhere, but I see it most on the About page. A firm will say they’ve been in business for five years, then further down, it will say the firm was founded in 2007. That’s great, except it hasn’t been 2012 for quite a while.
To avoid this, go ahead and include the year your firm started, but don’t mention how many years you’ve been in business. Or else you’ll need to set yourself a reminder to update your About page every year on January 1.
The same thing happens in individual team member biographies. Often I’ll see a bio that says, “Susan will complete her CFA certification in 2014,” or it might even just say “Susan is currently working toward completing her CFA certification.”
Don’t mention certifications that are still in progress. When Susan finally makes CFA, she can update her bio. Until then, it’s not worth mentioning.
Another messy detail I see a lot is typos. Go over your copy a couple times. Maybe even hire an editor to give it a once-over. You have to get those details down.
If the details on your website aren’t right, you’re giving prospects the impression that they shouldn’t trust you with the details of their financial future.
2. You Use Outdated Technology
Twenty-first-century advisors rely heavily on technology, and having the latest, greatest client portals or planning software is a point of pride for many firms. Advisory firms want to be seen as modern and tech-savvy because prospects know technology can make a big difference these days.
Yet the websites of many advisory firms feature clip art on their homepage. When I see this, my first thought is, “This business must have closed in the ‘90s but forgot to shut down their website.” It’s not a good first impression.
Featuring clip art or other outdated design on your website gives the impression that you’re out of touch with modern technology. If any of the icons on your website (or your company logo) look like anything off of ClipArt Panda, it’s time for an update.
Get some free, modern-looking icons and take some lessons in design from websites you admire (or you’re probably better off hiring a designer here – I’ve dabbled in designing before and it’s never pretty).
I don’t mean to pick solely on clip art. Websites can look plenty outdated without it, too. Small fonts, websites with no mobile version, or any use of the holy trinity of bad site fonts – Times New Roman, Comic Sans, and Arial – can all contribute to a prehistoric-feeling website.
Another inadvertent message you’re sending with out of date design is that your investing strategies are out of date. If you’re not up to date on the latest technology, how can we expect you to be up to date with the latest research?
If your website doesn’t look modern, you’re giving prospects the impression that you’re behind the times.
3. You’re Not a Good Communicator
Communication is key in the financial advisory industry. Advisors who communicate regularly and clearly with their clients can get more referrals and add-on business from existing clients. Whether it’s in a quarterly report, client meeting, email, or blog, clear communication is one of the best qualities an advisor can have because your clients want a clear picture of how their money is doing.
But if you look at many financial advisors’ websites today, they’re comprised of blocks of text that is usually one of two things:
- So vague that you can’t tell what the firm actually does, or
- So technical that no layman could ever decipher what it says.
Clear, substantial communication is an incredibly rare quality. It’s one of the main reasons Behavior Gap is so popular – every advisor wants to be able to communicate as concisely as Carl Richards.
I’ve talked about this before, but visitors should be able to scan your website in a matter of seconds and discover exactly what you do and what you want them to do on your website. So how can you accomplish that?
The answer isn’t “more words.”
Think about this: If you had ten seconds with a prospect, what message would you want to convey? It probably wouldn’t be about how many awards your advisors have won, how long you’ve been in business, or some inspirational quote. It should be: “I see you have a problem. Here’s how I can solve it for you.”
If you can’t communicate that clearly on your website, then you’re giving prospects the impression you won’t be able to communicate clearly with them in meetings and reports.
4. You Don’t Really Care About Them
One of the best messages you could hope to communicate to a prospect is “I genuinely care about your financial future.”
Really, nothing builds trust quicker. If a mechanic shows me that they genuinely care about my safety and my car – and not just making as much money off me as possible – they’ve got my business. I trust them.
It’s the same for you. If you can convince prospects that your concern for them extends beyond your paycheck, they will line up to sign up with you.
So why do so many advisor websites read like a self-submitted nomination form to the Advisor Hall of Fame? They list awards, accomplishments, years of experience, assets under management, publications they’re in, and more, like their firm is the hero of the story instead of the client.
Not only is that bad marketing, it’s rude. Nobody wants to sit by the guy at the party who only talks about himself.
If you want to impress potential clients, show them you understand their problems and you know how to help them. Speak directly to them. Use “you” more than you use “we.”
If your website talks about you and only you, you’re giving prospects the impression that your success is more important than theirs.
So think about the first impression you’re sending, and make sure it’s the message you want to convey. If it’s not, make some adjustments until your first impression matches who you really are.
Need help making sure you’re putting your best digital foot forward? Drop us a line to see how we can be of assistance.
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