The Paradigm Shift: Your Website is a Referral Conversion Tool
I have advisors tell me all the time, “I mainly get my business from referrals, so my website isn’t all that important.” They think the job of their website is to attract strangers browsing the internet, and since most of their business comes from people who recommend them, not strangers, it doesn’t matter.
They’re right in thinking most of their business comes from referrals—that will always be the dominant marketing strategy for financial advisors because of what’s at stake. When someone is looking for an expert to help them maximize and protect what they’ve worked for all their lives and make sure they’ll be financially secure no matter what, it’s not a decision they make lightly. That’s why most people don’t start by Googling to find a stranger, they start by asking people they know and trust, “Who’s your financial advisor?”
If you’re doing a good job with your clients, they’re going to refer you, but the prospect’s next step is not going to be contacting you. It’s going to be vetting you online to check you out and decide if they’re going to contact you. After all, that’s what you would do in their shoes, right? Even if your sweet Aunt Carol had known her advisor for years and spoke the world of him, you would Google him before you decided for sure whether or not to call.
So while your website can act as a prospecting mechanism to attract strangers on the internet, the primary job of your site is to be a vetting and conversion tool. Your website further legitimizes you to referrals before they decide to call you. Whether someone is referred to you by a client or they learn about you through other marketing avenues you’ve enlisted, their next step is not to contact you—it’s to get online and decide if they want to contact you.
From there, your website has three jobs to help you convert referrals:
1. Verify You Exist
One of the worst things that can happen when a prospect searches for you online is that you don’t show up at all. If you have no website or social media attached to your business name, referrals will assume you don’t exist, they have the wrong name, or that you’re extremely out of touch. Obviously, none of these are good. (What’s worse, they might end up finding someone with a similar name and assume that it’s you.) Having a search-engine friendly, up-to-date website tells prospects, “Yes, I’m here. I’m in business and this is where you can find me.”
2. Send the Right Message
Not only should your website be easy to find; it should reflect your brand and your expertise. If you’re a successful advisor, there’s no reason for your website to look like it hasn’t been updated in ten years, or for it to focus on life insurance when you primarily help business owners with succession plans. If you send the wrong message on your website, you could lose referrals you didn’t even know you had because they assume you won’t be able to help them.
Your website should be current and easy to navigate so it tells referrals, “This is what I do, this is why I’m great at it, and this is how I can help you.” It should contain these basic components: Who You Are, What You Do, and How to Contact You. It should reflect your brand—the colors, messaging, and style should all tell a cohesive story about your company so referrals know what to expect when they do business with you.
3. Inspire Them to Act
Now that your referrals know you’re legitimate and see that you specialize in the solutions they’re looking for, you need to drive them to the next step. While you may think it’s obvious that they should call you, you need to make it simpler than that. Create a clear call to action on every page that prompts them to take action—whether that’s calling you, scheduling a meeting on Calendly, or subscribing to your newsletter.
Most of our clients see a big spike in referrals after we launch their new website—but it’s not necessarily that they’re getting more referrals—it’s that more of them are converting to prospects and reaching out. Now that their website isn’t hard to find or sending the wrong messages, people are actually contacting them after a current client refers them. So remember—referrals from your clients are extremely important—but a website that helps those referrals vet you so they feel comfortable contacting you is equally important.
If you’d like help optimizing your website so it encourages referrals, please feel free to reach out!