How To Take A Hard Look At Your Website (And Know When To Refresh It)
Financial advising is a highly personal business—clients trust their advisors with their life’s work, their future, their family, their legacy—and they don’t entrust that responsibility to just anyone. That’s why referrals are such an important tool for advisors. People are more likely to trust someone if a friend or family member also trusts that person.
But when someone is referred to you, their next step isn’t to contact you; it’s to vet you to decide if they should. And if you want to find out more about a person or business, where do you start?
That’s why your website plays such an important role in your referral-marketing success. Your website is often the first impression someone has of you and your brand, so it needs to say all the right things in exactly the right way. If your website is confusing, outdated, difficult to use, or simply doesn’t speak to your target market, you risk losing a potential client.
In Part III of our Branding series, we’re discussing four ways to know if your website is up to par and ready to convert referrals.
1. Consider When the Site Was Built
When was the last time your website received a comprehensive overhaul? If you can’t remember, it’s probably been too long.
Website design trends change over time, much like fashion or interior design. And just like you wouldn’t show up to your first client meeting with a Farrah Fawcett hairdo or suspenders (unless, perhaps, your clients are hipsters and you wear them ironically), you also don’t want a website that screams “I’m from the 90s!” (Or even the mid 2000s). In fact, as a best practice, your website should be redesigned every three to five years, because that’s how quickly website trends evolve.
If your website is outdated, it can make you look outdated. When you land on someone’s site and it’s formatted like a Word document, or it simply doesn’t look like the rest of the internet (and not in a good way), it’s hard to imagine that person’s financial planning technology will be easy to use, or even that their advising methods will be fresh and innovative.
Something else to consider— if your firm undergoes a major change like targeting a new niche or rebranding, that’s also a sign it’s time to redesign.
2. Evaluate Your Overall Message
In our last blog, we discussed the importance of well-crafted messaging and how it helps you attract the right kind of clientele. It can also help you weed out prospects who may not be the right fit, so if you find yourself getting referrals that aren’t quite the type of client you’re looking for, this could be part of your problem.
Go to your website and read the content from the point of view of your ideal client. Let’s say you love working with busy, up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Do you talk about how you save people time and take things off their plate? Do you talk about helping business owners minimize their risks and maximize their opportunities?
Your website messaging should speak to the core desires of your clients, whether those desires are to stop worrying about their retirement, spend more time with their family, enjoy their success without guilt, or all of the above.
Lots of advisors used the canned content from their broker, but if you rely heavily on this, it can send the wrong message. After all, your clients are not the same as every other agent’s; your strengths are not identical to every other advisor’s. So you need to think about what makes you special, what your clients want, and why they love working with you—and say that on your website.
Granted, this can be a challenging task. If you’ve never gone through the Strategic Messaging process with an agency and had them do a deep-dive discovery to create powerful, custom content for you—I promise, that will be one investment you’ll never regret making. Experienced agencies will work with you to learn about your passion for the business, how you serve clients, who you’re trying to attract, why you’re great at what you do—and they’ll use that to write compelling content that turns your website into the conversion tool it’s meant to be.
3. View Your Website From Multiple Devices
Today, people access the internet from all kinds of devices, like phones, tablets, laptops—even TV screens—so modern, user-friendly websites need to adapt. If your website is hard to read on certain screens or doesn’t display correctly, it’s not only frustrating to a potential client, but it’s another thing that can make you appear out of touch with technology.
That’s why it’s important to have a screen-responsive website. This means your content will conform to fit any screen without adding awkward features like horizontal scrolling or tiny menu buttons.
To find out if your website is responsive, check it on as many screens as possible—a laptop, your smart TV, different sized phones. Cell phones alone come in so many different sizes and orientations, so your website needs to be programmed to adapt to pretty much anything. Have your friends or family (or better yet, your marketing agency) check for you if you’re not sure. If your website doesn’t adapt to all types of screens, you’ll need to update it.
4. Check for a Streamlined Layout
Finally, your website needs to be easy to use. You can have a cutting-edge, screen-responsive website that says all the right things—but if a prospect can’t find the information they’re looking for, you’re missing out on valuable referrals.
People don’t spend much time “exploring” websites, and if they don’t find what they need quickly, they’re likely to leave. They also won’t click on a page if they don’t know what they’ll find there, so your page titles need to be easy to interpret. This is one place that “being like everyone else” can work in your favor. Internet users have learned to click on a company’s logo to return to the homepage; they expect contact information to be easy to find (whether it’s in the main navigation, footer, or a sticky button in the bottom right corner). If they want to learn more about you, they’re going to look for your bio on a page titled something like, “Your Planning Team,” “Our Staff,” “Our People,” or something similar. When you try to be too clever or unique, it can confuse people, which never works in your favor.
You also don’t want to overwhelm people with tons of content, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide great information. Certain target markets want to know more before they contact you (not to mention that custom content is great for SEO), so the key is to organize your content well and divide it into different sections. This way, it’s not visually overwhelming, but users can find what they need by scanning headlines and page titles.
The Bottom Line
If you want to know if your website is working for or against you, look at it through the eyes of your ideal client. Does it speak to their needs and desires? Is it modern and easy to use? Can you find important information (like the advisors’ bios and contact information) quickly? If not, it’s probably time for an update.
If you’re still not sure whether your website is up to par, we’re happy to do an audit for you. Just give us a shout and we’ll help you determine if your site is ready to convert or if it’s time for an overhaul.